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20 Best Linux Media Server Distros & Software for Your Home Theater PC

People who love home theater PC are constantly getting interested in Linux since Microsoft made a wall above the Windows Media Center Edition for the users. As an open source operating system, Linux provides more opportunities to create and maintain a home theater PC. But you will need a Linux Media Server software or distro for that. It can help you to set up a cost and resource-effective media server, which ultimately lets you watch, share, or listen to all the media files from a remote location on your Smartphone or desktop. 

Best Linux Media Server Software and Distros

I am sure you are looking for a powerful Linux Media Server software or distro as you are reading this. Don’t worry about it, as we are going to share a list of the 20 Best Linux Media Server Software and distros.

Remember, you need to have a system running lightweight Linux ( preferable to save resources) or a cloud server and one suitable media server software that suits your requirement best when you set up any media server.

Moreover, we suggest you check different features and small descriptions of each option to choose your piece of cake.

1. Kodi – Home Theater Software

XBMC – Kodi Media CenterKodi is one of the best free and open source media server software available. It offers an intuitive graphical user interface with lots of customization options. Kodi is an all-in-one entertainment software center that supports all the major OS, including Android, Linux, Windows, iOS, and macOS. It also supports a web interface, and functionality can be increased with the help of add-ons.  

Initially, Kodi lets you create a sustainable network of unlimited media. You can store all the media files and share or enjoy those with friends and family from a local computer or network server. It indeed supports a web interface and a lot of user-created Add-ons. You can simply browse, filter, view, sort, and create a slideshow with Kodi. It also lets you import images to the library.

Kodi Official Flatpak Snapcraft

2. Universal Media Server

Universal Media Server

Universal Media Server is a free, cross-platform, and open source media server software for Linux. It focuses on system stability and a wide range of file compatibility. This home media server software comes with a nice and clean web interface and easy subtitle integration. Besides, it doesn’t require a powerful configuration to work on. 

Universal Media Server ensures strong privacy protection. basically, it is a free DLNA, UPnP, and HTTP/S media server. You can use it on almost all devices, and it has amazing metadata. Also, it lets you enjoy online and streaming media with subtitles. This powerful media server eventually supports almost all media formats and networks.

Universal Media Server Official

3. LinHES

LinHESIf you are looking for a particular distro for a media server, LinHES can be your piece of cake. This Linux distribution works as a Home Entertainment System, and so it names LinHES. Mostly, people use it to maintain and even create a home theater PC. With this distro, you won’t need any specific software to run playback media files, including video and audio.

LinHES comes with a rich music player and supports multiple files. A video player that contains four built-in video encoders is available here as well. Indeed, it lets you watch, record, and pause live television and supports almost all audio and video formats. You can also play games and read newspapers here as well.

LinHES Official

4. Plex – Media Server

Plex – Linux Media Server

Plex is a secure and powerful media server software for Linux, Windows, macOS, and many other operating systems. It supports almost all the major file formats and offers an easy-to-use interface. All the access to the accounts is encrypted and lets you have full freedom of what to share and watch. It also supports cloud sync and gives offline access to media files.

Plex supports cloud sync and audio fingerprinting functions. An automatic photo-tagging function and an easy sharing option are available. It indeed lets you enjoy offline access to your media server. Strong parental control functionality is here too. Eventually, you can encrypt connections with other user accounts.

Plex Official  Snapcraft

5. MythTV

MythTVMythTV is another free and open source media server software for all the major operating systems, including Linux. It has a built-in UPnP support for sharing multimedia content. It lets you enjoy both analog and digital TV even, including HDTV. You can use it to enjoy your digital music collection and unlimited video media files. Also, it comes with a strong Parental controls system.

MythTV Official

6. Subsonic – Personal Media Streamer

Subsonic – Personal Media Streamer

The next suggestion is Subsonic. It is a solid, feature-rich, secure home media server for Linux. It supports all the major file formats and offers a collection of 25 supported apps that help to stream music and movies into various types of mobile devices. It’s highly configurable and supports secure SSL connections. Also, it supports around 28 languages, and approximately 30 different themes are available.

Subsonic Official Snapcraft

7. CoreELEC

CoreELECIf you are running a device with an Akogic processor, I have a better option for you. CoreELEC is a very popular Linux media server distro. It is designed based on Kodi1 technology, and the developers of this distro described it as ‘just enough OS.’ However, CoreELEC is not particularly available for the standard PC (x86/x64) users. But you can use it on other devices like Android TV.

