Media Server

While on paternity leave, and fighting off minor illness, my big project ended up being setting up a media server (Debian, Jellyfin) and converting our relatively small DVD collection to be available on it. I\’ve wanted to do this forever (probably about 6 months), and it\’s been great.

Hardest part is that even with a relatively small DVD collection, converting DVD\’s takes time. I\’ve got 3 PC\’s currently active doing it and I\’m setting up a fourth I haven\’t used in ages to help.

Well, actually the hardest part is that certain DVD\’s simply will not read. I\’m guessing their scratches are so perfectly strategically located that they are worthless. I don\’t know. I\’ve tried various tricks, but they just don\’t read certain sectors. It would have to be movies I know we actually care about (TWO of the original Star Wars, The Incredibles, Tangled) rather than, oh, I don\’t know, Chitty-Chitty Bang-Bang or something.


  • Old laptops do conversions way slower than my main PC.
  • The toothpaste trick doesn\’t work. Or at least hasn\’t so far.
  • Linux is amazing. No cost for the software on any computer I\’m using.
  • Debian is solid, but often a pain. Getting three monitors to work on my main desktop was more trouble than, well, almost anything else. But it worked out in the end after some trouble.
  • Ubuntu is so easy. If you\’ve never used Linux and want to, go with Ubuntu or Ubuntu Mate.
  • Plex was easy to install, but the interface was irksome. I get and respect that they\’re trying to make money, but I just don\’t want a bunch of \”free\” schlocky movies as my default interface.
  • Jellyfin was free, just as easy as Plex, and doesn\’t have the extra \”free\” movies.
  • But I\’ve still got to figure out how to get our Firestick to work. It at least looks reasonably easy (no clue how to select my username, but I\’m sure some doc on the internets will explain).
  • HandBrake took some getting used to, but after figuring out the DVD licensing stuff, (sudo apt install dvdread[tab] and you\’re golden), it was easy. (edited to add: It was actually libdvdread[tab]. And I forgot that you also have to do sudo apt install libdvd-pkg, then copy and paste the thing that pops up saying sudo dpkg-reconfigure libdvd-pkg. That\’s required to get the DVD stuff to work on Ubuntu or *buntu. I\’m not really even sure if the libdvdread[tab] one is necessary, but the libdvd-pkg one definitely is.)
  • Figuring out if this was legal was…interesting. But I\’m going with the \”gray but moral\” definition. They\’re DVD\’s I own, I\’m not sharing them with anyone, and FairUse FTW. If any lawyers read this, please, go away.

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