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Linux Video players, DVD players, TV and Multimedia

This covers Linux video players, DVD players, TV, HDTV and Hauppauge WinTV PCI card use. Included in this tutorial are links to software, video formats and information pertaining to video multimedia on Linux. This page also includes a tutorial on the use of the Hauppauge WinTV PCI card, linux video conferencing, surveillance, capture and TV broadcast display under Linux.

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Linux Video and DVD Players:

There are plenty of Linux Video applications for playing and editing various video file formats, codecs and media (VCD, DVD). Trouble with a particular codec is often resolved by upgrading to a newer version of the player or choosing a different player. I find that the system default is NOT always the best choice.

DVD,-RAM provides 4.7 GB per side storage. The average DVD movie can hold up to 5GB of data. There are currently 6 forms of copy protection which apply to DVD's.

CSS: Content Scrambling System is used by the entertainment industry to provide copy protection. Each CSS licensee possesses one key (of an available 400) which is stored on the CSS encrypted DVD. Most DVD's are encoded with Macrovision copy protection. CSS can employ CPPM (Content Protection for Prerecorded Media). This adds the concept of renewability and revocation. CPRM (for recordable media) support is supported by all DVD recorders released after 1999. Each blank recordable DVD has a unique 64-bit id. When protected content is recorded onto the disk, in can be encrypted with a cypher derived from the disk ID. During playback, the disk ID is read and used to generate a key to decrypt the contents of the disk. If copied to another disk, the id will be absent or incorrect and thus not decrypted.

DTCP (Digital Transmission Copy Protection) allows for the exchange of keys between players, digital TV's and other devices.

How to burn a DVD - YoLinux Tutorial

For more on DVD encryption see:

Linux Video Media File and DVD Player Software:

  • MPlayer - General media player and plugin. Can play CSS encoded DVDs and supports subtitles.
    Awesome (best) software but may violate patents and intellectual property laws. Plays DIVX, DVD and VCD media as well as MPEG files.
    Documentation: Supports
    • codecs: mov, mp3, mpeg-1 (VCD), mpeg-2(SVCD/DVD/DVB), mpeg-4 (ASP/H264), OpenDivX (DivX4/5), Xvid, RealViddio (1/2/3/4), Sorenson, Intel Indeo 3/4, FLI/FLC. HuffYUV, ...
    • video: AVI, DVD, MPEG, ASF, QT, Real, Ogg, FLI, Plays Real media, wav, SGI, H264, Indeo3, Sorenson3, VP3, 3ivx, FFv1, ASV1, VCR1/2, QuickTime, DVB, Tivo, Windows Media Video 7/8, MS/Windows WMV, Open DivX, ...
    • audio: mp3, RealAudio, ogg, AC3, ACC, WMA, alaw, ...
    (MPlayer video codec list)

    To play DVD:
    • gmplayer dvd://1 -alang en
    • or gmplayer and right click on the display screen to pull up menu and select "DVD" + "Open disk...".
      You can also select audio options here too. I had to select "DVD" + "Audio Languages" + "English - Dolby Digital Stereo" to get sound to work properly and stop the horrible buzzing noise.
    • or select from the FC-3 desktop menu bar "Applications" + "Sound and Video" + "MPlayer"

  • VideoLan.org: VLC (Video Lan Client) - Plays encrypted DVD's directly from DVD-ROM. (MPEG 1/2, VCD and DVD player) Also plays MPEG and video streams.
    • codecs: ac3, mpeg-1, mpeg-2, mpeg-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, H.264, MKV, WebM, wmv, ...
    • video: AVI, ASF/WMV/WMA, Real, flv (Flash), x11, xmga, xvideo, multicast IPv4/6
    • audio: AAC, DTS, AC3/A52, alsa, arts, eds, oss, sdl, mp2, mp3

  • Ogle - Plays CSS encrypted DVD's directly from DVD-ROM. Supports DVD menus, navigation and subtitles. Plays DVD and VCD media as well as MPEG files.
    Downlowd packages (freshRPMs.net: i386, x86_64, ...): libdvdcss, libmad, a52dec, libdvdread, ogle, and (optionally) ogle_gui.

