Without a doubt, streaming has changed how people consume media. Not only has it made media easily accessible from anywhere in the world at any time, but it has made media consumption very convenient.
Rather than being limited to watching your favorite movie in the cinema or on television, streaming allows you to watch your favorite shows on devices such as smartphones, tablets, and computers, among others devices.
People have slowly moved from renting and owning copies of movies and TV shows to paying for subscriptions on streaming platforms such as Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, and Amazon Prime. However, as more people embrace streaming services, more and more people are being drawn to the allure of owning their own copies of their favorite shows.
As much as streaming services are very convenient, users have no control over the media found on streaming platforms. Your favorite shows might be removed from streaming platforms, and you can’t do a thing about it.
Additionally, streaming services can be costly, they are limited by internet speeds and track and exploit users’ watching habits.
Users can avoid all this by creating their own local streaming service of some sort, where they store their own copies of their favorite shows and stream the shows across multiple devices connect to their local network. To do this, all one needs is their own media server.
A media server is a hardware device or software application that allows for storage, management, and access of multimedia content such as video, photos, and music, among others. A media server is typically used to store multimedia content and share the stored content on a local network.
With a media server, users can store movies, music, and TV shows and stream that content across multiple devices connected to their local network. Users simply need to add media content to their media server, and that content will be accessible across multiple devices, be it televisions, smartphones, or computers connected to their local network.
Benefits of using Linux Media Server
Some of the benefits of using a Linux Media Server include:
Control over content
Using your own media server allows you to have absolute control over the content stored and available on the media server.
In that regard, you’ll no longer have to fear your favorite shows being removed from streaming platforms as you own your copies of the shows. You can also enforce parental controls on your media server and protect young users from accessing harmful content.
Fast access to media
A media server uses the local network to stream content across multiple devices. In that regard, you won’t have to worry about internet speeds, lack of internet connection, or having to wait for your shows to finish buffering.
Local networks have very fast speeds of up to 1,000Mbps, and thus, multiple users can stream from a media server without experiencing any downtimes, reduced media quality, or waiting for content to buffer.
Using your own Linux Media Server helps you avoid having your user behavior, such as watching habits, being captured by streaming services. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about your personal information being abused.
Owning your own copies of your media files will help you save on costs in the long run. You will avoid paying for subscription costs and also software costs as there are free and open-source media servers available. Additionally, you save on space as you avoid wasting storage by having the same content stored on multiple devices for you to access them.
For users keen on control over their content, user privacy, cost saving, and fast access to their media by multiple users across multiple devices, a media server is a worthwhile investment.
To help you in picking a media server, here are some great options for Linux media server software that will help you control, manage, share, and easily access your favorite media.
Plex is one of the most popular and most used media servers available, and for a good reason. Aside from the standard features you’d expect from media server software that allows you to easily manage and stream your media files from your own local server, it comes with awesome additional features.
Plex can find metadata such as titles, episode names, and casts and automatically sort and arrange your media files into folders based on their metadata. In addition to a well-designed user interface that is both intuitive and easy to use, Plex allows its users to search for movies and shows across multiple streamlining platforms, all from one place.
Plex comes with a free tier and a paid tier which users can pay $4.99 for a monthly subscription, $39.99 for an annual subscription, or a lifetime subscription for $119.99.
Allows access to media files from any device
Support for a wide range of media formats
Hardware acceleration using hardware encoders
Comes with an audio player to play audio files at their full bit rate
Supports remote access to your local media server from anywhere in the world
Allows recording of broadcast television from a set-top box or antenna
Supports download of media files from local server to mobile device
Access to over 300 live tv channels and over 50000 on-demand movies and tv shows completely free
Kodi is a free and open-source media server software that is available across multiple platforms and comes with a highly customizable and user-friendly user interface and excellent user support provided by its large community of users and volunteers.
Kodi allows users to easily play and view media files from local storage, network storage media, and also from the internet.
Users can get a new skin to change the look of Kodi
Supports all the major media file formats
Users can play games on Kodi
Has a web-based interface
Supports watching and recording live TV
Free downloadable Add-ons which add extra features
Supports hundreds of remotes allowing users to control and access their media files using remote controls
Emby is a paid-for, personal media server that allows users to manage, control and view media files in their local media server in addition to allowing users to enforce parental restrictions for users accessing the media server.
Additionally, once Emby users add media files to their media server, Emby automatically fetches the media posters and banners from the internet and allows users to choose movie posters and banners from a variety of options and even add their own posters.
