How to Setup a Raspberry Pi Plex Server

In this tutorial, I go through all the steps to getting your very own Raspberry Pi plex server up and running.

Raspberry Pi Plex Server

This project is perfect for anyone who wants to have a media server that can be accessed by anyone within a household. You can also set it up to be accessed outside your local network.

Plex is a client-server setup where the client directly streams data from the Plex media server. This setup means you can have all your movies, music, and photos located on the one device, the server. In this case, we will be using the Raspberry Pi.

You can then have multiple clients connect to the same server. It is great as you don’t need to have multiple copies of the same media across several devices.

The Plex client is supported on a ton of devices including Windows, Apple, Android, Amazon Fire TV, Chromecast, Xbox, PlayStation, Linux, and so much more. It really is a fantastic home media solution.

If you just want a single client without the whole server setup, then something like the Raspberry Pi Kodi media center might interest you more.

Equipment

You will need the following equipment to be able to complete this Raspberry Pi Plex server tutorial.

Recommended

Raspberry Pi 2, 3 or newer

Micro SD Card

Power Supply

Ethernet Cord or Wifi dongle (Best to stick with Ethernet for a media server though)

Optional

Raspberry Pi Case

USB Keyboard

USB Mouse

External Hard drive or USB Drive (For storing movies, music & photos)

NOTE: This will not work at all on older versions of the Pi. A Raspberry Pi 2 or later will work.

Video

In this video project we will be walking you through the steps of installing the Plex Media Server to your Raspberry Pi.

Be sure to also check out the written version of our Plex guide below.

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Setting up the Raspberry Pi Plex Server

In this tutorial, I will be using Raspbian so if you haven’t got it installed then check out my guide on how to setup Raspbian here.

If you want to run a slim version of Raspbian, then you should take a look at installing Raspbian Lite.

Preparing your Pi for Plex

1. Now before we install the Plex Media Server software to the Raspberry Pi, we need first to ensure our operating system is entirely up to date by running the following two commands.

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

2. To install the Plex packages to the Raspberry Pi, we will need to add the official Plex package repository.

Before we do that we need to install the “apt-transport-https” package.

This package allows the “apt” package manager to retrieve packages over the “https” protocol that the Plex repository uses.

Install the package by running the command below.

sudo apt-get install apt-transport-https

3. Let’s now add the Plex repositories to the “apt” package managers key list.

This key is used to ensure the files that you are downloading are in fact from that repository and signed by that key.

Run the following command to download and add the key to the package manager.

curl https://downloads.plex.tv/plex-keys/PlexSign.key | sudo apt-key add -

4. With the Plex GPG key now added, we can finally add the official plex repository to the sources list by running the following command.

echo deb https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb public main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plexmediaserver.list

5. As we have just added a new repository to our sources, we will need to run the “update” command again to refresh the package list.

sudo apt-get update

If you get the error “/usr/lib/apt/methods/https could not be found.” Then the https transport package hasn’t been installed. Double check that it has been installed correctly.

Installing Plex to your Raspberry Pi

1. Now that we have set up our Raspberry Pi so that it can read from Plex’s official package repositories we can go ahead and finally install the Plex Media server package to the Pi.

To install the “plexmediaserver” package, run the command below.

sudo apt install plexmediaserver

2. The installation process for Plex sets up a few different things for us.

The first is that it creates a user and group for Plex to run under. This user and group is called “plex“.

It also will set up two directories, one where to store files temporarily that Plex is transcoding. You can find this folder at “/var/lib/plexmediaserver/tmp_transcoding“.

The second directory is where Plex will store all the metadata it retrieves for your media. This folder can be found at “/var/lib/plexmediaserver/Library/Application Support

3. As Plex is running a different user to the Raspberry Pi’s default “pi” user, you will need to make sure you have permissions set correctly on your drive.

If you need help setting up your external drive with Plex, you can try following our guide on mounting a USB drive on Raspbian.

