What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?



  • I have a few old towers to play with and I wanted to turn one into a media server.
    I currently just happen to serve using built-in Windows 10 DLNA but of course that leaves much to be desired.
    I also used to run Plex but that was off my workstation too.

    Now I want a standalone box that is simple enough to use but has better features. Things like faster transcoding and opening more file types. A better media browser and organization of movies/files. Easy access to copy new stuff onto the system and not use any resources of my main workstation.

    I've pretty much boiled it down to either installing Plex again on top of Win7 or 10. Or going 'Nix with Kodi.

    I'll mention I also ran PS3 media server from my workstation but always had network issues with it. Lots of disconnects.





  • This post will likely turn into a Plex vs Kodi vs other stuff debate, lol.

    Consider this my vote for Plex.

    Also, Playstation Media Server is also quite nice (and does work with other stuff, lol)



  • @dafyre said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    This post will likely turn into a Plex vs Kodi vs other stuff debate, lol.

    Consider this my vote for Plex.

    Also, Playstation Media Server is also quite nice (and does work with other stuff, lol)

    I'm aware of the "top of Google results" choices.

    Just didn't know if anything new and amazing has come out in the last few years. I've used Plex and PS3 so I'm comfortable with them. I have an account at Plex.

    I am curious to try running Kodi on Linux though, just for funsies.



  • I run Plex on CentOS 7 and it's fantastic with my Roku 3



  • I should also mention we have one TV in the house and this box would sit right next to it with a direct HDMI connection most likely.
    I would also find it nifty if I could use it with a wireless keyboard and do some other stuff like browse websites or play Youtube playlists or live events.

    In the future, it would be cool to also have it run a 2nd TV if I put one in the bedroom.



  • I've never set up a Plex server to be played directly through HDMI but I know people do it.



  • PLEX all the things.



  • @wirestyle22 said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    I've never set up a Plex server to be played directly through HDMI but I know people do it.

    I use my Plex through a roku, but I know you can do it through raspberry pi, too.



  • @Grey said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    @wirestyle22 said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    I've never set up a Plex server to be played directly through HDMI but I know people do it.

    I use my Plex through a roku, but I know you can do it through raspberry pi, too.

    Yeah I'm using a Roku 3 personally.


  • Service Provider

    I don't care if I play things through Plex or Kodi.. but I need a good server side setup. Just a NAS and let Kodi connect direct?

    Setup Plex on a box and put the media local to it?

    Really need some thoughts on the whole infrastructure. not a plex vs kodo player debate.



  • I have a CentOS 7 VM running on XenServer with Plex installed. It can be a little bit of a pain to deal with the way CentOS handles the partitioning but in my experience runs much better than the windows variant.



  • I'm running Plex as a Ubuntu VM on Hyper-V. It stores no media. Simply network access to a Dell R510 where I keep the media. The Plex VM is running on a different host because I wanted to leverage the all SSD setup. The only data on the Plex VM is the library metadata. Everything else streams over the network. It's absolutely rock solid. Transcodes X265 and X264 rips effortlessly on as many as 4 simultaneous local clients as well as 2 to 3 remote clients for family. The local playback devices are all currently Roku 4s while the remote devices are Roku 3s and Smart TVs with built-in Plex.


  • Service Provider

    Umm, I have a stock branded one that came with the single bay Zyxel unit I bought. Seems alright.



  • @NashBrydges said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    The Plex VM is running on a different host because I wanted to leverage the all SSD setup

    Meaning you wanted more "SSD HD Space" for storage of the media?



  • @wirestyle22 No, meaning I wanted all transcoding to happen on the SSDs. Had I installed the VM on the R510, I would have had the VM's vhdx on rotating platters in RAID6 so I didn't want that to get in the way of potentially resource intensive activity like transcoding. By placing the VM on the host with the SSD array, I'm leveraging that additional speed without worrying about transcoding running into some bottleneck.



  • @NashBrydges said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    @wirestyle22 No, meaning I wanted all transcoding to happen on the SSDs. Had I installed the VM on the R510, I would have had the VM's vhdx on rotating platters in RAID6 so I didn't want that to get in the way of potentially resource intensive activity like transcoding. By placing the VM on the host with the SSD array, I'm leveraging that additional speed without worrying about transcoding running into some bottleneck.

    That's an interesting solution to that problem



  • @wirestyle22 I even tossed around the idea of setting up a ramdisk on that host and use the ramdisk mapped to the Ubuntu VM to handle transcoding. I knew I might run into problems based on the x265 transcoding and the number of concurrent clients. But so far, that hasn't been necessary.

