Installing Jellyfin to the Raspberry Pi

This tutorial will show you how to install the Jellyfin media server to the Raspberry Pi.

Jellyfin on the Raspberry Pi

Jellyfin is a media server much like Plex and Emby. The software is designed to stream the media off of your Raspberry Pi to various clients.

Where Jellyfin differs itself is in its licensing, the software is open source and completely free-to-use.

All of the media server’s features and apps are not locked behind any paywall like its alternatives making Jellyfin a solid choice for the Raspberry Pi.How to setup Raspberry Pi RetroPie

It has many of the same features that software like Plex and Emby have. Such as an inbuilt DVR and live TV functionality.

Jellyfin started as a fork of the Emby project after the Emby team moved to be proprietary software.

The biggest downside to using the Jellyfin media server on your Raspberry Pi is that it doesn’t have as much client software available.

However, it still features a client for most major operating systems, including Fire TV, Roku, Kodi, Android TV, Android, and iOS.

The Jellyfin team is working on expanding the support to the major game consoles as and LG’s and Samsung’s TV operating systems.

To get the best performance out of the Jellyfin media server we recommend using the Raspberry Pi 4. While the Pi 3 can run Jellyfin, it will start to come undone once transcoding is heavily used.

 Equipment #

Below is a list of the equipment we used for installing the Jellyfin media server to the Raspberry Pi.

Recommended #

 Raspberry Pi

 Micro SD Card (8GB+)

 Network Connection

Optional #

 Raspberry Pi Case

 USB Keyboard

 USB Mouse

We tested this tutorial on the Raspberry Pi 400 using the latest release of Raspberry Pi OS Buster.

Preparing your Raspberry Pi for Jellyfin #

Before installing the Jellyfin media server to our Raspberry Pi, we need to do some essential preparatory work.

As Jellyfin is available through its repository, we will need to add it for our package manager to install Jellyfin.

1. Before we proceed, let us start by ensuring we are running an updated operating system.

As long as you are running a Debian operating system such as Ubuntu or Raspberry Pi OS, the following steps will work fine for you.

Update your Raspberry Pi’s operating system by using the following two commands.

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

sudo apt update
sudo apt full-upgrade

2. With our Raspberry Pi up to date, we need to install some packages to access the Jellyfin package repository.

Out of the box, the apt package manager does not have support for repositories running behind HTTPS.

To work around this, we can install the apt-transport-https package by running the following command.

sudo apt install apt-transport-https

This package adds support for the HTTPS transport protocol to the apt package manager.

3. Next, we need to import the GPG signing key to our Pi.

We can use the following command to pipe the key directly to our package manager’s key chain.

wget -O - https://repo.jellyfin.org/debian/jellyfin_team.gpg.key | sudo apt-key add -

GPG Keys are an essential part of how package repositories remain secure. The keys help ensure that only software signed by the repository will be installed.

4. Now that we have the GPG key added, we can finally add the Jellyfin repository to our Raspberry Pi.

We can use a handy one-liner that will automatically generate the correct line for the sources file.

echo "deb [arch=$( dpkg --print-architecture )] https://repo.jellyfin.org/debian $( lsb_release -c -s ) main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/jellyfin.list

This line automatically grabs the current systems architecture and its current release and fills in the blanks.

4. Lastly, we need to update our Pi’s package list.

You can update the package list by using the following command on your device.

sudo apt update

When you make a change to the sources file, you need to update the package list. Without updating, the package manager won’t be aware of the changes.

5. Before continuing you should consider setting your Raspberry Pi to use a static IP address.

This will make it easier to connect to the Jellyfin media server when your device restarts.

Installing Jellyfin to the Raspberry Pi #

With the package repository added, we can now install the Jellyfin media server on our Raspberry Pi.

Thanks to all the work we did in the previous section, this step is very straightforward.

1. On your Raspberry Pi, all you need to do is run the following command to install Jellyfin.

sudo apt install jellyfin

This command will download and install Jellyfin from the package repository we added.

2. During the installation process Jellyfin will set up a few things on our Raspberry Pi.

The first thing it does is create a new user called “jellyfin“. This user is used to run the software on your Raspberry Pi and is also the user who will need to access your files.

Secondly, it also creates a service for Jellyfin. This service will start the media server automatically at boot and allow you to start, stop, and restart the service easily.

Accessing Jellyfin’s Web Interface #

Now that you have installed the Jellyfin media server to your Raspberry Pi, you will want to access its web interface.

