I’ve been using a Home Theater Personal Computer for quite a while now. It is in a hopeless plight to remove my (and my wife’s) dependence on the heartless cable companies. To this day we still have a cable bill which is the costliest of our monthly bills, but I continue to fight the good fight. I was excited to read about SlingTV for streaming sports, but was too choppy to provide a good experience. There are a lot of factors which could have effected this and I will probably revisit that solution in the future. But recently I’ve read about a way to watch “live” TV streaming through my existing media server.
In my search for an acceptable alternative for cable TV (which is really more for my wife than it is for me…if a conversation even hints at heading in the direction of cord-cutting it might as well be a conversation of nut-cutting, because that is what will happen to me) I have used various methods. For a long time I used XBMC, now Kodi, and I loved the flexibility. However, the flexibility also came at the expense of sucking up all my free time. It seemed like I was always tweaking something or fixing something that was constantly breaking. It was a bit of a hassle. But it had features that allowed me to watch shows and movies without downloading them, which I always enjoyed. However, it also meant having my HTPC connected to my TV. It wasn’t such a big deal and I enjoyed building a very slick HTPC with an Intel NUC, but it was just one more thing cluttering up the TV stand.
I always knew that Plex provided a alternative option but it didn’t really appeal to me because I was giving up so much control. I was also a little worried about having to stream everything FROM my HTPC/NAS and wasn’t convinced I could get the speed I needed on my local network. But when we bought a Samsung TV which had already had a Plex app, it suddenly became very worth trying. Initially I installed Plex on a VM and even that seemed to work without issue. So it wasn’t long before I rebuilt my HTPC as a Plex Media Server. I have been using it in this capacity for years now and no real streaming issues come to mind and I’ve been using the wireless network connectivity and the Samsung Plex app. I’ve been pleasantly surprised.
Plex Unsupported AppStore
I have to admit that I haven’t really missed any of the additional features of XBMC, but an article recently came across my news feed that intrigued me. It seems that some of the same streaming applications are available on Plex, but via an Unsupported AppStore. I am running Plex Media Server on my Ubuntu 14.04 htpc server. There are a few how-tos on how to install the Unsupported AppStore on Windows Plex servers and a few articles on how to install the old version (no longer supported, unsupported version), but nothing for installing the github version on a Ubuntu Plex server. Luckily the instructions were pretty straightforward, here are the steps I used to install the Unsupported AppStore on a Ubuntu Plex Media Server:
Download WebTools bundle
I had hoped to be able to use a link that always points to the latest version, but I was not able to find one, so the link below is the latest as of this writing [2016-05-01]. You will want to ensure you’re getting the latest when you follow this page.
wget -P /tmp \ https://github.com/dagalufh/WebTools.bundle/releases/download/2.2/WebTools.bundle.zip
wget to use
/tmp as the “Parent” directory for the download
Locate the Plex Plug-ins directory
This step is simply to ensure the find command works as I expect it to. We could put this in a variable, but for simplicity’s sake (because who knows what I remember when I read this again) we’ll just proved the command here.
sudo find / -mount -type d -name Plug-ins
NOTE: I have some NFS mounts under
find to ignore them
Unzip the WebTools bundle
sudo unzip /tmp/WebTools.bundle.zip -d "$(sudo find / -mount -type d -name Plug-ins)"
unzip to unzip the contents to another directory and the quotation marks are necessary because there are spaces in the path to the Plug-ins directory
sudo chown -Rv plex.plex "$(sudo find / -mount -type d -name Plug-ins)"
- Here is the article that led me down this path and which provides insight into some good apps/channels: http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/unofficial-plex-channels-install-now/
- Here are the instructions I used as guidance: https://forums.plex.tv/discussion/126254/rel-webtools-2-0/p1#Discussion_126254
- Location of WebTools bundle, with great information: https://github.com/dagalufh/WebTools.bundle/wiki