This ain’t your grandfather’s DLNA

03.29.12 135 Comments

So what exactly is DLNA, and why are we so excited to be releasing a new version of the Plex Media Server which supports it? DLNA stands for Digital Living Network Alliance, which says more about the fact that it’s a fancy standard than what it actually is, and really, everything you ever needed to know about standards is expressed in the following XKCD comic:

All joking aside, DLNA encompasses some mechanisms around sharing media between devices. The best thing about DLNA is that there are literally hundreds of millions of devices which can play media from DLNA servers. The *worst* thing about DLNA is that almost every DLNA player has its own unique interpretation of the specification, and support for a very different set of codecs and formats. The other really bad thing about DLNA is that it has extremely poor support for metadata, unlike Plex, which supports gobs of data (actors! genres! directors! country! tags! collections! and more!) for every single piece of media.

As most of you are aware, one of the components of the Plex Media Server is a really really awesome transcoder (no, really, it’s amazing), which we put to good use serving up content to lots of different devices already, and which we’ve enhanced substantially in this new release, by adding DLNA-friendly features, as well as support for Silverlight Smooth Streaming (which of course is used by the new Windows Phone 7 client).

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So in a most excellent ménage à trois, we’ve united our sexy transcoder with Plex’s rich metadata system and Plutinosoft’s fabulous DLNA SDK. The result (besides a lingering scent of cologne and flowers) is the world’s best DLNA server. No, really. I’m not prone to hyperbole. This DLNA server can do things that no other DLNA server on the planet can do. And the coolest part is that with this new release, all the content served up by your Plex Media Server is now accessible by an insane amount of new devices, including ones that may already be in your homes (your LG washing machine doesn’t have DLNA? Send it back!).

IMG 1106

Let’s look at a few of my favorite features of the Plex DLNA server:

  • myPlex queue support: you can use the bookmarklet to queue web video, and play them from your DLNA device. Talk about breathing new life into your PS3, I love watching queued videos on that device.

IMG 1110

  • myPlex shared content support: you can play shared media from your friends. (They need to be running this new version of the media server.) This is, like, mind-boggling. DLNA isn’t supposed to work across the Internet, but with our new server, I get all Obama-like and yell “Yes You Can!”.

IMG 1108

  • Channels: We support video, music, and photo channels on DLNA clients which support it.

IMG 1114

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  • Direct Play and Direct Streaming: whenever we can, we just serve up the file, since lots of DLNA clients support many different formats/codecs. Additionally, we can remux files, which allows playing HD MKV files on a PS3 at full video quality, for example.
  • Metadata: Obviously DLNA has limitations, but we make the best of the metadata we have available and format it in a way that looks great on a DLNA client.

IMG 1111

So now a few caveats. First and foremost, this is an initial release of the server, labeled beta, and there will be bugs. The good news is that, as always, the server is backwards/forwards compatible, so you can move back and forth as you wish between beta and stable.

Secondly, there are like seven bazillion DLNA devices. At least. We’ve focused on support for two of them primarily (the PS3, and the Xbox360) and one other (the WD TV Live). The good news is that we have a very simple yet powerful XML-based configuration (see here for the current one) system which can be used to describe new DLNA clients’ capabilities. We can push out new profiles to everyone automatically, and you can extend it with your own profiles. (For those who care, just make your own dlnaclientprofiles.xml file in the Plex Media Server application support folder. And please, please, share your new profiles with us so that everyone can benefit!)

Last of all, subtitles are not working with DLNA in this release. We will absolutely get them working, and better than you might think possible, just not in this first release. Sorry.

The new links to this BETA release of the Plex Media Server are available in the usual place (look for the beta release with DLNA support). Linux builds will be up shortly, we’re just doing a final round of testing. Enjoy!

I’ll leave you with this photo of Barkley, who has become a bipedal aquatic canine. Seriously, he walks around the lagoon on his two hind paws, looking for fish or something else to pounce on.

IMG 1215 Snapseed

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135 Comments

  • Hello Webosfans

    It works great with the BHome(a DLNA Client) in My touchpad.

