How To Set Up OpenELEC with TBS Drivers and Tvheadend
This guide shows you how to upgrade an existing OpenELEC Media Center system with the TBS drivers for Turbosight DVB tuner cards. It then explains how to configure your tuner card to scan for channels so that live TV becomes possible in Kodi by using the tvheadend back end and client add ons.
I have spent an inordinate amount of time testing various OpenELEC images and tailored upgrades and I have finally settled with a system that I now use daily. However, I encountered so many problems in achieving a usable system that I thought it was worthwhile writing down the solutions to help others working on similar projects.
My OpenELEC Media Center:
Official OpenELEC distro: [Beta] OpenELEC 5.95.1 (x86_64) | Generic 64 bit Build
TBS Driver upgrade image: 6.0 Beta 1 | OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-6.0.b1-TBS-1.0.tar
Main features: Kodi 15.0 Isengard Beta 1; Video Skip Steps (skip backwards and forwards); remote Power button Suspends and Wakes the machine; serves as a digital video recorder, waking to record and suspending when complete. It’s reliable and boots from cold quickly.
What You Will Need
- A Turbosight DVB tuner card installed in your target computer.
- The computer running the OpenELEC system needs to be connected to your home network, either with a wired ethernet cable or a wireless connection.
- A second computer, connected to the same network, will be used to connect to the OpenELEC system using the Secure Shell (SSH) network protocol. Linux-based operating systems like Ubuntu and Mint have this tool as standard. If your second computer is running Windows, then download the free telnet and ssh client, PuTTY to do the same tasks. This computer will also be used to connect to the tvheadend back end with a web browser to allow configuration of the TV server.
- Download and then install an official OpenELEC distro on your target system.
- Download a compatible upgrade image that contains the TBS DVB drivers. Copy this to your OpenELEC system and upgrade.
- Set up tvheadend in Kodi.
- Configure tvheadend via the web browser graphical user interface (gui). This includes transmitter selection, scanning for channels and channel mapping.
- Instruct Kodi to unload TBS DVB drivers during Suspend. This prevents the loss of tuner functionality when Kodi is woken from sleep.
1. Selection of Official OpenELEC Distros
Visit OpenELEC.tv and navigate to the download page and make your decision on either a 32 or 64 bit operating system.
Notice the Nvidia Legacy builds that cater for older Nvidia cards. One of my first builds was based on this initial distro because my Nvidia GT430 card was listed as supported. It certainly was, but I found by experimentation that my old GeForce card was also supported in the latest OpenELEC distro too.
My advice then is to try the latest version of the OpenELEC distro. If you find that your card is not supported, then restart your project with one of the Nvidia Legacy builds. After all, each release is only ~140Mb and the installation time from USB stick, minimal.
My choice: [Beta] OpenELEC 5.95.1 (x86_64) | Generic 64 bit Build
Once you have your downloaded image, visit the OpenELEC wiki installation instructions and install.
During installation, ensure that you Enable SSH server per default and select Configure SSH and Samba Services in the Kodi set up wizard.
2. How to Apply OpenELEC Upgrades
2.1 Obtain an OpenELEC image with TBS DVB drivers
Kudos to CvH on the OpenELEC forums for providing these images for download and to the people who spent time creating them. Visit:
then use either Dropbox, OneDrive or the FTP Mirror to download a suitable image containing the drivers for your card.
My choice: 6.0 Beta 1 | OpenELEC-Generic.x86_64-6.0.b1-TBS-1.0.tar
2.2 Upgrade OpenELEC with TBS DVB drivers
Boot your OpenELEC system, ensuring it is connected to your home network.
On another computer, open your file manager and navigate to the OpenELEC Update folder, which can be found via a Windows network share:-
Network > Windows Network > Workgroup > OpenELEC > Update
Enter the Update folder and you should find it empty.
Copy the upgrade (.tar) image from your computer to this folder. When the copy process is complete, reboot your OpenELEC system by rebooting Kodi.
When the system reboots, pay attention to the top left of the screen. You should see:
Found new .tar archive. extracting…
The OpenELEC system will reboot automatically when the update has been completed.
Upon reboot, check that your graphics card hardware is still supported after the upgrade. Navigate to:
System > System Info > Video
3. How to Set Up Tvheadend on OpenELEC Media Center
Note: Many problems encountered during the set up and configuration of tvheadend can be resolved easily by a simple reboot of Kodi and your OpenELEC system. Sometimes, the changes you make are not recognized until the next reboot.
3.1 Install the tvheadend backend service
From the Kodi main menu, navigate:
System > Addons > Get Addons (or Install from Repository) > OpenELECMediacenter OS Add-ons > Add-on repository > UnofficialOpenELEC(Generic/x86_64) Add-ons
Install the UnofficialOpenELEC(Generic/x86_64) Add-on repository.
Go back x3 to update the repository, then:-
Get Add-ons (or Install from Repository) > UnofficialOpenELEC(Generic/x86_64) Add-ons > Services > tvheadend
Enter the tvheadend service Configuration and select the DVB tab.
Enable Wait for frontend initialization and chose the Number of adapters to wait for
3.2 Install the tvheadend client
Go back x3
Disabled Add-ons (or My Add-ons) > PVR clients > Tvheadend HTSP Client
Return to the Kodi Settings menu.
