Setting up Itunes server or similar

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NASr710

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So, spent the morning looking at various options for us to organize our music. We currently have all our music in itunes. not crazy about itunes, but it works. All devices that will be accessing it our iOS devices (iphones, ipad, macs). It would be nice to be able to access it with other linux machines (ubuntu) or windows, but not a necessary; i guess windows is not an issue but Ubuntu would be since itunes is not available.

Ideally, I want all the music files, cover art images, etc on the NAS so that we do not duplicate the information.

Is there a simple way of setting up/moving all our music so that we do not have to keep it on each computer? I have been reading up on Plex and it seems like good alternative, except that we have to install clients and pay for using the software. Many of the write ups i have seen seem out of date. Older versions of FreeNAS had under Services, Itunes/DAAP, but I no longer see this under 11.

I don't know that we need to access itunes outside of home network and we would download music on each iphone, per the user's preferences.
 
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Plex is the easiest way and possibly the best, but honorable mention must go to libresonic. It is truly completely free and widely supported as a fork of Subsonic. I am using libresonic or a subsonic client to libresonic backend on all my web connected devices. It runs very slick from a freenas jail, and can have different users. All of your music (even videos) are streamable and downloadable. I could go on, but I wont unless you ask me to. Check it out. Its a bit more difficult to get going than Plex, but for music, its the only way.

I should have added that Libresonic can be accessed by any device with a modern web browser. Which includes every device you have listed. There are numerous Subsonic clients for both ios/android.
 
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Plex has a section dealing with iTunes. In the server section click on channels and tick the box to enable it. Don't use apple products since I despise paying more money than I need to.

For desktops there is no cost to allow playing of media but you will have to share with other plex accounts. That means open a web browser and play media, no iCrud required. It will even technically work on mobile devices this way but an app is much better at handling it. Plus you can also have the server transcode to a lower bitrate for any media and sync it to a mobile device through the app.

I will say however buying a lifetime license is the way to go in my book. It's one and done and you just add users to the "home" and then sign your account in on any device and it is the full application. If you only have a couple devices then it would be cheaper to pay the five or six bucks and buy the app for each one separately. Plus if you spent that much money on macs and iPhones/iPads springing an extra 150 is a drop in the bucket to just have something that works.
 

NASr710

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Thank you both for your responses. itunes is kind of a PITA to deal with and somehow got turned into this mega app does does everything except make coffee. So I am open to other options. My only concern is I like avoiding proprietary apps and like my media stored simply so that I can then migrate it fairly easily. Seems like there is no way to really avoid that.

Wow, this stuff really is complicated... Everytime i think i found the solution, there is something else that pops up. I guess I need to figure out all of my media needs.

What I am currently concerned with is music. But I have million of pictures from my wife and I that I would love to organize but have not done so due to difficulty of accessing the pics (currently on an old Ubuntu machine). I see that Plex also allows for organizing of photos. I am also hoping to do more video; we have been limited again due to lack of storage and easy ability to manipulate. The FreeNAS build is my hope to resolve these issues.

If I had to choose over an easier (Plex) or little more figuring out (Subsonic), I would probably lean toward the easier to use since my other projects (FreeNAS, PFSense, and Zoneminder box) are taking up too much time.

I guess I can test out the plex server and see how it plays with Itunes and abandon itunes as a music player if it does not work well.

How does it work to manage photographs and personal video? I don't think I would put commercial video (shows and movies) as we already have netflix and Amazon prime. I would like to be able to organize albums, but be able to search metadata (gps location data, tags, etc).
 
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Plex has a auto tagging feature built in for PlexPass users I know not sure about anyone else. You can tag them easily though. It also has a timeline feature on apps but I sort into directories and it works just fine. I have one library setup just for stuff that is synced from my phones and another that is regular pictures I have taken with a digital camera or my DSLR. They can be sorted into albums as well.

I would highly suggest reading all the features that are available though. There are probably things that can be done that a lot of us don't even know about let alone use. https://www.plex.tv/blog/put-photos-map/ https://www.plex.tv/features/photos/
 

nojohnny101

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Plex really is the industry leader when it comes to personal media organization. It really shines when it comes to movies/tv shows. I currently have family photos, movies, tv shows, home movies, and live tv running through my plex.

For your needs, I would still choose plex as it is easy to get going and the value they bring for the one time payment of a lifetime pass is worth it for me (although you will have to evaluate that for yourself). I will say though that one of the things that plex does the worse is home movies. It just takes a long time to input all titles, dates, etc if that kind of information is important to you. Some context, all of the home videos I have in there are old VHS tapes that were captured into digital format. Great for viewing through plex now, but cumbersome and time consuming to organize. I also feel that photos is another weak area for plex although they are getting better as they are trying to introduce some of the AI features such as object and face detection but that is in the early stages.

There are other alternatives out there. Plex is the most user friendly and if you don't have the time to invest in setting up others, just stick with plex.

Go ahead and setup a jail and get plex running to test it out. As @nightshade00013 said it doesn't cost to get the basic features and once you get a feel for it, read up on what getting a plexpass unlocks for you and see if it is worth it.

Best of luck.
 

NASr710

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Has anyone used Kodi? and how does that compare to Plex? I had played a little with Kodi on a laptop but not enough to really test it.
 

Constantin

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FWIW, I found implementing Plex to be a bit intimidating and I am not a fan of implementing solutions that I don't understand well enough to minimize hacking potential. So I've stuck with keeping iTunes in a shared folder.

I keep all our iTunes music in a single folder on a FreeNAS, complete with the index, XML files, and so on. So it's all consolidated in one place. Then I make a copy of that folder to HDD attached to a router (Airport Extreme) in order to share it. This way, I don't have to give my Sonos' access to the FreeNAS server. Hence, SMB-authentication related issues won't affect the library archive, just the copy (NTLM v1 authentication is required by Sonos and this is a big potential security hole that Sonos has yet to patch - Plex is a workaround).

This approach has worked very well, as even a slow HDD is fine for a music server. The downside to using a single instance of iTunes is that you only get one user vote per song, etc. - and if your taste varies significantly from that of anyone else on the network, then that might become an issue. Never mind how to deal with a proliferation of playlists. So Plex makes a lot of sense.

However, I wonder if you could put all the iTunes content in one folder and then link to it, while just keeping the index files on local computer drives. But that way every one could keep a list of the songs they like, vote them up and down, create playlists, etc.

Lastly, I wonder if streaming/leasing and not owning content will be as popular for my teenagers-in-training as it is for my young colleagues.
 
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