    Awesome.

    Alex

  • One further detail.
    I am using an external player (not the one that comes with Bhome) See preferences.
    The best part is that Plex server is not making any transcoding (the touchpad is able to manage 1024p mkvs). So less resources consumed in my Mac Mini

    • @Alex: Very cool, thanks for sharing!

  • great job you just pissed off a lot of DLNA people, us users love it!!

  • I have the beta PMS on my WHS 2011 server and it doesn’t show up on either of my hardwired xbox 360’s. My home server shows in the xbox apps but no plex. Made sure firewall was open to plex also. I am trying to play my video TS DVD files that are on my server in a pooled drive folder. Any ideas?

  • Hi,
    I am just starting out wit plex. Some of my home videos play on the samsung HDTV, but one does not (codec not supported). The codecs are video: “DV video (dv )”; audio: “PCM S16 LE (s16l)”. I guess I need to create a client configuration for that. I looked at the XML file; however, I am not sure how I can discover the client name to put in the dlnaclientprofiles.xml or what else to change there – it seems that this format should have been transcoded by default. The default dlnaclientprofiles.xml has three profiles in it – which one is my server currently using with the TV?
    Thanks,
    i.

  • I think I know the answer to this, but just to be sure I’ll ask. Do you have to have a PMS on your local network for this to work? I.e. I can’t connect to my PMS, in town, from my old WDTV Live in the country house?

    • @ppson: Yes, exactly. It’s magic, but needs some help :)

  • OK, it surprises me the ratio of PS3 to Xbox 360 users on this forum. Two Questions:

    1. From what I can gleen from the comments above, if I have Windows Media Center serving up content to my 360 now, the Plex DLNA server won’t work? If that’s true than that’s a deal killer. I’ve spent years organizing my content through WMC and don’t want to lose that functionality.

    2. Can someone post a link to step by step instructions on how to set this up with the 360. I haven’t a clue based on everything I’ve read here.

    Many Thanks.

    …Dale

  • PLEX DLNA media server does not support Sony Bravia 2010 model devices.
    Meantime, suggest serviio.org support more devices.

  • Like Dale above, I’m totally mystified as to how to get this to work on my Xbox 360. Everywhere I look I just see people saying how great it is that it works on an Xbox but nobody says HOW…. Please can anyone direct me to a guide- thanks.

  • I just have to say. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE YOU PLEX!!!!!

    In just a few short months you made my media life so so so so so damn simple and easy. I honestly didn’t think there would ever be a 1 software solution to making my media playable on EVERY internet device that I have but YOU HAVE DONE IT.

    It all yet YOU HAVE DONE IT!!!!! I SING YOUR PRAISES EVERY DAY!!! I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU!!!

    Only thing missing is a web interface where I can stream to a browser. Sometimes I am at a friends and I don’t want to install plex on there machine (rare in fact i install it every chance i get) but it would be nice to just load a web page and watch.

    anyways I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU I LOVE YOU

  • Awesome. Working great! had to restart Plex and Ps3. Off to attempt to edit some XML. Thanks again for all your hard work.

  • Ahh… the missing link! This is so truly awesome I can’t even begin to thank you enough. Every other DLNA server I have tried to use on OSX has sucked big time. Now I have my media truly everywhere all nice and neat just the way I like it! I have only spent about an hour playing with it at this point but so far it seems stable and best yet it took zero of my time tweaking anything. Job well done!

    • @Paul: Glad you’re enjoying it, and amusing coincidence, my wife calls me “the missing link” too :)

  • Awesome. I would pay for the subtitles support, please!

  • I am working on Mac + airport extrem + PS3 and can not get my PS3 to recognize Plex Media Server… I have tried for days but still get below message.
    Any idea what i am doign wrong?

