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TheEmrys
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New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 6:17 pm

So, I need some advice on making the switch. After fighting shared folders over the network from Windows 7 to 10, I am giving up. I believe I will go to a linux distro and just no longer fight the fight. So, here are my basic specs:

Intel i3-2120t
4 GB ram
Nvidia gtx950
SSD for boot drive
4 TB drive for movies
3 TB drive for TV and music
and
Hauppauge HVR 2250 dual tuner TV card

I think using Ubuntu would be the simplest distro to work with. I also want to configure it to run headless. What all do I need to do to get ready for the transition? I know I need to find drivers and what not. Should I burn them to DVD? USB? DVD for the distro? Several? Any recommendations welcome (within reason).
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 6:28 pm

You probably don't need drivers for anything (what's already bundled with the distro should be sufficient), but you may need to download firmware for the tuner card: https://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/Haup ... V-HVR-2250

No need to burn the firmware to a CD or anything, just download it once the base system is up and running.

Been a while since I've set up a Samba server, and I've got zero experience with PC TV tuner cards on any platform, so someone else will need to give you some pointers there.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 8:22 pm

USB for the distro as that will be much faster than DVD even on USB2.

What devices will playback be on?
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 8:24 pm

They will be playing back to Roku's and to my phone/tablets. But for phones and tablets, those are usually downloaded.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 8:32 pm

Do I want Ubuntu Desktop or Server? I suspect server as I want to run it headless, but I have no idea the options in desktop. If desktop will give me read/write access to folders as well as let me log in remotely, do I really need Server?
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 8:39 pm

Also, will I have issues with my two drivers that are formatted NTFS? Should I plan on backing them up, reformatting them, and then re-copying the data?
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 9:20 pm

Server is the same OS but just without a GUI. I'd pick desktop, and then just make sure you install OpenSSH on it so you can connect remotely using the terminal. It's a lot easier to have a GUI on the box if you need one. If you're worried about resources you could pick Xubuntu which is just Ubuntu pre-packaged with Xfce(a lightweight window manager). With the hardware you listed I don't think you need to be worried, but it's an option.

About NTFS, I dunno. I've never tried it. My Google-fu tells me there's support for it, but if you're not going to be dual-booting there's no real reason to keep the drives as NTFS.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 10:37 pm

Redocbew wrote:
About NTFS, I dunno. I've never tried it. My Google-fu tells me there's support for it, but if you're not going to be dual-booting there's no real reason to keep the drives as NTFS.


I'm sitting in gnome right now with my shared NTFS drive mounted... Been using an NTFS partition to share data between windows/linux for over a decade at this point. These days I'd say it's a pretty solid choice to use the ntfs-3g FUSE driver to get reliable read/write access to NTFS drives. The only downside is overhead. The CPU usage (and I'd guess throughput, but I haven't benchmarked it) is not amazing.

If you're not tied to having access to the data on those drives from a windows install, I'd consider backing them up, reformatting to ext4 (or btrfs), and then restoring the data.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Wed May 22, 2019 11:13 pm

TheEmrys wrote:
Do I want Ubuntu Desktop or Server? I suspect server as I want to run it headless, but I have no idea the options in desktop. If desktop will give me read/write access to folders as well as let me log in remotely, do I really need Server?


I'd recommend grabbing the desktop version as someone else already said, and then deciding what you want to use for your HTPC software. It's nice to have a GUI to fall-back to if you end up needing to plug a monitor in for maintenance/troubleshooting. If the RAM is a concern, you can always disable the GUI during startup and only enable it as-needed. I'm fairly old-school and still run MythTV on my machine (an upgraded MythBuntu install that probably started out around 8 years ago when I built the machine). Of course if you're using Plex, you've already probably decided on the server software to use. I haven't used it myself, but given that the server software is available for Linux, hopefully it is fairly simple to get set up.

I can confirm that you'll need to download/extract/install the firmware for the HVR-2250, as I have that card in my machine, and I still have copies of the downloaded firmware files laying around from when I downloaded them ~8 years ago. Instructions (and download links) here: https://linuxtv.org/wiki/index.php/Haup ... al_support
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 4:57 am

The only downsides I can think of to using the desktop version are A) larger install footprint (which is still going to be small enough that it doesn't really matter); and B) you might need to download and install a driver for the GPU (but the GTX 950 is old enough that you'll probably be able to get by with the stock drivers, especially since you intend to run it headless post-setup).