    YUM install:

    Install package "ogle":
    • yum -y install ogle
    • yum -y install ogle_gui

    (See YoLinux tutorial on YUM configuration and how to add the FreshRPM.net site to your download list.)

    Command line start: ogle -u gui /media/cdrecorder

    I never got Ogle to work properly.

  • InterVideo: LinDVD - Commercial DVD support for Linux (Used by IBM Thinkpad) Legally plays CSS encoded DVD's.
  • xine - DVD's, VCD's, CDA and MPEG video media player.
    Install packages: xine, xine-lib, xine-skins
    • codecs: avi, divx, mp3, mpeg-1, mpeg-2, quicktime, vorbis
    • video: aa, opengl, syncfb, x11, xv
    • audio: alsa, arts, esd, oss
  • Totem - GNOME xine-lib or GStreamer library based DVD movie player. Totem is the default player for Red Hat/Fedora and is compiled with GStreamer libraries. If you want to play DVDs you need to install totem-xine because GStreamer does not have working support for the playing of DVDs. Download from FreshRPMs.net.
  • Heroine Virtual: XMovie Quicktime (non-Sorenson codec), MPEG 1/2, DVD
  • OMS/OMI Linuxvideo - MPEG 1/2, DVD
  • Multimedia4Linux.de - DVD Links
  • xAnim - Simple and works great on low power computers. Plays various AVI, MJPEG and Quicktime Codecs. Plays limited list of media files, no DVDs.

DVD Tips:

  • Fedora: To auto play DVD upon insertion select from the desktop menu bar, "Applications" + "Preferences" + "Removable Storage". Specify the command to play the DVD:
    • gmplayer dvd://1 -alang en
    • xine --auto-play --auto-scan dvd

View HDTV on Linux:

HD-5500 Hi Definition Television card:

This pcHDTV card works with Xine. The pcHDTV HD-5500 supports ATSC/NTSC TV reception and accelerated motion compression support with NVidia GeForce4 and Quadro 4 cards. Also supports MPEG-1/2/4 video capture.


  • pcHDTV includes a patched version of Xine which supports this card.
  • This card supports the receiving of HDTV airwave broadcasts. See Antennaweb.org top select an HDTV antenna manufacturer and HDTV broadcast stations in your area.
  • HDTV resolution can be as high as 1920x1080.
  • Data capture of HDTV is about 20Mbps. (1hr = 7.2Gb)


View TV/Listen to FM radio on Linux: (w/ Hauppauge WinTV PCI)

Hauppauge model 447 WinTV PCI card: This PCI card integrates a cable ready (also aerial, satelite, video, S-video) television tuner (125 channels), video capture and an FM radio tuner. The product includes an infrared remote and a color video camera. (Newer versions also ship with headphones with mic and volume control) It is based on the bt 878 Brooktree chip-set.


I installed a Hauppauge model 447 WinTV PCI card and Kudzu detected it upon system boot and made the appropriate system configuration changes. No further system configuration changes were required. Kudzu added the following line to the file /etc/modules.conf:

alias char-major-81 bttv

The following devices are supported by the WinTV card:

  • /dev/radio - FM radio
  • /dev/vbi - TV call sign data
  • /dev/video0 - TV

How to generate devices if they did not get generated properly:

[root prompt]# mknod /dev/video0 c 81 0
[root prompt]# mknod /dev/video1 c 81 1
[root prompt]# mknod /dev/video2 c 81 2
[root prompt]# [root prompt]# ln -s /dev/video0 /dev/video

The following modules are loaded:

  • videodev.o: The video4linux device module
  • bttv.o: Driver for the Hauppauge card.
  • i2c.o: Interface for bus to framegrabber.
  • tuner.o: Tuner module to switch chanels.
  • msp3400.o: Stereo

I then installed speakers on the audio output of the WinTV card and the cable TV coax to the cable TV/antenna input.

