What is Kodi, Why Do You Need It, and How Do You Get It?

What is Kodi, Why Do You Need It, and How Do You Get It?

Unless you’ve been living in a cave, you’ve probably heard the name “Kodi.” Perhaps you were wondering what it is. Kodi is free, open source home theatre software for your device or smart TV. However, it’s so much more than that. Do you need it? We think you’ll think so, once you learn more about it. How can you get it? And what can it do for you? That’s what we’re about to tell you.

Like Entertainment? You’ll Love Kodi

Kodi

Image: CC 2.0, by Yanki01, via Flickr

Kodi is a multi-platform home theatre PC (HTPC) application. Multi-platform means that it runs on just about any device. Windows? Yes. OS X and iOS? You bet. Linux? Raspberry Pi? It has you covered. And the home theatre part? We think you can figure it out.

What does it do? Well, just about everything. You can use it to play and view streaming media like music, video, TV, movies, and podcasts. In addition, you can use it to access common digital media files from storage. What’s more, various plugins allow you to access streaming media content from your subscription services. Want to watch movies from Amazon Prime Instant Video? Not a Problem. Furthermore, you can also access Crackle, Pandora Internet Radio, Rhapsody, Spotify, YouTube, and more.

If that’s not enough, later versions have a personal video recorder (PVR) front end for receiving live television. It also has an electronic program guide (EPG) and high definition DVR (digital video recorder) support. The software is highly customizable, with various plugins, skins, and themes. In addition, the app has support for your remote controls and powerful add-ons for various web services. There is also an extensive library of user-created add-ons.

So, the question isn’t whether you need it, but instead, how you’ve been getting along without it all this time.

Kodi Has a Wide Variety of Content

Kodi isn’t a content provider like Netflix or Hulu. However, the software makes it easy to bring together all of your favorite streaming media, and your own media collection, into one, organized, easy to use place. Just take a look at some of the things you can do with this software.

Movies

Kodi on television

Image: CC 2.0, by Ginny, via Flickr

The app supports all the most popular video formats, including streamable online media. In addition, it can easily import, browse and play movies from your own collection.

TV

The TV show library supports episode and season views of streaming TV shows. You can organize your TV shows with posters, banners, “watched” tags, show descriptions, actors, and more. You can even keep track of your progress through a series.

Music

Kodi

Image: CC0, by Geralt, via Pixabay.

Further, the music player can play both streaming music and songs from your collection. It supports numerous file formats, including mp3, FLAC, Wav, and WMA. In addition, it has support for cue sheets, tag reading, and smart playlists. You can manage your online and home music collection all from one easy interface.

PVR

Want to record live TV? You can do that, too! The software uses popular backends like MediaPortal, MythTV, NextPVR, Tvheadend, and others.

Photos

With this software, you can import your own images into a library, browse in different views, and even put together a slideshow. In addition, you can keep your photos organized, sorted, and filtered. And you can do it all with your remote control.

Customize Your Experience

Kodi has an extensive library of user-created add-ons that you can use to customize your experience. Some of these add-ons include support for streaming audio and video. There are also skins for changing the look and use of the interface. In addition, there are web interfaces that allow you to control your Kodi remotely. Game support? Got it. Want to watch foreign television? There’s an add-on for that, too. You can even create your own add-ons and upload them to the Kodi library. And there’s so much more you can do. Best of all, it’s all free.

Where Does the Kodi App Come From?

Kodi started out life as a homebrew (independently developed) media player application called Xbox Media Center (later XBMC). It originally ran on the first generation Xbox game console. But XBMC grew up. Now it is offered by the nonprofit XBMC Foundation.

How Can It Be Free?

Image: CC 2.0, by opensource.com, via Flickr

Kodi describes its software as “for the users and by the users.” This means that there is no highly paid software development team. All work is done by volunteers, for the love of a good product.

How can you help it to stay free and keep improving? We’re glad you asked that! The company is currently seeking volunteers to help with testing, quality assurance, coding, and localization. If that’s not your strength, you can help by writing documentation or creating add-ons. And if these ideas make your head spin, you can also help by donating, buying their merchandise, or even just spreading the word.

Where Can You Get a Kodi Download?

You can get the latest Kodi download from their website, Kodi TV. There are versions available for Windows, iOs, OsX, Linux, Raspberry Pi, and more.

