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I am (as you will understand when you continue reading my question) new to Raspberry Pi. I bought it mostly because I wanted to use it as a media player. So my first move was to flash it with OpenElec and Kodi.

However, it sucked, since I couldn't get it to play movies or tv without constant freezes. So I decided to try re-flashing it with RetroPie (legacy video game emulator). While doing so, I realized that only about 500 Mb of the 32 Gb card had actually been allocated. So I spent a few hours figuring out how to format it to the full 32 Gb. I managed to do so eventually. And I re-flashed it and can now play all the old 8-bit Nintendo and archade games from my childhood. :-D

Now I'm thinking that the Pi probably uses the SD card for buffering, so this could be the reason why Kodi never worked for me before. So now I'm thinking that perhaps I could partition the card in two; one Kodi partition and one RetroPie partition. But how would that work? Would I get to choose on startup whether I want to run Kodi or RetroPie?

  • Before you comment, I'll just clarify: 1. I know RetroPie is not an emulator. That's not what I mean. 2. I realize that I could use two SD cards and run different stuff on them. – Joachim Dec 22 '16 at 12:43
  • These details belong in your question not the comments. Please edit your question. – Steve Robillard Dec 22 '16 at 12:53
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Now I'm thinking that the Pi probably uses the SD card for buffering

That can be done -- I think currently Raspbian does via a swapfile (not sure as this is something I disable; I prefer to avoid swap). Normally on linux swapping is done via a dedicated, fixed size partition, but a swapfile does not require this. Just make sure to leave a few gb free (I recommend you do not fill a partition beyond 80% regardless).

There is also a scheme whereby swapping is done using compressed memory, but I do not think this is used anymore. It is a bit like taking a second mortgage on your house (i.e., a strategy of last resort).

That's with regard to the linux kernel memory management. Individual applications, including Kodi, may use the filesystem as a temporary buffer. You should investigate whether there are settings to control this kind of thing via the Kodi interface.

I'm not a RetroPi user, but it looks like you could install it within Raspbian:

https://github.com/retropie/retropie-setup/wiki/manual-installation

This would allow you to have it and Kodi together; a 32 GB card should have plenty of room for that. However, if you have another card (8 or 16 GB should still be okay), perhaps you want to try it there first before you erase what you already have.

Installing multiple OS's on different partitions will not offer you any advantage other than having multiple OS's installed -- which tends to be a bit of a hassle on the Pi. However, if you think that will be easier, you should investigate NOOBs. I don't know whether retropie is instantly available there, but there are at least some people who've done it and documented the process:

https://github.com/retropie/retropie-setup/wiki/convert-retropie-sd-card-image-to-noobs-image

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