Installing Kodi as a Steam Link Native App

Posted on Posted in Guides, Intermediate

In addition to streaming games and media from your desktop, the Steam Link has the ability to install native apps that can be run directly from the device itself. Previously, we discussed some of the best native apps for the Steam Link, and today we will be installing Kodi on the Steam Link and configuring a few settings that will make our lives easier.

Getting Your Files to the Steam Link

The Steam Link allows native apps to be installed by looking for connected USB devices and pulling files from the device and copying them to the corresponding file on the Link. With that in mind, getting files onto the Steam Link is pretty simple in theory even though it can sometimes be a bit temperamental about actually copying the files over to the device in practice. In particular, be sure that your USB device is formatted to use either the FAT32 or EXT4 file system.

In order to get Kodi onto the device we will need to download the latest Kodi release for the Link and then copy the archive file (the .tgz file) over to a USB drive. Specifically, the file should be placed at   steamlink/apps/, a folder structure that you will need to create. While you’re copying this file over, it’s probably worthwhile to also enable SSH on the device in case you need to do any troubleshooting. In particular, there appear to be some reported issues with Kodi crashing or refusing to exit under certain circumstances. While those appear to be rare, fixing the problem if it arises via SSH might be easier than getting up and power-cycling the device, especially if it is in an inconvenient location. In order to enable SSH on the device, you will need to create a text file on the USB drive at  steamlink/config/system/enable_ssh.txt. It doesn’t matter what text is in this file (it’s all about it’s existence).

Power-cycle the Device

Once the files have been copied over to the USB drive, you will need to plug it into one of the Link’s USB ports and then power cycle the device. You’ll need to physically pull the plug from the device – using the power option in the Link’s software isn’t sufficient. If everything was moved over correctly, the device should take somewhat longer to boot while the files are copied from the USB drive to the Link. Once the boot is completed, you should notice a new option for Kodi on the Link’s main page (where it lists PCs that it can connect to). Additionally, you should be able to connect to the device via SSH by using a SSH client like PuTTY. You should login using the user  root and the password  steamlink. If everything was moved successfully, you should remove the USB drive from the link – if it is plugged in with the files still on it, the Link will attempt to copy the files again each time that it boots, slowing down your Link’s boot process and potentially overwriting files that you have intentionally placed on the Link previously.

Kodi Plugins

While the Link does a solid job of streaming things from a connected PC, there are times when using the Link directly has its advantages, and most of those will probably be tied to the plugins that you chose to use with Kodi. Kodi has an extensive library of plugins that can be added (some of them less legitimate than others), and some of the more standard plugins considerably extend its functionality. In fact, there are so many plugins that making a list is rather difficult, so I’ll simply direct readers to someone who has already made a list. These plugins should generally work with the Steam Link without issues.