The server version of Ubuntu tends to stick pretty close to its Debian roots (i.e. it is very stripped down, with CLI access only). The desktop version of Ubuntu is basically a superset of the server version -- same base packages with your choice of GUI layered on top. For someone new to Linux, the default GUI (Ubuntu) is probably the way to go though XFCE (Xubuntu) or KDE (Kubuntu) would also be reasonable options IMO.

While NTFS volumes can be accessed under Linux, using a native Linux file system (which defaults to ext4 on most distros, Ubuntu included) is going to give you better performance and reliability.

There are a number of packages which facilitate management of headless servers via a web browser, but I tend to just use SSH and the CLI for server admin tasks, so I'm not familiar with the current options there.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 6:28 am

When I ran my server, I ran the "desktop" version but turned X off in the bootup. I could enter it when needed, but by default it wouldn't load.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 7:45 am

My suggestions would be:

Use the Desktop version to start off with. It's possible plex will expect that anyway, don't have any actual experience with it but it will make the learning curve a bit shallower in any case.

If you're going with Plex on Ubuntu then maybe try installing the snap package. IIRC it's an official package from Plex and is right there in the software centre gui or through "sudo snap install plexmediaserver" in the terminal. I've no experience with Plex but if this package works properly it will be the simplest way to install and maintain plex.

Personally I'd prefer to reformat those ntfs drives to ext4. You could continue with ntfs as the support is solid but long term your life will be easier without it getting in the way. Assuming this all works out for you a future project might be adding some LVM or zfs so you can expand the media storage on the fly.

Are you planning on watching any encrypted channels (pay stuff and possibly HD)? If so I'd do some reading on whether that's possible. It has been a long time (probably 7 or 8 years) since I looked into this sort of thing but IIRC for me living in the UK using linux digital TV tuners meant I couldn't get anything HD and there was no way to receive subscription stuff either as those channels are all encrypted. This sort of thing is different everywhere in the world so you need to check.

If possible I'd consider dropping the graphics card entirely and using the built in intel stuff. The open source nvidia drivers do work for basic desktop use but they aren't great compared to intel or amd. You could install the proprietary nvidia driver but that's just another headache to have to live with. It might save you a bit of power too which isn't something I'd usually worry about but since this is a 24 hour system.

Samba is still fairly easy to setup. I'd expect to edit the config file rather than using a gui. Once it's done it's done.

Remote desktop access is through VNC. On Ubuntu you can enable it under "sharing" in the settings app. If you want to securely manage it over the internet then use ssh to tunnel your vnc connection. It's a bit of a hassle but it's probably not something you'll do every day.
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TheEmrys
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 8:48 am

The Nvidia GPU has to stay for transcoding video. I am moving my BluRay movies to h.265 and not everything can decode that. I was able to confirm that nevnc works under plex on Linux, so it is necessary.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 9:02 am

If you need it you need it, as a minimum you'll need to install the proprietary drivers for the card. In ubuntu you search for "software and drivers" then go to the "additional drivers" tab and pick the version you want. If you see "intel microcode" in there too that's just a way up updating the microcode without having to flash the bios.

If you need a newer version of the nvidia drivers than you get by default in ubuntu there's an official PPA for that here:
https://launchpad.net/~graphics-drivers ... ubuntu/ppa
Just copy paste the commands in the "add this ppa to your system". After that you'll see the newer drivers as an option in software and drivers.

BTW I'd only do this if you have problems with the default driver.

There may be some extra stuff you need to do too, I've never messed with nvenc.

Also, I'd stick with 18.04 rather than trying any non lts version.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 23, 2019 9:09 am

cheesyking wrote:
Also, I'd stick with 18.04 rather than trying any non lts version.

^ This. The non-LTS versions are less stable and go EOL very quickly. Two things you really don't want for a server box.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Sat May 25, 2019 10:07 am

I have a CentOS 7.5 server to hold all my media. It also has my TV card in it. It's an old Hauppauge card, I forget exactly which model. I had to upgrade to a newer kernel to get it running.

The server has NFS mounts on it to send out the media to the network. I use an ODroid C2 running Coreelec to play the media. Since they are direct mounts, they don't need to be transcoded. It's also really easy to get the ODroid set up to connect to the server.

