Installing OpenELEC on VMware

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As of OpenELEC V4 VIRTUAL has been dropped. As a concept VIRTUAL was sound however the reality was that with no dedicated maintainer it spent more time broken than working. It is unlikely VIRTUAL will ever return as interest in it is low (very few users and no developers). If you would like VIRTUAL to return please prove its viabilty by providing a working post Gotham image (VMware and VirtualBox).

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This article discusses something which the OpenELEC team provides zero support for and may even be potentially dangerous. If something goes wrong you are on your own. Proceed at your own risk.

OpenELEC can be installed into vmware Fusion, Workstation and ESXi systems. This can be useful for developers wanting to work on the OS, plugins, etc. without experimenting on the same HTPC box that wives and children are using. It is also used by some as a simple client app to maintain MySQL based libraries. The instructions here are based on vmware Fusion 5.0, but work equally well on older versions, the Windows vmware Workstation product and the more serious ESXi platform. The same general process should also work with the Oracle/Sun Virtualbox hypervisor (which has been tested), Parallels (which has not), and Virtualbox (which has been tested).

The first obstacle to leap is creating the OpenELEC "Virtual" image. This is not published for download (this may change in the future, but not right now) so you will have to build it from sources. The command to build the current Eden version with is:

PROJECT=Virtual ARCH=i386 make release

This will result in a .tar.bz2 file that contains the necessary installation files.

An included script will help you create the virtual hard disk

sudo ./create_virtualmachine /home/test/VM

This will create a virtual hard disk in which you can use in your virtual machine.

Remaining steps we need to document:

  • Create the OpenELEC Virtual Machine in vmware Fusion
  • Create the OpenELEC Virtual Disk
  • Boot Ubuntu with the OpenELEC virtual disk attached
  • Partition & Format Filesystems
  • Add the syslinux bootloader
  • Copy SYSTEM and KERNEL and syslinux.cfg to System
  • Shut-down Ubuntu, remove the attached OpenELEC virtual disk
  • Start the OpenELEC Virtual Machine

NOTE: at the current time you will need to edit the .vmx file and set the machine to use v7 hardware (virtualHW.version = "7") as anything higher results in a black screen on boot as the X server fails to start. It is on the dev teams to-do list to figure out why this happens.

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