3.3 Enable Live Tv
Settings > TV > General
and click Enabled.
Return to the Kodi main menu.
IMPORTANT: Reboot your OpenELEC system
4. How to Configure tvheadend
4.1 How to access the tvheadend web configuration page
On your other computer, launch a web browser and type the IP address of your OpenELEC machine into the web browser’s address bar with the port suffix used by tvheadend:-
This should display the graphical user interface configuration page for tvheadend.
If you are unsure of your OpenELEC system’s IP address, find it in Kodi by navigating to:
System > System Info > Network
If the tvheadend web page fails to show or asks for a user name and password on the first attempt, then on a Linux machine, open up a terminal window by pressing Ctrl + Alt + T (use PuTTY if you have a Windows operating system).
Use a Secure Shell (SSH) to login as the root on your OpenELEC system. Type:-
The password is:-
at this point you have access to your OpenELEC system and have full ability to manage the file system. A list of useful SSH commands can be found here if you need to do something else.
and press enter. Go back to your web browser and try to access the tvheadend configuration page once more. If this fails, reboot your OpenELEC system and try again.
4.2 Create a tvheadend user account
Configuration > Access Entries > Add
and create a user account with complete access to everything.
The default account, without a user name or password can then be deleted to secure your system.
Login with your newly created account.
4.3 How to configure tvheadend to scan for channels
On the tvheadend web page, navigate to:
Configuration > DVB Inputs > TV Adapters
Check that your tuner card details are displaying the correct driver details. If they do not appear or are incorrect, then search for another update image that may contain the drivers for your card and try again from Step 2.
If all is well, then the first step in this process is to configure the network type.
Networks tab > Add
Select the network type from the drop-down list. Either IPTV, ATSC, DVB-S, DVB-C or DVB-T Network.
Give the network a name (“Freeview” in my example) and select the transmitter from which you receive your broadcast. If yours is not represented, try one of the generic ones at the top of the list like Generic auto default.
My example shows a typical DVB-T Freeview set up for the Mendip transmitter in Bristol.
Click Create to complete the network set up.
Now click on the TV adapters tab then the first of your tuners.
Enable the tuner and rename it if you so wish.
At the Networks drop-down menu, select the network that you created in the previous step (“Freeview” in my example).
Select any other options that your tuner supports and when done, click Save.
Repeat this process if you have more than one tuner.
Now, go back to the Networks tab and wait for the #Services (channels) to be found. There is no requirement to press any sort of scan button. As soon as the network and tuners are configured, tvheadend will begin to scan for channels.
Tvheadend can take a few minutes to complete the scan. Initially, #Muxes will be equal to Scan Q Length.
As each of the pre-defined muxes are scanned, Scan Q Length will decrease accordingly. The channel scan will have finished when Scan Q Length reaches zero.
If, at the end of the scan, no channels have been found, then edit your network profile and change Pre-defined Muxes to Generic-auto-default and try again. Press Force Scan to initiate this.
4.4 Map services in tvheadend
When tvheadend has completed a successful scan and has returned a good number of services, the next step is to map those services to channels.
Configuration > DVB Inputs > Services > Map All
Make the following selections and then click the Map button to map services to tv channels.
- Check availability – if you select this option, services that are not currently transmitting will be omitted.
- Include encrypted services – self explanatory.
- Merge same name – prevents channel name duplication.
- Create provider tags – produces useful tags that Kodi can use to filter tv channels; for example, SDTV and HDTV. It’s beneficial to select this option.
The mapping process should be completed quickly in a matter of seconds. And when complete, TV will appear in the Kodi menu.
5. How to unload OpenELEC DVB drivers for suspend
Depending on your tuner card and the TBS drivers chosen, a condition may exist where the tuner card(s) cannot be accessed after the computer has been suspended and then woken. This problem spoils the whole installation and means that the system cannot be used reliably as a digital video recorder.
To circumvent this problem it is necessary to force the DVB driver modules to unload during the Suspend operation.
Reboot your OpenELEC system and ensure that you are able to play TV channels to demonstrate that the tuner drivers are loaded and running.
Use a Secure Shell (SSH) to log into your OpenELEC system as described in step 4.1, and having logged in as root, type:-
and press Enter. This command will list and detail the kernel modules that are currently loaded.
Look down the list and take note of the module name that is clearly associated with your tuner. In this case, the module name is:-
Go to your OpenELEC system and using Kodi, navigate to the tvheadend back end service add on. Click configure and choose the DVB tab.
Add the module name to the field entitled Unload DVB modules before suspend and click OK.
A notice that Kodi is Working and unloading the DVB drivers will be seen when Suspend is now initiated. The drivers will be re-loaded upon resume.
6. Other Aspects to Try
Once you have your OpenELEC machine running reliably, you may want to consider exploring the following to improve your system.
- Tvheadend – Timeshifting with available RAM.
- Configuring Kodi Power Management to Suspend your machine after so many minutes of inactivity.
- Recording time offsets so that you don’t miss the beginning or end of your favourite shows.
- Adding TV logos to your TV channels.