Audio may be configured one of three ways:

  1. Connect speakers directly to the WinTV "Line Out" connector. (Use amplified speakers.)
  2. Connect the WinTV "Line Out" to your sound card "Line In" connector on the rear of your computer.
  3. Use the "internal" connector provided to internally connect the WinTV card to the internal "Aux In" on the sound card. This connector looks like the connector which connects the CD to the sound card internally. When using this method use the sound controls provided in KwinTV.

Note: The graphics card displays the image generated by the WinTV card. Thus they must communicate together. The graphics card must support "Primary Surface Mode" (write to graphics card display memory. Modern video cards do.) or your computer must have loads of memory to hold the video image.

Video capture/encoding using Real Producer:

YoLinux Real media tutorial: Real Producer video capture/encoding - Using the Hauppauge WinTV PCI card

TV Viewing Software:

My preference is KwinTV. I have read that deficiencies in the i2c.o driver necessitate that only one application access the Hauppauge card at a time or risk eeprom damage.

  • KwinTV:

    Red Hat RPM package kwintv
    Using kwintv: (The following directions are USA broadcast specific. Other broadcast standards are supported by KwinTV)

    • KwinTV home page
    • Start kwintv: /usr/bin/kwintv
    • Scan stations: (Not necessary)
      • "Program" + "Widard" (Next)
      • Select "NTSC" (Next)
      • Unselect "Scan whole frequency band" and select "USA cable" (Next). If using an antenna select "broadcast".
      • Select "Start". After scan is complete select Next.
      • Select "Finish"
    • Configure channel selection:
      • "Program" + "Browser"
      • Select leftmost icon which is "Add new program"
        • Select a channel
        • Set "recieving region" to "USA [cable]" (USA residents)
        • Set "input video format" to "NTSC" (USA residents)
        • Set "input source" to "Television"
          (Note: Set to S-Video to view input from color video camera which comes with the Hauppauge WinTV PCI card or S-Video camcorder. )
        • Assign it a "program name" (i.e. NBC, CNN, etc)
        • Select "OK"
      • Keep adding new programs till your viewing selections are complete.
    That is all there was to it! It was so simple. KwinTV can perform image file "streaming" capture to a series of PPM image files (View with xv), video capture to an AVI file (View with xanim) and capture snapshots to a JPEG, PNM or PNG file.

    KwinTV Notes:

    • Up/Down arrows change channels.
    • KwinTV channel configuration file: $HOME/.kwintvrc/default.ch
    • Use your camcorder as your video source and then you can use KwinTV to video capture (channel 3/4) the analog input to AVI.
    • TV viewing software uses /dev/video0
    • To exit the application type the letter "q" for Quit.
    • The BT848 chipset converts the input from the TV tuner to a digital YUV 4:2:2 sampling (24 bit RGB) for display by the VGA graphics card.
    • Peripherals:
      • Want to play your console video game and display on your computer? Plug the output of the game console into the Composite Plug on the TV card. Radio Shack can sell you an adaptor for Left/Right audio of the console to the Line-in plug of the sound card.
      • VCR's and camcorder will also be able to feed the TV card.

    [Potential Pitfall]: KwinTV supports infrared remote controls but I could not get it to work. See: Linux Infrared Remote Control (LIRC) Project
    [Potential Pitfall]: While playing with XawTV I messed it all up and the screen setting was too dark. To fix this condition, launch KwinTV and select "Program" + "Browser..." (or the program browser icon). Select the channel and select the edit icon. Then select the options tab and reset the contrast/hue/brightness/color.

  • Zapping: (Easier to use but less capable than KwinTV. Unfortunately it is also more buggy.)

    It's that simple. The advertised video capture and image capture did not work for me. The closed captioned text worked well.
    Obtains station call sign info/id from device: /dev/vbi0 (cool feature)

    [Potential Pitfall]: Over time it tends to operate slower and slower if attempting video capture. (Bug) It will eventually hog the full resources of your computer.
    [Potential Pitfall]: Often exits poorly leaving processes running. Kill processes before restarting.

