Wifi Router Update

Following the death of my old Linksys router WRT610N bought in 2008, I had to buy a new WiFi router. I started my research and it became quite clear that Wifi had significantly evolved since 2008. My old WRT610N was a draft 802.11n router.

Linksys is not the brand it used to be, it was sold off by Cisco and has been on the sleeping slide for a while.

There are many new routers, and the interface of most routers has changed significantly.

I wanted to buy a good router which was going to be compatible with the new ac norm.

I looked on the Internet the reviews of potential routers, and a lot of them were disappointing to me as either features were missing, or managed directly by the router without the possibility to change them. On top of that, some routers were really expensive, above the 200$ range for a questionable reliability and lifetime (Asus routers…).

I stumbled on the Archer C7 from TP-Link and it met the features I wanted to see in a router. One of the bonus was that it was possible to do a WDS bridge to bridge two routers and have only one network. This was going to be a big plus with the servers being upstairs connected to one, and the other router connected to the Google Fiber box.

A couple of days later, I stumbled across the excellent website The Wirecutter, and I  looked at which router they were recommending. Their recommendation after extensive testing was the Archer C7 in order to get the best signal, and the price for the Archer C7 was very reasonable 90$.

Bottom line, I ended up buying two Archer C7. I have been very happy with them, and they have been running for a year now without a hitch, under very heavy use, Plex streaming, massive file copy (several TBs), etc.

 

 

Internet Service Provider Switch


Google Fiber started their internet service provider a couple years ago in Kansas City and has extended their offer to the neighbor cities. My city was selected. I subscribed to have our neighborhood fiber ready. After a period, our neighborhood was successfully selected.

About two months ago, I got the email that Google was ready to connect the fiber to our home.

It took the technician some time to install the Cat5E cable to our living room, but it was eventually installed and functional.

Google Fiber is amazing, I attached a screenshot below.

fiber

File Server Hardware Update

Following the reuse of most of the parts of the previous file server for the new Plex client PC, I decided to upgrade the parts for the file server. I wanted a processor that would have enough CPU power to handle Plex, and a motherboard with enough connections to handle my need for storage.

The updated server has now the following parts :

Cost: 900 $

My setups consists of one hard drive for the operating system, and 5 for storage purposes.

For the storage, I have one hard drive dedicated to store the backups of all the computers we possess, and four hard drives in RAID1 for the files.

The server is on idle most of the time, and consumes 36W idle.

Client Computer for Plex Server

My family and I have been using Plex since I discovered it, and I was wanting a client connected to our TV. I didn’t want to buy a Roku or AppleTV, as I was worried of the maintenance of such device. I also did not want to live with the limitations of the codecs and processing power of client. For this purpose, I decided to upgrade the parts for the File Server, and reuse parts to build a full mini-PC which would act as a Plex Client.

I installed Plex Media Player on that newly build mini-PC.

The mini-PC has the following parts :

Cost: 80 $

Plex Web Interface Redirection

I have been using Plex for quite some time, and one of thing which was annoying to me was the way to access Plex.

The typical way Plex is accessed is via a local IP address at http://localipaddress:32400/web/. Changing the bit to make Plex available to the outside is a bad idea, as there is no restriction.

I wanted to do a redirection via my domain to have the following: http://plex.mydomain.com

It was not easy to find a solution, and i ended finding that I have to do a reverse proxy, and redirecting the address to the Plex server.

For this, luckily, I already had my Kubuntu virtual machine with Apache.

On top of that, a couple of days later, I stumbled on the very good article of Matt Coneybeare

The right way to do it securely is mentioned at the end of the article.

  1. Setup a DNS entry for plex.domain.com box using the interface of your DNS provider
  2. Setup port forwarding on port 80 to your Plex server’s port 32400.
  3. Add the following code within etc/apache2/httpd.conf:
    <VirtualHost *:80>
        ServerName plex.yoursite.com
    
        <Location />
            AuthType Basic
            AuthName "Restricted area"
            AuthUserFile /private/etc/apache2/htpasswd
            Require valid-user
        </Location>
    
        <Proxy *>
            Order deny,allow
            Allow from all
        </Proxy>
    
        ProxyRequests Off
        ProxyPreserveHost On
        ProxyPass / http://127.0.0.1:32400/
        ProxyPassReverse / http://127.0.0.1:32400/
    
        RewriteEngine on
        RewriteCond %{REQUEST_URI} !^/web
        RewriteCond %{HTTP:X-Plex-Device} ^$
        RewriteRule ^/$ /web/$1 [R,L]
    </VirtualHost>
    
  4. If you do not have a htpasswd file created already (you probably don’t), you can create one by running the following commands in the Terminal:
    $ cd /private/etc/apache2
    sudo htpasswd -bc htpasswd [username] [password] 

    Replace the username and password with what you would like

  5. Restart the server by running
    $ sudo apachectl restart

    Now you have a secure redirection for the Plex Web interface.
    This will give you access to the Plex Web interface as if you were on your LAN.