How to Play Most Restricted Media Formats in Ubuntu 02/21/08

Ubuntu strives to make all software that meets the licensing terms in the Ubuntu License Policy available. However patent and copyright restrictions complicate free operating systems distributing software to support proprietary formats.

Ubuntu’s commitment to only include completely free software by default means that proprietary media formats are not configured ‘out of the box’.

Ubuntu can play the most popular non-free media formats, including DVD, MP3, Quicktime, Windows Media, and more by following the instructions below. If this seems like unnecessary work, remember that Ubuntu is a distribution of free software and these packages are (at least arguably) affected by patents and license restrictions in some countries. Avoid formats suppressed by DRM (Digital Rights Management, or Digital Restrictions Management), as they are often unplayable.

See Ubuntu’s Free Software Philosophy and the Free Formats page for a more comprehensive discussion of these issues.

Legal Notice Patent and copyright laws operate differently depending on which country you are in. Please obtain legal advice if you are unsure whether a particular patent or restriction applies to a media format you wish to use in your country.

    Playing Restricted Formats

    Follow these steps to play most common multimedia formats, including MP3, DVD, Flash, Quicktime, WMA and WMV, including both standalone files and content embedded in web pages.

    Ubuntu 7.10

    Synaptic
    • Go to ApplicationsAdd/Remove…
    • Set Show: to All available applications
    • Search for ubuntu-restricted-extras and install it. Note that there is also xubuntu-restricted-extras and kubuntu-restricted-extras.

    Or open the Terminal, and execute the following command:

    sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

    Ubuntu 7.04

    • Click Applications → Add/Remove. In the top right, change the setting to All available applications. Then select Other in the left panel and then select the Ubuntu restricted extras package. Click OK.
    • To play most DVDs you’ll need the libdvdcss2 package. This package is available using Medibuntu. This is a third party package, and not supported by Canonical.

    Note: If DVD playback fails, and you’ve never played any DVD before on your system, you may need the regionset package to initially set the drive’s region.

    • Some external codecs may be needed in order to play certain proprietary formats such as Apple Quicktime or RealVideo. These external codecs are available in the third-party repository of Medibuntu.

    Ubuntu 6.06 and 6.10

    Install the following packages to play most proprietary formats using the Totem and Rhythmbox applications, both of which are included in Ubuntu by default. Since the version of Totem that comes with Ubuntu does not yet play DVDs, the list below also includes packages for the GXine and Ogle players, which do.

    • Ensure the relevant repositories are enabled. Click System → Administration → Synaptic Package Manager → Settings → Repositories and then click Add. Check the Community maintained (Universe) and Non-free (Multiverse) boxes, click Add. Close the Software Repository window, and click Reload in Synaptic Package Manager.
    • Install the packages. While you could install packages individually using Synaptic, here is one case where any Ubuntu user can save a lot of time by using the command line. Quit out of Synaptic, then click Application → Accessories → Terminal and paste the following command:

    sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-pitfdll gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gxine libxine-main1 libxine-extracodecs ogle ogle-gui

    • To play most DVDs you’ll need the libdvdcss2 package. This package is available using Medibuntu. This is a third party package, and not supported by Canonical.

    Note: If DVD playback fails, and you’ve never played any DVD before on your system, you may need the regionset package to initially set the drives region.

    • Some external codecs may be needed in order to play certain proprietary formats such as Apple Quicktime or RealVideo. These external codecs are available in the third-party repository of Medibuntu.
    • Users of x86 systems may also install Adobe Flash Player.

    Detailed Instructions and Troubleshooting

    Audio

    DVD

    Web

    Video

    Other

    The Ubuntu and Kubuntu Media Players

    • Ubuntu 6.06 LTS (Dapper Drake) comes with Totem (a movie player) and Rhythmbox (a music player)
    • Kubuntu 6.06 LTS and Kubuntu 6.10 include Kaffeine (a multimedia player) and AmaroK (a music player)

    These media players support free formats (Ogg Vorbis, Ogg Theora, and similar formats) ‘out of the box’. However, they can also play most non-free media formats if you install the additional gstreamer (for Ubuntu only) or libxine1 (for Kubuntu only) packages listed above.

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