Exodus Kodi and Other Controversies

Exodus Kodi was one of the most popular Kodi add-ons. It was a creation of a prolific developer who operated under the name “Lambda.” Exodus Kodi was a controversial add-on because it allowed users to access pirated movies and TV shows. Alas, Exodus created a controversy in the user community as well.

Kodi pirate

Image: Public Domain, via Wikimedia Commons

In February 2017, Torrent Freak reported that some users confronted Lambda about their work, and threatened to expose their identity. However, because of the controversial nature of some of Lambda’s work, they preferred to stay anonymous. A short time later, Lambda added malicious code to the Exodus add-on. According to Lambda, the malicious code was a countermeasure against the people threatening to expose them. Eventually, after public outcry, Lambda removed the offending code and retired.

Some have expressed concern about the possibility of using its add-ons to illegally access copyrighted material. The XBMC Foundation strongly condemns using it for this purpose.

Learn More at Kodi TV

Want to learn more about this exciting new technology? You can learn everything you want to know and more at their official website, Kodi TV. In addition, you can check them out on your favorite social media platforms: FacebookGoogle+Twitter, and Youtube.

 

Featured image: screenshot, by Kodi, via Kodi.Tv

Best Linux Distros and Where You Can Find Them

Best Linux Distros and Where You Can Find Them

Although you may not know it, Linux has been around for a few decades. Linux distros, based on the Unix operating system, are the different operating distributions of Linux. These distros are built around the heart of the Linux kernel. They are the foundation of the operating system and customized to create various types of desktop environments.

The vast majority of Linux distros have a specific use-case in mind. For instance, the Linux Ubuntu operating system was created for new Linux users. It is easy to use and customize. Another distro, Arch Linux, is for more advanced users. These users prefer to use the terminal application to install software packages and type in other commands.

So let’s take a look at some of the more popular Linux distros. We will discuss who can benefit most from them, and where you can find them.

What is Linux?

Linux is an operating system like Windows 10, Chromebook OS, and Mac OS X. Just like other operating systems, Linux manages the conversation between your laptop or desktop hardware and software. If you didn’t have an operating system, your software wouldn’t work properly.

You might be surprised to learn that Linux is in a lot of places. Your phone runs on Linux. Some of the software in your car is Linux based. Smart refrigerators and Roku devices use Linux as well. Linux runs many of the servers and systems you use on a daily basis. And the penguin is cute. So there’s that.

Why Use Linux?

Easily the most frequently asked question people want to ask is “Why use Linux?” It’s a different operating system, with a different environment, and a different user experience. There are a few reasons users might want to switch, but let’s take a quick look at just two of the big hitters.

First, Linux is stable. If you are constantly battling a slow computer or fighting viruses, those and other concerns are not as prominent with Linux. Linux distros have grown to become known as one of the most reliable and efficient operating systems.

Second, it’s free. You heard right, F-R-E-E. You can install any Linux distro on as many computers as your heart desires, and you’ll pay nothing. No additional costs, no licensing fees, no server or software fees, it’s entirely free.

Linux Distros

As previously mentioned, there are many different types of versions and distributions of Linux. Here are some of the more popular Linux distros and where to find them.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is a great Linux distro for beginners. It is easily accessible and provides the security and stability that the Linux OS is known for. Every six months a new version of Ubuntu is released, which offers updates and general maintenance as needed. You’ll also have access to LTS (Long Term Support) versions, which are available every other year.

ubuntu linux distros

Image CC by 0, by osde8info, via Flickr

The LTS versions offer up to five years of general and security updates, which means you don’t have to worry about upgrading your Linux operating system every six months. This is especially nice since the standard releases are only supported for one year.

Ubuntu also has its own flavors available that use different environments. One example is Lubuntu, which is a “light” or minimal version of Ubuntu. Lubuntu is designed to create less strain on your system resources than other operating systems.

If you think Ubuntu is the right OS for you, you can find the Ubuntu Linux OS download here.

Linux Mint

linux distros mint desktop

Image CC by 0, by Marco Castellani, via Flickr

Linux Mint operating system is another great option if you’re new to the Linux OS. It’s especially useful for those that prefer to switch from a Windows PC or Mac. The Mint version of Linux also provides a great deal of customization.

Users will find switching to Linux Mint from Windows or Mac straightforward since it comes with a lot of options for the software these operating systems provide. For instance, in place of Microsoft Office, Linux Mint users will have LibreOffice, a free alternative to the office suite.

