Updating OpenELEC

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This article describes the process of updating OpenELEC to the latest build.

Updating OpenELEC isn't like updating any other operating system you'll have used before. There's no package manager, and no terminal usage. In fact, updating OpenELEC is more like updating the firmware on your broadband router!


Update Methods

There are three methods available:

  • Automatic updates (the prefered method)
  • Manual updates
  • No updates

If "Automatic updates" is enabled, OpenELEC will check online for an update. If it finds one the update will be downloaded and unpacked. You will then be notified that a reboot is required to apply the update.

Note: Automatic updates will now be seperately available for installation of betas, release candidates or stable releases.

If "Manual updating" is selected then you will need to provide the update to OpenELEC. This is ideal if the OpenELEC machine is not internet connected as you can download them elsewhere and provide them to OpenELEC. The process for manually updating OpenELEC is provided below.

If "No updates" is selected, the system will not update itself - even if the updates are provided to it.

Manually Updating OpenELEC

First of all, head over to the downloads page and download the latest release of OpenELEC. Use your favourite archiving utility to extract the files from the archive you've downloaded (7zip is my favourite Windows archiver).

Now, from your PC, open a Explorer window and browse to the IP address of the OpenELEC machine (if you don't know what the IP address is, go to the menu of the OpenELEC machine, and browse to the main item "System" and then its subitem "System Info". This will open a page that shows the IP address amongst other information.

So type this into the address bar of the explorer window. For example, if your OE machine's IP address is, browse to:



Once the window appears, open the "Update" folder share. There shouldn't be anything inside this share, unless you have another update pending.

In case no Update folder is present:

If you have a fresh installation of OpenELEC, it is possible that the update folder has not yet been created. You can do this via a SSH connection to your OpenELEC box. Once logged in, type the following:

mkdir /storage/.update

You then probably have to refresh the explorer window of your Windows machine for the Update folder to appear.

From the folder you extracted the new release into, open the target folder. Inside you should find four files. Grab all 4 files, KERNEL, KERNEL.md5, SYSTEM and SYSTEM.md5 from here, and copy/extract them to the Update share on the OpenELEC machine.

Once the files have been copied, reboot the OpenELEC machine. OpenELEC will recognize the new system files and update them internally. A second reboot will follow automatically to activate the new system files.

Manually Updating OpenELEC 3.x to 4.0

Upgrading from a Frodo system to a Gotham Beta will still have to be done manually, just like mentioned above. The AutoUpdate function within OpenELEC does not support this major version bump.

Be aware!

Addons, skins and other XBMC tools have to be conformant to Gotham for them to work without a hitch. There is a possibility that an upgrade from Frodo to Gotham will not go without incident, because not all addons are already Gotham-ready. Why this is the case, you will have to ask the developer(s) of that particular addon. Non-conformant or older versions of addons can cause all types of bugs. Such as system freezes, crashes, reboots, stuttering, flickering. Be sure to inform yourselves in advance, to see if the addons on your current Frodo setup are already supported in XBMC/OpenELEC Gotham.

If you do want to go ahead with the upgrade, doing a -full- backup of your Frodo setup first is recommended at all times. Use the Backup/Restore tool in the OpenELEC Setting addon, and place the backup file in a secure location. That means NOT on the same OpenELEC htpc you are making the backup of.

After creating the backup, it is safest to reset all XBMC settings via the Reset option in the OE Settings addon. This will make the upgrade process as easy as possible.

Manually Updating OpenELEC from 4.0 to 5.0

Beta versions of the upcoming Gotham version of OpenELEC, Gotham are easier to upgrade. The AutoUpdate function will pick up the bump to the next version as from OpenELEC Beta 1. You will see notifications of the update process on screen.

Manually updating OopenELEC Gotham has become easier as well. You are no longer required to extract the system files yourselves, this is all done by OpenELEC internally. This means, that you only have to copy the downloaded .tar file into the Update folder, and have OpenELEC reboot. The .tar file will be extracted and tested, after which the necessary components will be copied to the SYSTEM partition as before. A second boot will follow to finalize the upgrade process.


If for whatever reason the new build is not working properly on your OpenELEC machine, you can also downgrade to a lower version in the same way as you do an upgrade. All provided that the Samba server is still working properly.

You can downgrade from a Gotham version to a Frodo version, but it is not advised. Various Gotham settings and addons are not backwards compatible. In that case, a fresh installation of OpenELEC is highly recommended.

Updating from a 4.x version

If you are using OpenELEC 4.0.0 or newer, you can now just drop the entire .tar file into the update folder. No need to unpack it anymore.

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