I’ve been running a Plex Media Server off on old laptop for more than a year now without a hiccup. A few years ago Jess came home with these decade old Dell laptops that her work was going to throw away, and I’ve just tinkered with them off and on. Initially, I tried to run XBMC, then various linux distros, Windows for my kids, etc. Finally, I gave one away and settled on a Plex server for the remaining laptop. It’s missing some keys, I installed Xubuntu and doubled the RAM (from 512mb to 1GB!), and it’s hit it’s stride.
Most people run their Plex server on much more beefy iron, like with Core i7 processors and 16gb of RAM. Our usage is pretty simple, however, and our lil’ ol’ laptop does the job. The primary use is to stream Plex “channels” and watch our few movies through our Roku. I don’t do any major transcoding and the setup works pretty flawlessly. I gave it a static IP, wired it to our router, mounted the external hard drive, and it sits under our printer stand, gathering dust and humming away with humility and utility.
Here are the full specs:
Dell Latitude D610
Intel Pentium M processor 1.73GHz
Xubuntu 14.04 LTS
Plex Media Server 0.9.12.*
1TB Western Digital Hard Drive for movies, etc.
Like a dummy, I only recently realized that my Roku was running in SD mode to my 1080p flat screen. I hooked up an HDMI cable from Roku to TV and now we have HD glory.
Like I said, the main use is for the the Plex Channels. We’re able to watch most videos off various providers, e.g. ABC, NBC, History Channel. I’ve even programmed a few Plex Channels myself, mostly for sports content.
I feel pretty good repurposing an old laptop for something useful, and the family has enjoyed being able to watch some shows we wouldn’t otherwise be able to watch easily.