I have the very basic OTA cable package. The $13/month 34 channels package. I don't watch too much TV. I run Tvheadend on the server. I have the Tvheadend frontend on the ODroid. This basically uses the server as a big DVR.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Sun May 26, 2019 9:37 pm

I have started the migration. My current plan is this:

Drive C: is reformatted with Ubuntu 18.04.2 LTS. This is my SSD drive. So far, so good.
Drive D: has had all the data copied from it to a USB HD that was formatted with exFAT. D: has now been reformatted in FAT as I want my Windows machine to have access to it through the network. Could ext4 been a better option? I wasn't sure, so I went with the safe choice.
Drive E: is still NTFS and once the D: is properly ready, I will move all of the data over and then copy the data from the USB drive to the E: drive.

Couple of questions:
Is driver installation for my Nvidia video card a multiple command line job? Really? No program I can just execute? Seems odd.
Since NTFS drives are read-only in Linux, does my above plan make sense? Also, do I need to do it from a command line, or can I drag and drop?
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Sun May 26, 2019 9:53 pm

TheEmrys wrote:
Drive D: has had all the data copied from it to a USB HD that was formatted with exFAT. D: has now been reformatted in FAT as I want my Windows machine to have access to it through the network. Could ext4 been a better option? I wasn't sure, so I went with the safe choice.

You could've formatted it with exFAT from a Windows machine. For some reason, I've read that Windows won't read exFAT disks formatted in other OSes, but it will work if you format them THROUGH Windows.

And from this guide: https://www.mvps.net/docs/install-nvidi ... ver-linux/ it seems that all you have to do is add the nvidia repo and then installing the driver. (Updating from the command line is always a multiple command affair)
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Sun May 26, 2019 10:01 pm

When dealing with GPU drivers in Linux you should consider yourself lucky if you get to stop at "odd" and not progress into "WTF!". It's been a number of years since I've had any significant trouble that I couldn't resolve by just shuffling around packages, but chances are good if you're going to have trouble it'll probably be there.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Sun May 26, 2019 10:17 pm

TheEmrys wrote:
Drive D: has had all the data copied from it to a USB HD that was formatted with exFAT. D: has now been reformatted in FAT as I want my Windows machine to have access to it through the network.


I would probably be lazy and use ext4 just because that's the default when installing Ubuntu. If you're sharing your drives over the network, then the file system on your server shouldn't matter so much. That's why you use something like Samba or NFS, so that it can be the intermediary between systems.

Since NTFS drives are read-only in Linux, does my above plan make sense?


If you use the ntfs-3g FUSE driver then you can get read/write access. Veerappan mentioned it earlier in this thread, and from what they said it sounds like a decent option. Again, you don't really need it if you're sharing the drives over the network, and you'll get better performance using ext4 or something native to Linux, but you're not stuck with read-only access if you need or want it for some reason.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Mon May 27, 2019 8:08 am

Yes, make it ext4 and just use samba to share over the network.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Mon May 27, 2019 8:20 am

If you format it FAT you won't be able to store files larger than 4GB. It's also less reliable if you have an unexpected power outage or crash (will require a file system check), whereas ext4 is journaled so recovery after unexpected shutdowns typically takes just a few seconds.

While NTFS support in Linux has matured nicely, you're still better off using ext4 unless the disk needs to by physically accessible from Linux and Windows (i.e. dual-boot).
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Mon May 27, 2019 4:19 pm

I was reminded about the FAT restriction for file size when I was copying some TV shows over. The DVR function of Plex creates huge files. 6 GB for an hour show. So, I moved everything back, reformatted the drive into ext4 and am in the process of copying over the files now. 2 hours to go. Samba. Is this something for my desktop with Win10 or for the Linux box? To Google, I go.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Mon May 27, 2019 4:48 pm

TheEmrys wrote:
I was reminded about the FAT restriction for file size when I was copying some TV shows over. The DVR function of Plex creates huge files. 6 GB for an hour show. So, I moved everything back, reformatted the drive into ext4 and am in the process of copying over the files now. 2 hours to go. Samba. Is this something for my desktop with Win10 or for the Linux box? To Google, I go.

Samba would go on Linux - It's a re-implementation on SMB that Windows relies on :)
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Mon May 27, 2019 8:39 pm

Windows shares files via SMB protocol, Linux has Samba to provide SMB, it works well.

