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5 Linux Media Players: Which is the Best Fit?

by Tom Volotta on June 11, 2012

Linux Media PlayersLinux may not be the most popular desktop Operating System (OS), but it definitely has a dedicated group of supporters. Just like everyone else they want to listen to music and watch video on their Linux desktop. Granted, there are some technical complexities found in Linux media players that do require more computer knowledge – still there are plenty of excellent options available.

For the most part, a Linux media player does the same thing any other media player does: Play audio and video. In this article, the term ‘Linux media player’ is used for software that does double duty as a Linux video player and Linux audio player. Therefore, apps like Audacious and Rhythmbox won’t be included since they are strictly Linux audio players.

FORMATS AND CODECS 

Linux users are more tech-savvy. The open-source flexibility of the Linux OS provides developers with the opportunity to create multiple variations of the OS. This has an impact in selecting the right media player. Some perform better on certain Linux OS variants than others.

Since Linux is open-source and free, using proprietary file formats and codecs can be challenging. Many Linux OS’ and players will not recognize or block proprietary software. For example, MP4 format and H.264 codec (used for HD video) are proprietary so you’ll want to double check that the Linux media player you’ve selected can run the formats and codecs needed.

Go check out the latest funny videos in RealPlayer to cheer you up.

5 LINUX MEDIA PLAYERS EXPLORED

There are dozens and dozens of Linux media players. We rounded up five that offer a bevy of useful features:

  • Banshee – This media player has been around since 2005 and has continued to improve over the years. Banshee is one of the more popular media players for the Ubuntu Linux OS. Banshee has sophisticated playlist capabilities for both audio and video. It can scan your hard disks and other storage devices to locate and catalog all types of media. Although it can play video and bring up additional information about videos, the audio player is arguably more sophisticated.
  • Miro – This is an unusual Linux media player because in addition to being a regular video player, it can also connect to and download content from the Internet. There’s a channel guide to access online video sources such as Hulu, Crackle, Yahoo! Screen and other TV shows on the Internet. Miro supports nearly all the common video file formats and can also display HD video.
  • MPlayer – One of the most flexible players currently available since it can run on many variations of Linux. It also supports one of the largest ranges of file formats and codecs including MP4 with H.264. One of MPlayer’s most notable features is that it can play through hardware MPEG decoders. This means higher quality output, particularly for watching video on a full screen display. The user interface has simple icons and text menus that are direct and easy to use.
  • Totem – A solid player with a basic, no-frills user interface that can often be found in the GNOME desktop environment. It is a much better Linux video player than a Linux audio player. It can display video in full screen mode, plus it has controls for brightness, contrast, hue, and saturation.
  • Xine – This attractive Linux media player fills two roles. First, it’s a standalone player. Second, it can be used as a multimedia engine (a backend) for interfaces (frontend) that other media players are built on. For example, the Linux media player Kaffeine is built on Xine.  The player supports a large number of audio and video file formats, which is plus especially when its being used as a multimedia engine.

Those are a few Linux media players that offer different features. As noted earlier there are quite a few players available. Which media player do you use?

 

{ 20 comments… read them below or add one }

1 David Legg June 12, 2012 at 2:48 am

Audacious (audacious2) would be another good one to review.
It even plays FLAC files, meaning that you could use it as the basis for a high quality digital audio streaming system. MP3 is decidely crude in comparison.

2 Tom Volotta June 12, 2012 at 11:05 am

Yes, FLAC’s lossless encoding should be better than MP3, and it has a superior specifications. MP3 compresses about 5 times as much in comparison, and is lossy. MP3 was great in its time and still does a good job of getting music and other audio into the hands of people in a very small package.

I looked at the Audacious website, but didn’t see mention of an Audacious2. The current version is 3.2.3. Are you referring to something else, or am I missing something?

…TV

3 Jebril August 8, 2012 at 4:08 pm

Linux has by far the best media players out there, beating crap like Windows Media Player, iTunes, Realtime Player etc. In terms of audio and movie playback.

4 Tom Volotta August 8, 2012 at 6:06 pm

Best in what ways?

Resolution, bit depth, bit rate, color space, chroma sampling, RGB luminance values, file formats, codecs, frame rate, dropped frames, embedded metadata, surround sound formats and channels, audio/video synchronization, multiple language audio and subtitle tracks, contrast ratio, stereoscopic layouts and viewing methods, or just what exactly; in terms of audio and movie playback?

…TV

5 Bahus September 25, 2012 at 2:02 am

Here is another mplayer based audio player
It has everything I need
Simple and stable.

6 Tom Volotta September 26, 2012 at 6:36 pm

Well, that looks like the one for you.

…TV

7 Mike October 21, 2012 at 3:58 am

Sorry, but I gotta go with Guayadeque. I can’t believe more people aren’t familiar with it. It’s lightweight, attractive, and easy to use. It’s usually one of the first things that I install on a new OS.

