Raspbian vs. OSMC for Raspberry Pi

This might seem like a well debated topic already, but I haven’t really found what I’m looking for. I’ve seen mostly media player comparisons (Raspbian with Kodi vs. OSMC vs. OpenELEC) which makes sense, but I’m looking for a comparison of what the underlying Linux distros can/cannot do.

The most obvious difference is, of course, the GUI; OSMC has Kodi and Raspbian has… Err, X11?

That aside, are there any major differences that should be noted (for example, lack of Raspberry Pi hardware support, missing standard Debian commands (such as apt-get in OpenELEC), etc.)?

In case anyone is wondering, I’m asking because I want to use my Raspberry PI 2 as a media player, but still be able to extend the OS with other things such as (but not limited to):

  • Samba server
  • OpenVPN server
  • Apache/PHP/MySQL webserver

I’ve been using Raspbian so far, but it has limited support for DVD playback, so I’m looking into switching to OSMC.

Both are in the OSMC App Store, and the OpenVPN server can be installed with apt-get.

X11 desktop comes to OSMC App Store in the future, but is not ready yet.


Hmm, been testing a bit more. As far as I can tell you’ll miss out on OMXPlayer in OSMC (unless you compile it yourself/download the binaries).

What would give you that idea? OMXPlayer is certainly included in Kodi.

I’m probably just too clueless to find the binaries (plus, I thought DVDPlayer would be the player for all video files, including non-DVD’s).

I am still not sure what your intention with this thread is. All players including the accelerated players (OMX and MMAL) are part of Kodi as installed on the current OSMC December version.

OSMC is basically a full fleshed debian linux (currently jessie) with Kodi (currently Isengard) on top

I am still not sure what your intention with this thread is.

Basically: Are there any differences in Raspbian and the Linux distro OSMC is based on?

My original post seems to have caused more confusion, though, so I’ll elaborate:

I’ve been using Raspbian so far - just for the things already mentioned (Samba, OpenVPN, Apache/PHP/MySQL, media player). What might I use it for in the future? I don’t know yet. Maybe I’ll want to add some of the dedicated modules (camera, Sense HAT, touch display) or do something random like create an LED light show with the GPIO pins.

The point is, I need to know if there is something that is limited in OSMC compared to Raspbian.

I spent a moderate amount of time setting up some wrappers around OMXPlayer in Raspbian only to learn that DVD playback can be a bit of a hazzle. Obviously that isn’t a problem in OSMC or OpenELEC, so I went to have a look at those, but figured out fairly quickly that OpenELEC wouldn’t cover my other needs (due to the lack of apt-get).

I just don’t want to spend a lot of time setting up all kinds of stuff on OSMC only to realise that “Oops, OSMC doesn’t support this, gotta go back to Raspbian and redo all the custom stuff I made.”

OSMC is basically a full fleshed debian linux (currently jessie)

This answers a lot already, so I suppose the questions left are whether or not OSMC has the same hardware support as Raspbian (can all the modules be used, GPIO, hardware encoder, etc.) and if there are any “major” packages in Raspbian that I’ll miss out on (for example, can I still use Wolfram in OSMC)?

X11 (Gnome LXDE etc) thats the key difference since we boot directly into Kodi so if you want to run real applications that runs in an x11 environment run Raspbian else jump onboard the train

You’re kinda asking us to guess what you need and what you are using.

If you were bit more specific and told us what you need exactly, then maybe we will be able to answer your question.

I don’t really know what I might do with my Raspberry in the future, so it’s hard to give a list. Also, I didn’t want the answers to be limited by a list of my examples, because the point is to get to know more than just that.

With that said, I didn’t expect a “complete” list of all the differences between Raspbian and OSMC - more like a list of pros/cons off the top of your head which people could be used to decide between Raspbian/OSMC (with respect to more than just the media player capabilities).

From our wiki FAQ Frequently Asked Questions - General - OSMC

What is the difference between OSMC and Kodi?