Users can pay for Emby Premiere by purchasing a recurring monthly subscription at $4.99, an annual subscription for $54, or a lifetime license at $119.
Hardware Accelerated Transcoding
Supports downloading of media files to mobile devices for offline access
Cinema intros with trailers and custom intros
Offers conversion of media content into streaming-friendly formats
Voice control of the Emby app using Amazon Echo or Google Home devices
Synching of media to external hard drives for backup, archiving, and conversion
Storage of media files in multiple resolutions to enable direct streaming from any device
Supports backup and restoration of server configurations with ease and fast migrations to new environments.
Jellyfin is another very popular choice of media server software among media server users. Not only is it a robust and feature-rich media server software that allows you to collect, manage and stream your media, but it is also open-source and free to use with no hidden charges. Additionally, it is built with user privacy in mind and does not collect or share any user data.
It can work as a DVR to record live broadcast TV
Allows watching of live TV
Multiple accounts and mobile synchronization
Support for remote streaming
Serviio is a media server software that allows the storage, management, and streaming of media files to devices connected to a home network.
Serviior comes with a standard free tier and a paid-for Pro Edition that offers features that support the easy sharing of media content to devices connected to your home network. Users automatically get a 15-day free trial of the Pro Edition, which users can purchase at $25.
The Pro Edition has features such as video stacking, a web-based player, API for accessing content over the internet, access control to shared content, and access to a 3rd party Android app for streaming content. These features are not available in the free tier.
Support for a wide range of media formats
Support for subtitles
Support for editable renderer profiles
Voice control of media server using Serviio Alexa Skill
Supports automatic renderer detention and per-IP profile assignment
Support for video thumbnails, CD Posters, DVD posters
Automatic categorization of video files into movie and/or series and marks last viewed episodes of a series
Madsonic is an open-source web-based media server that allows for media streaming and has jukebox functionality. This media server comes with a free tier that comes with standard media features and a premium tier that comes with extra features such as Chromecast support, advanced podcast features, Sonos support, and a personal server address, among others.
Resampling of music bitrate in case of constrained bandwidth
Local jukebox functionality
Audio and video conversation service
Advanced service integration with Echonest
Gerbera is a Universal Plug and Play media server that allows users to store and manage media files, stream the media through their home, and also stream the media on universal plug-and-play compatible devices such as TVs, smartphones, tablets, and PlayStations.
On-the-fly transcoding of media files and video thumbnail generation
Metadata extraction from a variety of media files
User-defined server layout based on extracted metadata
Supports last.fm scrobbling
Web UI with a tree view of your local database and the file system
Universal Media Server
Universal Media Server is a free, feature-rich media server that comes with a beautifully designed user interface and user privacy built into the software.
It supports a wide range of devices and media formats, allowing for instant browsing of files on your media server without having to wait for scans to finish.
It also offers a dynamic lookup of metadata to find relevant information on stored data and a live subtitles feature that automatically downloads the right subtitles for video files.
Automatic bitrate adjustment based on network speeds
Automatic maximum quality of video by using multiplexing
Instant browsing of files
Support for automatic live subtitles on all devices
User privacy by not collecting user data
Supports online streaming
Large device support from TVs, audio devices, gaming consoles, smartphones, computers, and many more
MythTV is free and open-source software used for digital video recording. It has an active community who’ve been working on the software since 2002 and also provides support to users of MythTV. Users are welcome to suggest new features, report problems or even contribute to the development of new features for MythTV.
Users can record live broadcast TV
Manual scheduling of recordings
Scheduling recordings from a listing service
Playing videos from the file system and from DVDs
Keeps track of recorded episodes and avoids rerecording episodes
Watching live tv with the ability to pause, rewind & fast forward
Stremio is a video streaming hub that allows users to search, stream, and organize their favorite movies, web channels, or TV series into their own libraries. It also allows users to organize their streaming subscriptions from platforms such as Netflix, HBO, Amazon Prime, and Youtube all in one place.
Users can stream using Stremio from a variety of sources, including paid platforms and torrent files. Streamio can also play local media files. However, they won’t be saved on Stremio’s user library.
Allows streaming from multiple sources in one platform
Calendar visualization of shows in your library
Allows streaming any media to a local network
Completely free with no hidden charges
As much as streaming services are very convenient, having your own media server is a worthwhile investment and an excellent way to access and consume media.
Not only does it give you access to high-quality content without worrying about internet speeds or your privacy being compromised, it gives you absolute control over your media, ensuring that you can regulate what certain users on your local network can access from your media server. In case you consider setting up your own media server, consider the media servers shared in the article.