When creating a Plex media server, one of the first decisions you will need to make is which operating system to choose for your server. There are many different operating systems supported by Plex, but the choice of operating system really isn't as difficult as one might imagine.
Operating systems supported by Plex
Before going into reasons for which operating system you should choose, let's first look at a list of operating systems that are supported by Plex.
|Windows||Windows 7 SP1|
|Windows 8 / Windows 8.1 (with Update)|
|Windows Server 2008 R2 SP2|
|Windows Server 2012 / Windows Server 2012 R2 (with Update)|
|Windows Server 2016|
|Windows Server 2019|
|Windows Server 2022|
|OS X||OS X/macOS 10.9 or newer|
|Linux||CentOS 7 or newer|
|Debian 8 or newer|
|Fedora 27 or newer|
|SUSE 157 or newer|
|Ubuntu 16.04 or newer|
|FreeBSD||11.2 or newer|
As you can see from the above list of operating systems, Plex Media Server can run on a wide range of devices and operating systems. This begs the questions as to what operating system is the best to use with Plex?
What operating system should you choose for Plex?
The answer to this question is really just: whatever operating system you are comfortable with using. That is the only valid answer to the question. Let me explain why.
When it comes to using Plex, the operating system of the server has no impact on the performance of a Plex Media server. Plex doesn't require a lot of processing power (if you avoid transcoding movies), or memory. This means any operating system will function just as well as any other. From a user's perspective, they won't know, or care, which operating system is being used on your Plex server.
One important thing to note with regards to the operating system you choose for your Plex server. While the operating system doesn't matter in terms of performance, it will matter if you have 4K HDR movies on your Plex server. Windows can't do HDR tone mapping, so if you need that feature, then Linux would be the operating system to use on your Plex server.
Some users may want a small, all-in-one, type of server, so they may choose something like an NVIDIA Shield. Others may want to run Plex in a docker container, so a Linux system would what they use. If someone uses Windows or Mac on a regular basis, then they would probably look at using one of those operating systems. Plex will run the same regardless of which operating system you choose.
The most important decision regarding the performance of your Plex server is the hardware, and what hardware you will choose that will make up your server.