GNU/Linux DVD Player Review

Jon takes a look at Xine, VideoLAN Client, MPlayer and Ogle—four GNU/Linux DVD playback applications.

MPlayer is another movie player that can play most MPEG, VOB, AVI, VIVO, ASF/WMV and QT/MOV files supported by many native, XAnim and Win32 DLL codecs. In addition to this you can watch VideoCD, SVCD, DVD, 3ivx and even DivX movies. In this respect it supports more formats than any of the other players reviewed here.

In addition to all of these video formats, MPlayer also supports a wide range of output drivers. It works with X11, Xv, DGA, OpenGL, SVGAlib, fbdev and AAlib, and you can use SDL and some low-level card-specific drivers (for Matrox, 3Dfx and RADEON) as well. Most of them support software or hardware scaling, so you can enjoy movies in full screen. Lastly, MPlayer supports displaying through some hardware MPEG decoder boards, such as the DVB and DXR3/Hollywood+. Blimey that's a list and a half.

So this looks like a one-stop shop for movie playback, but how does it perform? Very well. There are occasionally synchronization problems with DVD playback but nothing too major. The only thing to remember is that MPlayer does need to be run on a fairly powerful PC (greater than 500MHz) to work properly. If you are running on low power, MPlayer definitely is not for you. On lower spec machines the audio synchronization can get very messy, and the video becomes jerky, making the DVD, and other movie types, unwatchable. If you are using a lower spec machine, VideoLAN Client would appear to be the best option.

Encrypted DVDs are supported using the libcss library and, optionally, libdvdread for chapter support. As with the other players, encrypted support is not provided directly by MPlayer; you will need to download the libraries yourself. Unlike Xine, MPlayer does not support plugins, so you need to ensure that the libraries are installed before compiling.

MPlayer does not compile with a GUI by default, which is a little bizarre. To be fair, this is not a negative point as this is not really required if you just intend to use MPlayer to play back DVDs, as it does not support DVD menus. So having a GUI is not really necessary for DVD playback. However, if you intend to use MPlayer to play back other file types, you will need the GUI. To have GUI support you need to specify this if you compile from source by adding --enable-gui to the configure script.

To access the GUI you then either start MPlayer with a -gui switch (MPlayer does not use the standard --, which is usual for switches of more than one letter) or link MPlayer to gMPlayer, and then call gMPlayer instead. Another hurdle to get over with a GUI is that MPlayer is skinnable, but the standard source code has no skin, so the GUI still will not work. You need to download a skin from the MPlayer web site and install it, which is an irritating step. However, once all these additional steps are completed you are then presented with a usable interface to MPlayer. The interface, using the default skin, presents a simple and clean looking interface, that does not take up too much screen space. For those of you that find the Xine interface a little too bulky, MPlayer may suit you.

MPlayer's main drawback, or at least irritation, is that you cannot access a DVD from the GUI; instead you have to start MPlayer with the -dvd flag in order for it to play your DVD. To view another DVD currently means that you have to restart MPlayer. Lastly, there is no support for DVD menus available at present, so you cannot access the additional features of your DVD with MPlayer.

As a one-stop shop for movie playback, MPlayer scores very highly. It is fast (assuming you have a fairly new PC), and DVD playback is very good with no audio synchronization problems. With the support for multiple file format, you may find that MPlayer is all that you need.


Ogle is purely a DVD player and was the first to support DVD menus and navigation, the code of which is now used in the Xine plugin as mentioned earlier. As with VideoLAN Client and MPlayer, Ogle uses libcss and libdvdread to decode and read DVDs. The MPEG decoder features various levels of acceleration to take advantage of MMX processors and some hardware MPEG decoders.

Ogle can be run directly from the shell, but a GUI is also available if you prefer. The GUI is more compact than VideoLAN Client's, but manages to contain more functionality. All of the major functions are present, such as pausing, forwarding the DVD and menu keys. That said, the interface to the control GUI is still larger than the standard MPlayer GUI and is not as nice to look at. Unfortunately, although there is an option to edit preferences, it is not currently functional.

When you first access your DVD from Ogle you are presented with the DVD menu, which you navigate using your mouse. You also can navigate the DVD menu by using the arrows on the GUI, but navigation using the mouse seems to be the easiest method by far. Unfortunately, playback of encrypted DVDs is occasionally not as smooth as with VideoLAN Client or MPlayer as there are freezes and audio glitches. However, this is occasional and does not detract too much from watching a DVD, but it might be a consideration. As with the other players reviewed, you can switch between windowed and full-screen mode, and again, switching between the modes goes smoothly.