  • XawTV: (NOT recommended)
    • XawTV Home Page
    • Download: XawTV
      Includes the /usr/bin/radio console program which works with the Hauppauge WinTV/radio card.
    • Configuration:
      • Start program: /usr/bin/xawtv
      • Press "Enter" (Enter/Carraige Return)
      • Press right mouse button to bring up menu. Do it again to toggle it off.
      • Select "TV Norm" and select option "NTSC". If the screen scrolls out of frame do this again to correct the picture.
      • Select "Frequency table" and select option "us-cable"
      • Select "Channel Editor" (or press letter "e")
        • Change channels by selecting the UP or Down arrow.
          Note: Cursor MUST be in the "Channel" data entry field or in TV viewing screen.
        • Give the channel a name (i.e. Fox-TV) and select the "Add" button.
    Not pretty (in fact it's ugly) but it is complete. I found that it was not very reliable and behaved flakey at times as it responded strangely to the controls. i.e. contrast/hue/brightness settings would suddenly and randomly go to zero upon a channel change and I would loose the picture, tuning would be inacurate and fuzzy, the window would scroll etc.
    I do NOT recommend this TV viewer!!
    Configuration file: $HOME/.xawtv

Video capture file sizes:

Image Size Frames/Sec Bytes/Sec One Min video
160x120 15 425 Kb/sec 26 Mb
320x240 15 850 Kb/sec 52 Mb
320x240 30 1.7 Mb/sec 104 Mb

Video Notes:

  • NTSC frame ratio: 4:3 or 640x480 resolution at 30 full frames/sec (60 half frames/sec interlaced).
  • NTSC displays 480 horizontal scan lines (The NTSC standard refers to 525 total including non-visual data such as closed caption text and 511-525 blank. Theoretical resolution: 720x525. Theoretical bandwidth: 27 Mb/s uncompressed.)
  • Video devices often degrade the 480 scan lines to:
    • VHS video tape: 240
    • S-VHS: 420
    • Broadcast Cable: 330
    • Satelite: ~400
    • DVD: 500
    • Laserdisc: 420
    • PC quality video: (typically)
      • NTSC: 352x240
      • PAL: 352x288
  • Movie Theater frame ratio: 16x9 at 24 frames/sec
  • HDTV: 1080 horizontal lines x 1920 vertical lines (1920x1080)
  • PAL/SECAM: 4x3 frame, (x625 theoretical total), 25 frames/sec, 50Hz, 50 half frames/sec interlaced.
  • Broadcast NTSC MPEG-2: 720x486, 15Mbits/s
  • Hauppauge video capture 320x240 (Want to do better, go HD digital and firewire)

FM radio software:

Applications for TV cards with an FM tuner onboard:

  • DengerinRadioFM: Simple, allows station presets.

    • http://oss.mdamt.net/radiofm/ - DengerinRadioFM Home Page
    • Execute: /usr/bin/radiofm
    • Configuration file for preset stations: $HOME/.radiofm

  • radio: Part of xawtv-3.34-1 TV viewing RPM. Text console program. It works. See radio man page.

  • Gnomeradio: Gnome desktop radio

Did not try these:

  • fmtools - programs for Video for Linux radio cards
  • gTuner - GNOME radio controller

The Hauppauge XC77B/44x Webcam:

The webcam which ships with the Hauppauge model 447 connects to the cature card with an S-Video connection. This should be superior in bandwidth to a USB attached webcam.

Test the webcam: I used kwintv and Zapping.

  • kwintv:
    1. Select from the tool bar "Program" + "New".
    2. Select from the pull-down menu "Input source" - "S-Video"
    3. Watch yourself on kwintv.
  • Zapping: Change the pull-down selection on the tool bar from "Television" to "S-Video".
This test will allow one to view video from the webcam on the desktop.

For capturing video for Real Media streaming see the YoLinux tutorial on Real Producer.

