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I just received a Raspberry Pi Zero and would like some assistance. I am looking for a lightweight way to play a movie from a USB flash drive and stream the video/audio via HDMI to a TV. I will be doing this without connecting my device to a network/internet. What OS/application do you recommend?

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If you are looking for an OS - check out OpenELEC and scroll down to the Raspberry Pi section. Burn the image to a microSD card as per the installation instructions, insert and run. This OS is intended to be a full-fledged media server, with little to no access to the underlying OS, but it will do exactly what you want.

Alternatively, you might want to look at a generic OS like Raspbian Jessie, and install Kodi. This does the same as OpenELEC, but runs just like a normal application, so you will retain access to the command shell.

Kodi (and the Kodi used in OpenELEC) are full fledged media players, so this might not meet your "Lightweight" criteria. If you really want to go lightweight, just use the built-in omxplayer application shipping with Raspbian Jessie. Insert your flash drive, open up a terminal window, change directory to the USB drive's folder where the video is and type omxplayer video.mp4 (substitute the real filename for video.mp4). This will pass audio and video via HDMI (unless you have put an override in using raspi-config, in which case you need to use raspi-config again to set the audio output back to Auto or Force HDMI).

  • Thanks for the input. I'm going to try omxplayer on Raspbian. – Kreganthus Jan 14 '16 at 21:00
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How comfortable are you with Linux? Windows IOT won't have a graphical interface, so that's probably not what you're looking for. If you're comfortable with Linux, Raspbian Jessie, should work well for you. Don't use Lite for this use case. It too is missing a GUI. If you're less comfortable with Linux in general, NOOBS would probably be the best place to start.

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