Linux 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.
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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?