Plex Media Server and NAS SMB Mount

Until recently I struggled along with Plex Media Server running on an underpowered Synology NAS unit. Whilst it worked for files of a certain encoding, it had significant issues trying to transcode on the fly. Rather than have to try and re-encode the DVD's I'd started to digitise from my collection I figured I'd give it a little bit more horsepower on a spare dual-core Intel box.

Installing Plex

The box I am now using is a Core2-Duo 1.86Ghz unit with 2Gb RAM - adequate for undertaking some transcode on the fly antics as well as running the plex interface.

Operating system-wise I've opted for Debian to make things straightforward and compatible with anything I need to throw onto the box.
As usual I put all the normal security and network debugging items on the unit so I can lock the box down as necessary and find faults if they occur.

Installing the plex system was as simple as grabbing the package from Plex and running a dpkg to install:

dpkg -i plexmediaserver_1.3.3.3148-b38628e_amd64.deb

The main configuration happens in the web browser interface on port 32400:
http://{ip of unit}:32400/web

Mapping Storage

My local drive on the plex box is quite small in comparison to the NAS units I have on my network already populated with my media. I don't want to have to connect drives to this unit directly inside or over USB seeing as I already have my media on my NAS units so I decided to SMB mount my media before configuring Plex.

Install the Samba services client to connect to my Windows share:

apt-get install cifs-utils smbclient -y

Create the folder locally and mount the share:
mkdir /mnt/plexmedia
sudo chown -R plex:plex /mnt/plexmedia/
mount -t cifs //{nas box ip}/{share} /mnt/plexmedia/ -o username=myusername,password=mypassword

This creates a locally mapped folder for plex to use to read from. The only really huge consideration to note is the bandwidth of the network the unit connects over - my units are cabled with switched 1Gbps and lowest 100Mbps segments on my home LAN to ensure I don't suffer bottlenecks.

Tweaks and Observations

Running the system up, I also need to provide a punch-through on my firewall to the unit on the 32400 if I want to access the box from the outside world with Plex services. My Roku unit easily connects to the box and can request videos at resolutions to suit it. I call that a win for half an hour's work.

Taking things forward I've put in an auto mount into my fstab for as and when the box needs to reboot and I've set up automatic indexing of media in case new files are pushed to the NAS box. I've had to do some fixing of movie data where it has picked the wrong version of a movie name, but on the whole a great experience so far.

Plex is a great system for media delivery and the setup is really simple to manage. If you're looking for something to deliver content to your devices at home, I'd heartily recommend it.

Happy hacking!

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