Kodi is a media center application and OSMC is the operating system that runs Kodi and brings it to your device. OSMC is not a fork of Kodi but rather a Linux distribution that ships Kodi as the main application.
This is a similar concept to Kodi running on top of Windows or Android. OSMC is based on Debian Jessie (a flavour of GNU/Linux) and has been heavily optimised to provide the best TV experience possible.

OSMC is in charge of:

Keeping your system up to date
Hardware management (handling devices such as remotes, keyboards, WiFi adapters etc)
Managing system resources
OSMC has over 40,000 packages made available via the Debian repositories as well as an App Store.

Just a quick note of support for your question. It’s one that I’ve been asking off and on ever since the days of Raspmc. As best I can tell if you use the current OSMC and find a way to get X11 LXDE I think you get most of what you’re looking for. My question to this forum that was sort of answered elsewhere was how do I get x11 into OSMC and how do I get it to boot into the commandline instead of going directly to Kodi. I got some answers to those questions (I’m sorry I don’t have a link to that thread right now but it’s here somewhere). I’m glad to hear that X11 is coming to the store soon. That will resolve a lot of problems. After I got the reply on how to install X11, I didn’t have the time to pursue it further. I got distracted with other projects. I share your same concern that there might be some sort of Rasbian specific items that are not part of a general Debian Jesse compilation upon which OSMC is based. Like you said GPIO pins, camera support etc. I think the fact that OSMC has apt-get should mean that if there is something hardware like like GPIO or camera support that is not included it should be easy enough to install it directly without having to compile your own.

Not had any experience with OpenElec so I can’t speak to it. I did try installing Kodi from Raspbian but that version in the repositories didn’t seem to be quite as feature-rich as the version of in OSMC. So I abandoned that.

Anyway I just wanted you to know you’re not the only one who’s in that situation. And I appreciate the fact that neither you or I really know what we want and that makes it difficult for people to answer questions :slight_smile: We just want everything as a possibility.

desktop-app-osmc is the App which gives a desktop environment. It’s currently in Git, and supports basic switching from Kodi -> Desktop. But it’s not been tested or used significantly yet.

GPIO support and camera support (raspicam etc) is included in OSMC by default. Any GPIO libraries can be installed via apt-get or Python’s pip.

I think a better option for you guys is to install OSMC and see how you get on. We’re happy to help!


I already have OSMC in use on multiple raspberry pis and I love it. I will check out git for the desktop and give it a try as soon as I can. Many thanks.

Been trying out both OSCM and Raspbian with Kodi.

“Out of the box” Kodi on Raspbian had some issues with DVD ISO playback (it would show the VOB filename as the title and play time of 45 hours). I didn’t want to bother trying to fix it, so for now I’m using OSMC.

A few things that I noticed so far:

  • raspivid seems to be available by default in OSMC, so my guess is that most other hardware features are there too.
  • OSMC will mount USB drives in /media/ with 777 file permissions where as Raspbian mounts them with 744 - makes it a bit easier to set up writable Samba shares.

Yep, that was a deliberate decision. File system types like FAT, NTFS don’t support unix permissions so all the “permissions” on the files are actually just specified in a mount option.

You shouldn’t need to do this manually. If you installed Samba from the app store or from smb-app-osmc then you will get writeable shares automatically added for each external drive partition.

I might be a little late jumping into but the one thing to me is related to using the RPi 7" touchscreen. I like OSMC and it seems well done. But what’s missing ( at least I haven’t found the solution so far ) is back light control. Raspian has it and it is important to me. I use the system to stream music at night while in bed and want to kill the back light. I was pointed to a service addon in a thread I posted that added hooks to perform actions when the screen saver turned on and off. The drivers and device files to control the back light are not in OSMC yet but are in Raspian + rpi firmware update. I hope OSMC catches up soon.

Can you provide a link? I searched github, but cold not find it.
I’m also very interested in being able to switch from Kodi to a real desktop, and back.
If I get a starting point I might be able to test and send some PR’s