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linux video playerA good media player will save you literally minutes of frustration when you next go to watch a video on your PC. There’s also an abundance of add-ons and useful features bundled in with many of today’s media players, and here we’ve got a selection of the best Linux video players.

So if you download all the latest TV, love your HD content or simply need to replace your default player with something a little more… usable then feast your eyes over this lot.

Forget the rest – this is the definitive list of the top 5 video players for your Linux machine. As usual they’re all free, and MakeUseOf approved.


linux video player

Before I switched from Windows 7 to Ubuntu, VLC was the last word in video playback on a PC. It was the second program I installed on my fresh Linux partition after my web browser. It just works.


The playlist is a bit fiddly at times (it was worse on Windows though) but if you want a decent media player that will pretty much play everything from HD .MKVs to lossless .FLAC audio then VLC is a perfect lightweight solution.

No fancy bells or whistles (unless you fancy streaming your own video, of course) but a fantastic and tiny bit of software you’ll always be able to fall back on.


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A souped-up front-end for the still-quite-popular MPlayer, SMPlayer provides an attractive interface and builds upon the robustness of MPlayer to deliver a powerful software package.

The playlist is considerably easier to deal with than VLC’s, and even docks properly to the player itself. SMPlayer saves all your personal settings on a per-file basis and also supports the resuming of partially finished files once they’ve been closed. There’s a wealth of compatible Linux Screenlets Spruce Up Your Linux Desktop with Screenlets Spruce Up Your Linux Desktop with Screenlets Read More out there to enhance your desktop with visualizations, album art and controls for this excellent media player.


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As well as playing all your usual audio and video formats, Banshee also allows you to connect your portable device to transfer files. This includes compatibility with Android devices, Apple’s iPod and others.

The whole thing is held together with a nice-looking UI, extra functionality like audio CD ripping and a smart, powerful playlist. This latest release is the collective work of 67 programmers and artists who have contributed to the project. There’s also support for internet radio, shared media, the Amazon music store, and a whole lot more. Nice.


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Another all-in-one solution, Miro is a video player built from the ground up for HD content. There’s a cracking interface to boot, which makes organising all your media that little bit easier.

There’s integration with plenty of web services including a nifty in-built BitTorrent client, Miro’s own Miro Guide and Video RSS for automatic downloads. You can also resume files and feeds from the same place you left off.


linux video player

More of a media centre than a video player, Boxee still deserves a mention. If you’ve not played with it yet, you might want to check out our existing article Boxee - Cool Media Center for Mac and Ubuntu Boxee - Cool Media Center for Mac and Ubuntu Read More as to why it’s so great. You don’t need to buy a Boxee Box to enjoy it, as it runs over the top of your existing Linux desktop.

You can then watch video from your own storage, the web and other shared computers through Boxee. The media centre is perfect for your Linux laptop as you can plug it straight in to a HDTV and enjoy YouTube, Flickr and even check Facebook on your TV.

It’s also worth mentioning that the developers have fixed the latest version to work with Ubuntu 10.10.


We’ve pretty much got it covered here in this list. If it’s a lightweight desktop player you want then VLC or SMPlayer should suffice, whereas if you like a bit more internet with your video then the final 3 are designed to just do that.

We’ve also got a definitive list of open source Linux audio players 5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players 5 Great Alternative Linux Music Players Read More in case you need one of those, and if you’re really serious about your video you might want to check out our two-part guide about using Linux as a media server. Part 1 is here Using Your Linux Computer As A Media Center (Part 1) Using Your Linux Computer As A Media Center (Part 1) Read More , and part 2 can be found here Using Your Linux Computer as a Media Server (Part 2) Using Your Linux Computer as a Media Server (Part 2) Read More .

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