8 Tom Volotta October 21, 2012 at 7:09 pm

Guayadeque is a music player. The Linux piece was aimed more at general purpose, audio and video media players. That said, there seems to be a positive buzz about Guayadeque, so you should enjoy it and spread the word.

…TV

9 Mike S. December 13, 2012 at 7:58 am

I’m no expert on video players, but I thought VLC was very popular. Why is that not included in the list?

10 Tom Volotta December 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

Mike,

You are absolutely correct, VLC makes one of the most popular media players. Not only for Linux, but Windows, Mac and several other operating systems. It is for that reason I left it off the list. I wanted to introduce readers to other brands that had particular focus on Linux, were high quality, but maybe not so visible. VLC is so well known, I believed people looking for a Linux media player would find VLC even if they weren’t trying. If this had been a top ten list, it would have been there. Thanks for the comment.

…TV

11 gedepeterson January 5, 2013 at 11:22 am

merci detre disponible

12 Tom Volotta January 5, 2013 at 12:11 pm

De rien.

13 Deny Joseph April 15, 2013 at 6:29 pm

How can I install realplayer on olpc xo-1. Thank you, you can reply me since my e-mail

14 RealPlayer Team April 16, 2013 at 7:25 am

Hi Deny,

We have sent an email which should help to resolve the problem, for further assistance please respond back to the email

15 sky July 21, 2013 at 5:55 am

Hello
I’m looking for the Real Player 11 download link for Linux 13 Maya distro. Pls help me. I’m unable to get the link here where I’m always directed while looking for .deb pacakge for the same.

Thank you in advance for your help & co-operation.

16 RealPlayer Team July 21, 2013 at 8:53 am

Hello Sky,

RealPlayer for Linux has been discontinued and is no longer supported. Archived copies are available for download in the Helix community:

https://player.helixcommunity.org/2005/downloads/

For help with Helix Universal Server, Helix Producer, RealSystem Server, RealSystem Producer, RealServer, RealProducer, and other content creation and delivery tools from RealNetworks, go to the Helix Help Center:

http://realnetworks.com/helix/streaming-media-support/

17 Phillip October 26, 2014 at 2:27 pm

Well, i must say i am cheesed off.
All my music files are in .ra format.
I have had to build a new system to due to hard drive failure and lo and behold i cant reinstall Realplayer 11 or 10 due to broken dependancies.
and what do i find? real no longer support real player. Helix is unmaintained and doesnt seem to have been touched for years.
I think this ‘linux page’ on real .com to be a total jip.
I now have a massive library of useless audio files.

I bought and paid for real player pro many years ago and used the .ra format as it was superior.

Shame on you Real for neglecting to maintain your own package or provide the tools to convert your proprietry format to one that we can actually use on linux.

18 Brinton Felixraja October 27, 2014 at 7:35 am

As RealNetworks makes new products available to customers, it is not possible to continue supporting legacy and historic products, including:

- RealPlayer 15, 14, SP and 11 (for Windows), 10.5 and 10 (Windows and Mac)
- RealOne Player v1 and v2
- RealOne Player for Mac OSX
- RealPlayer for Mac OS7, OS8, OS9
- RealPlayer 8, 7, G2, 5, 4
- RealPlayer Mobile
- RealJukebox 1 (Plus and Basic)
- RealAudio 3, 2
- RealPlayer 8 and 7 for Linux
- RV9 Codec packs for Unix RealPlayer 8
- RealTime

No support is available for these products. Product development has stopped, and no updates or security patches will be released for these product versions.

However, .ra is supported by RealPlayer Cloud so you can install the latest version of RealPlayer Cloud and try again. For more information, please visit the supported files types by clicking this link: http://cache-download.real.com/free/windows/mrkt/help/RealPlayer-Cloud/en/RealPlayer-help.htm#converter_file_types.htm

You can download the free RealPlayer Cloud software from the following web site:
http://www.real.com/

Many problems you might have using these older products can be resolved by upgrading to a current version. Therefore, we recommend you to install RealPlayer Cloud.

19 Phillip October 27, 2014 at 10:47 am

And will this real player cloud install on linux?

Not according to the system requirements.

The problem is you once saw the good thing in multi OS support. Now it seems you have lost your way.

Since most software is written in a programming language then it should be possible to compile it for different OS’s, unless laziness is the key and using the SDK packs offered by the such as windows.

Really you should take a leaf out of Valve and Steams book and realise the a

20 Brinton Felixraja October 30, 2014 at 6:15 am

Thank you for taking the time to share your comments with us. I will take it as a feedback.

Currently, RealPlayer Cloud is not available for Linux. However, you can access the RealPlayer Cloud web site.Go to http://cloud.real.com and create an account to download, play and share the videos stored in Cloud Space. You can also install the RealPlayer Cloud app in your devices (like iPod, iPhone,iPad, Android phones and tablets, Windows tablets etc.)

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