If trying to find a power connector which is compatable with the Hauppauge VCM77 video camera, use the Radio Shack TA-910-5272. (DC inline jack OD 5.5mm x 2.5mm) This is a special order part. I found that my computer would not boot properly when the Hauppauge power cable was used in-line with the PS/2 connectors. Beware of the little "universal" power supplies which can provide multiple voltages. Use a volt meter on any voltage supply first!!! I fried a camera believing the voltage setting on one of these cheap power supplies. It was putting out twice the displayed voltage!!! The only voltage I trust is the PC power supply. It can supply 3.3, 5 and 12 volts. The Hauppauge video camera requires 5 volts. The outer cylinder is negative while the center post is a positive 5 volts. The red wires from a PC power supply are typically 5 volt lines.

Newer versions of the model 447 ship with the Pixera PXG-100 (N-NTSC or P-PAL) which uses a different power connector.

For compatible Video cameras see the YoLinux Harware Hauppauge compatible Video Cameras.


Video Webcams:


  • WebCamProShop.com
  • OpenMASH - Toolkit for collaboration and streaming applications. Uses multicast so don't expect it to work across the internet.
    Includes multi-user video conferencing tool, "vic": vic hostname/port-number
  • camE - rewrite of the xawtv webcam app
  • CamStream - C++/Qt based GUI tools for webcams and other video-devices
  • Gqcam - QuickCam/QuickPict clone (Video4Linux/GTK+)
  • Gspy - A Gnome security camera
  • Linux Motion Detection - watches a video device for activity

Video Conferencing:

Ekiga (once known as GnomeMeeting) is an open source SoftPhone, Video Conferencing and Instant Messenger Gtk application.
Home page: Ekiga.org

Ekiga supports SIP and H.323 telephony standards, audio & video, SMS to cell, text chat and audio only conferencing over the internet. It requires connecting to a server (SIP, PBX, ...) to allow each video conference user to locate each other and negotiate acceptable protocols. ( default is provided.)


Debian/Ubuntu/Mint: apt-get install ekiga
Installs the following packages (Ubuntu natty): ekiga libopal3.6.8 libpt2.6.7 libsrtp0

GnomeMeeting: This installation covers Gnome Meeting 0.85.1 on Red Hat Linux 7.2. Gnome meeting is compatable with Microsoft NetMeeting.
Note that this project has been renamed to Ekiga.

GnomeMeeting supports audio, video, text chat and audio only conferencing over the internet. It requires connecting to an ILS server to allow each video conference user to locate each other and negotiate acceptable protocols. (A default is provided.)


Red Hat/CentOS/Fedora: (Four RPM's were installed)
  • gnomemeeting
  • GConf
  • openh323
  • pwlib

GnomeMeeting Usage:

  1. Use Kwin TV to set the defaults on your video card. Gnome meeting does not do this well. You may end up transmitting CNN by mistake instead of your own video. The Hauppauge card seems to use the last setting. Using KWinTV, you need to set the S-video input as a channel - the lowest channel. Do this by first tuning to the lowest channel and then add a new channel set to be the S-video input. This will set channel 1 to be the S-video. (KWinTV: "Program" + "Browser...". Select the "Add new program" icon. Select "Input video format"=NTSC, "Input source"="S-Video" and assign it a "Program name" i.e. "Camera". Then select "OK".) Exit/Quit KWinTV and then set Gnome meeting to channel 1. ("Edit" + "Settings" + "Device Settings" and set "Video Channel" to "1".)
  2. Configure Gnome Meeting: "Edit" + "Settings":
    • Configure "Personal Data": Select ("Edit" + "Settings") + "Personal Data" Enter data and select "Update".
    • Configure "Directory Settings": I used the default ILS Directory argo.dyndns.org then select "Update" to notify the LDAP server. (Alternate ILS: gm.uk.linux.org)
    • The default in Gnome Meeting is video turned off. To turn it on select: ("Edit" + "Settings") + "Codecs Settings". Select the tab "General Settings". Depress the button "Video Transmisson" before connecting to the LDAP video server.
    • "Device Settings": Set "Video Format" to "NTSC" for the USA crowd. PAL for the Europeans. The "Video Channel" should be set to that matching your S-Video chanel set in KWinTV as described above.
  3. Select the Gnome Meeting "Book" icon to bring up the LDAP server browser - select the pull-down menu and select the ILS server argo.dyndns.org and select "Refresh".
  4. Right click to pick the person to connect to.

