Anybody can build a Plex server for home or for office by their own with an online tutorial or with a YouTube video. However, there are only a few resources out there which states what exactly you are looking right now.
Yes, we are going to look at various ways you can build a plex server.
The possibilities are endless. I have included them all here in a one single page. Each with a heading marked in bold below, you can go through them all or use a search (CTRL + F) to ease your reading.
Let’s move without any delay.. Please leave a comment if you would like to share or ask anything.
Prepare your available hardware
The media server which we are going to build now uses Plex to serve media content from your server to your smartphone, TV, or your smart speaker or any other tablets/laptops.
So do you need a server? What do I mean by server here? Let’s see the exact hardware requirement which I mean as a server.
When your old computer which you no longer use as your primary machine has got its display detached, and fine tuned for single purpose (or a single service, here it is media streaming) then it is termed as a server.
So, a server is a computer machine which is designated for a single purpose that will be running continuously without a display.
Here are the minimum requirement which your old hardware should meet to proceed further.
- Minimum 1 GB physical memory (RAM)
- For media, 150 GB+ storage (check your hard disk capacity). This depends on your total media size.
From now on, I will mention hard disk, or SSD as a single terminology as “Storage”. Now we are going to clean and format hard disk. Existing OS and data will be erased. Hence keep a backup of your old data if required.
Install fresh Ubuntu OS
There are several different ways to install a OS. To make the best use of your media server, we will be installing fresh copy of Ubuntu OS even if it is the current OS in your system.
Installing Ubuntu without a monitor or display
A media server requires a monitor or any other connected display for installation. Once installation is completed, you can disconnect the display (monitor).
If no display is available for the installation, then disconnect the hard disk drive (HDD) or SSD and connect to your current primary PC or laptop or workstation. When you are doing so, please careful to always point to the connected storage for installation instead of your working host system’s storage! Once the installation is done, disconnect the storage and connect back as how it was before and start the old system for testing.
If the system doesn’t have CD drive
Skip to the topic “Install Ubuntu using a flash drive”. You need a flash drive with minimum capacity of 4 GB.
Depending on your storage type and available option of OS setup you would be doing one of the following topic.
When you have Ubuntu OS Disc
Now that we have storage connected, Ubuntu disc handy and we can proceed formatting the storage and install fresh copy of Ubuntu. Also note that you can have multiple drive partition, one for the OS and Plex service, second for storing media content.
If you are planning for two partitions as mentioned above, then give 10 GB minimum for OS & Plex and the remaining for media storage. A new partition with complete storage space is sufficient if you are unsure above these terminologies. If that is the case, delete all the available partitions if any, and the only one partition for the installation.
Insert the disc into the drive and reboot the system and follow on-screen instructions to install Ubuntu.
When you don’t have Ubuntu OS Disc
Install Ubuntu using a flash drive
Search online for the topic “Make USB bootable”. Install a software which appear on top of the search result. Download Ubuntu desktop flavor ISO image from the official website. Now carefully follow the below steps.
Connect the flash drive and take a backup of your files if it has any. Make sure you have installed the above mentioned flashing software and downloaded the ISO image.
Open the flashing software and select the image file which we have downloaded and choose the flash drive. Click on “Proceed” or “Start” button. Wait for sometime to complete the flashing process.
Once the above step is completed, reboot the system and note down the key which will be mentioned in the startup BIOS screen which flashes quickly when you power up the system.
You can press the key immediately to open up BIOS menu, or reboot the system again and try then. When you are on the BIOS setup, navigate and change the boot option. Choose and move the USB flash drive to the top of the boot order/priority list. Save the changes and exit. Press ESC to show save changes dialog box.
Now reboot the system and follow on-screen instruction to install Ubuntu.
Install Plex server
Search for “Plex Install” and go to plex official download site. Click on “Plex media server” option and choose “Linux” as the platform. Click on “Choose Distribution” and choose your Ubuntu version. A .deb file will be downloaded and you can install it once the download finishes.
Follow on-screen instruction to install Plex. Create a free plex account when prompted. This will enable you with sync with other plex app installed devices to ease sharing and go mode of accessibility.
Make your new Ubuntu headless
Now you have installed Plex. You need to configure it to make best use of plex. Before you configure the plex media streaming service, I would recommend you to make your new Ubuntu headless so that you can disconnect the monitor/display and enable it to completely run like a media server.
Follow the below steps to make Ubuntu headless (monitor-less):
- Close all opened applications.
- Press Ctrl + Alt + F2.
- Log in with you user name and password.
- Stop display by giving “
sudo service lightdm stop” command.
If you find any difficulty in doing the above, visit the original page where I took the above steps here https://askubuntu.com/questions/378046/how-to-run-ubuntu-xubuntu-in-a-complete-non-gui-mode
By doing the above steps, your desktop graphical user interface becomes command oriented terminal window where you will be entering only commands from now on.
Enabling SSH for remote login
Now its time to disconnect your monitor. Before that we need to do one last step. That is, to make remote login working. When you make your desktop as a server, you have no other option other than connecting remotely via a network access.
Assuming the fact that the system (Ubuntu) has already enjoyed internet connectivity from your home router, we will move on to enabling SSH service on your machine. This service runs on port 22, which will help you connect to your home media server and acts as terminal window.
Ubuntu doesn’t have SSH enabled out of the box. You have to enable it explicitly by following the below steps:
- Install SSH service using the “
sudo apt-get install openssh-server” command.
- Start the SSH service using the “
sudo service ssh start” command.
To test whether you could able to connect to the server remotely, take your primary computer and download PuTTY software. Open the software utility and enter in the IP address of your Ubuntu server.
You can check the IP address of the server by issuing “ifconfig” command and checking IPv4 address against eth0 interface. Enter the IP address in the PuTTY and hit “Open” button. Enter the credentials of the Ubuntu server which you setup during the installation process and check whether it is showing the terminal prompt ($ prompt). This indicates that you can further step towards disconnecting your display for making Ubuntu as a headless server.
Disconnecting your display or monitor unit
Now turn off all the power for your system and the display. Disconnect the display HDMI or VGA cable, disconnect the display from power socket. And to start the server back, you just need to turn on system power, and press the power button.
Turning On/Off your media server
Shutdown your machine by giving “
sudo shutdown -h now” command. And to start the server back, you just need to turn on system power, and press the power button. To issue shutdown from now, you need to use SSH tool like PuTTY to issue shutdown command. You can also do this from your mobile by installing a SSH app from the app store. These SSH apps are available on both Android play store and iOS app store.
Plex service writes out logs when it fails to serve the media or whenever something went wrong with it. There may be some other reason for your disk to be running out of storage space for the plex to work properly. So it is recommended to perform disk clean up on regular basis.
Use the PuTTY to connect to the server remotely. Issue the following command to check the available disk storage space.
df -h” command will show you used and available free storage space. Clear up the old logs to make it tide and clean.
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