How do I play video files on Linux?

I’ve installed MPlayer on my Linux box but when I try playing a video file I get sound but no picture. What am I missing?

I came across this question on my Twitter account a few days ago, and I must say I had to do some research around this one (seeing I’m not that much of a Linux-head). Seems like playing videos/music on Linux is very similar to Windows where you have an application that plays the media file, but you also need the appropriate codecs in place to understand the stream that the application is playing. You can downloading a comprehensive codec pack for Linux from here and this is how you install it:

Open a console and extract the archive with the following command:
tar -xvf all-20061022.tar.bz2

Now you need to create the directories to store the codecs in, because some players may look in different directories. For the first directory, type the following command:
mkdir /usr/local/lib/codecs/

Now for the second directory, type the following command:
mkdir /usr/lib/win32

NOTE: You might already have this last directory, if you have installed a multimedia player like xine or kaffeine. The only thing is that this directory is empty, so you still need to fill it up with codecs.

You need now to copy all the codecs to the first directory with the following command:
cp all-20061022/* /usr/local/lib/codecs/

After you have copied the codecs, you must change their permissions to 755, typing the following command:
chmod 755 /usr/local/lib/codecs/*

And finally, copy again all the codecs from the first directory to the second directory with the following command:
cp /usr/local/lib/codecs/* /usr/lib/win32/

Once that’s done the video files should work fine for you. Now all you need to do is plug your Linux box into your new HDTV set and you’re all set to download and watch all the movies you want. Or you can sign up for live video streaming services if you’re so inclined.

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