media server

How I set up a home media server on a Raspberry Pi

Setting up a home media server can seem daunting, especially when you don’t know where to start. You have a little experience with Raspberry Pis and with coding but would like to try something new.

My interest was sparked in this area when a friend showed off his media server setup at his house. He could access a wealth of movies, tv, shows and pictures on his phone and laptop from anywhere in the house.

Of course I had to emulate this in my house, this was so cool!

The following tutorial describes the steps I took to create a home media server with a Raspberry Pi.

What you will need:

  • A Raspberry Pi – I used the Raspberry Pi 3 for this project.
  • Heatsinks – Optional – I haven’t overclocked the Pi so these aren’t required.
  • Pi case – Optional – If you want to keep things tidy.
  • Pi Power adapter – it is important to use the correct power adapter to ensure optimal performance.
  • An SD card – between 4-8GB should be plenty as this wont be used for file storage.
  • Ethernet cable – to connect to the router.
  • Open Media Vault image – which can be retrieved from the Open Media Vault Website.
  • External Hard Drive – whatever size you need for your media.
  • Monitor and keyboard – for the initial setup/troubleshooting pi issues.

Setup

  1. Download and install a suitable open media vault image onto the SD card – I used win32 disk imager for this task (I use Windows).
  2. Pop in the SD card into the PI, connect the PI to a monitor, connect the ethernet cable from the PI to the router, connect the hard drive and boot it up.
  3. Upon initial load you will see the ip address of the PI display on screen. Make note of this as you will need it to access the Open Media Vault interface.
  4. From this point on you should no longer need the monitor/keyboard unless you plan on tweaking any PI settings or config.
  5. Open up a web browser on your laptop and navigate to the IP address you noted previously.
  6. Log in using the default credentials: username – admin, password – openmediavault. Now time for the fun stuff!

Change Admin Password

I would recommend immediately updating the default password to something more secure.
To change the admin password navigate to System > General Settings > Web Administrator Password, enter a new password and click Save to save the changes.

Set Date and Time – Optional

This step is optional but if you would like to set the date and time to your timezone, navigate to System > Date & Time, set your timezone accordingly and click Save to save your changes.

Set up shared folders using the hard drive

  1. To ensure the hard drive is properly connected, navigate to Storage > Physical Disks and find your hard drive.
  2. With the hard drive visible, navigate to Access Rights Management > Shared Folders.
  3. Click the Add button to add a new shared folder, let’s say in this case Movies.
  4. Fill in each item accordingly, ensure you select the correct permissions based on your personal preferences.
  5. Click the Save button to save the new folder.
  6. If you have multiple users, ensure the Privileges for the folder are set correctly, clicking the Privileges button will display this menu.

Add users

Depending on your situation i.e. where your media server will be accessed, how many people need access to it etc. you will want to create at least 1 user other than the admin.

New users can be added by navigating to Access Rights Management > User, then clicking the Add button.

Once you have filled in the detail accordingly, clicking the Save button will save your changes.

Enable access to files from your phone, laptop, media device

This took me some time to figure out but to allow someone to access files from the media server on your phone etc. navigate to Services > SMB/CIFS.

Enable this option in the Settings tab.

In the Shares tab, ensure that any folders you want to be visible are configured as such.

Access files from your phone, laptop, media device

Phone

To access media files on my phone I downloaded the VLC media player app.

This app has a local network option that allows you to select the network drive and play movies etc.

Laptop

To access media files from your laptop (windows) open the file explorer and into the file url type \\NAMEOFMEDIASERVER and hit return on your keyboard. This will prompt you to enter access credentials for the media server. With the correct credentials provided, you now have access to the media files from your laptop!

Media Device

If you have any device running XBMC, this server can be accessed by navigating to Videos > Files > Add Videos and browsing for the media server from the list. Once the drive has been selected, give it a suitable name and you are good to go!

That’s all there is to it

Of course you can go much further with Raspberry Pi configuration and Open Media Vault configuration but this is the basic setup to get you going! For more detail on Open Media Vault I found the Open Media Vault Wiki pretty useful so it would be worth checking this out.

If you have tried this out before or if you have a different media server in place, let me know, it would be great to see what can be done!

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