Best way to hook up media server on a pfsense system

  • Can anyone advise me on the proper setup of my planned network ?  I have an old pc in my garage where my internet comes into the house with pfsense installed and working great . I have an existing PC on my network serving a media server. I would like to build a new server machine and have in the garqge next to my pfsense rig.  any suggestions on the hardware hookups ?

  • Netgate Administrator

    It depends what server type and what clients you're using with it.
    It would be preferable, IMHO, to put your media server on a separate interface and subnet on your pfSense box. Doing that allows the most control of traffic between both your LAN and WAN (if you need that). However there are many 'media' type clients that are incapable of being used with a server outside their own subnet despite there being no technical restriction. The software developers simply haven't included a way to manually enter the server address instead relying on some auto discovery protocol like DLNA/UPnP. It is possible to work around that by bridging the interfaces or proxying the discovery packets but it's usually not straight forward.


  • Thanks for the response Steve!!

    I'm actually planning on ubuntu desktop with plex installed for the media server. I have several roku boxes in my house and it works well and everyone is used to using it. Will that work with your suggestions?

  • Netgate Administrator

    I can't be certain, I've never used Plex. I don't have a Roku box either though I do have NowTV which is Roku underneath.
    It appears that you can enter the server address manally:


    1. Server discovery is often automatic, no effort required whatsoever. That's what we prefer for exactly the reasons you describe. Sometimes discovery doesn't work because of the network configuration.
    2. Manual adding is really only one step: enter the PMS IP address.

    In which case you should be good.  :) It doesn't surprise me since Plex is obviously well written compared to many things out there. Some prime suspects are the clients built into 'smart' TVs and DVD players which often have no config options at all to speak of.


  • Thanks again.  That sounds doable or me. I'll give it a go once I get everything built and running.

  • finally got my server up and running and went back to your reply to try and figure out what had suggested in pfsense.  Honestlly I'm very confused about the different terms used.  I am sure this is a simple thing to set up the way you described but I'm just not understanding exactly how to go about it ( networking newb here)

    My pfsense box has the built in nic and three addon card nic's. so basiclly i want to hook up my server straight to the pfsense box ?  If so what settings do I have to adjust to make that nic active on my network and then apply the suggestions you had made ?

    Any help would be great!!!! thanks for your time with this..

  • Netgate Administrator

    Yes, connect it straight to the pfSense box. If both ends are using 10/100 NICs you will probably need to use a crossover cable for a direct connection (without a switch in between). If either end has a Gigabit NIC you can use a standard cable.
    You will need to assign the new interface in pfSense. Go to Interfaces: (assign): in the webgui and hit the "+" at the bottom of the list. It will appear as OPT1. Now enable the interface. Go to Interfaces: OPT1: and check the 'enable' box. Set the IPv4 type as 'static' and the IP address and subnet to, say, Choose whatever local address you want to use there. If you want to use DHCP on the new interface then go to Services: DHCP server: and enable the DHCP server on the new interface. Set a range for the leases, say, Since you require your server to have the same IP address every time you can either just use a static IP on it or set a fixed DHCP lease after it is first connected.
    If you now connect your server it should be accessible from a client on the LAN interface. If you need the server to be able to connect to the internet, say to check for updates, you will need to set a firewall rule on OPT1 to allow that.


  • I have identical dell optiplex 320's with pf on one and Plex Media Server on the other.  Even with this rag-tab old friggin hardware Plex streams very well to my Roku, Ipad and Web clients.  I'd recommend Plex all the way.. mine is running on top of Ubuntu 12.4

  • Thank for explaining so well for me Steve.  Everything on the lan side is working as needed  :)  Now im stuck at the firewall rules section I'm sure once I have this part set correctly and have internet access from my server it will be a (duh) moment for me but I just cant see it yet.  Brief guide on setting up my rules for that work be most welcome.

    Thanks for all your time helping me with this !!

  • well i figured it out and it was a (duh) moment    thanks for all your help !!!

  • What you have is cool - I'm still a big fan of connecting a small, low power computer to a TV with a DVI or VGA cable.

    If you ask me, all the built in features of smart TVs are more trouble than they are worth.

    Every streaming media service works better on a small PC than smart TV with rare exception and, for sure, a samba share to a small PC with LED TV attached is better, more user friendly and less problems than any DLNA share I've encountered..

    You can attach a small computer to a dumb LED/LCD/Plasma or even a good old tube type TV and get every featured offered with every streaming channel and same small computer can be the media server for the entire house.

    I've seen big money invested by people in small boxes that attach to TVs and smart TVs themselves and not one of those people gets a single thing that I don't.

  • Netgate Administrator

    Glad you're up and running.  :) Now your plex server is on a different interface you can easily tune the firewall rules to be more restrictive if needed.

    @kejianshi, I completely agree. If you buy a 'smart' TV you are then totally reliant on the manufacturer providing updates. Use something like a Roku box and the worst case is you buy a new Roku box. Not only that but the built in smart features on a tv are usually far more expensive than a Roku box and far more clunky. I don't really understand why anyone would buy a smart tv.  ::)


  • @stephenw10:

    @kejianshi, I completely agree. If you buy a 'smart' TV you are then totally reliant on the manufacturer providing updates. Use something like a Roku box and the worst case is you buy a new Roku box. Not only that but the built in smart features on a tv are usually far more expensive than a Roku box and far more clunky. I don't really understand why anyone would buy a smart tv.  ::)


    I have the PocornHour A210, a nice fanless Network Media Player, you can play all formats, connected to a TV via HDMI, from NAS via NFS shares…..or using an internal HDD.

  • I guess I spoke too soon. Everything seems to be working except actually getting my Roku ,Plex to to see the second lan.  I know its probally a matter of port fowarding of some kind .  I can ping the roku box from outside its local network its just not letting me pick a network to connect to .  it seems to be all automatic.  My brain hurts and my girlfriend is starting to look at me funny now  :)

  • Yeah - I was hoping this wouldn't happen.

    Save yourself a ton of trouble.

    Typically devices such as these need broadcast to work and they have trouble seeing each other if they are not on the same network segment/subnet.

    I'd put it all on 1 LAN and declare victory.

  • Yeah I will probablly do that for the time being untill i feel like messing around with it again .

  • I've talked to a few people who use avahi to get things working across seperate lan segments…

    Worked like a charm...  (Not really - Seemed like PITA to me)

  • Netgate Administrator

    Well that was the first thing we checked back at the beggining of the thread.
    Looking through the Plex/Roku docs it appears as if the Roke plex client has an option to enter the server IP manually:

    That's ok, you can always add the server manually by going to Preferences -> Plex Media Servers -> Add Server Manually. On that screen, enter the IP address of the Plex Media Server

    You will need to do that because it won't be able to auto-discover the server on a different subnet without a lot of messing about.


  • Yeah I did try that with the ip of (the ip of the machine running the plex server)  but it allways fails and asks me to enter an ip of is the beggining ip of my pfsense box)    the last the numbers are blured out when i get the error so it must only see the lan connection I would think >?

    It's mind numbing to me

  • Ok so this time I really got it all working :)  found this thread on the Plex fourms that was the deal breaker !!!!

    verified this on this page

    made the addition the the reg…...Bam!!!! entering my media server on a different subnet worked and I see all my media :)

    Now I must go through pfsense and systematicly remove everything I did to see if any of it made a difference lol

    Thank to everyone for the help on this !!!

  • Netgate Administrator

    Nice! Hopefully that will help others.  :)


Log in to reply