Team Kodi have now announced the release of Kodi v19, codename Matrix, and we are working hard on bringing this release to OSMC users for supported devices.
This is a significant release, with a large number of changes, so we want to outline these changes to our users and explain how we will deploy these changes.
This release will see the introduction of Raspberry Pi 4 / Pi400 support as well as a significant upgrade to the video stack for Vero 4K/4K+ devices. Raspberry Pi 0/1 and the Vero 2 will no longer be supported, but older versions of Kodi (up to v18.9) will still be available for download on the OSMC website for the foreseeable future.
Python 3 as standard
One of the most significant changes with Kodi v19 is that Python 3 is now standard. This change has been made because Python 2.7 is now end of life and is no longer maintained and does not receive any security updates.
Although Team Kodi have announced this planned transition for some time, there may still be some add-ons which you use that do not support Python 3. You may wish to check with add-on developers before upgrading your installation.
Regressions and improvements
Starting with Kodi v19 (Matrix), Team Kodi have decided to remove vendor specific video decoding and render methods and this applies to Linux based distributions such as OSMC. The long term goal is to have a single method for utilising hardware video decode so that numerous devices can benefit without them needing to be individually maintained. This develops a standard for video playback within Kodi and makes it easier for newer devices to be brought up in the future.
In the past, Raspberry Pi used MMAL (Broadcom's Multi Media Abstraction Layer) and OMX (OpenMAX) to facilitate hardware accelerated playback. However, as this support has been removed from Kodi, Raspberry Pi will now use the V4L2/GBM stack and as such there will be some regressions with this release.
There is no support for hardware accelerated VC-1 or MPEG2 on Raspberry Pi, even on existing devices where codec packs have been purchased.
There is also no deinterlacing for Live TV with hardware acceleration on Raspberry Pi, but we are hoping that support is introduced later at some point with a Kodi 19 point release. This should be less of an issue on Raspberry Pi 4, which should be able to handle deinterlacing in software.
The Vero 4K/4K+ will see a new video stack which will introduce 3D MVC framepacked playback; HDR10+ support and HLG support and a 4.9 Linux kernel which will be supported until January 2023. This is possible because we are maintaining our own vendor specific video decoding pathway downstream from Kodi. We are however also working on the V4L2/GBM stack for the future – but don’t plan to move over to that until we can guarantee that we have feature parity.
We considered re-introducing MMAL and OMX to Kodi v19 Matrix, but as Raspberry Pi developers themselves are moving forward with V4L2 and GBM, we want to follow them as they know their platform better and this is where the improvements are going. The MMAL/OMX stack would not be usable on Pi 4 anyway and we would prefer to move forwards with our Raspberry Pi support.
Release plan and update information
Work has already begun on readying OSMC to support Kodi v19. This requires a large amount of changes and we want to release support for all supported platforms at the same time.
Because Kodi Matrix had a shorter than expected final testing cycle to facilitiate the deprecation of Python 2.7, we anticipate waiting until a point release (Kodi v19.1) before making it available via the stable update channel. We are in the interim working on making test builds available on our forum so we can collate feedback.
To avoid unexpected surprises, we will make it clear when your device has downloaded the Kodi v19 update and warn you before upgrading as this is a significant release. There will also be a further blog post advising you about how to upgrade and how to troubleshoot common issues. Please note that it won't be possible downgrade back to Kodi v18 (Leia) without reinstalling OSMC. We'd also recommend taking a backup via My OSMC before updating.