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The top dogs in the media server space now face some competition from Jellyfin, a relatively young project that impresses with a number of innovations.

Kodi [1] and Plex [2] are well known, mainly because of their availability on multiple platforms. Although you can easily run Kodi on virtually any Linux derivative, Plex also supports many network-attached storage (NAS) systems, which you can use as media servers while providing huge storage capacity for multimedia content. Jellyfin [3], which was first released in 2018 and is derived from the Emby media server, also focuses on Linux as a platform but supports the Flatpak package management system and Docker container environments, as well. The newcomer is also suitable for use on the Raspberry Pi, meaning you can use the small computer as an energy- and space-saving media server for your home theater.

Like the Plex Media Server, Jellyfin is a client-server application. Client applications that retrieve and play content from the server are available for all popular desktop operating systems, but also for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. The easiest way to play multimedia content from the Jellyfin server, though, is to open it in a web browser. You do not have to install a browser extension or dedicated client software, which makes the playback method an ideal choice for desktop systems.

In contrast to Plex, Jellyfin works without forcing you to have a connection to a cloud server. The Jellyfin media server can provide content without an Internet connection, which means you can use offline and online sources at the same time. Another Jellyfin advantage is the license model. The Plex Media Server vendor sells Plex under what is known as a freemium model that only lets you access the basic functions free of charge. Extended features are only available if you have a commercial Plex Pass, and some apps require users to pay an activation fee. Moreover, US-based Plex reserves the right to collect customer data and share it with partners. The aim is to serve up advertising in a more targeted manner. Jellyfin, on the other hand, is completely free and does not market any user data.

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