    By comparison, I had a similar setup but running on a windows VM and it wouldn't transcode anything beyond 2 streams without a 40GB ramdisk. It would stutter all over the place.



  • @NashBrydges said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    @wirestyle22 I even tossed around the idea of setting up a ramdisk on that host and use the ramdisk mapped to the Ubuntu VM to handle transcoding. I knew I might run into problems based on the x265 transcoding and the number of concurrent clients. But so far, that hasn't been necessary.

    By comparison, I had a similar setup but running on a windows VM and it wouldn't transcode anything beyond 2 streams without a 40GB ramdisk. It would stutter all over the place.

    What about SSD Caching?



  • @wirestyle22 The problem is that while transcoding, the CPU is working hard to stay ahead of the stream. So it wasn't a data access problem. Even the x265 encodes run around 35-45Mbps at most and that's easily accomplished just readin the data from the R510 as it's simply acting as network storage. But the Linux VM does the brunt of the work after that as it converts the media stream into a usable format for the player. For most setups, using standard disks would probably work fine. But throw in multiple x265 and x264 conversions and your VM will crap all over itself if it doesn't have fast media to write to...it won't be able to stay ahead of the playback streams.

    Edit: fixed spelling



  • @NashBrydges That's actually the reason I try to stick to native formats. No transcoding means very little overhead



  • @wirestyle22 That works well if you can control your playback devices. I didn't have that luxury. So transcoding is a necessity. Even if I want to stream to my laptop while on layover or at a hotel, transcode is necessary. I could store multiple versions of the files but I've already got many many TBs or mkv containers at x264 and x265. Don't have the space for all the potential versions that natively play on so many players.

    I have 4k TVs at home but my brother in law doesn't so if he is watching the same movie I am, it can play natively via Roku 4 for me but it can't for him.



  • @NashBrydges said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    @wirestyle22 That works well if you can control your playback devices. I didn't have that luxury. So transcoding is a necessity. Even if I want to stream to my laptop while on layover or at a hotel, transcode is necessary. I could store multiple versions of the files but I've already got many many TBs or mkv containers at x264 and x265. Don't have the space for all the potential versions that natively play on so many players.

    I have 4k TVs at home but my brother in law doesn't so if he is watching the same movie I am, it can play natively via Roku 4 for me but it can't for him.

    Basically what I did was just buy a Roku 3 for every person I wanted to share it with. Takes care of a christmas present and I get control :D



  • @NashBrydges said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    I have 4k TVs at home but my brother in law doesn't so if he is watching the same movie I am, it can play natively via Roku 4 for me but it can't for him.

    Yeah I don't yet but I can see where that would be frustrating



  • I have an old 2950 in service running a 2008 server for my file access (primary file storage & print server) with a couple other VMs on the host. One of those other hosts is the Ubuntu Server 14.04 (if I recall correctly) with plex on there, using smb to mount all of my movies and other media. All of my media is on DAS, internal through the perc. As I stated above, I use a roku3 to watch everything. The only problems I have is that the 2950 is underpowered and if a tv show or movie isn't encoded in a ready-to-play format, then I need to prepare to watch that show by telling plex to transcode it for watching in advance. I'm planning to upgrade to a 510 or something as soon as I have a couple grand just doing nothing. Mostly, I just want more storage.



  • It seems Roku and Kodi are not really friends.
    For the sake of conversation, we should consider them as completely separate things, not links in a chain.

    Ideally it would be nice to watch anything from any source using a single interface. Right now we have our PS3 which we use for Netflix, Hulu, Youtube, and DLNA from Win10.

    If I got a Roku, then it would seem Kodi is not the best bet, Plex is where it's at.



  • Our Roku 3 works flawlessly with Plex!



  • @dafyre said in What's the current "standard" for a media server setup these days?:

    Our Roku 3 works flawlessly with Plex!

    It's really a fantastic combination.



  • I am leaning toward Plex and Roku.

    I don't think Roku is actually necessary though, at least right away. I should be able to just plug the tower directly into the TV with an HDMI cable right? Or is Plex only accessible over the network? Even then I can just use the network without Roku.

    In any case, assume I go with Plex. Is the Linux install more or less stable and easy to use than the Windows install? It just needs to be easy to manage and easy to add media over a network share or whatever. Local storage.



  • @guyinpv You can plug the PC directly into the TV via HDMI (you'll want to make sure your video card also sends sound via the HDMI...not all do) but the noise is very quickly going to become annoying. It's hard to beat the silent Roku. Not to mention the Roku can take some stream and direct play them, relieving the stress from your PC for any transcoding work.


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