Linux Video Playback

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Recommended Media Players

MPlayer

Installation

Perform one of the following commands as root, depending on your distribution. If you do not find information pertaining to the distribution you use, refer to your distributions documentation.

Debian Based Distributions (Including Ubuntu)

aptitude install mplayer

For additional codecs:

  1. Visit http://debian-multimedia.org/ and add it as a package repository using the instructions in the red boxes.
sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install mplayer w32codecs
Ubuntu PPA

The MPlayer version in the default Ubuntu repositories is outdated, look for a PPA with an updated version.

OpenSuse

zypper in mplayer

Red Hat Based Distributions (Including Fedora)

MPlayer is not in the official Fedora repositories. You will have to add and enable the RPM Fusion third-party repositories before being able to install MPlayer.

yum install mplayer

Arch Linux

pacman -S mplayer

Gentoo

emerge -ptva mplayer

MPlayer codecs

Not all distributions include the full set of MPlayer codecs in their repositories. To install the full set follow these easy steps.

  1. Download: http://www4.mplayerhq.hu/MPlayer/releases/codecs/all-20071007.tar.bz2
  2. Extract with: tar xvf all-20071007.tar.bz2
  3. Copy the codecs (but not the directory) to the MPlayer codec directory. Default is /usr/lib/win32

NVIDIA VDPAU

If you use an NVIDIA GPU be sure to install their latest binary drivers as they offer a feature that enables offloading video decoding from the CPU to GPU which may provide smoother video playback, especially for h264 encoded videos while keeping CPU usage at low levels. Check your MPlayer configuration to use both the VDPAU video option (-vc) and video output (-vo). Type "mplayer -vo help" to list available outputs.

ATI

The open source video driver provides hardware accelerated video decoding for R600+ based GPUs.

MPlayer tweaks

This is a sample configuration file tailored for specific preferences. The MPlayer configuration file can be found at: ~/.mplayer/config. All of the options are documented in the manual.

# If no GPU-specific video output driver is available, xv is the best choice,
# followed by x11 (which doesn't not do software zooming unless passed "-zoom" or "zoom=1")
vo=xv
ao=alsa
# 4 audio channels for surround sound files
channels=4
# Default audio and subtitle tracks. (Not all files use the correct tags,
# so sometimes it will be necessary to switch streams manually with '#' and 'j'
# or from the command line with "-aid x" and "-sid x")
alang=jp,jpn,
slang=en,eng,
# Find ASS subs and use the fonts provided in the file if possible
ass=1
embeddedfonts=1
fontconfig=1
# The highest level of subtitle anti-aliasing
spuaa=4
# Less stdout text
quiet=1

MPlayer Tricks

MPlayer has a large collection of video filters included. You may use them to achieve different results.

  • Play interlaced video without combing:
mplayer -vf pullup myvideo.ext
  • Increase saturation and contrast:
mplayer -vf eq2=0.8 myvideo.ext
  • Remove "mosquito" noise:
mplayer -vf hqdn3d myvideo.ext
  • Make crappy video look good:
mplayer -vf pp7 myvideo.ext
  • Combine:
mplayer -ass -embeddedfonts -vf pullup,eq2=0.8,unsharp=l3x3:0.2,hqdn3d myvideo.ext

SMPlayer

SMPlayer provides a QT based front-end to MPlayer. It contains useful features such as saving the video position allowing you to continue watching the video from that point at a later date.

Installing SMPlayer

Debian Based Distributions (Including Ubuntu)

sudo apt-get install smplayer

You can also:

  • Download the .deb file from the SMPlayer website or
  • Add the SMPlayer repository to your /etc/apt/sources.list.

8.04 (hardy):

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/rvm/ubuntu hardy main

8.10 (intrepid):

deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/rvm/ubuntu intrepid main

Arch Linux

pacman -S smplayer

Gentoo

emerge -ptva smplayer

Red Hat Based Distributions (Including Fedora)

You will need to enable the RPM Fusion third-party repositories to be able install SMplayer.

yum install smplayer

Building from Source (Compiling)

Grab the tarball from the SMPlayer download page. Decompress it, cd into the directory, and run

./configure
make
sudo make install

If you don't have sudo installed/configured, then the last step will be instead

su
make install

SMPlayer tweaks

After installation you may want to configure SMPlayer. Start SMPlayer, open the options (Ctrl + P), go to the subtitles section, within the section go to the SSA/ASS library tab and check the check box for using SSA/ASS library.

If you see a black screen at playing, the colors don't seem to be right, or playback is too slow, you may need to change the video rendering mode. To do this go to the Options > general section > general tab > output drivers > Video, and set it to x11 - this will use software rendering. Alternatively you can use xv for XVideo rendering or either gl or gl2 for OpenGL rendering. In general you should try these options in the following order for best quality and performance: xv, gl2, gl and finally x11.