understandable linux tips, tricks and tutorials

There are some lean movie players on linux (such as codeine), but the ultimate in lean is mplayer. There is of course a gui for mplayer, but if you want to use mplayer as it was intended, you need to run it from the command line.

starting a video or dvd

So how to play a video in mplayer? To play a file, just type mplayer followed by the path to the video file you want to play:

mplayer /path/to/file.avi

If you want to play a dvd, things are a bit different. mplayer doesn’t do dvd menus. So you have to point to the main video file on the dvd. Usually track 1 on the dvd. So type this into a terminal:

mplayer dvd://1

keyboard/mouse control

The best way to control mplayer is with the keyboard. This gives you a whole lot of power and control over the video, without having silly control buttons taking up precious screen real estate. Here are some useful keys/mouse controls:

  • f – toggle fullscreen
  • q – quit
  • space,p – pause
  • j – rotate through subtitiles
  • right/left – skip forward/back 10 seconds
  • up/down – skip forward/back 1 minute
  • pg up/pg down – skip forward/back 10 minutes
  • scroll wheel – skip forward/back
  • <> – skip to next/last file in playlist
  • 9/0 – decrease/increase volume
  • +/- – tweak A/V sync by 100ms
  • T – toggle window on-top

video playback tips

sluggish/jerky dvd playback

If your dvd playback is slow or jerky, add the cache and cache-min options to the command line like this:

mplayer -cache 8912 -cache-min 4 dvd://1

This means that you will have an 8MB cache, which should be plenty for a dvd. It will also fill the cache to 4% before starting, and the buffer should build up from there.

normalise the volume

Adding -af volnorm to the command line will maximise the volume of the audio track, without distorting.

widescreen fullscreen

If you’ve got a widescreen monitor/laptop, you can avoid aspect ratio distortion by setting the command line option -monitoraspect 16:9.

pretty subtitle fonts

You can specify the true-type font used for subtitles by copying a true-type font to ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf. For example if you want to use bitstream vera sans, copy bitstream vera sans like this:

cp /usr/share/fonts/truetype/ttf-bitstream-vera/Vera.ttf ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf

subtitle font size

If your subtitle font is too big/small, play with the -subfont-text-scale option. For example:

mplayer -subfont-text-scale 3 /path/to/file.avi

video output

You can change the video output to those which are supported by your video with the -vo option. To see what is supported, type:

mplayer -vo help

The most useful options will be xv, x11, gl and gl2. The best option is usually xv, however, sometimes this gets a bit funky with xgl/aiglx/beryl/compiz. If that happens, try x11. Bare in mind, x11 won’t allow you to change the size of the video, unless you add the -zoom option:

mplayer -vo x11 -zoom /path/to/file.avi

seeking un-seekable files

If you come across an avi file that won’t seek when you use the left/right/up/down keys, you can add the -idx option to make it seekable.

mplayer config

Instead of adding options willy nilly to the command line, you can set most of this stuff up in a config file, which mplayer uses as its default settings. Bear in mind that the config file options can be overridden by command line options. The config file is stored at ~/.mplayer/config. This is a reasonably generic config file that should work for most people:

#General setup
ao="alsa" #audio out
really-quiet="1" #Very very little console output
vo="xv" #video out
zoom="1" #Allow sofware scaling if you use x11 for vo from the commandline
aid="1" #audio channel
sid="0" #subtitle set
double="yes" #double buffering(recommended for subtitles)
monitoraspect="16:9" #Use for a widescreen laptop so keeps 4:3 content from stretching
framedrop="1" # For slow machines
hardframedrop="0" #Make sure hard frame drop is off but can turn on easily now
#subtitle code
#set this if you haven't copied your preferred font to ~/.mplayer/subfont.ttf
ffactor="10" #black outline
sub-bg-alpha="0" #background color ala closed captions
sub-bg-color="0" #black to white
subfont-text-scale="3.7" #truetype font scaling
subfont-blur="1" #Slight blur
#This sets the postprocessing into overdrive using all possible spare cpu cycles to make the movie look better
subpos="90" #By default subtitles are too low
#turns off xscreen saver...sometimes
#Some extra stuff you may want to try.  Remove "#'s" to activate
#Fix A/V sync problems on files with bad MP3 VBR audio

wierd stuff

If you want to play movies in ascii art, check out this article.

  1. Hello.
    I’ve compiled and installed mplayer from the source.
    I have a question — what option and what exactly I have to write in config file of mplayer that it started from the last point of viewed film when playing the video file?

  2. hey i just want to pause and stop the mplayer….i am using a qt application…wen i pressed on the stop and pause button i want the respective action….i know the processs id of mplayer….is ant command to stop and pause the mplayer using the pid of mplayer

    • I’m not sure I understand. If you want to pause, press spacebar. If you want to stop, press q. I’m not sure what relevance qt has.

  3. 1rs, i want to thanks for make it possible to play movies (any coding mode) on n900!

    what i must setup to change the encoding subtitles? you know….central europian, greek…etc.?

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Site last updated October 20, 2012 @ 12:53 pm; This content last updated September 12, 2012 @ 3:19 am