Hey friend! Have you heard about LibreELEC? It‘s an awesome free media center operating system that you can install on devices like the Raspberry Pi to build a full-featured home theater PC.
One of the great things about LibreELEC is that it makes it super easy to encrypt your web traffic and access geo-blocked streaming content by installing a VPN.
In this guide, I‘ll show you step-by-step how to set up the Zomboided VPN Manager addon to connect your LibreELEC device to a premium VPN. I‘ll also provide some pro tips to get the fastest speeds and best security based on my many years of experience as an IT and cybersecurity expert.
Let‘s dive in!
An Introduction to LibreELEC
In case you‘re not familiar, LibreELEC is a lightweight Linux distro built specifically for the Kodi media center software.[LibreELEC logo]
The operating system is designed to boot directly into Kodi‘s interface so you don‘t have to deal with configuring a desktop environment or installing drivers. This makes it perfect for media boxes like the Raspberry Pi.
Some key advantages of LibreELEC:
- Boots directly into Kodi from startup
- Small footprint around 200MB, optimized for media center use
- Automatic updates for Kodi and Linux components
- Easy to install and configure
- Great hardware support including Raspberry Pi, PCs, Chromebooks, Macs, and more
LibreELEC is usually installed on single-board computers like the Raspberry Pi to build home theater PCs and media servers:[Raspberry Pi image]
In fact, LibreELEC is one of the most popular operating systems for Raspberry Pi projects according to the official 2022 survey:
With over 68 million units sold, the Raspberry Pi is the perfect device to run LibreELEC for a low-cost media box or server.
Since LibreELEC is built on top of Linux, we can harness the power of OpenVPN to route our traffic through a virtual private network. This brings major benefits like:
- Encrypted web traffic to protect your privacy
- Bypass geographic restrictions to access more streaming content
- Secure public WiFi connections to keep your data safe
Next I‘ll show you how to get OpenVPN working on your LibreELEC setup…
Installing Zomboided VPN Manager on LibreELEC
The easiest way to use a VPN with LibreELEC is by installing the Zomboided VPN Manager addon.
This handy tool handles everything related to configuring and connecting an OpenVPN tunnel, so you don‘t have to mess around with command lines or manual VPN setup.
Here‘s a high-level overview of what we‘ll be doing:
- Enable installation of third-party addons in LibreELEC settings
- Add the repository that hosts Zomboided VPN Manager
- Install the Zomboided addon
- Run the setup wizard to configure your VPN credentials
- Connect to a VPN server location of your choice
I‘ll walk you through each step with images below.
Enable Unknown Sources
Like most Kodi-based operating systems, LibreELEC has a security restriction that prevents installing unofficial addons by default.
We need to enable "Unknown Sources" to allow addons from third-party repositories:
In LibreELEC, open the main menu and go to Settings.
Navigate to System > Add-ons.
Enable "Unknown Sources".
Confirm the warning message.
Now we can install addons from outside the official Kodi repository.
Add the Zomboided Repository
All Kodi addons are distributed through repositories, which are essentially databases that host the addon files.
We need to add the repository that contains Zomboided VPN Manager. Here‘s how:
From the LibreELEC home screen, open File Manager.
Click "Add Source" and enter this URL: https://repo.zomboided.com
Name the source "Zomboided" or anything you want.
Go back and open the Add-ons menu.
Select "Install from zip file".
Choose the Zomboided repo we just added.
Install the "zomboided.plugins.repository…" zip file.
The Zomboided plugin repository is now installed!
Install Zomboided VPN Manager
With the repository added, we can now grab the VPN Manager addon:
Back in Add-ons, choose "Install from repository".
Select the "Zomboided Add-on Repository".
Go to Services and install "VPN Manager for OpenVPN".
Once installed, you‘ll see Zomboided VPN Manager in your list of addons. Almost there!
Configure Your VPN Connection
When you first launch VPN Manager, a setup wizard will guide you through connecting to your VPN provider of choice.
Here‘s an overview of the steps:
Select your VPN service from the list. I recommend IPVanish.
Enter your VPN username and password.
Confirm that your credentials are correct.
Choose a VPN server location, like US East or Netherlands.
The wizard will connect to the VPN and you‘ll receive a notification when complete.
Be sure to check out my VPN buying guide if you don‘t have an account yet. I suggest IPVanish due to their strict no-logging policy, large server network, and reliable speeds.[Screenshots of VPN Manager wizard]
The wizard makes it super easy to get up and running with your VPN provider of choice. Open the addon to connect or switch locations anytime!
Tips for Using a VPN with LibreELEC
Now that OpenVPN is set up through Zomboided‘s manager, here are some tips for getting the best experience:
Find the fastest servers
VPN speeds vary based on the server you connect to. Generally, choosing a VPN location close to your true location results in better speeds.
I suggest connecting to various locations to benchmark speeds. You can identify fast servers and save them to your favorites.
Enable the VPN kill switch
For security, make sure to enable the VPN Manager kill switch in settings. This will block all traffic if your VPN connection drops unexpectedly.
The kill switch prevents data leaks that could compromise your privacy. I consider it an essential feature.
Only VPN specific apps
You can configure LibreELEC to only route certain apps through the VPN tunnel. This prevents slowing down traffic that doesn‘t need encryption.
For example, set your torrent client or web browser to exclusively use the VPN while allowing local network traffic to access your media library. VPN Manager makes this easy to set up.
Access geo-restricted streaming services
One of the best uses for a VPN is bypassing geographic restrictions imposed by popular streaming sites like Netflix, BBC iPlayer, Hulu, and ESPN.
To unlock more content, connect to a VPN server located in the appropriate country. A VPN also prevents ISP throttling that can slow down video streams.
I hope these tips help you get the most protection and best performance out of your LibreELEC VPN setup!
Installing a high-speed VPN on your LibreELEC device brings significant benefits, from encrypting your downloads for privacy to unlocking more streaming content.
The Zomboided VPN Manager addon makes it easy to configure OpenVPN and connect to your preferred provider.
Let me know if you have any questions at all about setting up a VPN on your LibreELEC media center. I‘m always happy to provide more info and help fellow enthusiasts!
Stay secure out there,