Today I am going to review the app that media lovers are going to like a lot. It's not just an app but a media server that holds your media and sync it across all of your devices so that you can get your media anytime, anywhere. We're going to sync media using Plex Media Server for Linux. Plex media server is available for all operating systems including Linux operating systems, Ubuntu, Fedora and CentOS and all other derivatives.
What Is Plex Media Server?
If you have the large media library, including High definition movies, videos lectures, MP3 and photos and you want to access all media from all of your devices then Plex Media server can help you sync it with all of your devices.
Plex has what's called Plex Media server. A server can be installed on any computer or laptop. It's available for Linux too. On the other side to get media on other devices such as Mobile, Smart TVs, XBox, PlayStation etc. you can install Plex Media Client that syncs all the shared media.
It's simple to get, install and start syncing your media across your devices. Just download the Plex Media Server for your specific Linux distribution and install it. Plex Media Server is available for Ubuntu, Fedora, CentOS and all other Linux distributions based on these major Linux. So if you're using Kubuntu like me, then don't worry, download Plex Media Server for Ubuntu and it'll work perfect.
How Plex Works?
Just install the server and client for your specific device and that's all. Yes it's that simple. All you need to do is install the Plex Media Server for your Linux distribution and install the client application to which you want to sync the media files. Client applications are available for all major devices as mentioned above. In our example we'll use Windows Phone.
Plex Supported Formats, Direct Play, Direct Stream And Transcoding
You can know all about formats supported by Plex native player here at official blog post.
But when you are all set to stream your media to the client device then there may be a case that your device player does not support the media. Then what? Plex handles it for you.
Just understand this important thing -
Our media has some important properties:
When you try to sync and play the media on the synced device then your Plex app/device should support all the four properties mentioned above, namely File container, Video codec, Audio codec and Subtitle format. If your device does not support any one of those then there might be a problem. But Plex handles all of this for you. Plex converts the files specific properties that are not supported by Plex app/device.
Plex uses three terms to define what Plex server is doing when syncing. The terms are Direct Play, Direct Stream and Transcoding.
Direct Play does not require any conversion. When a media file is directly played it means it's 100% supported with the Plex client app/device. In this case almost no CPU usage on Plex Media Server.
Direct Stream means that the file is almost compatible but only container is not supported. In this case a little CPU usage is required to transcode the container for the native Plex player.
Transcoding means that audio or video or both are not supported by the native player. In this case Plex Media Server transcodes that media file's video or audio or both for native player. Transcoding requires very high or extreme CPU usage on Plex Media Server.
How To Install Plex Media Server In Linux?
Plex Media Server is available for Ubuntu, Fedora and CentOS that means you can install and use Plex on any Linux distribution based on Ubuntu, Fedora and CentOS.
Once you have downloaded the server then run it to install. You may need to run it differently depending on the Linux distribution you're using. I'm using Kubuntu therefore I will use gdebi to install the server.
When the installation is done, launch it from application menu.
Plex is a media server therefore it runs at localhost and port 32400. First of all, Read and agree to the terms and conditions of using Plex.
On top right corner you have a search engine to search your media. On top right corner you have the account menu, settings and status of the files that you've already shared with other devices.
The server by default sets the server name as the computer name. You can see my server name is LinuxAndUbuntu and this is the name will be shown on other devices. If I want I can change the server name to something else.
Below server name you have manage seciton from where you can see the status of the files that you have already shared with other devices and you can manage settings.
Under libraries you can see the online channels. You can subscribe to any channel that you like. You can also create playlists.
How To Create Libraries And Add Media Files To The Server
To create a library and add media files simple click add library. You will be presented to choose a library type. Just click the library type and enter library name and click next.
Now add the directory that contains your media. Click next.
After you click add, all media will be added.
Plex searches and adds media thumbnails automatically.
How To Sync Media With Other Devices?
Syncing is the premium feature of Plex. You can check out their all plans here. It costs somewhere 149 USD for their lifetime plan, called Plex Pass.
You can now sync this media with your other devices. But you need to first create an account. Create account here. When you have signed up you can login from Plex Media Manager.
Now to share media with other devices go to settings and goto Server tab. Sign in here also.
Now to sync any media click the media and open popup menu, click Sync.
Select the device that you want to share your media with.
One of the best part is that you can format media that you're sharing.
Now select the media server from your other device. In my case I am shared media with my smartphone and now I will sync on my phone.
First install Plex on your device. You can install Plex client on all major devices.
After you have installed Plex client on you device, you can sync server shared media. Simply from the drop-down select server device and all shared media will be available.
Remember - In order to select media server, the server should be available online.
Now you can see below my server is online and I have libraries available to sync. Remember? I shared Movies. Now I can sync it here.
As on normal Internet connection the media syncs very fast because it's first converted by the server and then sent to client device. And the quality is still very good.
You can also change video quality. The maximum quality is tha quality that you set while you were sharing media.
You can tweak settings in your client and server app to fit your needs. You can go ahead do it yourself, it's easy.
As the final note, I think Plex has done very nice to sync large media files with other devices. The way I use it is that I share educational videos with my friends and family. Sharing large videos is very easy and not time consuming. For me the best feature of the Plex is that it formats the media without affecting the quality.