The RockPro64 is a beefy single-board computer (SBC). Pine64's Rockchip RK3399-powered maker board features up to 4GB of LPDDR4, Gigabit Ethernet, and 4K video output. It's an affordable, extremely capable development board. Yet despite its computing capabilities, the RockPro64 is incredibly energy efficient. As such, a RockPro64 server yields processing power while sipping power. Check out the best RockPro64 server software options for building your own RockPro64 NAS (network-attached storage) device!
Why build a RockPro64 NAS
Despite the plethora of SBCs available, the Pine64 RockPro64 ranks among the top choices for a home server. A Rockchip Rk3399 hexa-core processor benefits media serving. Its Gigabit Ethernet connectivity provides ample throughput. USB 3.0 ensures speedy data transfers. Plus, the availability of a metal desktop NAS case that can easily house two 3.5" or 2.5" SATA hard drives makes the RockPro64 a superb fit.
RockPro64 Server Considerations
When selecting a RockPro64 server build, you'll need to consider a few variables. First off, whether you plan on running a host operating system (OS) such as Ubuntu, Debian, DietPi, or Armbian versus a dedicated server image like OpenMediaVault or NextCloudPi. Then, where your files and media will be stored. You could hook up a flash drive or hard drive directly to the RockPro64, or host media on a networked drive that's then mounted on to your server as a Samba share for instance. Plus, think about what sort of case you plan to use. I suggest the metal desktop NAS case since it can house dual SATA hard drives. But you could forego a case altogether.
RockPro64 server considerations:
- Host OS + server software vs. dedicated server image
- Case and power supply requirements
- Where files/media are hosted (directly connected via hard drive or flash drive vs. networked drive)
Plex - RockPro64 Plex Server
There are tons of different media server software options. The first I ever used was Plex. Something of a DIY Netflix or Spotify, Plex organizes your media and automatically downloads metadata and box art when available. Whereas the likes of Hulu and Netflix host content elsewhere, Plex lets you stream your own DVD and Blu-Ray rips, or VHS and LaserDisc transfers if you're like me and into collecting archaic media formats. Plus, Plex can host music and photos.
On top of that, the good folks over at Plex have updated their platform with a slew of cord-cutting features thereby transforming it from a media server-only solution to a comprehensive media centre experience. Inside, you'll find free ad-supported movies and TV shows, Tidal integration, live TV and DVR functionality, podcast subscriptions, and more. Overall, Plex runs like a champ on the RockPro64.
Best for: Music and video streaming; Beginners, intermediate, and advanced users
Emby on the RockPro64
While Emby and Plex share a lot in common, Emby targets power users. Its capabilities rival that of Plex for digging into various features such as the ability to create custom elements with your own CSS in its web app, chapter image extraction, and robust metadata editing tools. Ultimately, it's a solid choice for intermediate and advanced users. Nevertheless, beginners can make use of Emby just as easily as Plex, though certain features might be complete overkill.
Best for: Music and video streaming; Power users
Whereas Plex and Emby are excellent media server apps that run from within an operating system such as a RockPro64 Ubuntu server, OpenMediaVault takes a different approach. Rather than running server programs from within a hose OS, OMV is a standalone NAS image. Simply install OpenMediaVault, then take advantage of its extensive plugins to spin up a server foundation. You can load up plugins for the likes of Plex, torrent clients, and a DAAP media server. Furthermore, you can install Docker in OMV for simple, containerized application installations. If you plan to run a server-only environment headless, OpenMediaVault on the RockPro64 runs like a champ.
Best for: A standalone server environment; Intermediate or advanced users
For a DIY home server, NextCloudPi is a nifty option. You can host various files and media files as well. NextCloudPi offers a slew of installation options. You can create an Ubuntu or Debian server, run NextCloudPi in a virtual machine, and spin it up in a Docker container. Furthermore, Armbian images allow for an easy NextCloudPi install via Armbian's comprehensive software repository.
Highlight NextCloudPi features include a simple set up wizard for less technically inclined users, automatic backup scheduling, and security updates. You'll find a range of security options such as firewalls, WAF, and fail2ban. Plus, you can create an NFS of SAMBA share for networked sharing. Overall, NextCloudPi transforms the RockPro64 into a capable NAS device.
Best for: File and media storage; Beginner, intermediate, or advanced users
The free media server software option Subsonic provides a lush media environment similar to Plex and Emby. Just install Subsonic on your RockPro64, then pull it up in a browser to point Subsonic to your media collection. Then, Subsonic organizes your movies, music, and TV shows. I've found Subsonic extremely competent for music playback with customization options for playlists and on-the-fly re-sampling for lowering bitrates on the fly using the ffmpeg encoder. While Subsonic was once open-source, it's not anymore. Although Subsonic can handle video playback, streaming audio remains its bread and butter.
Best for: Music streaming; Beginner, intermediate, or advanced users
Despite its age, the free multimedia server software option Icecast is a superb option for streaming your personal music and video files to any client. Notably, Icecast may be used to make your own Internet radio station. Likewise, you can create a personal jukebox. As of Icecast 2, the open-source streaming server solution ushered in OOG Vorbis and video file playback as well as a focus on scalability. Still, Icecast is more appropriate for audio streaming. In spite of its renewed focus on the broader multimedia space, audio streaming is its core functionality. A RockPro64 Icecast server provides a fertile environment for a streaming music jukebox or internet radio station hub.
Best for: Music streaming, internet radio hosting; Beginner, intermediate, or advanced users
As the name suggests, Airsonic is a fork of the now-closed source Subsonic. Airsonic is free, open-source, and extremely capable. It's optimized for MP3 streaming but can handle virtually any audio and video file you throw at it. There are tons of different options for configuring Airsonic. From a networked media server to local music jukebox, it's a competent media streaming app. Plus, you can use Airsonic as a podcast listening client. I'm a big fan of Airsonic for music streaming. And while its video streaming works without a hiccup, I still prefer Plex or Emby for video.
Best for: Music streaming; Beginner, intermediate, or advanced users
Although Plex and Emby are arguably the most popular all-around media server software programs, Jellyfin is a neat newcomer. You can host your complete media collection of movies, TV shows, and music. There's live TV and DVR functionality for watching and recording live television. Like Emby, Jellyfin's live TV support is completely free, as is its parental controls. Disappointingly, Jellyfin lacks many polished client apps such as a Roku or Android app. Sure, you can find them, but they aren't superb. Nevertheless, Jellyfin doesn't lock its main features behind a paywall and thus is a great pick for media enthusiasts.
Best for: Audio and video streaming; Beginner, intermediate, or advanced users
Best RockPro64 Server Software Options - Final Thoughts
The RockPro64 is a shockingly good value for the money. Balancing processing power with energy efficiency, the RockPro64 is prime server real estate. Although it won't touch a dedicated server like my Xeon-powered Lenovo TS140 ThinkServer, it's far more affordable. Plus, with the available metal NAS desktop case, you can store your SBC and up to two hard drives in a single shell. That way, you can avoid the cumbersome single-board computer with a massive external hard drive connected via USB 3.0 configuration which plagues many maker boards that lack cases with HDD storage. Ultimately, if you're looking for an affordable home server solution, the RockPro64 is a top contender with a slew of compatible server apps available.