    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – Starting Plex DLNA Server…
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – Unique device name = 4d4d34a7-3ef4-7594-8917-be56db309cf9
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – DLNA server port: 32469
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – PMS: http://10.0.1.29:32400/
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – MyPlex: https://my.plexapp.com/
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – [PERF] Slowest TransactionScope in 0.035000 ms.
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – Reading system DLNA profiles
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] DEBUG – No client DLNA profiles found, using only system profiles
    May 14, 2012 20:04:54 [0xace272c0] ERROR – Unable to start UPNP server: -20412

    Txs,

    Ram1201

    • @ram1201: that error implies that something else is running and conflicting, possible a “zombie” DLNA server process? check activity monitor, restart media server.

    • @ram1201: also could be known conflict with EyeTV.

  • Hi there!

    I suspect that the correct location for the dlna…xml file is critical.

    I wonder if anyone could please tell me the path to put the dlnaclientprofiles.xml file I am trying out for my Philips 9000. I find vague indicators like ‘For those who care, just make your own dlnaclientprofiles.xml file in the Plex Media Server application support folder’, but putting it in :Application Support:Plex Media Server doesn’t seem to be finding it (based on the expectation that I’ll see the ‘friendly name’ for the agent in the log). I’m on Mac OS X 10.6.

    Also, does anyone have a known working dlna for the Philips 9000 (Thanks, Pieter, I’m trying yours at the moment!)

    Thanks in advance… JB

  • Aha! There are two logs:; Plex Media Server and Plex DLNA Server. But you knew that. I didn’t, and I was looking at the wrong one. The client profile is being served! Phase 1 complete.

    Phase 2 is a bit more complex, I suspect: The movies can be seen but still can’t be opened.

    I have the log and I have the attempt at the dlnaclientprofiles.xml file. Would anyone have the time to look at these and see if there is any clue as to where the problem lies? Please?

    Again, Tia
    JB

  • i was able to get the DLNA started, looks like it was indeed eyeconnect…

    new problem however, since a few days my Plex on the PS3 will not play mkv files anymore (nor will my Sony Bravia). It worked fine until last week. Does anyone have an idea?

    I did run an update from Sony on the PS3 but as the Sony also will not play them, i suspect the problem is in Plex.

  • I have installed PMS on a XP machine (SP3) that has three different user account. After booting up, if my first log in is to the same account that I used when installed PMS (v0.9.5.3), then I can connect to plex from my LG smart-TV (for a moment). But if I log in to another acoount (first or later), PMS will automaticly startup and run (and taking up resourses, as it should) but then nothing happens. I can’t connect to it, I can’t even get the PMS window to popup on the PC. The only way to get PMS to work (for a moment) is to reboot and login to “right” account. Any ideas on what to do??

  • I love Barkley, he sure is one cool dog! Love Plex too btw!

  • How can I get subtitles to show when I use plex on PS3??

  • So I skimmed through a good part of the site, and I’ve one unanswered question… Can it play subtitle files packaged into an MKV? And when I say mkv I mean in general, I have h264s, x264s, h10ps.

  • yes, subtitles and multi-audio MKVs are the real question!
    Does PS3 DLNA client software let you choose language from multi-audio-subtitle MKV files?

  • The real question here is when Plex is going to release a stable server application for the PC. Neither internet discovery or localized access work properly right now and honestly I would rather tunnel via web from the same access point and it work across all platforms including the ones I paid 5+ dollars for.

    • @Justin: We’ve fixed a ton of bugs over the last few months, and I think it’s easy to say that the stability has gotten better over time (with the occasional regression, of course). I’m not sure what you mean by “Internet discovery” and “localized access” not working properly. As long as your router cooperates, myPlex should work perfectly. That’s not to say that clients might not have bugs in specific situations, and we’ve heard of discovery issues on networks where multicast doesn’t work, but I’d love to hear more specifics about the issues.

  • @Smultie: Panasonic DLNA sucks. Here is reply from Panasonic, when i asked why it can’t play most of video formats….”Thank you for your e-mail. Please be advised that the Panasonic Viera TV’s DLNA features are tested and guaranteed to work only when connected to a PC running Windows 7 Operating System and the media files are playable through its Windows Media Player (i.e. necessary codecs have been pre-installed).