Ogle does have a few drawbacks, the main ones being that there is no chapter menu support, no angle selection during playback and no closed-caption support. The most annoying issue is that you have to restart Ogle to play another DVD, which is the same problem MPlayer has. These may not be major issues to you but are worth taking into consideration.

Ogle is the only one of the players reviewed here that only plays DVDs and not any other formats. Its main claim to fame was the DVD menu support, but thanks to the fact that Ogle is open-source, the code base is now being used in other players. If you only want to play DVDs, then Ogle is worth reviewing, but if your needs are wider than that, you probably will want to look at one of the other players.

In conclusion, playing your bought-and-paid-for DVDs under your favorite OS is now achieved easily using any of the players reviewed here. There are many other players available; the ones we reviewed here have the most supporters and users. As always, because there are a wide range of DVD players to choose from, you should be able to find a player to suit your requirements. So go ahead and enjoy your DVDs on your GNU/Linux box.

Jonathan Kent is a system integration consultant working in the financial sector on real-time market data delivery systems. He has been using UNIX for the past ten years and GNU/Linux for four years. He lives with his family in the United Kingdom.



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when we talk about VideoLan

cathrine gabler's picture

when we talk about VideoLan it is a non-profit organization composed of volunteers who will help in developing and promoting multimedia solution. Your guide about GNU/Linux DVD player is great and I have learned lot of things.
BT Infinity review

About GNU/Linux DVD player

Cathrine gabler's picture

The review about GNU/Linux DVD player is amazing and very nice hear about the interesting facts of this GNU/Linux DVD player. It is a quite long review and I have learned lot from your post. Thanks for sharing with us.
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i want free software

k;sdflksdfsd's picture

i found free Dvd Player , work well , not hangup the pc , and has very good skins
i found it on this site

It is a satisfactory review

rattan's picture

It is a satisfactory review of GNU/Linux DVD Player as it seems that proper care was taken to discuss both merits and demerits of the players and their best solution. Hope it would improve the system. Thanks for sharing the plates

I am very happy to go through

Philip's picture

I am very happy to go through all your GNU/Linux DVD Player Review and also glad to notice much efforts put in and improvement. Thanks for the resourceful article.messenger bag men

Really nice blog , really

Anonymous's picture

Really nice blog , really very informative for the youth people because they really look for this sort of blog . I will be waiting for the new relase of new article on this blog.
Technology Details

Really nice blog , really

Anonymous's picture

Really nice blog , really very informative for the youth people because they really look for this sort of blog . I will be waiting for the new relase of new article on this blog.

Technology Details :- Really you will find here the new sort of technology

Useable Technology

olivianelson's picture

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Well done.

Useable Technology

Well, it’s amazing. The miracle has been done. Well done.
Useable Technology

I've never had any such

Scott1202's picture

I've never had any such problems with mplayer and SDL or libdvdcss. by watching their mailing lists tho, you're right, don't email them. 99% of the time their response is RTFM.

Aimp on Linux here the

Anonymous's picture

Aimp on Linux here the tutorial

Real player 11

danny0085's picture

Give a try to Real player 11 it recognize many video extensions


alice's picture

I cannot speculate on the professional seo motives of Japanese people (being completely ignorant of them, myself). But I will say that I website optimizer find by taking the time to make what I real soft am eating visually appealing, I am satisfied with less. I agree with the "making more out of less" idea.

best dvd playback

IT_helpdesk's picture

I have xine,Mplayer,and vlc installed on my ubuntu. I usually use vlc to watch dvd's because it has the biggest picture. I can't remember which one does it but either Mplayer or xine skips the commercials which I like sometimes.


Anonymous's picture

Mplayer I'm finding out, is extremely slow to start playing streaming audio in linux!

for mac users

maclove's picture

For Mac user, VLC player is better than DVD player.
If some DVD can not played by VLC player, use iMedia Converter to convert DVD on Mac.


jerry153's picture

I use MPlayer, Xine is also good!

BBK dvd player?

Movie is My Life's picture

What about BBK dvd player? Pls make review on BBK dvd ;)

I like MPlayer very much

Kre Alkalyn's picture

I like MPlayer very much which is easy to use.

Hi Linuxjournal, I (and many

Wezp Directory's picture

Hi Linuxjournal, I (and many others) would love to see a follow-up of this article as it's quite old now and a lot has changed in between. thank you!


John M. Bolder's picture

Schade, dass hier soviel automatische Einträge drin sind.

Community responds to theft of DVD player from child with autism

maxic's picture

A Rochester child will get to watch DVDs again, despite a thief's dirty work.

On Wednesday, a Rochester-based foundation made plans to replace Bailey Jasperson's portable DVD player.

Bailey, 7, lives with facial pain from growth problems, and he's had nearly two dozen surgeries.