The web interface is straightforward to use and supports most major web browsers.

1. To access the Jellyifn web interface, you will need to know your Raspberry Pi’s IP address.

The quickest way of getting your Pi’s local IP address is to use the hostname command as we have below.

hostname -I

2. With the IP address handy, you need to go to the following address in your web browser.

Make sure you include the Jellyfin port (8096) at the end of the URL.

http://[IPADDRESS]:8096

You need to replace [IPADDRESS] with the IP you got in this section’s first step.

First Setup Experience of Jellyfin #

Before you can start using Jellyfin, you will need to run through its first setup experience.

Don’t worry, as the setup experience is a reasonably straightforward process.

1. When you first use Jellyfin, you will need to configure the media server.

The first step is to select the display language that you want to use (1.).

Once you have the language you want set, click the “Next ->” button (2.) to continue.

Selecting the Jellyfin Language for your Raspberry Pi

2. Now, we need to create an admin user for accessing Jellyfin.

Use the interface to set a username and password for your account (1.).

When you have filled out the required information, click the “Next ->” button (2.) to set the user details.

Creating a User for Jellyfins Web Interface

3. On this step, you can now add media libraries to your Jellyfin media server.

To add your first media folder, click the “Add Media Library” button.

Adding Initial Media Folder for Jellyfin

4. The first thing you need to do is select a content type (1.).

The content type is what dictates how Jellyfin will retrieve information about these files.

Next, you need to add the folders where your media files are located. You can start this process by clicking the plus symbol (+) next to “Folders” (2.).

Once you have folders added, click the “Ok” button located at the bottom of this screen (3.).

Adding a Media folder to Jellyfin

5. You can now add additional media folders if you want.

For this guide, we will be sticking with our “Movies” folder.

Click the “Next ->” button to proceed.

Media Successfully Added to Raspberry Pi Jellyfin

6. We can now set the default language Jellyfin will use to fetch metadata (1.).

When Jellyfin connects to services such as TVDB, it can fetch episode names and other information in your local language if it is available.

Once you have set the language, click the “Next ->” button to continue (2.).

Setting the default metadata Language

7. During the initial setup experience, you can configure remote access for your Jellyfin media server (1.).

Use these options to block outside access to your Jellyfin server or to get itself to auto-forward access through your router.

Once set, click the “Next ->” button to confirm your settings (2.).

Configure Remote Access to your Raspberry Pi Jellyfin server

8. You have now finished the initial setup experience for the Jellyfin media server on your Raspberry Pi.

You can click the “Finish” button to finalize the setup.

Finished setup for Jellyfin on the Raspberry Pi

Logging in to Jellyfin #

Before accessing your Raspberry Pi’s Jellyfin web interface, you will need to log in.

1. Logging in to Jellyfin is a fairly straightforward process.

All you need is a username and password (1.). Both of these you should have created during the Jellyfin initial setup experience.

With your login details entered, click the “Sign In” button (2.) to log in to the web interface.

Logging in to the Raspberry Pi Jellyfin Web Interface

2. You should now be able to watch your media through the Jellyfin media server.

Be sure to explore the interface to see how you can configure Jellyfin to best suit your needs.

Jellyfin Running Successfully on the Raspberry Pi

Enabling Hardware Acceleration for Jellyfin #

To help improve your experience with Jellyfin on the Raspberry Pi, you should enable hardware acceleration.

These steps will require you to do things on both the Raspberry Pi and the Jellyfin web interface.

Please note that for the optimum experience, you should also ensure your Raspberry Pi is adequately cooled.

Configuring your Raspberry Pi for Hardware Acceleration #

We must configure a few things on our Raspberry Pi using the terminal before it will be able to utilize hardware acceleration.

1. We need to start by adding the jellyfin user to the “video” group.

The video group is a special system group with access to features such as the Raspberry Pi’s GPU.

The following usermod command will allow us to add the jellyfin user to the video group.

sudo usermod -aG video jellyfin

The -a argument says that we want to add an attribute to a user. The capital G tells usermod that we want to add the video group to jellyfin.

2. As hardware acceleration can be fairly memory intensive, we should increase the amount of memory available to the GPU.

Use the nano text editor to begin modifying the boot configuration file.

sudo nano /boot/config.txt

Be careful when modifying this file, as you could potentially stop your Pi from booting. However, it is easy to fix from another device.

