Looking for a low-cost way to run Kodi on your TV? Have a Steam Link cluttering up your drawer? The compact PC-to-HDMI streaming device is designed to let you play PC games on your TV, but did you know if can also run Kodi?
Here’s what you need to do to turn your Steam Link into a Kodi box and start streaming media from the web for free.
Why Use Steam Link for Kodi?
If you own a Steam Link (and you’ve set up your Steam Link properly), you probably know what the device does.
In short, it streams your Steam library to any nearby TV, for big screen gaming (you can also stream Steam games using a Raspberry Pi). It’s what Steam’s Big Picture mode was made for, basically.
But if you can do that, and minimize Steam to stream the rest of the PC’s desktop, why would you bother installing Kodi? Couldn’t you just run Kodi on your PC and stream to your TV?
Well, yes you could. But the Steam Link relies on a strong network connection. You literally need either the router, or the PC, to be connected to it via Ethernet to enjoy good results. In some rooms this might not be possible. Additionally, you might wish to play games on your PC while someone else watches Kodi.
The Steam Link has 4GB of storage, and 512MB of RAM, with a Marvell DE3005-A1 CPU, which enables decoding of HD streams. In short, it’s the perfect choice for running Kodi. Additionally, it can easily be picked up for a low price—for instance, during a Steam sale, it can be under $10. You can also always buy a Steam Link on Amazon.
All you need to get Kodi running on your Steam Link is a PC, a USB flash drive, and an internet connection suitable for media streaming.
Step 1: Format Your USB Flash Drive
Get started by formatting your USB flash drive. You have two choices here: use either FAT32 filesystem, or EXT4. Typically, FAT32 is the default on Windows, while EXT4 will be the default on Linux (tools exist on either OS to format in the alternative filesystem, however).
With this done, open the device in your file manager (e.g. Windows Explorer) and create a file structure: /steamlink/apps/. This means that you create a directory called steamlink, and within this create another, called apps.
Step 2: Download Kodi for Steam Link
Next, download Kodi for Steam Link from the GitHub repository. You’ll find this available on GitHub as a TGZ format file of just under 80MB.
Once downloaded, you don’t need to unzip the file, or extract any IMG files. Instead, simply copy the TGZ file to the USB flash drive, in the /steamlink/apps/ directory.
Okay, you’re almost ready to go, but it’s a good idea to enable SSH. Do this again by creating a file path: /steamlink/config/system/ and within this creating a blank text file, enable_ssh.txt. The simple presence of this file will enable SSH to the Steam Link.
You can access it using your typical SSH app (via the Terminal on Linux; using PuTTY or other tools on Windows). Use the username root with the password steamlink to access SSH. When you’re done, safely remove the USB flash drive from your PC.
Step 3: Install Kodi on the Steam Link
Insert the USB flash drive into your Steam Link, and power down. This means switching off at the mains in order to force a full power cycle; the options in the Steam Link’s power menu don’t allow for a full power cycle.
Upon restarting, the device will read from the USB drive, and booting will take longer as Kodi is installed.
When this has completed, you’ll find that Kodi is listed on the Steam Link alongside any PCs you use with Steam. It’s important at this stage to remove the USB drive; leaving it in will force Kodi to reinstall on each power cycle, slowing down the boot time.
To launch Kodi, use your usual Steam Link USB game controller to select the Kodi icon. A few moments later, the media center software will launch on your Steam Link! Once Kodi is running, either use the controller, or install one of the various Kodi remote control apps for the media center.
Note: During our attempt, the Steam Link didn’t boot. After 10 minutes, I powered down, removed the USB stick, and powered up again. Thankfully, the Kodi icon was there, and the media center software had installed!
Step 4: Using Kodi and Installing Plugins
As with any version of Kodi, you’ll probably want to enhance things with add-ons. Many of these can be accessed via the default repositories, and you could soon find yourself enjoying streamed TV shows, YouTube videos, listening to podcasts, or streaming old movies. Just make sure you use Kodi in a way that doesn’t break the law.
Best of all, you can still use the Steam Link for streaming games to your TV. Although you might prefer the alternative of streaming PC games to your Android device.
Stream Media With Kodi on Your Steam Link!
With so many ways to install and run Kodi, it’s still amazing that this one exists. Furthermore, it could help boost the sales of the already useful Steam Link boxes. They might not be ideal for everyone, but if you can install Kodi on a Steam Link box, you might be able to justify your purchase…
But can the Steam Link do anything else? We’ll wait and see. For now, if you’re new to Kodi, we recommend checking our complete A-Z guide to Kodi for beginners to get started as smoothly as possible.