Generally, it’s an ideal distro for set-top boxes, especially those with a pre-installed Android TV. You don’t need to face any operating system components requirements to use this distro. Indeed, it is easy to synchronize this distro with Kodi, and you can enjoy Live TV streaming on Linux with it. Also, it regularly updates, and the developers try to fix all remaining bugs on time.

CoreELEC Official

8. Serviio

Serviio - Home media server

Serviio is a java based free and cross-platform DLNA media server for Linux. Like any other Linux media server reviewed here, it also streams various media files and supports local and online content. Serviio initially supports Alexa devices, so you can easily control it with your voice. Also, you can enjoy media subtitles, and it will automatically update the media library when you make any changes.

Serviio Official

9. Jellyfin

Jellyfin, Linux media serverYou can use Jellyfin if your priority is to manage and control the stream of your medial. It’s also a simple yet powerful open-source media steaming system specially designed for Linux users. You can use it as an alternative to other powerful media server software like Emby and Plex. Jellyfin uses multiple applications to provide media streaming from its dedicated server for the end-user devices.

Jellyfin Official Flatpak Snapcraft

10. Madsonic – Music Streamer

Madsonic – Music Streamer

Our next suggestion is Madsonic, a well-known, secure, and open source media server software for Linux users. This media server software is developed using Java. It offers Madsonic API for the developer to make their own add-ons and scripts. Madsonic is basically a music streaming software with unique features like jukebox functionality, Chromecast support, etc. Also, it’s a very flexible media server software that can manage more unlimited media files you save here.

Madsonic Official

11. Emby – Open Media Solution

Emby – Open Media Solution

If you are searching for a powerful, cross-platform, and flexible media server software, then Emby can be the best choice. You can run this neat and clean media server software on a machine running Linux and most other operating systems. It offers a web client for browser-based access on various mobile devices or simply uses the emby TV app.

Once you get settled installing emby media server software, it will be very easy to manage personal videos, music, images, etc., via an easy-to-use and intuitive graphical user interface. It also syncs media files on mobile and cloud sources seamlessly. It supports almost all media formats and lets you enjoy live TV. Besides, it comes with a strong parental control system.

Emby Official Flatpak

12. Gerbera – UPnP Media Server

Gerbera – UPnP Media Server

Gerbera is our next suggestion, and it comes with a set of tools and features, allowing you to customize and set up the home media server efficiently. It lets you get metadata from various file formats and allow you to playback media through UPnP. Many plugins and scripts are available that make you flexible in transcoding various media formats. Besides, it extracts metadata from your music files automatically and ensures a flawless media experience.

Gerbera Official

13. Ampache

AmpacheYou can also try another cross-platform audio and video streaming media server, Ampache. The best part of this software lets you host and manage all your favorite media files. It supports almost all media formats, and you can enjoy subtitles with this software. You can also use it on almost all your device types, including computers, smartphones, smart TV, etc. Also, it is easy to install, and the user interface is very minimalist in nature.

Ampache Official

14. LibreELEC – Open Embedded Linux Entertainment Center

LibreELEC, Linux media serverUnlike any other Linux media server, LibreELEC is a lightweight and secure Linux OS that lets you set up a high performed and configurable Linux UPnP server using Kodi. It’s basically a foundation hub. On top of that, you can run Kodi media server software. It lets you enjoy all your raw images and unlimited audio files.

LibreELEC is an all-in-one solution for managing and browsing media files, including movies, music, audiobooks, TV shows, etc. Browsing the entire media server is indeed fun here. Moreover, you can also record your favorite TV series for watching afterward. The overall performance and functionality can be increased with the help of Add-ons.

LibreELEC Official

15. Stremio

StremioStremio is an energy-efficient and modern media center software you should try for sure. It brings all your favorite video content in one place and provides you with a nice user experience. It will keep all the content you watched in history and open a lot of different sources for you to enjoy browsing new content. An organized video library is also there to store all your favorite content.

Stremio Official Flatpak Snapcraft

16. OSMC – Open Source Media Center

OSMC – Open Source Media Center

OSMC is a free, open source, and featured rich media management and streaming server software, and it’s another must-try. Basically, it’s based on Kodi and supports all sorts of media files. Additionally, it’s easy to set up and provides a nice-looking GUI with various sharing protocols. Also, it is updated automatically and supports almost all known media formats. The best part is its interface, and I am sure you will love its theme.