Mint comes in many different versions and varieties, the most popular being Cinnamon. This version of Linux Mint lets users change and customize menus and the appearance of certain windows. Users will also have support for most media formats, which will allow you to play music and video files right away.

Linux Mint operating system is an excellent option for newer users who like to have the option of customizing their experience. You can find the Mint distro of Linux here.

Linux Tails

If you are concerned with privacy, Linux Tails might be the Linux operating system for you. This Linux distro emphasizes privacy and security, all while maintaining a user-friendly interface. Tails is an operating system that aims to protect your identity and conceal your location as much as possible.

Linux Tails achieves privacy by directing network traffic through its Tor network This network is explicitly designed to protect data and prevent it from being analyzed. While these security measures are exceptional, it gets even better. You’ll have all the security the Linux Tails distro has to offer but still have the ability to use the operating system with its clear and simple UI.

This Linux distro isn’t for everyone, but for those that are concerned with privacy and all the dangers that come along with not having enough security, Linux Tails is the right option. You can find the Linux OS download of Tails here.

CentOS

The CentOS Linux distro is an offshoot of the enterprise version of Red Hat Linux that many companies use today. While this version of Linux isn’t ideal for a daily desktop, it’s great for a server. The build focuses on stability. Instead of providing constant updates like Ubuntu and Mint, CentOS offers ten years of support from the initial version release date.

Since CentOS is so reliable, it’s a great option if you’re looking to stand up a server. If you need an everyday Linux distro to use on your machine, CentOS is probably not the way to go.

If you’re looking for a steady, reliable Linux distro to use as a server, CentOS is precisely what you need. You can find CentOS here.

Linux Elementary

The Elementary Linux distro is a great operating system for Mac users wanting to make the jump to Linux. Known for its stability, Linux Elementary greatly resembles the MacOS desktop, meaning Mac users will feel comfortable making the change.

linux distros elementary

Image CC by 0, by okubax, via Flickr

With an easy-to-use menu and the ability to customize their preferences, users will find Linux Elementary intuitive and straightforward. The operating system doesn’t come with a lot of additional bloatware so users won’t feel overwhelmed. It does come with everything users need via an App Center, providing software downloads and upgrades with the click of a button.

If you think Linux Elementary is the Linux distro for you, you can find more information and download it here.

Steam OS

Last on our list is a Linux distro for the gamer in all of us. Typically, gamers refrain from using Linux since there are few games available on the Linux platform. While there has been some growth in recent years, things didn’t really change until Steam OS hit the market.

Steam OS is designed specifically with gamers in mind. Kernel tweaks and performance enhancements are a part of this Linux distro. It supports gamepads, GPUs, and other hardware gamers find necessary.

While the Steam OS Linux distro isn’t your typical operating system, it is an excellent option for those that enjoy gaming, specifically with Steam. You can download this Linux distro here.

Which One is Right For You?

As you can see, there are many different Linux distros available, but what we’ve covered barely scratches the surface. There are a variety of options available, and if the ones listed above don’t fit your needs, then take a look at some of the other options. You’re sure to find something that will work for you.

Featured image: CC by 2.0, by MuseScore, via Flickr

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue on a Tight Budget

How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue on a Tight Budget

Planning a wedding is one of the most stressful processes you can put yourself (and possibly everyone around you) through. Not only is it incredibly difficult to coordinate all the different products and services a wedding requires, costs can also spiral out of control in the blink of an eye. When it comes to your wedding venue, it is possible to save huge amounts of money. But, you have to be willing to be flexible. If you’re more concerned about the who, the what, and the why in regards to your wedding than you are about the where, there are massive savings to be had by considering free or low-cost venues.

Free Wedding Venues

Most weddings take place in the spring, summer, or early fall when the weather is generally pleasant. This makes moving your wedding outside to cut down on costs practically a no-brainer. Besides, if there does happen to be a little rain on the big day, that’s what tents and pavilions are for. If you’re open to the idea of an outdoor wedding, there may be free venue options available that you haven’t even thought of.

