When I started Xtheater, there were very few players. The ones that come
to mind are xanim and mpegtv. Now there are huge numbers of players available.
Being a semi-obsessive media person, I've tried to at least know of, if not
most of the media players out there. I present here what I know of the
players that can work with Linux. I've tried to group the ones I have more
positive opinions near the top. Without further ado, here they are:
This is a truly amazing player. Very fault tolerant and can play files no other
linux program can touch. Also has some nice OSD support, in addition to
outputting to practically anything you want, from the framebuffer to several
methods of X display. Right now it isn't
too user friendly (command prompt only), but defintely worth a look.
The GUI that is in the works looks truly remarkable. If any program I
have seen has the potential to be *the* definite movie player, it is this
one. Not enought to make me throw up my hands and stop Xtheater, but pretty
This player is pretty advanced. Can play MPG, DVD, and AVI (though I couldn't
get AVI working in my brief trial). The DVD performance is the only Linux
player I have got working that can produce acceptable frame rates through
the software decoder. Also has CSS plugins so it can view most DVDs. Problem
I had was that it tended to drop subtitles sometimes (probably tied in with
the high frame loss). It is definitely one to look at.
This Linux DVD player does what no other Linux player does, supports the
menus on DVDs! All it can do is DVD, and is pretty early in development.
Has a lot of potential. In my brief trials, the menus seemed to work great, but
it could not play the actual movie.
Another program capable of DVD playback, as well as other formats. It also
keeps itself pretty platform independent. I had problems getting it
to work, but if it is as good as everyone seems to say, it is worth a look.
- Open Media System:
A media player with focus on DVD. It seems to work ok, but software decoder is
way too slow on my system to be playable. It also can have serious display
isssues if your cofiguration does not closely match the developers. They seem
to have improved some since my last try, including some supposed hardware
support. It is worth a look, particularly if you have a high-end system.
This package is primarily meant as a library (which Xtheater happens to use).
It qualifies here for the simple qt player that is included. It works well as
an AVI/ASF/WMV player, even if it isn't the most fancy thing around.
Very good multimedia player for Unix systems. Supports many formats, but
does not do MPEG systems streams correctly. Will play most other formats
though. The program is getting a bit dated, but the author seems to be working
on it and may pull a few things out of his sleeve yet.
An MPEG-1 player for KDE. I've tried it, it works well, has a winamp-like
interface, visualization of the audio portion, and does a bit more with
its backend than Xtheater did with it (for obvious reasons).
Development on the player has seemed to slow down, but the decoding core has
been integrated into KDE2.1. It was a pretty good engine and it is good to see
the author get into such a prominent position.
This is a MPG player that has KDE and Gnome UIs. Not as feature rich as
other players, but what it does, it seems to do well. If you want a simple,
no nonsense MPG player, this may be a good choice.
This was one of the first programs to adopt avifile for AVI playback. Has
a pretty nice UI, but has had a lot of problems in my tests, especially with
garbled display bugs. Lately it seems to have lost a lot of steam, but it
may still be kicking.
Undoubtedly one of the more famous MPEG players for linux. It has most features you'd
want in an MPEG player, but costs a nominal amount and is not open source :)
If you want it done and don't care about the internals and can part with some
money, you might want to see it.
- Creative Labs:
Here you can find the cvs and mailing lists and such for Creative products
including the dxr2 decoding board capable of playing DVD MPEG-2 as well as
MPEG-1 files. The best quality playback that you'll probably get, but not
much control yet. If you have a dxr2 board, look here. Works great for
A player that claims to be capable of MPEG-1, MPEG-2 (DVD), MP2, MP3, WAV, AIFF,
AC3, and Quicktime (no Sorenson though). I have not had the chance to try it,
but have heard some good things.
The place where most projects are derived from now. The programs there
don't do much for System streams (audio & video), but are good for reference.
This is really not recommended for any media playback, but is mainly here
for historical and educational reasons.
This media player seems to be the one orphaned by LiViD in favor of OMS.
It claims to have a better featureset, but I have not had the opportunity to try.
There may or may not be a good reason why it was dumped for OMS, you never know until
you try, and I would if I had more time.
This is the media player chosen by the KDE project currently. It supposedly
supports wav, mp3, vorbis, mpeg-1, and divx. I typically find KDE software
some of the highest quality, the most thoroughly thought through software there is.
Because of this I have tried and tried this program in all sorts of ways,
because I couldn't believe that KDE would put something this crappy in the
distribution. The feature set looks nice, but I have never gotten it to play
a single media file or do anything right no matter how I look at it, and many
people agree. This is the first player I couldn't find much good to say about.
It really wasn't ready to be called a "stable" release. It uses Martin Vogt's
mpeglib for most of its playback, which works fine in kmpg, so I don't really
understand the difficulty. Good luck to these people, and don't flame me too
hard for saying this.