Quick Thoughts

A Mini-Project and a Lesson Learned

Recently, I set about converting my Plex instance over to Jellyfin. I have a Synology NAS loaded with four 16TB drives configured into a RAID 10. This gives me one large logical volume (32TB) and a full mirror in case of hard drive failure. There is a Plex app for Synology available on their website which makes install/updates extremely easy and I've always been happy with it.

However, Plex is not open-source. Jellyfin is. So in my quest to try and use open-source software in place of closed software, I decided to give Jellyfin a try.

In order to set up Jellyfin on a Synology NAS you have to set it up in a Docker container. Now, I've never used Docker before but I've heard of it and sort of understand the idea of containers. Jellyfin also has a guide for installing on a Synology NAS so it wasn't too difficult to set up.

So I guess before we get too far along I should mention that I have a very particular way of organizing my media. I have movies and TV shows split into two folders and I have movies further split by the starting letter of the movie title. So the 1998 film Armageddon would go in the "A" folder. The file is then named to include the year of release but also the quality of the file. So my folder tree that looks like this:

-Media Root



-------Armageddon (1998)(1080p).mp4



---TV Shows

-----TV Show 1

-------Season 1

---------TV Show 1 S01E01 - Episode Name.mp4

-----TV Show 2

Now, Plex doesn't really understand this naming convention much and to get around that I use the Folder View. Folder View basically is just what it sounds like - show my folders as they are and let me pick content from them. No libraries, mo collections, no fuss.

The first thing I noticed when I got Jellyfin up and running was that it defaults to a library-style view with movie posters (which is kind of cool, honestly). This looked okay but there were some things named in ways it didn't like which prevented the pull of metadata for those items.

After some playing around I found that Jellyfin has a Folder View option. But it's not true folder view. Instead it lets you choose a folder at the top level and then shows you a library of items in this folder. This still leads to issues with how I have my files named.

Then, about 2 hours into this setup I had an eye-opening thought.

Why am I even doing this?

I'm a tinkerer. I love to make use of things in ways that they were not exactly intended. Like the time I installed a 2TB hard drive in an original XBOX (another story for another time). Or the time I wiped FireOS and installed Android on an Amazon Fire tablet. Hell, I'm even writing this now from a Chromebook...running Kubuntu. I've always enjoyed taking a piece of hardware and trying to unlock its full potential by making it do something it wasn't exactly designed to do.

But I realized that the solution I already had in place worked and worked well. And that I'd just spent two hours trying to get a new solution to do the same thing the old solution already did. Why? Why wasn't I satisfied with Plex? Because it wasn't open-source? Who cares? It worked and it worked perfectly for what I needed.

I learned a valuable lesson when I went through this mini-project: Use the right tool for the job. In my case the right tool for this job is Plex. It installs easy to my NAS via a package, it's easy to configure and it shows the content exactly the way I want. I let my tinkering nature get the better of me and tried to change just for the sake of changing, not to solve a problem. Now, that might be fine on a spare Chromebook I have lying around doing nothing. But not for something running in multiple rooms of my home on a daily basis.

I'm looking forward to tinkering with Jellyfin again and I could see a point where it becomes my media server of choice. I just need to remember to tinker with it on a spare piece of hardware and not just rush to replace the tried and true thing that already works.