What is Plex?

Plex is a client/sever tool for accessing your media and much more. let me explain:

The true power behind plexapp is its ability to transcode media on the fly. Or another way of putting it is convert your AVI/MOV files to stream to any of your iPad or iPhone devices or other computers that have plexapp installed. I think with a few more versions of this app and it will be optimized to even faster than what it already is.

My Setup:
– Mac Mini (500GB internal drive and 1TB external drive for media)
– iPad 2 with Plex app installed (for watching movies at work while I work)
I have setup plexapp (server and client) on my Mac Mini. I have connected a 1TB FireWire 800 drive to the mac mini and store my current movies on this drive. In addition, plexapp has support for Hulu and Netflix. The list of plugins is much longer and growing daily. However, to see them on your devices that are connecting to your server you need to enable the plugins from the Media Server Application (not the Plex Media Player).

  • Plex Media Player
    For this to see your media center your internal network must have a server running. If you only have one computer then that computer is your Plex Media Server (PMS) and Client (Plex). In the case of the Mac Mini this is how I have it setup. However, the rest of my computers connect to the mac mini as clients so no need to run the PMS on the other computers.
  • Mobile Media Player (iPad, iPhone, Andriod)
  • Plex Media Server
    I connect all my other devices (other laptops, iPad, iPhones) all to the Media Server running on my Mac Mini (internal and external).

Since I started down this road; I have been able to get just about everything to work on the Mac Mini running plex media server. The only part I am focusing on next is getting Live TV working somehow or someway.

The media format I find that works the best so far is H.264. Some other formats do take a little before the video starts streaming. However, once it starts it does seem to have great quality throughout the duration. I have had it get a little choppy a few times; however I think this was the connection and not the transcoding. For the most part, everything Plex App advertises on the site works exactly as expected.apple remote

  1. Setting up plexapp is very easy. Simply go to the website download and install. Plex
  2. Once installed, I would first start by checking out the Media Server application (should launch by default)

The next part is for setting up Plex to be your default app rather than FrontRow.app when you press the “Menu” button on your mac mini remote.

  • From a Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app)
  • Type:
  • sudo cp /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.RemoteUI.plist /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.RemoteUI.plist.bak
  • sudo vi /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.RemoteUI.plist (or open with what command line text editor you want)
  • Replace the line that looks like this:
    <string>/System/Library/CoreServices/Front Row.app/Contents/MacOS/Front Row</string>
    with:
    <string>/Application/Plex.app/Contents/MacOs/Plex</string>
  • Type save and close your file (for vi commands google works well, the commands are tricky for first time users)

Now that you have that setup, you need to reboot the machine for the “menu” button to get activated correctly. You may need to repeat the steps a few times and make sure that path for Plex is 100% accurate. Anytime you update the file its best to reboot.You can also set plexapp to load on start and login. This is how I have it so if the machine reboots plex starts fullscreen. And once you have that XML file updated when you press the menu button plex will load automatically.

The final part that I setup was when you “press menu” on the remote inside “plexapp client” was I wanted it to restart the app.

  • From a Terminal:
  • mkdir -p “~/Libraray/Application Support/Plex/keymaps/”
  • vi “~/Libraray/Application Support/Plex/keymaps/Apple Remote.xml”
  • Put the following in the file:
    <keymap>
    <Home>
    <joystick name=”Apple Remote”>
    <button id=”6″>Plex.Quit()</button>         <!— Menu —>
    </joystick>
    </Home>
    </keymap>

Once you have done all this. You should restart plexapp once more and the “Quit” should now happen if you press the menu button at the main screen.

The last part is to setup your media server to be used external. Now, you can get a dynamic dns name (this means when your ip changes your dynamic dns company will keep it up to date). Though this is a solution, I prefer knowing my ip address and directly connecting to my computer. See the plexapp website on how to port forward your internal media center external. Before you do this, you should be 100% concerned about getting evertthing working internal before you go external. And when going external, remember you are exposing your computer to the outside world. So I would recommend turning on security features in Plex Media Server (username and password). So not just anyone can access your system.

Overall I am very impressed with Plex. The media center, my mobile application, and its simply design make for a win-win application. I just hope that it does not grow too fast and get stupid like Hulu did. Remember when we only had like 1 ad during the early days of Hulu? Now I can’t stand it. Anyways, Enough of me, what about you? I hope you enjoyed this, if its a little hard to follow please let me know and I will make corrections/updates/refinements.

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4 responses to “What is Plex?

  • Plexapp and burning DVD’s « GeekTalker

    [...] Now, after doing some configuring (see my earlier post here) [...]

  • Manu

    I was thrilled to find out about the /System/Library/LaunchAgents/com.apple.RemoteUI.plist file here, however Plex always restarts after quitting now. Does not matter how I quit it (Cmd+Q, via Remote…), it always restarts after a few seconds. Is that normal? FrontRow does not behave that way and I would like to be able to quit Plex as well. Any ideas?

    • GeekTalkerTom

      I am not sure just yet on what is happening. I actually liked the behavior. I suspect what is going on is maybe plex is not exiting cleanly. And the OS detects a crash. In front row if you force quit front row it behaves the same way.

      If I get time over the weekend I will do some work to figure out why this is happening.

      • Manu

        I’ve changed the file back to default for now, I forgot to take a look at Console.app to see what happens there. I also thought that maybe Plex would be starting as root because of being called by launchd, but that was not the case.

        I’ll surely play around with it a little more as well once I got the time, should I find out anything, I’ll let you know.

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