Living HD with Linux

High Definition is everywhere nowadays. There is a huge demand for high definition media content and everything is now available in high definition. If you are a Linux user and have not been up-to-date with HD hype, you may be missing a lot of things. In case if you have tried playing HD content in your Linux box, you may have also disappointed as you may not have become successful in playing the HD content. Unlike some other operating systems, some Linux distributions do not support HD out of the box. I mean of course it supports HD, but you may not see the full potential of HD without a couple of tweaks to your system. Let’s have a look at HD and how Linux go together.

HD with linux

First of all, HD content, especially h.264 video takes a lot of processing power. If you have old hardware and trying to play HD, you may face bad luck. Therefore, make sure your hardware is capable of running HD content. Unless, no tweak can make HD work in your system.

When it comes to HD in Linux, the video player plays an important role. Since not all the video players in Linux support HD content, you need to choose one video player which supports HD. VLC is supposed to be one of such good HD players available for Linux at the moment. You can simply download and install VLC for free. VLC supports HD content out of the box. But, VLC’s ability of playing quality HD content can be further enhanced by performing a few tweaks.

Go to Tools > Preferences in the VLC menu bar and click on “Show Settings:All”. Under Input/Codecs, go to Other > FFmpeg. Now set the value of “Skip loop filter for h.264” to ALL. This tweak is supposed to improve HD playback in Linux systems a lot. If you would like read about more HD tweaks in VLC, you can go to and read up.

BlueRay is the latest addition to the HD world. Therefore, everyone is keen on playing BlueRay content in the PCs. If you are trying to play BlueRay disks in your system, there are a few things you got to do. First of all, you need to install UDF file system support in order to read BlueRay disks by your Linux system. Then you need to install a tool such as BackupHDDVD C++ for decrypting BlueRay discs as well as any other HD DVD media. Once you have both installed in your Linux system, you can simple install VLC or MPlayer and watch your HD media. Remember, you need to have a compatible BlueRay drive attached to your computer as well.

Although you can use a few tools to get support for BlueRay and the technical process is straightforward, the laws related to use of some tools is not that much straight. Sometimes there are issues in using certain players in combination with certain codecs and tools when it comes to patents and usage. Therefore, you need to get a good understanding on these terms of use before attending to use combination of such tools. Since BlueRay playback requires some level of technical competency and effort, some people have come up with simple tools and scripts to make this effort minimal. These scripts do automate what you are supposed to be doing manually.

In case if you are interested in buying a HD or BlueRay player for Linux, you have some options too. But Linux being an open source platform, buying software is against Linux’s philosophy. Therefore, I do not encourage you to buy software for Linux platform; rather get hold of free and open source software.

2 thoughts on “Living HD with Linux”

  1. Anders is right. Furthermore, most modern Linux distributions do set up the desktop to enable HD experience (e.g. Mandriva has included codecs for years). Linux users have a number of options, one of which is to buy codecs to Fluendo. Another option is to use the Penguin Liberation Front repository (both Fluendo and PLF work fine with Mandriva).

    The beauty of using a modern Linux distro is that you don’t have to worry too much about doing the work yourself… I would say that deserves some $$$ for the service. A money well invested since the community maintains control on the source code (vs. those companies from the 80’s and 90’s with a more “opaque” approach).

  2. Jussi Nordling

    Comment for the hardware issue; if you have a NVIDIA GPU, you can use VDPAU and all the video processing is done in GPU, not in CPU. For example, I’m watching 1080p h.264 video and Xine is taking about 5% from CPU.

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