Setting a Static IP Address for your Plex Server

1. Now that we have installed Plex to our Raspberry Pi we should make sure that we are using a static IP address.

There are two reasons to use a static IP. One is that the IP will be easier to remember. Second is that it will make sure your Plex server can always be found at the same address.

To get your current IP address, enter the following command.

hostname -I

2. Now open up the cmdline.txt file.

sudo nano /boot/cmdline.txt

3. At the bottom of this file, add the following line: (Replacing “YOUR IP” with the IP you got from using hostname -I)

ip=YOUR IP

4. Once done, exit by pressing CTRL + X and then Y to save.

5. Now simply restart the Pi by running the following command.

sudo reboot

6. The Pi should now always start with the same IP. You can also set this on most routers by tying the mac address of your network device (WiFi or Ethernet) to an IP.

Now the Raspberry Pi Plex media server should be all set up and ready to scan your media and stream it any client that wishes to connect. I will go through some basics of setting everything up below.

Storing Media on the Raspberry Pi

Now there are several ways to store your media on the Raspberry Pi. I will mention each of the methods below.

You can hook up an external hard drive with all your music, movies and whatever else you may have. Setting the Plex program to run as the Pi user means you can plug a USB hard drive in and access the media in Plex without any issues.

You’re also able to mount drives permanently; I have already covered this in a previous tutorial, so be sure to check out my guide on how to mount a USB hard drive to the Raspberry Pi. Make sure you set the user & group owner of the drive to Pi.

Another option is to your Pi up to act as a NAS so you can transfer your media across to it without needing to disconnect and reconnect a hard drive.

You can set this all up by following my tutorial on setting up a Raspberry Pi network attached storage.

Lastly, you can use the SD card for storage, but as you could imagine, this will quickly run out of space. You can set up a folder on the SD card to be accessed via the network.

Connecting Clients to The Plex Media Server on the Raspberry Pi

If you’re using an app on your phone, computer, Xbox, PlayStation, or any other device, then the Plex client should be able to pick up on the server automatically.

You will, unfortunately, find the official mobile Plex applications are behind a paywall. For example, you will need to pay money to get full access to all the features. However, all other apps, including the web app, should be free with only a small set of features requiring a subscription.

To connect to the browser, enter the IP followed by the port 32400 and /web/. For example, mine is.

192.168.1.100:32400/web/

You will be prompted to log in, simply sign up or sign in to an existing plex account. You can skip this by just entering by entering the address above again.

Next, you will need to set up your music, movie, and TV show libraries. This process is incredibly easy and shouldn’t be too hard in getting it set up correctly.

1. First select add library in the left-hand side column.
Add Library

2. Next, select the type of media that is in the folder. If you have more than one type, then you will need to add a new library for each type of media.

Media Type

3. Next, you will need to select the folder that has all your media in it.

For example, mine is on a USB drive that is displayed in the left-hand side column or can be found at /media/pi/ESD-USB

Add Folder
4. Once you add the library, it will now organize your clips in a nice easy to browse interface.

If you need more information on how to setup, name and organize your media library, then Plex has an amazing amount of documentation on naming and organization.

Fixing File Permission Errors with Plex

One of the most common problems you may run into with Plex on your Raspberry Pi is with it being unable to access your files. The most common cause of this issue is incorrect permissions.

This section will show you how to modify the permissions for an ext4 drive.

If you are running an NTFS or FAT formatted drive, you will need to try remounting your disk drive and adjusting its mounting options. The reason for this is that the NTFS and FAT filesystems do not support the Linux permission system.

1. To begin, work out the location of the drive or folder that you want to adjust the permissions for.

For example we have an ext4 drive mounted to our Raspberry Pi at the location /mnt/pimounteddisk/.

2. As the next two commands need to be executed as the superuser, let’s change to it by running the following command.

sudo su

3. With the path to your drive or folder in hand, we are going to make use of the following two commands.

Make sure that when you run these that you replace [YOURDRIVEPATH], with the path you want to adjust permissions on.

find [YOURDRIVEPATH] -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;
find [YOURDRIVEPATH] -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

The second command finds all directories and assigns the owner “read“, “write” and “execute” privileges and gives all other uses “read” and “execute” privileges.

