Install Plex Server in Ubuntu without a desktop

Last updated on June 9, 2017

A quick guide on how to install Plex Server in Ubuntu without the Ubuntu Desktop for a dedicated media server. Don’t bog down your gaming rig any more!

Further to my post last year about installing Plex on Fedora; I have recently been asked on twitter by @mikestecker how to set up Plex without a gui (no desktop) for a separate NUC style server box. Well, after a bit of experimentation with VirtualBox (I don’t have another spare computer to setup as a server box sadly – donations welcome *wink*) I have streamlined the setup and present them to you here!

To begin with download the Ubuntu minimal installation ISO and put onto a usb disk. Information on how to do this is everywhere and there are many ways to do it, as such I won’t explain it here.

Boot up from the usb stick and you’re ready to go. For the installation part of this setup I’m afraid you’re going to need to plug in a monitor. When you type in your user details don’t be tempted to set your user as plex – Plex will create that later! Once Ubuntu is installed and openSSH is installed to you can connect to this box via the terminal on another computer. Stick with defaults for pretty much every part of the installation process until you get to the software selection screen:


On this screen just select the OpenSSH server and that should suffice. Now allow the installation to complete I would recommend checking what your ip address is. You can do this with the ifconfig command:

Screenshot from 2016-04-06 22-09-26

Once you’ve rebooted you can SSH into your box. In a terminal on another machine:

ssh username@

Note you will need to change the username to whichever you chose during installation (not plex!) and the ip address to that of your server.

Now to install Plex! First up, check the Plex Downloads page for the latest version then from your ssh terminal wget the latest plex .deb:


After that’s downloaded you can install it:

sudo dpkg -i plexmediaserver_0.

Now, allow Plex some user permissions. Start by sharing its permissions with your user:

gpasswd -a plex youruser

Just to iron out any other possible permission problems you can also make sure your directories have the correct permissions. Modify the following commands to fit your location and user:

sudo chown youruser:plex -R /home/youruser/media
sudo chmod 770 -R /home/youruser/media

Now reboot! When you’re back online you should be able to access your new Plex server by going to the ip address you checked earlier with :32400/web/index.html on the end so in my example this was:

Et voila! One Plex server up and running with the minimum of fuss. As always, any questions or queries don’t hesitate to get in touch, on the usual social networks or just comment below.

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  1. Rick DeZelia
    April 5, 2021

    Is the plex server always up or does it boot up when you want to use it. I’m new to the plex world and my wife and I copied all our dvd’s to the plex server but I shut down at night and only boot up when we watch TV at night. Because I have all my other apps on that box it can be a problem.
    I would appreciate your thoughts.

    • April 13, 2021

      Hi Rick,

      Once installed, Plex is always running and while streaming (especially if it needs to transcode any streams to better suit your available bandwidth or device specifications) it can be a bit of a power draw on your computer. I have moved my installation to an older laptop which now lives under my TV rather than my main gaming rig. This means it gets the best network connection via ethernet cable directly to my router and the laptop is quite capable of handling multiple streams as it doesn’t do anything else. More importantly my gaming is now not effected by anyone in my home streaming TV or films at the same time.

      What other apps have you got running on your box?



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