Ultimate Media Server Stack: Plex + Open Media Vault + Debian Wheezy Part 1

Bye Bye XBMC

Like many of you I have been longing for the perfect media center solution for a long time. Years ago I began to try my hand at many media center solutions. The early days were filled with hours wasted on Windows Media Center and the kind of disappointment that only Microsoft could provide. Since then I’ve bounced from Windows Media Center to Boxee, from there to XBMC, and finally to a computer running VLC. At some point I gave up on my dream of a simple and powerful media center and switched to a simple media player playing media from network storage. I have nothing against VLC, it’s a wonderful media player, but it really was a marker of defeat for me. As for the other media center solutions mentioned, I found them cumbersome to use and never really got the experience that I expected.

Then one day I heard about Plex from my co-worker, thanks Adam! At first I thought to myself, “Oh great another media center that I’ll use for a week and then never touch again and revert back to VLC.” After he showed me a few features like playing media through a browser, and streaming to mobile devices over a cellular network I was hooked. I asked him what operating system and hardware combination he was was using to host the server. He explained that he was using windows and a modestly powered HP desktop. Immediately I started googling and found that Plex ran on Debian! Finally, a headless media server solution!?

Okay okay, enough of that. Lets get to the good stuff!


An Overview

Some of you may be familiar with Linux, and others might even be familiar with Debian. In this tutorial we’re going to be using a Debian based Linux distribution as our operating system. The distro is named Open Media Vault, and is an open source NAS solution similar to FreeNas. The main difference is that FreeNas run on top of FreeBSD and OMV runs on top of Debian Linux. If we run Plex in conjunction with OMV a whole world of possibilities open up like: Samba(cifs, smb) shares, nfs shares, afp shares, and even a home made Time Machine server for computers running OS X. After OMV is installed and configured we’ll move onto installing Plex.

One last note, I’ll be doing this in a virtual machine on VMWare Fusion. I suggest you also try this in a virtual environment and then re-do it on your production machine. If you do not have a VMware product to use, VirualBox will work just fine.


Heads Up!

  • The IP address I will use is: replace with your server’s ip when needed.
  • I’ll be using a virtual machine in VMWare Fusion, transpose my methods to your environment.
  • I’ll be using three 20gb virtual hard drives, you may have more or less but the steps should be the same.


Step One: The Machine

Start off by downloading OMV from here: http://sourceforge.net/projects/openmediavault/files/latest/download?source=files

While that’s downloading create a new VM and make sure the VM has three hard drives, they do not have to be huge if you are just testing.

Watch Out!

If you are using a physical box make sure you use hard drives that are empty or contain only junk data. They will be reformatted!

Adding a second hard drive to my VM.

Adding a second hard drive to my VM.










Set the network adapter to bridged:

VM Network settings on Fusion for Mac.











Mount the ISO in the VM:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.33.58 PM

ISO is mounted.











Power on the VM:

Boot from CD to installer.

Boot from CD to installer.












Step Two: The OS

Once the CD has booted fully you’ll see a dark blue screen with red text. This is the Debian installer. Follow the prompts and answer the questions with pertinent answers. OMV might ask you to set a static IP in here at some point. Other than that most of the questions will be fairly straight forward and will only require you to press enter.

Once the installation is complete you’ll see this:

Reboot to finish the installation.

Reboot to finish the installation.











Finally after the VM reboots you’ll see this screen:

Screen Shot 2014-12-11 at 10.42.28 PM

IP address, username, and password are displayed.










Make note of the the IP address, username, and password.

Open a web browser and enter the IP address of the VM into your browser and login when you see the login page. Click on “General Settings” in the left hand side of the browser. Then click on the “Web Administrator Password” tab. Change the password to something that you’ll remember. Also I suggest changing the login timeout on the previous tab, 5 minutes can be annoyingly short.


Select “Update Manager” from the left hand pane. Then click “ Check” and allow OMV to refresh your apt-cache. Once it is finished check the checkbox that selects all of the packages displayed and perform an “ Upgrade”
Format your second hard drive by clicking on “File Systems” under the “Storage” section on the left hand pane. Then click “ Create” and select the second disk from the drop down box, leave “EXT4” selected if your disk is less than 1TB. If you have a larger disk you should look into XFS or JFS. Give the filesystem a label and select ok. Then click “ Mount” and “Apply” to bring the new file system online. Repeat this on the third hard drive.

Creating a new file system.

Creating a new file system.







Now enable ssh on the server by going to “SSH” under services on the left hand pane. Check the enable box, click save and then apply when prompted. At this point your server is ready for Plex, we’ll come back to OMV later.


Step Three: The Media Server

Start by opening a ssh session to you media server. On a *nix system open a terminal and type:

ssh [email protected]

On Windows, use putty.

Enter the root password when prompted.

The root password was set during installation and is different than the web admin password

Enter the following commands:

# install curl apt-get install curl -y # install the plex repo pgp key curl http://shell.ninthgate.se/packages/shell.ninthgate.se.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add - # if you have plex pass enter this: echo 'deb http://shell.ninthgate.se/packages/debian plexpass main' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plex.list # if you do NOT have plex pass enter this: echo 'deb http://shell.ninthgate.se/packages/debian wheezy main' > /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plex.list apt-get update && apt-get upgrade -y && apt-get install plexmediaserver -y;

If all goes well plex should be running at this point! Browse to to finish configuring your Plex server. You’ll need a Plex account to set things up properly. You’ll also need to forward port 32400 in your router to the ip of your plex server to use advanced features like remote streaming with apps and camera upload. Enjoy your new Plex server!


Heads Up!

  • At this time I would refrain from migrating your media. We will be configuring your hard disk using MHDDFS.
  • It would be a opportune time to create a Plex account if you do not have one.


In the next post I’ll cover how to fuse our hard disks into one file system.

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