VideoLAN Client (VLC)

VLC is a small, fast and lightweight, cross-platform Open Source media player (with focus on Video). It is able to play many different formats without requiring additional codecs.

Installation

Ubuntu

10.04 Lucid and above

Simply install the following package(s):

  • vlc (universe)

There are some additional packages, providing special functionality:

After installation, you can start the program by clicking “Applications→Sound & Video→VLC media player”. Or open a terminal and start it via vlc.

Windows

XP and above

Simply download the Windows installer and execute it with administrator privileges.

Or use VLC portable, if you want to run VLC without installation.

Tips and tricks

Use VLC as streaming server

VLC is able to provide streams. This may be useful to stream e.g. web-based video (→less WAN traffic) or DVB-T (→only one hardware receiver needed) to other LAN clients:

Control VLC via web browser

VLC is able to start a small web server, enabling you to control the player using a browser (→remote control).2)

Execute the following command and open http://localhost in your browser afterwards:

vlc -I http

If you want to bind the server to a special IP and port:

vlc -I http --http-host 192.168.0.100:8080

On Ubuntu, access to the server is controlled via /usr/share/vlc/http/.hosts. See the documentation for details.

VLC provides command line tools

VLC is able to run many tasks without a GUI, there are several terminal commands.3) The most important one is cvlc, providing VLC without interface. This may be useful for command line playing or ripping something using shell scripts, e.g.

cvlc "/path/to/media/music.mp3"

Have a look at the documentation, it is really worth it.

Create screencasts using VLC

VLC is able to record your desktop activities, enabling you to create simple screencasts:

  1. Start VLC and have a look at “Media→Open Capture Decive…”
  2. Select “Capture Mode→Desktop”
  3. Choose a frame rate (e.g. 12)
  4. Click on the small selection arrow on the left of the “Play” button and choose “Convert”
  5. Specify a destination file, e.g. myscreencast.mp4
  6. Click on “Start” to start recording your desktop
  7. Use the common stop button of the player to end recording

If you also want to record the mouse, go to “Tools→Preferences”. Choose “Show settings→All” in the lower left corner, now “Input / Codecs→Access modules→Screen”. Check “Follow the mouse” and specify a mouse pointer image to use, e.g. /usr/share/gnome-control-center/pixmaps/mouse-cursor-normal.png on Ubuntu.

See also

1) I recommend to use the MPlayer based gecko-mediaplayer package to play video in Ubuntu's Firefox instead. I'm no MPlayer fanboy, but their browser-plugin is far better than the VLC one. It does not have the “waiting for video” issue on 64bit systems, is more stable and faster.
2) the HTTP server is also used to stream data via HTTP, see “Use VLC as streaming server”
3) qvlc, svlc, nvlc, rvlc and cvlc
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