Update to LibreElec 9.2.8 with Kodi 18.9 (Leia) on Wetek Openelec Box (aka Wetek Play 1)

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Published on January 6th 2022 - Listed in Kodi Multimedia


A couple of years ago I bought a multimedia/media center box: A Wetek Openelec box. This is basically the same device as the Wetek Play (1), just with a different branding on the box.

Wetek Openelec / Play 1 box

Although I replaced that box with the successor model (Wetek Play 2), I kept the older Play 1 in my office. I mainly used this box on very rare occasions or to check the door using the Surveillance Cam add-on for Kodi.

Last release: LibreElec 9.0.2 (Kodi 18.2)

As the years passed - and Wetek disappeared from the market, unfortunately - I updated LibreElec on the box a couple of times. But once I installed LibreElec 9.0.2 (with Kodi 18.2), this turned out to be the final official LibreElec release. From the official LibreElec download site:

But wait, there's a fork!

During my Christmas holidays, I did some research and stumbled upon a discussion in the LibreElec forums, which seems to be an unofficial update of LibreElec for the Wetek Play 1 device. After reading (almost the whole) thread, the feedback sounded pretty good so I decided to give it a shot.

The LibreElec fork itself is based on the last official release, 9.0.2, and is intended for older media boxes with AMLogic processors. The Wetek Play 1 uses the AML8726-MX processor, also known as Amlogic Meson 6. Although hardware support (in the Linux Kernel) for Meson 6 is not great, the developer (@dtech) still managed to get a working LibreElec update released.

The fork's release is currently LibreElec 9.2.8, which includes Kodi 18.9 (the last Kodi Leia release) and can be downloaded as SD card image (img.gz file) or as update package (tar file). The dedicated download page also shows additional information about the release.

LibreElec 9.2.8 on Wetek Openelec (Play 1)

I decided to make a clean sweep and use a new microSD card for the installation. After I downloaded the LibreELEC-WeTek_Play.arm-9.2.8.img.gz file, I also downloaded the official LibreElec SD Card writer tool (LibreELEC USB-SD Creator) and launched it (requires sudo to write to the SD card). However instead of choosing a version, the [Select file] button should be used to select the previously downloaded img.gz file:

After the data was written on the microSD card, the card was inserted into the Wetek device (on the right side there's a microSD slot) and the device booted from the SD card.

Note: The instructions from dtech mention the "toothpick" method in order to boot from the SD card, but that was not necessary in my case.

Testing LibreElec 9.2.8 on the Wetek Play

As I decided to go with a "clean" and new OpenElec, obviously previous configurations, playlists, add-ons, etc. are gone (not really gone, as they are still on the internal NAND memory, just not on the SD card). But this also allows to do a thorough test of the LibreElec fork. The following was successfully tested:

  • Network access using wired connection, both with DHCP and static address
  • Access SMB share in local network and use as source
  • Build local media library (TV Shows + Movies)
  • TVHeadend DVB-C Tuner setup *1
  • Play Live TV *2
  • Remote Control (Wetek Play Remote) *3
  • Install an (official) add-on (Keymap Editor)
  • Play video *4
  • Changing skins (tested with Amber and Confluence skins)

Some additional notes on the tests:

*1: After the initial TVHeadend setup (wizard), the TVHeadend HTSP Client add-on was unable to connect to the TVHeadend server (access denied). I was required to create a user in the user interface (http://ip.address:9981) and use this user credentials in the TVHeadend HTSP Client add-on configuration.

*2: Some TV channels appeared to have lagging issues after a few seconds. Not sure if this is related to the updated LE version or a problem in the tuner settings.

*3: Some remote control buttons needed to be (re-)configured. First the "Joystick support" was disabled (Add-ons -> Add-on browser -> My Add-ons -> Peripheral libraries -> Joystick support), as it could interfere with remote controls. Then the Keymap add-on was installed, to change button mappings (specifically for the Context Menu, Go to Favorites and the Mute button).

*4: The video player in the newer Kodi release seems to be missing the control buttons (stop, play, rewind, forward, etc) when a video is paused. I was unable to find the reason (or the related settings) yet. 

TL;DR: It works!

Even though LibreElec 9.2.8 (with Kodi 18.9) is not the newest available version, it is still great to have this unofficial update available. There are clearly some improvements and fixes in the background. And the best thing: Everything works. However the Wetek Openelec / Play 1 box can sometimes be laggy and slow. But this is not due to the update but, as mentioned before, due to lack of hardware support of the Amlogic Meson 6 SOC (and the slow 32-bit dual-core processor, compared to today's processors).

A few screenshots from the updated box (with the Amber skin):


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