Multimedia in Ubuntu

By | August 29, 2009

Rhythmbox Music Player (audio)

Rhythmbox represents great media player with user friendly interface, which was originally inspired by Apple’s iTunes. Despite the fact that it has pretty decent functionality by default, there are some plugins that add new features to Rhythmbox. Moreover if the plugins that come with the app are not enough for you for any reasons, you can easily download and install third-party plugins from here . Another great feature of this media player is the opportunity to subscribe to a podcast.

Now we are going to take a look at the screenshots. Here is what you get at the first startup:


If you would like to change the view, go to View panel and customize it the way you like.

Playlist view:


Preferences, plugins and lyrics:


As for the main characteristic features here they are:

  • Internet Radio support including streams
  • iPod integration and generic portable audio player support
  • Play, rip, and burn audio CDs
  • Browse, preview, and download albums from Magnatune and Jamendo
  • Display album art and song lyrics downloaded from the internet and etc.

If you would like to install it, run the following command in terminal:

sudo apt-get install rhythmbox

Of course you can install it from Add/Remove panel as well.

SMPlayer (mainly video)

SMPlayer was designed to be a complete front-end for Mplayer. That’s why it has alomost all the features of Mplayer — from basic ones like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for Mplayer filters. One of the great things about SMPlayer consists in the fact that it remembers the settings of all files you play on it. Thus if you play a movie and after that stop it (by closing the app), next time when you open that file again, it will resume playing from the same point and with the same settings (audio, filters, screen ratio, subtitles and so on).

Before we go ahead with the most important features, let’s see some screenshots. Here is the main window:

130_SMPlayer_mainwindowPlaylist view of SMPlayer:

131_SMPlayer_playlistviewWatching a movie:

132_SMPlayer_moviePreferences panel:


Now it’s time to mention the features:

  • Video equalizer, allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma of the video image.
  • Audio and subtitles delay adjustment (allows you to sync audio and subtitles)
  • Allows you to enqueue several files to be played one after each other. Autorepeat and shuffle supported too.
  • Configurable subtitles. You can choose font and size, and even colors for the subtitles.
  • Multiple speed playback. You can play at 2X, 4X… and even in slow motion.
  • Multilingual support

To install it simply go to Add/Remove panel.

Songbird (audio)

Songbird is a very famous media player, which is pretty customizable and allows you to install a lot of different add-ons (to check the full list of available add-ons that help you extend player’s functionality, please visit this page). Given player being a cross platform one (Windows and Mac OS) was designed to enable new ways to playback, manage, and discover music. It should be pointed out that Songbird is under active development — though it has a great deal of nice features, there are a lot of things to do.

In addition to its great functionality it has really attractive interface, so it’s a big pleasure to use it. Here are some screenshots to check. The main window:


As you can see there are a lot of nice things such as: lyrics, album artwork, artist photos, videos, info and etc.

Preferences panel and equalizer:


As far as the most distinctive features are concerned the following ones can be mentioned:

  • Songbird includes an integrated web browser with features like bookmarking, tabbed browsing, and more
  • Automatic updates
  • Multilingual support
  • A lot of feathers (skins) to choose from
  • Integrated services (, mashTape, Shoutcast and etc) and many others.

Moreover some really nice features are coming soon: CD Rip and encoding, video playback, better device support (iPhone, iTouch and Microsoft Zune) and etc.

Now let’s discuss the way you should install it. First of all you need to download the latest version of Songbird here. As soon as the archive is downloaded extract it content to a folder (it should be named Songbird). Open terminal and go through following steps.

1. Go into extracted folder:

cd Documents/Songbird (assuming that the folder is located in Documents folder)

2. Initialize the installation wizard by entering the following command:

sh songbird

Now, the only thing you need is to go through the graphical installation wizard.

VLC Player (all-in-one)

VLC Player is a well-known highly portable media player that supports most audio and video formats, TV capture cards and many network streaming protocols. It doesn’t need any external codec, program or codec pack to work. VLC has support for on-the-fly transcoding of audio and video formats, either for broadcasting purposes or for movie format transformations. Its great functionality can be extended even further by installing different plugins.

If you are current or former Windows user probably you already know about this media player, because it’s a cross-platform one. However if you didn’t use it before, please check the following screenshots. At the very first startup you get:

150_VLC_welcomePlaylist view (music palyback):

151_VLC_playlistviewWatching a movie:

152_VLC_moviePreferences panel:


If you want to check the full list of features and supported formats, please check this page.

To install it you can simply go to Add/Remove panel or run the following command in terminal:

sudo apt-get install vls vls-plugin-esd mozilla-plugin-vlc

Summing up

As it was emphasized in the introduction given review includes only the best and most popular media players. Thus if you spend some time and try the ones you like, be sure you will be able to get the player you were looking for.

Most likely you’ve mentioned that some of the players are mostly for video playback, others for audio. Why didn’t we separate them into different groups? The main reason for that consists in the fact that the majority of above mentioned media players can hardly be attributed to a particular group. Taking this into consideration we even decided not to provide Lampdocs’ choice, because the best one really varies depending on the features a user needs. However it’s understandable that you may be confused while checking all of them at once, so we added a kind of category next to each heading.

Hopefully you will find this list very useful :)

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