3. Within this file, you need to add the following line.

This line tells the operating system how much memory it should dedicate to the GPU.

More video memory allows the Raspberry Pi’s GPU to store more data, allowing it to handle tasks that consume a considerable amount of video memory.

Raspberry Pi 4

gpu_mem=320

Raspberry Pi 3

gpu_mem=256

We give the Raspberry Pi 4 more video memory to handle the transcoding of 4k HEVC files. The Pi 3’s processor won’t handle these files very well, so 256mb of video ram should suffice.

You can try increasing the amount of memory dedicated to the GPU to see if it improves your performance further.

4. Once you have added the relevant line to the file, you can save and quit by pressing CTRL + X, followed by Y, then the ENTER key.

5. For the memory allocation changes to take effect, you will need to restart your Raspberry Pi.

Restarting your Pi is as straightforward as running the command below.

sudo reboot

6. Once your Raspberry Pi finishes rebooting, we can check the memory split.

Run the following two commands to see how much RAM has been allocated to the CPU and GPU.

vcgencmd get_mem arm
vcgencmd get_mem gpu

Below is an example of what your memory split should now look like.

arm=704M
gpu=320M

Telling Jellyfin to use Hardware Acceleration #

With our Raspberry Pi now better configured for Jellyfin’s hardware acceleration, we now need to reconfigure the media server.

For this process, you will need to have access to Jellyfin’s web interface.

1. While on the web interface’s front page, you need to change to the user settings page.

You can get to the user settings by clicking the person icon in the window’s top-left corner.

Open User Settings Page

2. Within the user settings, we need to change to the media servers dashboard.

To change to the dashboard, click the “Dashboard” option.

Opening Raspberry Pi Jellyfin's Dashboard

3. Now that we are in our Raspberry Pi’s Jellyfin dashboard, we need to change to the “Playback” tab.

You can find this option in the left-hand sidebar.

Jellyfin Change to Playback Tab

The “Playback” tab is where we can control how files are played from our Raspberry Pi to the Jellyfin clients.

4. Under the “Hardware acceleration” heading, you should see a select box (1.).

Click this box, then select the “OpenMAX OMX” option (2.).

OMX is the only one of these options that have built-in support for the Raspberry Pi’s hardware.

Enable OMX Hardware Acceleration on Raspberry Pi

5. Now, the final thing you need to do is scroll down to the bottom of the window.

At the bottom, you can save the settings by clicking the “Save” button.

Save Jellyfin Playback Settings

6. You should now have successfully enabled Jellyfin hardware acceleration on your Raspberry Pi.

Dealing with Permission Issues #

One problem you may encounter when dealing with a media server such as Jellyfin is potential permission issues.

The Linux permission system can sometimes be a bit picky, especially when dealing with mounted drives.

In this section, we will show you how to set the permissions for an ext4 based drive.

Alternative drive format types such as NTFS or FAT will require you to adjust how you are mounting the drive. These drive format types were never designed with the Linux permission system in mind.

1. First, work out the directory where you are storing your media files.

You will need to know the exact path so the script knows what directory it needs to modify permissions for.

For our example we will use a directory such as “/home/pi/media/movies“.

2. For the commands that we will use, we need to be utilizing the superuser.

We can change to the superuser by running the following command on your device.

sudo su

3. With a directory path handy, we can now utilize two special commands.

Run the following two commands on your device. Make sure that you replace “[YOURDRIVEPATH]” with the path you want to try correcting the permissions on.

find [YOURDRIVEPATH] -type d -exec chmod 755 {} \;
find [YOURDRIVEPATH] -type f -exec chmod 644 {} \;

These commands will loop through your files and directories and re-adjust the permissions so that our jellyfin user should be able to read the media files within it.

4. Once you have run the previous two commands, we should exit out of the superuser.

To exit, all you need to do is run the following command on your Raspberry Pi.

exit

Conclusion #

You should now have the Jellyfin media server installed on your Raspberry Pi.

We have shown you how to install the software, do the initial setup experience, and even enable hardware acceleration.

Jellyfin is a strong alternative to Plex and Emby that offers an entirely open-source and free experience.

The media server sports many of the paid features of software such as Plex, including hardware acceleration and live TV support.

If you have had any issues with the steps provided in our guide, feel free to leave a comment below.

Be sure to check out some of our other Raspberry Pi media projects to find out what else you can do with your device.

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