GnomeMeeting screen shot

Potential Pitfalls:

  • Audio mixer must have the mic un-muted. (/usr/bin/gmix)
  • My headset also has a microphone mute button on the cord - check it.
  • Slow networks will require one to reduce the number of frames sent per second (i.e. 1 or 2) or reduce video quality in order to preserve audio rates.
  • Firewalls are said to be a potential problem according to the GnomeMeeting FAQ.


Note for Microsoft Windows XP users: Start Netmeeting: "Start" + "Run" + conf.exe

Other Linux video conferencing options:

MythTV: Digital Video Recorder (DVR)

Linux has become popular as a DVR device OS. Three custom MythTV Linux distributions are available:

MythTV plugins: (included with the above distributions)


Video File Formats:

Digital Video Formats



AVI: (Audio/Video Interleaved)

MWV: (Windows Media Video)

Digital Video Hardware / Software:

Overview of making movies with Linux. - Overview from Production to Distribution - by Ben Moore


Video Software:

  • mjpegtools - MPEG2 encoder and MPEG tools.
  • Multimedia4Linux.de - Links and info
  • Blender - Mostly a 3-D modeler but it contains some editing features.
  • VideoLan.org - MPEG 1/2, VCD and DVD player/tools
  • GNU: VCDImager - VCD generation tools.
  • Jahshaka video and film compositing and special fx system. Computer Graphics, paint and image processing modules.
  • Coriander - GUI for IEEE-1394, IIDC-Compliant Digital Cameras. Control, save and stream video (Beta)
  • GStreamer - Streaming video by applying filters to media and streaming. (Under development)
  • dv2jpg - converts an "avi dv2" format video stream into an "mjpeg-encoded" video stream, for later converion into a mpeg/video cd.
  • Qarbon Viewlet Builder authoring tool - JAVA Web based Video applet viewer [FAQ]
  • Video software from Schirmacher:
    • DVgrab - Convert to AVI. Digital video (DV) capture and other command line tools.
      (part of the Kino project)
    • Kino - Nonlinear video editing
      Note: While a 333 Mhz system will work, the pleasure of use of this software is dependant on the speed of your computer.
  • Video Conferencing:


  • Khronos.org - API for Embedded Media Authoring and Acceleration - Industry consortium
    • OpenMAX - MPEG 4 streaming API (nVidia GPU codec support)
    • OpenML - Standard for Dynamic Media Authoring
  • Linux 1394 AV/C Library - libavc1394 is a programming interface for the 1394 Trade Association AV/C (Audio/Video Control) Digital Interface Command Set.


Development Libraries:

Book imageBooks:

Broadcast 2000 : A Free Digital Moviemaking Kit
by Curtis Lee Fulton
ISBN #1886411700, No Starch Press

If you want to learn how to use the Broadcast 2000 video editor for Linux from HeroineWarrior.com, you will need this book.

The Official Blender 2.3 Guide
by Ton Roosendaal, Stefano Selleri
ISBN #1593270410, No Starch Press

Manual to the 3-D graphics and animation program Blender.

The Blender Book
by Carsten Wartmann
ISBN #1886411441, No Starch Press

Manual to the 3-D graphics and animation program Blender. This helps decipher the Blender interface.

Mbone: Interactive Multimedia on the Internet
by Vinay Kumar
ISBN #1562053973, New Rider Publishing

What it is and how to use the MBone multicast video conferencing system.

No image available Digital Video Camcorders: Open source programmers guide
by Tewell
ISBN #0750677619, Newnes

For programmers and embedded systems engineers and professionals.


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