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Cut the cord and get away from cable television, part 1

This is going to be a multi-part post series that details how you can cut the cord and get away from cable television permanently and forever. The world is evolving, and with that, technology is getting crazy. In the past I wrote a few articles on how best to setup Transmission as well as setting up some blocklists to keep nosy universities and other baddies from spying on your activities. In the next few posts, we are getting away from torrents and going old-school…well, not entirely old-school, as the methods I’m going to teach you are all alive and kicking very well. In fact, they are probably more stable, secure, and active than torrents ever were or will be.

The topic at hand will be usenet. With a good usenet setup you can automate your entire movie and television library, and maybe even your music library if you don’t mind dealing with a few more bugs. The only prerequisite you are going to need in getting this stuff setup is a working headless Debian server. I’ve long since moved on from Ubuntu and have adopted Debian as my daily server for anything I need a Linux server for. Ubuntu is based on Debian…so why not just go straight to the core and strip off all the crap on top?

This series is going to walk you through installing:

  • Sonarr (for your television shows)
  • Radarr (for your movies)
  • Lidarr (for your music)

I’m also going to give you my personal favorites when it comes to usenet providers as well as indexers so that you can be up and running in no time. Unfortunately, unlike torrents, Usenet isn’t free. You will need to purchase a provider as well as a couple of decent indexers if you want to be able to swoop things up quickly. When it comes to usenet indexers, though, you might even be able to get away with a couple free ones in the beginning. Your usenet setup, though, will more than pay for itself in the long run when you compare it to the cost of a cable television subscription.

This post is going to teach you how to install Sonarr on Debian 9 “Stretch.” The official Github for Sonarr is located here. You are going to at least need git, mono, and maybe evenĀ apt-transport-https on your Debian server so that we can grab the official files for all three (Sonarr, Radarr, and Lidarr) programs. Install them like so:

sudo apt-get install git libmono-cil-dev apt-transport-https

Sonarr now supports the official package manager for installation. Previously, you had to clone the git repo, however now, you can do things automatically like so:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 0xFDA5DFFC
sudo echo "deb master main" | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/sonarr.list

Now let’s run an update and install:

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install nzbdrone

Nzbdrone is Sonarr; don’t worry. Once you have it installed, let’s start it so that we can at least get the configuration files in place.

mono --debug /opt/NzbDrone/NzbDrone.exe

After you get it started, hit Ctrl+C to stop the server process. We are now going to create a systemd script so that it starts when your system boots up, as well as allows you to issue restart commands against it.

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/sonarr.service

Inside of this file, paste the following contents:

Description=Sonarr Daemon


ExecStart=/usr/bin/mono /opt/NzbDrone/NzbDrone.exe -nobrowser


Be sure that you change the User and Group to match anything you might have setup previously (we didn’t do that in this tutorial; however some more techie-kinda-folks might have done it on their own). Leaving this stuff as default should be fine. Hit Ctrl+X to quit nano, and save the file on the way out. You can now issue the following commands to register the service in your system as well as then start the server up:

systemctl enable sonarr.service
systemctl start sonarr.service
systemctl status sonarr.service

The status command at the end will let you know whether or not it is running as well as if it is listening correctly. You should now be able to go to http://ip-of-your-server:8989 to access the web interface of Sonarr. Configuring it, adding your shows, modifying all of the qualities and file sizes, etc. is beyond the scope of this tutorial. You are being left up to your own devices on getting that going and customizing it however you’d like. Be sure you also head into the settings and peruse the different options available — particularly the storage locations, etc.

In the next part of this series, we will be installing Radarr, however we will need to do that one a little more manually by cloning the Github repository.

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