The third command is used to find all files and will assign the owner “read” and “write” privileges, and all other users will get the “read” permission.

4. Once those commands have finished running, we can go ahead and exit out of the superuser mode.

exit

5. You should now be able to interact with your media files from within Plex successfully.

Hopefully, at this stage, you will now have Plex up and running on your Raspberry Pi without any issues.

If you come across any issues or have some feedback, then please don’t hesitate to leave a comment below.

99 Comments

  1. Avatar for JR
    JR on

    Thanks for the excellent tutorial. I too ran into small detailed issues but between this and youtube I was able to get up and running perfectly, in and outside the network. I am very new to all things Pi so forgive me if this seems like a dumb question, but If we run this as a headless server, is it ok to just ssh in and sudo shutdown or could that corrupt or damage any files or necessary information? If so, what is the best way to shutdown for periodic cleaning, movement, etc?

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi JR,

      Glad to hear that you got it all up and running! Always feel free to comment if you have any issues and we will try our best to correct the tutorial to deal with them.

      In the case of shutting down your raspberry Pi. Shutting down your Raspberry Pi using ssh then sudo shutdown is the cleanest way of powering down your Raspberry Pi.

      Shutdown works by sending a signal to all running programs that they should terminate cleanly so you should avoid any corrutption by using this.

      We have a quick run through of the steps the command takes during the powering down process in our how to shutdown a Raspberry Pi guide.

      Let me know if that answers your question.

      Cheers,
      Emmet

  2. Avatar for mbourgon
    mbourgon on

    Howdy! I too have a question about updating.
    I ran through this tutorial a week ago – really liked it, seemed easy and worked right out of the box – sweet!

    Tonight, I tried patching and it didn’t appear to grab anything, so I looked in /etc/apt/sources.list.d/. I see two files:
    plexmediaserver.list plexmediaserver.list.dpkg-old

    Okay, odd, but….sure. What do they look like inside?

    "
    dpkg-old:
    deb https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb public main
    "

    Cool, cool. That looks fine.

    How about plexmediaserver.list:

    # When enabling this repo please remember to add the PlexPublic.Key into the apt setup.
    # wget -q https://downloads.plex.tv/plex-keys/PlexSign.key -O - | sudo apt-key add -
    #deb https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb/ public main

    Whoa! It looks like it’s disabled. I uncommented out line 3 and ran sudo apt update and, this time, got:

    Get:6 https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb public/main armhf Packages [1,248 B]
    Fetched 7,933 B in 2s (3,185 B/s)   
    Reading package lists... Done
    Building dependency tree       
    Reading state information... Done
    1 package can be upgraded. Run 'apt list --upgradable' to see it.

    (I then did “sudo apt upgrade”, and now I’m current. (Yay!)
    This may be the solution for some of the other people having problems upgrading. I have no idea why it renamed things. Unsure if you want to mention this in the tutorial.

  3. Avatar for TimK
    TimK on

    Have a question, as new updates for plex for RPI are sent, how can you from the command line update to the new version without unplugging it running it to a TV and downloading the update?

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi TimK,

      You can use SSH to connect to the Raspberry Pi then update the existing packages by running the following two commands.

      sudo apt update
      sudo apt upgrade

      Cheers,
      Emmet

    2. Avatar for David
      David on

      Unfortunately it didn’t work for me.

      I’ve got a message (An update is available. Please install manually.) but after update, upgrade and reboot it is still there.
      I set up the PMS about a month ago following the instructions of this tutorial.

      Could you help me how to update PMS?

    3. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi David,

      If there is no update available then you will have to wait until one is made available by the Plex team.

      The Plex Media Server updates are all provided through their package repository.