    Also important to note that when streaming video to the TV by DLNA, your Windows 7 PC does the transcoding of the video and audio contents (not the TV). This means that most media contents that can be played by PC’s Windows Media player can be streamed to the TV.

    The user must install the appropriate decoder (codecs) so Windows Media Player can play different types of media files to assure playability to the TV. Other setup aside from this, Panasonic cannot guarantee performance.

    We hope this information is helpful. Thank you.

    Sincerely,
    Viera Concierge Support Team
    Panasonic Canada Inc.”

  • I guess I should read this entire article before I post something. Too late. Well, since I’m here. I have a PS3, want to stream content from my laptop (mainly mkv files) to my TV with a beatiful UI.

  • I have an issue with some video file streaming them via DLNA on Playstation 3.
    The audio playback doesn’t work.. extremely sluggish (from no sound at all to faint noises that resemble the actual sound)
    Works from the web player of my laptop or opening it directly in some player.

    Plex identify the media like this:

    MEDIA
    Video Resolution 720p
    Duration 24:24
    Bitrate 1453 kbps
    Width 1280
    Height 720
    Aspect Ratio 1.78
    Container MP4
    Video Frame Rate 24p
    Optimized For Streaming Yes
    FILE
    Accessible Yes
    Exists Yes
    Duration 24:24
    File /volume1/myShare/MyVideo.mp4
    Size 253.73 MB
    Container MP4
    Has 64bit Offsets 0
    Indexes sd
    Optimized For Streaming Yes
    VIDEO
    Codec H264
    Bitrate 1192 kbps
    Bit Depth 8
    CABAC 1
    Chroma Subsampling 4:2:0
    Color Space yuv
    Duration 24:24
    Frame Rate 23.976 fps
    Frame Rate Mode cfr
    Has Scaling Matrix 0
    Height 720
    Level 4.1
    Profile high
    Ref Frames 9
    Scan Type progressive
    Width 1280
    AUDIO
    Codec AAC
    Channels Stereo
    Bitrate 256 kbps
    Language 日本語
    Bitrate Mode VBR
    Duration 24:24
    Profile lc
    Sampling Rate 88200 Hz

    Plex is installed on a Synology NAS and most of the video play just perfectly both in audio and video through DLNA on my PS3.

    Until now this is the only issue I had.

    I think this match this direct video profile:

    which is usually fine.. I’m pretty sure the issue with this audio codec is its Sampling Rate of 88200 Hz

    So I tried defining my own dlnaclientprofile.xml adding this:

    In the log I see it being loaded but I have errors:

    DEBUG – Reading user client profile dlnaclientprofiles
    ERROR – readPhotoProfile – Missing container attribute
    ERROR – readTranscodeTargets – Unable to read PhotoProfile element
    ERROR – readProfile – unable to read TranscodeTargets element
    ERROR – Unable to read client profile file: /volume1/Plex/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Profiles/dlnaclientprofiles.xml

    I copied the dlnaclientprofiles.xml located in the /volume1/Plex/Library/Application Support/Plex Media Server/Plug-ins/System.bundle/Contents/Resources/dlnaclientprofiles.xml directory of my Synology NAS and modified it.. apparently it is not the actual system profile used cause I didn’t touched the photo part.

    Any help?
    Thanks in advance

  • UPDATE: I think I managed to do it…

    The error was, as I said, in a part I didn’t touched.. but I changed PhotoProfile codec= … to container=

    What made me a little puzzled is that I didn’t wrote that part. Is it possible that ANOTHER file is used as system dlna profile?

  • I forgot to paste what I added:

    Inside the CodecProfiles tag

  • Ah.. I’m not forgotting it, it is automatically removed when I post my comments…

    Let’s try with some HTML escaping:

    <VideoAudioCodec name=”aac”>
    <Limitations>
    <UpperBound name=”audio.samplingrate” value=”48000″ />
    </Limitations>
    </VideoAudioCodec>

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