What are some open source video players

Top open source video player for Linux

Wondering which video player to use on Linux? Here is a list of the best open source video players available for Linux distributions.

You can watch Hulu, Prime Video, and / or Netflix on Linux. You can also download videos from YouTube and watch them later. If you find yourself in a country where you can't get Netflix and other streaming services, you may have to rely on torrent services like Popcorn Time on Linux.

Watching movies / TV series or other video content on computers is not yet an “old tradition”. Typically, you'll use the standard video player that came with your Linux distribution (that can be anything).

There are no problems using the standard player. However, if you specifically want more open source video player options (or alternatives to the standard player), then read on.

Best Linux video player

I included the installation steps for Ubuntu, but that shouldn't make it the Ubuntu video players list. This open source software should be available in every Linux distribution you use.

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Another note for Ubuntu users. You should have the Universe Repository enabled to find and install these video players from Software Center or the command line. I mentioned the commands, but you can also install them from the Software Center if you want.

Please note that the list is not in any particular order of precedence.

1. VLC media player

Key highlights:

  • Built-in codecs
  • Customization options
  • Cross-platform
  • Any supported video file format
  • Extensions available for additional functions

VLC media player is undoubtedly the most popular open source video player. Not just limited to Linux, but a must-have video player for any platform (including Windows).

It's a pretty powerful video player that can handle a wide variety of file formats and codecs. You can customize the look and feel with the help of skins and improve the functionality with the help of certain extensions. Other functions such as subtitle synchronization, audio / video filters, etc. are also provided.

How do I install VLC?

You can easily install VLC from the Software Center in Ubuntu or download it from the official website.

When using the terminal, you need to install the components separately according to your needs by following the official resource. To install the player, just type:

sudo apt install vlc

2. MPlayer

Key highlights:

  • Wide range of output drivers supported
  • Important file formats are supported
  • Cross-platform
  • Command line based

Another impressive open source video player (technically a video player engine). MPlayer may not give you an intuitive user experience, but it does support a wide variety of output drivers and subtitle files.

Unlike others, MPlayer doesn't have a working GUI (it does, but it doesn't work as expected). So you have to use the terminal to play a video. While this isn't a popular choice - it works, and some of the video players I'll list below are inspired (or based) on MPlayer, but with a GUI.

How do I install MPlayer?

We already have an article about installing MPlayer on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions. If this is what you're interested in installing this should be checked out.

sudo apt install mplayer mplayer-gui

3. SMPlayer

Key highlights:

  • Supports all popular video formats
  • Built-in codecs
  • Cross-platform (Windows & Linux)
  • Play ad-free YouTube video
  • OpenSubtitles integration
  • UI customization available
  • Based on MPlayer

As mentioned earlier, SMPlayer uses MPlayer as its playback engine. So it supports a wide variety of file formats. In addition to all the basic functions, you can also play YouTube videos in the video player (by removing the annoying ads).

If you want to learn more about SMPlayer, you can find a separate article here: SMPlayer on Linux.

Similar to VLC, it also comes with codecs so you don't have to worry about finding and installing codecs to make it work unless you need something in particular.

How do I install SMPlayer?

SMPlayer should be available in your software center. However, if you want to use the terminal, enter:

install sudo apt smplayer

4. MPV player

Key highlights:

  • Minimalistic user interface
  • Built-in video codecs
  • High quality video output through video scaling
  • Cross-platform
  • YouTube videos supported by CLI

If you are looking for a video player with a streamlined / minimal user interface, this is it. Similar to the video players above, we also have a separate article on the MPV player with installation instructions (if you want to learn more about it).

Other than that, it offers what you would expect from a standard video player. You can even try it on your Windows / Mac systems.

How do I install MPV Player?

You can find it in the software center or in the package manager. In either case, you can download the required package for your distribution from the official download page.

If you are using Ubuntu, you can enter this in the terminal:

sudo apt install mpv

5. Dragon Player

Key highlights:

  • Simple user interface
  • Tailored for KDE
  • Supports playing CDs and DVDs

This has been tailored specifically for KDE desktop users. It's a foolproof video player with all the basic features. You shouldn't expect anything special - but it supports the major file formats.

How do I install Dragon Player?

You can find it in the official repo. Either way, you can enter the following command to install from the terminal:

sudo apt install dragonplayer

6. GNOME videos

Key highlights:

  • A simple video player for GNOME desktop
  • Plugins are supported
  • Ability to sort / access separate video channels

The default video player for distributions using the GNOME desktop environment (formerly known as Totem). It supports all popular file formats and allows you to take a snapshot while playing a video. Similar to some of the others, it is a very simple and useful video player. You can try it out if you want.

How do I install Totem (GNOME Videos)?

You can just type "totem" to find the video player for GNOME listed in Software Center. If not, you can also try using Terminal with the following command:

sudo apt install totem

7. Deepin Movie

If you are using Deepin OS you will find this to be the default video player for Deepin Desktop Environment. It has all of the basic functionality that you would normally see in a video player. You can try compiling the source to install if you are not using Deepin.

How do I install Deepin?

You can find it in the Software Center. If you want to compile, the source code is available on GitHub. In either case, enter the following command in the terminal:

sudo apt install deepin-movie

8. Celluloid

Key highlights:

  • Drag and drop playlist support
  • Wayland support
  • MPRIS2 support for better integration into supported desktop environments
  • Simple yet customizable

I had to look at celluloid when one of our readers suggested adding it. Interestingly, it's a GTK front end for MPV. In fact, it was formerly known as the GNOME MPV.

Therefore, more options are supported to customize the player to a great extent to suit your needs. The user interface may be indistinguishable, but you will notice the options.

How do I install celluloid?

You may not find it in the Software Center. For any Linux distribution, you should therefore follow the official installation instructions.

They recommend using Flatpak. Make sure you have Flatpak enabled (see our guide on using Flatpak for help).

Once you are done, all you have to do is enter the following command in the terminal:

flatpak install flathub io.github.GnomeMpv

9. Probation

Key highlights:

  • Simple and expandable via plugins
  • Customizable

Parole is the standard video player on the Xfce desktop and offers numerous functions. It supports subtitles and you can also extend the functionality using the available plugins.

Of course, it's just another video player that works - you may not notice any "visual" difference that will be noticed. However, it is a lightweight application that uses fewer system resources.

How do I install Parole?

You'll need to add an unofficial PPA to get the latest version of Parole. You may find it in the Software Center, but this is not the updated version.

You can download the .DEB file from the Launchpad page. Either way, follow the commands below to install it:

sudo apt install parole

10. Xine Multimedia Engine

Important highlights:

  • Customization possible
  • Subtitle supported
  • Important file formats are supported
  • Streaming playback support

Xine is an interesting portable media player. You can either use the GUI or call the Xine library from other applications to take advantage of the available functions.

It supports a wide variety of file formats. You can adapt the skin of the GUI. It supports all types of subtitles (including DVDs). In addition, you can take a snapshot while the video is playing, which is convenient.

How do I install Xine Multimedia?

You probably won't find this in your software center. So you can try typing this into your terminal to install it:

sudo apt install xine-ui

In addition, you can search for available binary packages on the official website.

Wrap up

We encourage you to try these open source video players above anything else. In addition to all of these, you can also try Miro Player which is no longer actively maintained but works. So you can try it out if nothing else works for you.

However, if you think we missed one of your favorite Linux video players that deserves a mention, let us know in the comments below!


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