OSMC Official

17. Obmin – HTTP File Server for GNU/Linux

Obmin - HTTP File Server for GNU/Linux

One of my Google+ friends has requested to check Obmin, and believe me; it’s just amazing. I have found this HTTP file server software super easy to use and has many unique features. You get many extended features with its compatible addons, and I am sure that you will love your minimalist interface. Indeed, it comes with a strong privacy and security system.

Obmin is an easy-to-install and multiplatform HTTP transfer protocol available everywhere in Linux, OSX, Windows, Android, iOS, etc. Moreover, it supports various Linux desktop environments like Gnome, Mate, KDE, LXDE, XFCE, Unity, etc. Besides, it’s a highly customizable media server software too.

Obmin Official

18. Red5 Media Server

Red5 Media ServerIf you are looking for a clean media server software with additional audio and video client, maybe Red5 will be your best choice. It is another open source and multiplatform support media server with a minimalist interface. Initially, it supports data synchronization and remote sharing too. Also, it supports most file formats and lets you explore new content easily.

Red5 Official

19. RetroPie

RetroPie, Linux media serverIf you prioritize games and media equally and looking for a software library that fulfills both of your requirements, this one is your must-try. Retro-pie is a gaming platform for Raspberry Pi, and it works well as a media center software. Eventually, you can install Kodi and other popular media server software to collaborate with RetroPie to enjoy unlimited audio and video files.

Not just on Raspberry Pi; it works well on Ubuntu and Debian. Indeed, it lets you install Kodi in the retro gaming environment. While playing games, you can constantly enjoy music using this software. It also supports DVD players and different gaming consoles. Also, with this tool, you can emulate different gaming consoles like NES, SNES, Sega Genesis, Game Boy, etc.

RetroPie Official

20. Airsonic

AirsonicWe have already come to our final recommendation, and this time, it is Airsonic. You have already met Mediasonic and Subsonic, and this one is an amazing alternative to that software. Undoubtedly, the features will be similar, and Airsonic will provide you with a clean interface. It uses On-the-fly resampling in low bandwidth situations. Also, it is a multiplatform supported and comes with an excellent transcoding engine too.

Airsonic Official Snapcraft

Finally, Insights!

At last, it’s an obvious question of what’s the best Linux Media Server Software? You should choose the best Linux media server software based on the tools and features you are searching for.

Also, you should check little details like the types of device you want to use, types of user you are (newbie or admin), types of file format you want to run (video or audio or both), easy web interface, transcoding, metadata scraping, media recording facility, etc. All those matters will help you to set and get the best Linux media server software.

If you are a newbie, I recommend using Plex and Kodi as they provide lots of tools and features for a home media server. Moreover, CoreELEC and Ampache are worth trying. But don’t forget to check the small details given on each option if you want to try the appropriate one for yourself. 

However, did you like this list of Linux media server software? Inform me if l miss any other best media server software in this list? Let me know in the comment section. Also, share it with your friends and family on social media. Thanks for the time you spent here.

Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan
Mehedi Hasan is a passionate enthusiast for technology. He admires all things tech and loves to help others understand the fundamentals of Linux, servers, networking, and computer security in an understandable way without overwhelming beginners. His articles are carefully crafted with this goal in mind - making complex topics more accessible.


  1. You dont differentiate between which software is meant for backed and which can be used as a media player itself. Which can play dvd iso files? (Without needing to mount the iso first. VLC can do this kodi can’t.

  2. I would like to setup a Linux media server (using my older desktop) and add it to my gigabit windows network. Do you guys have any tips suggestions?

    • I wouldn’t say that they missed out. It works amazingly…when it works. Right now they pushed an update (10.7.0…) and now the web server doesn’t work right (You can’t play videos…), Live TV EPG is broken badly (As in it won’t fetch even though you’re logged in), and LiveTV playback is fried extra crispy.

      In short, they pushed an update out and broke all the key functions while “fixing” things in the product. Seems to be a regular case and instance with *EXCUSES* handed out by the people working with the project.

      They could be the #1 item on the list…but they won’t likely ever BE it.

  3. Total newbie here. What is a back and and why is it needed? Can I use any of the media center software as a stand alone? I appreciate your patience and for helping me out.

  4. You have Media Portal on the list, but even though it is open source, it has never been available for Linux. It’s purely a Windows based client/server system.

    Also, you leave out MythTV, the grandfather of all Linux based home theater/PVR software.

    • Thanks for the comment and correction. Yes, you are correct that MediaPortal is for only Windows OS. I have removed MediaPortal and added MythTV instead.


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