Now that we have our server setup and we actually have some media installed on it following the steps in Part 4, we now need a way to serve up that media to devices on our network.
Fortunately there’s an extremely popular application for doing just that; Plex.
Plex is designed to catalogue your media on a server and then pump it out to client applications on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, Android and most brands of Smart TV. It’s quickly becoming ubiquitous in the media streaming game and it’s the perfect choice for our server.
A word on Plex; the software itself is free to download and use (mobile apps require purchase). It does also offer some features to premium users who subscribe to a Plex Pass. My advice would be to research whether or not you need these features before committing to a subscription. I got along for years on the free service, only eventually upgrading because I wanted to be able to store content within the Plex app on my phone and I wanted to be able to use the advanced DVR functionality (more on that later).
Installing Plex is a relatively painless task. The first thing you’ll need to do is add the Plex repositories to the list Ubuntu checks for updates:
echo deb https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb public main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plexmediaserver.list
curl https://downloads.plex.tv/plex-keys/PlexSign.key | sudo apt-key add -
Run each of these commands in turn and you’ll add Plex’s repository to your system. Not only will this allow us to install the Plex software, it’ll also allow us to update it via a sudo apt-get upgrade command.
Next you’ll need to actually install the software;
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plexmediaserver
Once the installation has finished Plex is installed, simple!
To test your installation you’ll need to navigate to Plex’s web interface via the browser on any device on your home network. Open a browser and type in the following:
<your servers IP address>:32400/web
You should be prompted with Plex’s splash screen. Even if you’re using the free service it’s still a requirement for you to setup a Plex account. Once done you’ll then be able to setup your media libraries.
There is little point in me replicating the excellent work that the Plex team have already done in showing how to setup your system, so instead I’ll just link to their setup guide here, you can ignore step 1 as you’ve already covered that off by reading this guide!
And that’s Part 5!
Our server is now beginning to actually function inside our home. It’s storing data which we can access from other devices and now it’s streaming our media library to them as well.
In Part 6 we’re going to look at a slightly more complicated task; setting up our server as a personal cloud, allowing our data to automatically sync between our devices and our server.