The other alternative would be to install something like an NFS client on Windows and share the Linux disk via NFS. That never works as well as using Samba.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 30, 2019 6:10 am

Linux is frustrating.

Okay, current issues:

1. Installed nvidia drivers. Cannot get any resolution over 1024x768. Also, control panel thingy (Nvidia X?) is blank. Tried an older driver, no change.

2. Folders aren't being shared. Installed Samba. Set it up, but it isn't visible on my network. Could be related to #4.

3. Hauppauge tv tuner isn't showing up as needing a device driver, but it isn't working either.

4. Plex can't see the libraries. Apparently, even after mounting the drives and seeing the folders, Linus still needs permissions.

Time to slay some dragons.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 30, 2019 7:47 am

TheEmrys wrote:
Linux is frustrating.

Okay, current issues:

1. Installed nvidia drivers. Cannot get any resolution over 1024x768. Also, control panel thingy (Nvidia X?) is blank. Tried an older driver, no change.

2. Folders aren't being shared. Installed Samba. Set it up, but it isn't visible on my network. Could be related to #4.

3. Hauppauge tv tuner isn't showing up as needing a device driver, but it isn't working either.

4. Plex can't see the libraries. Apparently, even after mounting the drives and seeing the folders, Linus still needs permissions.

Time to slay some dragons.




Make sure Samba is configured properly. Use something like this https://www.techrepublic.com/article/how-to-set-up-quick-and-easy-file-sharing-with-samba/, or of course use the google.

As other people mentioned, I would install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS server, and use command line. Worth it to learn to use "apt" and "dpkg", and "cat /var/log/syslog|more" is your best friend when things go south (like right now). Installing the desktop GUI afterwards is always an option, if command line is not working for you.

I would expect Ubuntu to take care of Nvidia drivers at install as part of the install process. Surprised you needed to do a separate install.

Permissions always need to be addressed. "chmod 755 filename" for starters for the files you need to access (to get past the initial cursing phase), then tighten permissions as you get more Linux savvy.

Now you know why every year is the "Year of the Linux Desktop", and always will be, lol...
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 30, 2019 7:57 am

If you manually installed the nvidia driver by downloading it from their website and doing a command line install you might want to consider starting your OS install again. I'm not saying you can't unpick what you've already done but as a linux newbie it's probably more involved than you want and it's probably a skill you'll never need again so is probably a waste of your time learning.

If you scroll up to one of my earlier posts I run though how to install the nvidia drive under ubuntu:
- Search your computer for "software and updates" (press the super key and start typing just like windows)
- Go to the "Additional Drivers" tab.
- Select the version of the nvidia driver you want to install.
- After it installs restart.

If you NEED a newer version than is offered through this there are more instructions in the previous post (the bit about a "PPA") but only do this if you can't use the default stuff.

An important rule of thumb on Linux is: Don't download and install crap from websites, even official ones. Your OS should handle all of that for you, just ask it to install what you want and let it handle everything.

Obviously there are exceptions but generally consider those to be for advanced users. Of course you've hit on of these straight away with the TV tuner card.


How did you setup samba? Did you edit /etc/smb.conf or do it through a gui? Does it work if you try to browse the share by typing its address straight into a windows box using you linux machine's IP, eg: \\192.168.0.22\share_name
The network browser is broken IIRC because it relies on SMBv1 which is mostly disabled (on both windows and linux) because it's a security nightmare.

With plex not seeing the mounted libraries...
- Could be it doesn't like the FAT file system as it lacks any sort of permissions system.
- Could be you've mounted it for access only by your user (you probably mounted it by clicking on the drive in the desktop). You need to mount it either using the gnome "disks" utility (it's like "disk managent" in windows) or by using the file /etc/fstab.
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 30, 2019 8:00 am

How did you install the nVidia drivers? And are you running EFI secure boot?

Post the output of "dmesg", it should contain a lot of information about what is going on with the nvidia and Hauppauge drivers.
 
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Re: New to Linux - HTPC/Plex server

Thu May 30, 2019 8:29 am

roncat wrote:
As other people mentioned, I would install Ubuntu 18.04 LTS server, and use command line.

I agree. The absolute first step, if you're new to Linux, is to start over with the LTS version, if you're not already using it, except I'd suggest Desktop for a beginner.

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