Backyard wedding venue

Backyard Wedding Venue

Image CC0, by PublicDomainArchive, via Pixabay

Do you have a decent sized backyard? How about your close friends or relatives? A backyard wedding may sound a bit hokey, but with the right touches, you can make your special day amazing. Getting married in your own backyard, or the one you grew up in may end up having more meaning to you and your guests than any fancy venue ever could. Plus, not paying for your venue means you’ll have a lot more money to put into decor, food, and drinks, hair and makeup, or whatever you prioritize the most about your wedding experience. Maybe you’d rather pocket the money and put it toward a down payment on a house or car for you and your spouse-to-be, or put it toward starting a family, traveling, or getting a degree.

Borrowed wedding venue

Does your uncle own the most charming alpaca farm, complete with a restored antique barn and a gazebo? Have you admired the private apple orchard down the road for years? If you know someone who happens to own a possible venue for your wedding, ask them to borrow it! Think about the services you could provide in exchange for using their property for your wedding venue. Are you great with kids? Offer a few weekends of free babysitting. Have a way with animals? Do free labor on the farm or walk the dogs for a month. The trading of goods and services isn’t as common as it used to be, but it can still be a great deal for everyone involved. Do be sure to show your gratitude by cleaning up after your event and leaving your borrowed venue in the same state it was in before you arrived.

Low-Cost Wedding Venues

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a large backyard or a farmer uncle at their disposal. That doesn’t mean that you’re stuck spending a fortune on a wedding venue. Check your area for local gems. Ask people you know who got married in the same area where they had their wedding. People love to tell the story of when and where they were married. Don’t be afraid or feel guilty about contacting more than one possible venue, either. These places understand that you’re shopping around and making an important decision about the biggest event of your life and that another place may work out better for you in the end. As intimate as their customer service may seem, it’s just business. They won’t take it personally if you won’t.

Park wedding venue

best weeding spot park or trees with bench

Image CC0, by LoboCrzz, via Pixabay

It seems to be a relatively unknown fact that nearly every park is available for rent for events. Most will cost you less than $100 for half the day. Some can even be reserved for free. If you’re down for an outdoor wedding, but don’t have a big enough (or presentable enough) space, a park makes for a great inexpensive wedding venue. Keep in mind, though, that many parks will only let you reserve one area, so there may be other patrons nearby. If that’s not okay with you, look for a small local park and see what kind of arrangements you can make there. You’ll never know if you don’t ask.

Reception Venue

Here’s an idea: What if you were to skip the stuffy, expensive, ceremony altogether and get right to the party? That’s what all your guests are coming for anyway, right? It costs as little as $10 to be married by a judge or magistrate at your local courthouse. That leaves a ton of money in your budget for an epic reception. Set up a pizza bar, a taco bar, a weed bar (if that’s your thing), or a candy buffet and let your guests go wild to celebrate your union. Don’t forget the actual bar, of course. Most of them will be thrilled to go straight to the reception, and you likely will be too. A ceremony is stressful to plan, expensive, and nerve-wracking. A reception is all about letting loose, celebrating, and having fun.

American Legion

Did you know that military veterans can rent American Legion banquet halls at a steeply discounted rate? Some can be reserved for as little as $70 and include a full bar and kitchen. If you or your spouse happen to be veterans, great. If not, it’s likely that one of your invited family members or friends is. Ask around and see if you can find one of your future guests who is willing to rent the legion and be reimbursed. The savings are worth it, and he or she will likely be more than happy to help you make your reception happen.

Community center

Wedding Venue Tennis Court

Image CC by 2.0, by Tracy Hunter, via Flickr

Does your town have a local recreation or community center? Most likely it does, even if you’ve never noticed it. Many of these buildings are converted into community centers after spending decades as schools or libraries. Community center venues can usually be reserved for $50-$200, depending on the room size (caution: the largest available space is usually a gymnasium or tennis court) and kitchen access. If you are interested in going the community center route, be sure that you check with the center about their alcohol policy before you commit. Some may prohibit smoking and/or alcohol on the premises, which could be a deal breaker if you don’t exactly plan to have a dry wedding celebration. They may even have restrictions on what type of decor you can use.

The most important thing to remember about your upcoming wedding is that it’s truly all about the marriage. Your wedding will last one day, but your marriage will hopefully survive a lifetime. Don’t get so caught up in finding the perfect wedding spot that you lose sight of what will really matter the day after the wedding. And the day after that, and the day after that. Besides, as it turns out, couples who spend more money on their weddings are also more likely to divorce. Tell that to the next overpriced wedding venue you come across.

 

Featured image CC0, by jeremywongweddings, via Flickr