Let me start by saying I LOVE PLEX!!!

I needed to get that out of the way, as I’m sure others will love their choice of Media Server just as much, but for me, Plex does almost everything I want, and even some stuff I don’t!

I’ve been using Plex almost from the start in 2009 and had played around with XMBC before that, but it wasn’t until I started using Plex that I realised how great it would be to have all my media content in once place. This was also the start of my journey to what seems like an ever-growing need for storage and various devices to try and provide this.

Before my move to OSX in 2008, I’d been pretty much a Windows guy although like most people felt a little let down by Vista and hung onto XP until I moved to the ‘light side’.  My storage in those days tended to be fulfilled by various external devices (mainly Freecom ones) with no redundancy and limited backups.  I’ve been pretty lucky when it comes to data loss, and whilst I can’t admit to never loosing anything, I’ve managed to keep everything that was important to me since I started building a mountain of digital content.  I still have pictures that were taken on my very first digital camera which I bought on a holiday to Tenerife in 2001.  Just checked and the files are 305kb!  I wouldn’t need so much space if my DSLR RAW files were the same size today!!

One scare and the loss of some replaceable data did make me buy by very first NAS which introduced some much-needed redundancy and freed up some external drives as a better backup solution.  I ran my Netgear ReadyNAS NV for a good few years, starting with 3x1TB HDDs in an RAID5 configuration, then shortly after 4x1TB.  I’m sure each time I’ve upgraded I’ve thought that should last for a good few years, but invariably it never does!  4x2TB doubled my capacity, and felt like an enormous amount at the time, although created its own problem in terms of backing up.

Eventually, it all became too much, and the perfect solution appeared to be another NAS, with the NV relegated to backup duty.  In stepped my 1st HP Microserver, with 4x3TB HDDs and a switch to running FreeNAS, in the early days of 9.0 and after the split from NAS4Free.  Not long enough after that, I bought a 2nd HP Microserver (I’m still running this today as a backup) with 4x4TB HDDs and the 1st HP became a backup.  I sold the NV unit on eBay with the 2TB drives – I wonder if it’s still going today?

You might be wondering why I’ve gone off down memory lane lamenting about old NAS devices, but there was a point somewhere.  Yes, remembered – MEDIA.

Films, TV Shows, Pictures, Home Videos, Music and most recently saved OTA broadcasts using Plex DVR need storage, and if you don’t delete anything, you just need more and more and more and… you get the point.

And it’s all Plex’s fault!  Well, not really, but feeding Plex seems to be at least part of my problem.  I know, I know, there are services that can provide all this now for less than the cost of a 4TB HDD a year, but back when I started there wasn’t and I really like the idea of my own personal Netflix well before anyone had even heard of Netflix (or Amazon Prime or iTunes).  And once you’ve started, at least I’ve found it hard to stop!

And part of that is that Plex is so damn great.  It makes watching stuff across pretty much any device, from just about anywhere simple and it looks great too.  It also allows you to share content with friends and family, although obviously, just Home Video as other stuff would be really bad 😮

You won’t be surprised to hear I have Plex Media Server running in a FreeNAS jail on freenas1.  I actually have 2 Plex jails, one for my main server and the other running the DVR beta, with the content shared so it appears in both.  I also have separate jails running PlexPy (a monitoring program so I can see who is watching what) and PlexEmail (a notification program to let people know what’s been added each week).

For anyone interested in what replaced the 2nd HP Microserver (aka. freenas1) see my blog on Networking here.  Needless to say, I went big to hopefully provide my storage requirements for the next 3-4 years although I’m down to just under 10TB of free space so who know 😀

I must use Plex every day, mainly through an Apple TV 4 hooked up to my TV but also on my iOS and macOS devices throughout the house.  There is a Plex client for just about anything, so I wasn’t worried about finding one for Linux.

I was slightly surprised to find it wasn’t in the AppCenter, and even more surprised to find it only recently became an officially supported Plex app based around Plex Home Theatre (the latest and greatest is Plex Media Player), but it’s pretty easy to install from here > https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/87255/the-plex-home-theater-debs-thread/p1

There are also 3rd party versions (OpenPHT being the most popular) that I might take a look at later down the line, but for now, this works just as I expected it would – beautifully!

One of the things that Plex doesn’t do (yet) is play live OTA broadcasts (although the fact you can record them must mean it’s not far away)  There is actually an unofficial Channel app (HDHR Viewer) that works, but I actually find it easier to use VLC Media Player, as I use that for other IPTV services.   VLC was in the AppCenter so installing that is just a couple of clicks.

Anyway, apologies for my someone drawn out Plex story, but it’s one of those ‘deal breakers’ if it came to switching over to Linux, and did I mention that I LOVE PLEX!

 

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