How can I play MP3s on Ubuntu?

I switched my old computer to Ubuntu Linux and most things work quite well. However I can’t listen to MP3 music files of watch DVD disks – why not?

Ubuntu logo

I got this question from a friend I met at the chemist the other day. I was just picking up some Ventolin (yup, I suffer from asthma sometimes) and he was picking up something called Differin. Anyway, he was pretty excited about his new Ubutu install, and was even talking about how the company behind Ubuntu is registered locally in the Isle of Man. He was pretty green though, so he still had a few things to learn. I’ll be perfectly honest, I’m not a Linux buff, so I actually had to look this one up. But I did find the answer:

Turns out that Ubuntu doesn’t ship with the software needed to play DVDs or MP3s, but adding the software is really really easy. Click the Applications menu and choose Add/Remove. Enter your password, then make sure that the tool is set to show all available applications. Type “restricted extras” into the search box and click Enter. Click on the box next to the entry ubuntu-restricted-extras, click on “Mark for Installation” and then click on Apply.

That’s all you need to do, Ubuntu will download and install the needed files. I’d be curious to see what other software is available there, whether they have exotic stuff like satellite decoding software or live video casting solutions, or whether it’s just plain vanilla packages that you expect to get with any operating system.

3 thoughts on “How can I play MP3s on Ubuntu?”

  1. It comes with an audio player, the distinction here is the lack of an MP3 codec being automatically included in the original distro. I’m sure I’ll be corrected if I’m off base, but having just recently installed Ubuntu, I believe the issue is a legal one – to ensure that the people behind Ubuntu can not be sued in any territory. The same applies for DVD playback codecs. It is simple to install them, and the onus is then on the end user to ensure that installing such codecs to break any local laws they are subject to.

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