      Cheers,
      Emmet

    4. Avatar for mbourgon
      mbourgon on

      @TimK you may need to edit the plexmediaserver.list file – I just ran into the same problem, and posted the solution as reply to the main post.

  4. Avatar for James Ingham
    James Ingham on

    Hi Emmet

    I’ve followed your instructions, and everything seemed to go smoothly..no error messages etc… However, when I navigate to the plex page, either remotely (http://ipaddress:32400/web), or on the Pi (localhost:32400/manage), I get “this site can’t be reached. 192.168.x.x refused to connect.” in Chrome. Any suggestions please ?

    Many Thanks
    James

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi James,

      I just re-ran through the tutorial and everything seems to be working as it should be.

      Can you try running the following command. It should give us an idea if anything is going wrong.

      sudo systemctl status plexmediaserver

      Cheers,
      Emmet

    2. Avatar for Jasper
      Jasper on

      Hi Emmet,
      I have the same issue, here’s my output for that command:
      pi@raspberrypi:~ $ sudo systemctl status plexmediaserver

      ● plexmediaserver.service – Plex Media Server
      Loaded: loaded (/lib/systemd/system/plexmediaserver.service; enabled; vendor
      Active: failed (Result: signal) since Mon 2020-03-16 10:32:53 GMT; 2min 27s a
      Process: 803 ExecStartPre=/bin/sh -c /usr/bin/test -d “${PLEX_MEDIA_SERVER_APP
      Process: 805 ExecStart=/bin/sh -c export PLEX_MEDIA_SERVER_INFO_VENDOR=”$(gre
      Main PID: 805 (code=killed, signal=ABRT)

      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: plexmediaserver.service: Service Restart
      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: plexmediaserver.service: Scheduled resta
      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: Stopped Plex Media Server.
      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: plexmediaserver.service: Start request r
      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: plexmediaserver.service: Failed with res
      Mar 16 10:32:53 raspberrypi systemd[1]: Failed to start Plex Media Server.

    3. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi Jasper,

      Looks like the important lines were clipped a bit. Can you try getting the full output?

      Cheers,
      Emmet

  5. Avatar for René
    René on

    Hi Emmet, I cant find this:
    You now instead need to modify the service itself. Just follow the new additions under the “Installing Plex to your Raspberry Pi” subheading.

    You have a link for me?

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi René,

      I have since changed the tutorial to not require changes to the service anymore and instead use the plex user.

      Cheers,
      Emmet

  6. Avatar for Juanita
    Juanita on

    I followed the directions, but please seems to be a client instead of a server. When I click on Your Media, I get a button to get plex media server which takes me to the plex site. What did I do wrong?

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi Juanita,

      It looks like your Plex client is for some reason not detecting the Plex Media Server installation on your Raspberry Pi.

      Plex is only avaialble officially as a server on the Raspberry Pi so there is no way you could of installed a client instead by following these steps.

      We have adjusted the tutorial to fix an issue with the previous installation steps so make sure you run back through the tutorial agian.

      Cheers,
      Emmet

    2. Avatar for Tony
      Tony on

      It is also worth trying to access your server using http://ipaddress:32400/web
      Instead of raspberry pi.local should you be trying that.

      I had the same issue last weekend and had to kick start it in this manner.

      I’m also assuming your server has not yet been claimed.
      If it has through a previous attempt, you may have to delete the Plexmediaserver.conf file in the /var/…..location (apologies, I don’t recall the exact location and I’m away from my server)

  7. Avatar for Kevin
    Kevin on

    Hi Emmet,
    When I go in to edit the sudo nano /etc/default/plexmediaserver to change the user name from Plex to Pi, I get a blank file with nothing to edit. Any ideas?

    1. Avatar for Emmet
      Emmet on Editor

      Hi Kevin,

      There has been a recent change to the Plex Media Server package. We have now modified the tutorial with a solution to this.

      You now instead need to modify the service itself. Just follow the new additions under the “Installing Plex to your Raspberry Pi” subheading.

      Cheers,
      Emmet

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