Ask Ubuntu is a question and answer site for Ubuntu users and developers. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

I am attempting to turn an older PC into a home media server with Ubuntu 12.04 using Plex Media Server. I have a newer WD 2 TB external USB HD with all of my media on it.

I can not for the life of me figure out why Plex will not recognize the files on this hard drive. It shows the external as there, Ubuntu shows the files and allows me to play them, view them, etc. Plex shows the name "External".

But when I click it, it is 100% empty and shows nothing to add. I can access the files on the external through file sharing just fine, on my windows computers but would love to be able to use Plex for streaming with our Roku.

I am fairly new to Ubuntu, I have used Plex with the same HD on Windows and it worked fine. I have read multiple articles on this and nothing seems to be doing the trick.

How can I solve this?

share|improve this question
Are you still facing this issue? – Braiam Feb 13 '14 at 1:50
@Braiam seen Dec 25 '13 at 11:24 – janot Mar 4 '15 at 1:28

10 Answers 10

As several people have mentioned, the issue is likely due to the plex user not having the correct permissions. I had a similar problem, and was able to fix it using a few easy steps.

Open this config file:

sudo nano /etc/default/plexmediaserver

Find this line:


Replace plex with your username, and save the file. Once I restarted my computer, Plex was able to access the folders on the external drive.

You may be able to run sudo mount -a and/or sudo service plexmediaserver restart instead of rebooting.


share|improve this answer
Worked great for me, thanks! – thouliha Dec 2 '15 at 2:40
Can confirm that the additional commands at the end work in place of a reboot. – DarkWolffe Feb 10 at 0:43
I wouldn't recommend this approach because it gives plex access to all the files as your regular user - something that's good to avoid if possible. SamWN + janot's answers work for restricting the plex user's access to only the media in question. – Kevin Qi Apr 16 at 4:42

I don't know what's going on, but the only thing that helped me with ext4 drive was setting in "Disks" app "Automatic Mount Options" - "OFF" and setting "Mount Point" "/mnt/foobar" instead of "/media/username/foobar".

share|improve this answer

You have to make sure that the user plex has access not only to the drive, but the folder that the drive is mounted in. After a lot of tinkering I wound up going this route:

Edit the Mount Options (Disks -> "More Actions" (the two gears under the "Volumes" map) -> Edit Mount Options) such that:


is in the area for storing the options in the /etc/fstab file (the textbox under "Symbolic Icon Name")

and set the Mount Point to be:

/media/<user>/<HDD Name>

Next, give all users on the computer access to the drives by going to the Terminal and enter:

chmod 777 /media/<user>/
chmod -R 777 /media/<user>/<HDD Name>/

Remount your HDD or make a Restart then.

This solved my issues for the two extra drives I've added to my HTPC. Hope it helps.

PS: As @douggro mentioned, Plex has a good article on the subject, but they changed up the structure of their site, so it took me a while to find it from his link, so here's a more current link to the page: Plex Linux Permissions Guide

share|improve this answer
This solution worked without a hitch! Thank you! – Ulysnep Mar 23 at 18:05

Try adding Plex to the plugdev group.

Open a terminal (Press ControlAltT) and enter

sudo gpasswd -a plex plugdev

Verify that plex was added to the plugdev group by entering:

groups plex

which should display what groups plex belongs too. Next, reboot the computer and start plex to verify this corrected the problem.

share|improve this answer

It's the folder mount point of your extern hdd that's giving trouble.

It hasn't got the right rights, the easiest way to change this without terminal commands except opening nautilus as root goes as follows:

open nautilus with sudo:

sudo nautilus (or any other system browser opened with root)

hover over your extern hd with the mouse arrow to see the full path of your hd, or click on it and then press Ctrl+l to see the full path in the adress bar.

example: /media/nick/extern_hdd1

extern_hdd1 is mounted to the folder nick, go to media to change the permissions of the folder nick, to do this press ctrl+l and paste /media/ in the address bar or browse to media manually.

right click on the folder nick go to properties and change the following:

Owner : nick (in your own case your own user name) Folder access : Create and delete files File Access : ---

Group : plugdev Folder Access : Access files File Access : ---

Others Folder Access : Access files File Access : ---

That's it!

share|improve this answer

You need to configure fstab to set the proper permissions.

There is a whole page about how to do this on the Plex site, see:

To make it short:

  • Find the UUID of your drive:

    sudo blkid | grep ntfs

  • create a directory where you will mount the drive:

    sudo mkdir /media/ext_NTFS_USB_Drive

  • edit file /etc/fstab with command:

    gksu gedit /etc/fstab

  • add a line to this file and save.

    UUID=485CBF485CBF3014 /media/ext_NTFS_USB_Drive ntfs-3g permissions,auto 0 0

    where the UUID is the one your drive and the mount point is the folder you created.

  • now mount the drive:

    sudo mount /media/ext_NTFS_USB_Drive

    (you might get an error saying the drive is already mounted, in Nautilus for example. Just unmount it - Safely Remove Drive, or click the Eject Icon in Nautilus)

Now in Plex, you need to change the location of the media folder you were trying to add to somewhere inside: /media/ext_NTFS_USB_Drive

share|improve this answer

It is most likely a permissions issue with Plex. Read this page for info on Plex permissions. Also consider creating a folder on the external dedicated to your media then creating a mount point for it in your fstab entries, mounting it as the user plex.

share|improve this answer

The chmod worked for me and I am using a vfat and an ntfs drive both and they both work great now, thanks for the advice. This is the 2 lines from my fstab drive, just replace the <....> with the correct drive info:

UUID=<Drive ID> /media/<user>/<NewVolume1>  ntfs-3g permissions,auto,nosuid,nodev,nofail    0   0

UUID=EEBB-75D5 /media/<user>/<NewVolume1>   vfat    defaults,uid=1000,gid=1000,nosuid,nodev,nofail  0   0
share|improve this answer

After struggling with this problem I found an extremely simple solution. I installed and ran a program called ntfs-config. Plex could then read the contents of my two ntfs drives, one external and the other internal with only two clicks per drive.

share|improve this answer

I fixed my problem by just removing the user out of the line. I was under root in gedit, in the etc/fstab. I noticed that I could play videos on another drive and it was mounted as /media/HHD. So I just removed the user and the rebooted and now Playing the Moive Cars for my 3 yr old

UUID=528A041A7B1FE95D   /media/user/Movies_2TiB ntfs-3g

So it looks like

UUID=528A041A7B1FE95D   /media/Movies_2TiB  ntfs-3g

I've been reading and trying things for two days now .. but how simple this was.

I hope that this helps someone out there and saves them time.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.