He also lives with autism, which makes disruptive events especially traumatic. Rides to and from the Twin Cities, where he gets his treatments, cause him to cry from the pain.

Last week, Bailey's mother, Michelle Jasperson, forgot to lock the family's truck doors while she performed a good deed for her mother.

When Jasperson returned to the truck, both Bailey's and his sister's DVD players were gone.

On Wednesday, Jasperson said the RT Autism Awareness Foundation plans to replace Bailey's portable DVD player.

The Jasperson's had taken out a loan to buy a new DVD player that works for both their son and daughter, said Brad Trahan, a founder of the Awareness Foundation.

"Our foundation has agreed to reimburse the family for the DVD player," he said, noting the foundation board voted to do so unanimously.

Several people wrote or called the Post-Bulletin with offers of help for the family after news about the theft and Bailey's plight were published Tuesday.

Trahan said that if people are interested in connecting with other families living with autism, they can contact the Autism Awareness organization.

"We're not going to let these families face this illness alone," he said.

If you would like to help families with needs similar to the Jaspersons, call the United Way's information and referral service at 211.


Kevin Chen's picture

I like MPlayer very much which is easy to use.


volker's picture

agree w you, but good informations given and will check out more.
good article !

Hi Linuxjournal, I (and many

Andrew's picture

Hi Linuxjournal, I (and many others) would love to see a follow-up of this article as it's quite old now and a lot has changed in between. thank you!


Totti's picture

I found the configuration straightforward ;)

Videolan is also very

Severin's picture

Videolan is also very compatible

VLC plays everything without

Clemens's picture

VLC plays everything without problems

Re: Videolan is also very compatible

Anne Clark's picture

I also think that Videolan is the best choice. We have here in the company good experiences with this solution.

Ps3 and yellow dog linux = best dvd player based on linux ever!

Gringolo's picture

Videolan is very well. But if anybody has got the possibility to run Linux on a Playstation 3 console that will make the best DVD Player under Linux ever been. Try out! I am using Yellow Dog Linux doing it. Btw. nice article! Thx

I love Xine and so recommend

Markus's picture

I love Xine and so recommend it


Bill's picture

Xine? Do you know something better?

Always a winner thanks

Lukas's picture

Always a winner thanks

I give the programmers of

Logodesign's picture

I give the programmers of mplayer my two thumbs up.
They are dedicated programmers.

New Comment

Heiko Müller's picture

Linuxjournal is a great hp. Good on you!

implementation of Open-Source

RonBuses's picture

This is a wonderful, insightful and uplifting case of a revealing infrastructure implementation of Open-Source & Free Software. Keep up these useful pieces.

XINE is the best

Peter's picture

I´ve been using XINE for a very long time now and I never had any problems using it. Had no problmes with any DVD - so I recommend XINE!

Nice article man! Didn't

mathews's picture

Nice article man! Didn't ethen knew about those players. I will sure try them all. Switched to linux a few days ago ans really need one of those. Thanks!ebooks novels

need your help !

msm.Linux.newbie's picture

i tried to install VLC but i found it needs alot of dependencies , though Xine needs fewer dependencies i couldn't install it regarding that im using RHEL 4.0 (which was made by oracle)
please if you had time send me the steps
thnx for ur time.

i have problems with

Anonymous's picture

i have problems with configuration ...

i have problems with

księgowy's picture

i have problems with configuration... ;/

No problem

Server-list's picture

If you have problems, please read the documentation in
DOCS/HTML/en/index.html, which should help you solve most of your problems.
Also read the man page to learn how to use MPlayer.

Polskie Forum Emule

eMule Forum's picture

What problem? configuraion is easy :)


I've got 2 errors

AUtobusy's picture

Thanks for the article, jonathan.
ps: problems with configuration - I've got PIII800 - I've got 2 errors the picture has flickering yellowish stripes - which change shape as and I resize the window.


Erich Kass's picture

One of the best is VLC. Beyond question.

I am seriously considering to

Anonymous's picture

I am seriously considering to apply for a job at Post Logic Studios, I only heard assignment writing good things about them. As far as I am concerned I trust they have a good human resources management. assignment help

Well, has anybody else had

Van's picture

Well, has anybody else had experience with the latest version of Wine? Its mentioned in the latest stopzilla review that I read.


Katalog's picture

i have the Mplayer and its my first and i think for al long time...


Tim Muthmann's picture

i think videolan is the best cause it works on every os (macosx, win, unix) and needs really low hardware specifications. best prog. ever ;)


studium's picture

i think kaffeine is the best media player by using xine backend.

GNU/Linux DVD Player Review

Gry's picture

Nice article man! Didn't ethen knew about those players. I will sure try them all. Switched to linux a few days ago ans really need one of those. Thanks!