Media Center Awesome-Sauce: Plex Media Center
I recently came back to this software after many years of being on XBMC and moving fully to Linux, and I was blow away. This software is the bee’s knee’s, the macaroni’s elbow, the cream of the crop, the king of Kong. Plex is a centralized media server that is highly portable, scalable, and reliable. It will run on almost anything and its transcoding ability is quite literally the best I have come across. Interested? Read on for more:
You’re still here! Great, don’t mind me, I just have attention issues, and when I find something super cool and nerdy/geeky, I go into full ADD mode…never go full ADD mode. Ok, so this software is seriously the best out there at the moment. “Well, what the hell happened to XBMC?” I still love XBMC and highly recommend it and actually prefer many of its features, but this software media server’s advantages are what takes me over to the “dark side.” Actually, Plex runs as a fork of XBMC. Some of its look at features will feel quite familiar to you, if coming from XBMC.
What set’s Plex apart from XBMC, is its capability. Plex supports what is necessary (subtitles, media tagging detection, and the like), and makes it available on ANYTHING. Also, Plex has the ability to play/stream your content from anywhere at anytime. I can add a media file to Plex, leave the house, watch part of it on my Android phone while waiting for an appointment, pause, then resume at that exact time back home or on another device! Check out the supported hardware:
- Windows XP/7/8
- Mac OS X
- NAS boxes
- Mobile (Android/iOS/Windows Phone 7/8)
- Popular media devices (Roku, Raspberry Pi, LG TV’s, Samsung TV’s, Google TV, and more)
Now getting down to installing on Linux:
The best way to do this, is to head on over to http://www.plexapp.com/getplex/ and click the Linux header link at the top. You will be presented with 3 choices of package types. Even if your distribution of choice is not* listed have no fear, and quickly realize if your distro uses any of these package managers, you’re good to go! (i.e. Linux Mint, a variant of Ubuntu).
After installation, now comes the “fun” part. Now I say “fun,” because sometimes this installation is NOT very fun AT ALL. After Plex is up and running, adding your media on Linux is easy, provided it does not reside on another server or attached storage. I would get familiar with these 2* commands when adding an external drive, another server path, or removable media, as permissions and owners will sometimes drive you nuts:
sudo chmod -Rv 755 /path/to/media sudo chown -Rv user:group /path/to/media
Possibly Optional (soft link fix):
I don’t know if this extra step is required, but support did offer it to me in the mix of the above tinkering:
sudo mkdir /plexmedialibrary sudo ln -s /target/path/of/media /plexmedialibrary
This set of commands creates the desired directory to plex, then connects that path to your media location. I did this immediately after fixing permissions and I believe it did the extra trick. You may omit this step if you do not experience any issues.
Adding media is very* straightforward. I HIGHLY suggest you first review Plex’s Media Naming and Organization Guide first. You will thank me later. That page will get you the information you need for organizing your media correctly. XBMC is the king of “automagically” finding relevant pictures/info for each of your media files, while Plex sometimes may get this wrong, hence the guide listed above.
That said, add some media! When you first run Plex, a wizard will offer to run you through adding media. If you have skipped this, simply hit the + icon in the media server window, and you’ll see something like this:
From there, things are quite easy, and you’ll get right moving along, naming the collection and putting in the path to your media files. You do have the ability to enter multiple paths, so have no fear amigo. Plex by default will do what it calls a “Turbo Scan” to quickly pool all your movies, and will add “meta data” (pictures, info, and so on) later. You however, may do a “deep scan” (…no thanks Doctor, hah), and the two operations will occur as well as a more through scan of your media. I do not advise doing a deep scan right away, or on a very large music collection where the number of files can reach into the 10’s of thousands. It is best to run a deep scan overnight, you’ll thank me. But if you do, Plex often does* keep up on multi-core computers, in being able to scan and watch on another device somewhere else.
So what do YOU think? Do you use Plex? What are your experiences with Plex? If you use XBMC instead, why?
Leave em below,