Running Plex on your Linux HTPC

Plex.tv (check out their beautiful website) is a media solution for your home that has support for many devices. It is a solution that consists of 2 components: a media server and a media player. Both are available for a wide variety of devices. This compatibility makes Plex an unparalleled media solution. Also, Plex is very good looking. So, in my opinion the top 3 reasons to choose Plex as your home media server are:

  1. Device compatibility
  2. Easy to use (it just works)
  3. Wow.. what a beautiful GUI

Plex device support

No shortage here! There is the media server, which can be installed on a server:

plex_server

Or on a NAS device:

plex_nas

There are media players for your TV:

plex_tv

Or for your mobile devices:

plex_mobile

Or for your PC:

plex_pc

Installing plexmediaserver (server) on Ubuntu Linux

Go to https://plex.tv/downloads, or install from the command line by executing:

wget http://downloads.plexapp.com/plex-media-server/0.9.9.12.504-3e7f93c/plexmediaserver_0.9.9.12.504-3e7f93c_amd64.deb
sudo dpkg -i plexmediaserver_0.9.9.10.458-008ea34_amd64.deb

Now go to http://localhost:32400/web/ to access the built-in HTML5 media player of the server. In this interface, you can also update the server and configure the media folders you want to watch for content.

Install plexhometheater (player) on Ubuntu Linux

If you have a Linux HTPC and your TV is connected as a display, then you can install the plex home theater (player) software. In that case, you would install it on the same machine as where you install the server (plexmediaserver) software. The following commands install the plexhometheater on Ubuntu Linux:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:plexapp/plexht
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:pulse-eight/libcec
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install plexhometheater

Is Plex media server free?

Plex Media Center’s source code was initially forked from XBMC Media Center on May 21, 2008; this fork is still used today as a front-end media player on Linux for Plex’s media server back-end media host component. – Wikipedia

Plex Media Server, unlike the open source plexhometheater, is proprietary software. Still, you can enjoy most of it’s features without buying the monthly subscription or a paid app. Enjoy a revolutionary TV experience!

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Stream Spotify via Airplay to your Linux HTPC

Today we will show you how to setup your Linux HTPC as AirPlay target so that you can stream music services like Spotify from your iPhone or iPad to it. A Home Theater PC (HTPC) or Media Center computer is a PC connected to a TV and/or audio system that supports video, photo, audio playback, and sometimes video recording (PVR) functionality.

Spotify is a commercial music streaming service providing DRM-protected content from a range of major and independent record labels, including Sony, EMI, Warner Music Group and Universal. Today (June 21st 2013) Spotify is available in: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, UK, US, Ireland, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Monaco, Luxemburg. It has very nice “app” for the iPad or iPhone to select and play music.

Alternatives to Spotify are:


If you have both a Linux HTPC and a (paid) Spotify premium account you can combine them into an awesome entertainment system. The convenient part is that you will use your iPhone/iPad to choose music that will be streamed over the Wifi using the AirPlay protocol to your HTPC and then to your sound system. I assume your home network/living room setup looks like this:

shairtunes_network

What we are going to do is add a service to the HTPC that allows us to play music on the stereo system. We are going to be using the AirPlay protocol that is created by Apple and allows you to play stream audio from an Apple device towards speakers or a stereo line-out. The first device to support AirPlay protocol was the AirPort express home Wifi router by Apple. Nowadays you can get a really cool portable speaker or regular speaker with Wifi support that allow you to stream directly to them using the AirPlay protocol.

Even if you are very Linux minded it could happen that you get an iPhone from your boss. In that case you might not be willing to invest in Apple (related) products like the speakers mentioned above. What you can do is install “shairport”: a software package that allows your free Linux machine to behave like an AirPlay target. This way you can enjoy music from your iPhone on your speakers via your Linux HTPC. You need to install the dependencies, download the code, compile and install it. This sounds like a lot of work, but it is actually not that hard:

sudo apt-get install build-essential libssl-dev libcrypt-openssl-rsa-perl libao-dev libio-socket-inet6-perl libwww-perl avahi-utils pkg-config
sudo cpan install HTTP::Request HTTP::Message Crypt::OpenSSL::RSA IO::Socket::INET6 Net::SDP
wget https://github.com/abrasive/shairport/archive/master.zip
unzip master.zip
cd shairport-master/
make
perl shairport.pl
sudo make install

Now all you need to do is start the “shairport” service and you are ready to enjoy your new audio setup:

sudo /etc/init.d/shairport restart

Enjoy the music!

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