Getting Started with Plex-Part 3: Adding Physical Media with Make

Introduction

In the previous guides, I’ve covered how to install and set up users on your Plex server. This guide will go over a how to get your existing library of discs, Blu-ray or DVDs, added to your Plex server.

There are many ways to add media to Plex. The easiest is if you already have digital video files to add, which many companies are starting to provide with the purchase of a disc nowadays. Unfortunately these files are often restricted to playback through certain services and older discs didn’t come with these at all. Rather than re-purchase or buying your media again in a specific format, this guide will show you how to create a digital backup of your discs (a process known as ‘ripping’) so you can use Plex to play your movies and tv shows.

While there are several different software solutions that can help you rip your discs, I have found that MakeMKV is an easy to use and consistent solution.

Disclaimer: Please note that, unfortunately, this has become somewhat of a legal grey area over the years. In order to create digital copies of your movies, MakeMKV uses decryption tools that circumvent DRM. It is unlikely that you will face legal consequences for ripping your Blu-ray movie collection for your own personal use, but I cannot make any guarantee to that effect. I and Linux Academy are not responsible for any damages that result from using or following this guide.

To get started, go to MakeMKV’s website and download and install the software. For windows this is very easy. Just download and run the executable. Linux installation requires downloading and installing the it from source, luckily there are instructions provided that make this easy in the Ubuntu 16.04 server we are using in this guide series.

INSTALLING MAKEMKV ON UBUNTU

The first step is to install the dependencies. Per the instructions linked above, we can accomplish that with this command:

sudo apt-get install build-essential pkg-config libc6-dev libssl-dev libexpat1-dev libavcodec-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libqt4-dev

After installing the dependencies, make sure you download both the makemkv-bin and makemkv-oss tar files from the Linux for MakeMKV forum page (note: the previous and following links are to the latest version as of writing, but a newer version may be released later. Be sure to check and make sure you are using the latest version).

wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-bin-1.10.5.tar.gz
wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-oss-1.10.5.tar.gz

Once the files are downloaded, extract the contents to you can install the packages.

tar -xzf makemkv-bin-1.10.5.tar.gz
tar -xzf makemkv-oss-1.10.5.tar.gz

Next cd into the extracted makemkv-bin directory and configure and install the package:

cd makemkv-bin-1.10.5/
./configure
make
sudo make install

If any errors come up during this process regarding a package that is not found, make sure you have all the appropriate dependencies installed. Remember that package names will vary across distributions so you may need to install a different/extra package than what is listed in the dependency list above.

Finally, install the makemkv-oss package:

cd ../makemkv-oss-1.10.5/
make
sudo make install

After you’ve installed MakeMKV with these instructions you can now run the program! If you’ve installed this on a headless system, you can still run MakeMKV remotely so long as you have X-window forwarding or a similar solution setup. Many desktop Linux systems have this setup by default. For Windows, clients such as MobaXterm include it as well. You can then ssh to your Plex server, run the command makemkv, and it will then display on your local system while running on the Plex server. Note you still need to use a disc drive on the Plex server for this solution.

Using MakeMKV
Registration

MakeMKV requires you to register it to use it. You can purchase it for a permanent unlock code or, while it is in Beta, you can check this forum post for the latest activation code. This code is posted monthly and MakeMKV is free while in Beta. Enter that code when prompted for activation and then restart MakeMKV for it to be active.

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Ripping a Disc

MakeMKV is pretty easy to use. First you put the disc in the drive, then MakeMKV will detect the disc. Click the drive icon to have MakeMKV analyze the disc and determine if it is a supported movie or show. Most Blu-Rays and DVDs should work without any issue. You can check the MakeMKV forums if there is a problem. (Note: if you have multiple disc drives you will need to select the appropriate one from the drop down menu under ‘Source’).

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Once a disc has been analyzed, you will be presented with a list of the detected playlists. Some discs only have one or two, others have many. These will be various sizes and lengths, many will be special features included on the disc. Generally the one you want is the largest/longest one on the disc. If you are unsure which one to choose, again, the MakeMKV forums are a good place to go to see if others have figured it out already.

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By default, every checkbox is selected. If you only want the main video, right click on any line, then select ‘deselect all’. Then just check the box on the main video file. For TV Shows where there are multiple episodes per disc, make sure to select all the episodes. If you expand the selected file(s) you may also have additional audio and subtitle options to choose from. I generally include all audio options as this will include surround, stereo, and commentary (if available) audio tracks on the video.

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Click start to begin ripping the selected video(s) from the disc. Depending on the size of the file(s) and the speed of your drives (disc drive and storage drive) it can take anywhere from several minutes to up to an hour. In my experience, most Blu-rays take ~20-30 minutes and creates video files that are 20-40GB in size.

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Customizing Output Location

MakeMKV includes a few options for file destinations. By default this is an ‘Auto’ location that does not allow customization. Click View -> Preferences to customize this. The Video tab includes the options you want under Default Destination and includes:

  • None – You must specify a location every time
  • Auto – Default: Attempts to determine location automatically. Generally a ‘Videos’ folder under your user profile.
  • SemiAuto – Allows you to specify a directory, then MakeMKV will create a new folder for each disc and name it based on what it detects the disc name to be. For instance, if you specify /mnt/Movies/, and input ‘Iron Man’ MakeMKV might set the destination for any ripped files to /mnt/Movies/Iron Man/.
  • Custom – You set a directory and all files are ripped to this location.

I find the most useful to be SemiAuto, but you can choose whichever works best for you.

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Conclusion

Using these instructions you can rip files from your physical media. Whether you do that on your local computer and transfer the files to your Plex server or do it directly on the server itself, once the videos are in one of your Plex Libraries Plex will auto-detect them and add them. You can then watch your movies from anywhere!

Up Next: A program to help name files and organize them for easy Plex Matching to ensure everything is labelled correctly and easy to find. Also included will be how to transcode your videos to more manageable sizes for easier storage and streaming.

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