Linux Video Playback

From BakaBT Wiki
Revision as of 02:46, 30 August 2010 by Cenore (talk | contribs) (Installing SMPlayer)
Jump to: navigation, search

This article explains video playback options for Linux and provides installation instructions.

List of recommended players


Installing Mplayer from distro repos

Perform the one of the following commands as root, depending on your distribution.

Debian based distributions (Includes Ubuntu)

aptitude install mplayer

For additional codecs:

  1. Visit and add it as a package repository using the instructions in the red boxes.
  2. sudo aptitude update && sudo aptitude install mplayer w32codecs
Ubuntu PPA

Usually the version in Ubuntu default repos is pretty old, you might want to check PPA for updated versions.


zypper in mplayer

Fedora/Red Hat based distributions

Mplayer is not in the official Fedora repos. You will have to add and enable the RPM Fusion third-party repos by hand before installing Mplayer.

yum install mplayer

Arch Linux

pacman -S mplayer


emerge -ptva mplayer

Compiling MPlayer from source

Most Linux distros ship with very outdated versions of MPlayer. The version of the source maintained at uau's git repository contains many features and bugfixes not found in the SVN trunk, including:

  • vdpau support (GPU decoding)
  • better ffh264 asm (faster decoding)
  • newer libass (better subtitle rendering; many bugfixes here alone)
  • no need for external Windows codecs for some files anymore
  • ordered chapters support (which a lot of modern DVD/bluray rips use)
  • ffmpeg-mt (multithreaded decoding for multicore processors)
  • various fixes for bad MPlayer behavior
git clone
cd mplayer-build

Read the README. Unfortunately, you will have to install the many development headers to enable basic features.

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:
  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 NVIDIA GPU, be sure to install their latest binary drivers, as they offer offloading video decoding from CPU to GPU which provides far smoother playback, especially for h264 video, while keeping CPU usage at vero low level. Check your mplayer configuration to use both vdpau video codec (-vc) and video output (-vo). Type "mplayer -vo help" to list available outputs.


The upcoming (as of 2009.10.04) open source driver should provide hardware accelerated video decoding for R600+ based GPUs. This will happen probably sometime around linux 2.6.32 release.

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 manpage.

# 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")
# 4 audio channels for surround sound files
# 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")
# Find ASS subs and use the fonts provided in the file if possible
# The highest level of subtitle anti-aliasing
# Less stdout text

MPlayer Tricks

MPlayer has a huge collection of filters included. Some of them are magical.

  • 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 provides an easy-to-use QT interface to MPlayer. It contains a couple of nice features including saving the playback position so you can continue watching your video the next time you start it (this feature can be disabled of course).

Installing SMPlayer


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 hardy main

8.10 (intrepid):

deb intrepid main

Arch Linux

pacman -S smplayer


emerge -ptva smplayer


You will need to enable RPM Fusion to 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

sudo make install

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

make install

SMPlayer tweaks

After installation you'll need to configure it a little: 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.