Debian is the universal operating system, but sometimes, it doesn’t feel all that universal out of the box. For people looking for a top-notch multimedia experience, Debian might not seem like the best choice because of its free software policies, but it can actually be made into a multimedia powerhouse.
Debian Stretch, when combined with one super powered multimedia repository, is an awesome option for both audio and video playback.
Enable The Repository
The repository in question here is the deb-multimedia repository. It’s maintained by a Debian developer, and includes more up-to-date multimedia packages as well as some non-free packages that didn’t make it into Debian proper.
In order to add it to your system, add the line below to you
deb http://www.deb-multimedia.org stretch main non-free
After the repo is added, run an update with
# apt update
You will receive a message complaining that there is no signing key for the repository. To remedy that run the command below.
# apt install deb-multimedia-keyring
With the keyring installed, you can update again. However, run a
dist-upgrade too. This will upgrade any packages that you already have installed to newer versions in deb-multimedia. This includes switching to ffmpeg.
apt update && apt dist-upgrade
Codec and Libraries
So, you’ve already gotten an upgrade to your playback capability in the form of ffmpeg. Deb-multimedia also offers some other options to enable a wider range of file formats.
There are several GStreamer plugins available through the repository. To install them, run the command below.
# apt install gstreamer1.0-libav gstreamer1.0-plugins-bad gstreamer1.0-vaapi
For MP3 playback and AAC, deb-multimedia has you covered as well.
# apt install lame libfaac0
Proper DVD playback capabilities don’t come with Debian. In order to enable DVD playback, you need
libdvdcss. It too is available from deb-multimedia.
# apt install libdvdcss2
Blu Ray is a tricky topic in Linux. It still isn’t officially supported, but there has been some progress made, and there are many Blu Ray disks that play just fine under the right circumstances. The libraries needed to play those Blu Rays in Linux are available as well.
# apt install aacskeys libbdplus0 libbluray1
There are a couple of high quality music players available from the repository as well. They are both more minimal the some of the more robust options like Rhythmbox and Clementine, but have some great options for people who are more concerned with the quality of their music playback.
# apt install audacious audacious-plugins
# apt install deadbeef
Though these two great video players are available from the Debian repositories, the versions from deb-mutimedia tend to be more up-to-date and have other available extras.
Kodi is the world’s favorite open source media center. It really is an excellent one-stop solution for everything from music to playing local video, to even streaming. Install Kodi with the following linux command.
# apt install kodi
There are also a ton of addons for Kodi available. You can find them in the complete alphabetical list of deb-multimedia packages here.
VLC is also a big-time favorite for video playback. VLC is more of a standalone video player that can play video from local sources or from a remote stream.
# apt install vlc
There are also plugins available for VLC from deb-multimedia
There are also audio and video production tools available through the multimedia repository.
For audio editing, Audacity is a favorite of Linux and non-Linux users alike. It really is a top-notch solution for creating and editing sound files.
# apt install audacity
For editing video on Linux, Cinelerra is a great option. It may not be as full-featured as some other options, but it can certainly get the job done.
# apt install cinelerra
File formats are a pain. They always have been. The only real way to deal with that pain, is to use encoding software to change formats. The deb-multimedia repository offers one amazing option for Linux, and there is another closed-source alternative that you can get running on Debian Stretch as well.
Handbrake is an awesome open source video encoding program. It boasts a ton of options. It is designed to encode for numerous devices and formats, including HTML5 ready videos, and do so from different sources including DVDs and some Blu Rays.
# apt install handbrake-gtk
So, MakeMKV isn’t available from deb-multimedia, and it isn’t open source. It is, however an option for playing Blu Ray by streaming it to VLC and encoding video to the
So, MakeMKV is in perpetual beta for Linux. It may be odd, but it keeps it free of charge. It also means that there is no official support, and it has to be built from the partially available source.
First, install the build requirements.
# apt install build-essential pkg-config libc6-dev libssl-dev libexpat1-dev libavcodec-dev libgl1-mesa-dev libqt5-dev
Then, create a build directory and
cd into it.
$ mkdir ~/Downloads/makemkv-build $ cd ~/Downloads/makemkv-build
wget and untar each of two sets of files.
$ wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-bin-1.10.4.tar.gz $ tar xpf makemkv-bin-1.10.4.tar.gz $ wget http://www.makemkv.com/download/makemkv-oss-1.10.4.tar.gz $ tar xpf makemkv-oss-1.10.4.tar.gz
Next, you will have to
cd into each directory, build, and install the software there.
$ cd makemkv-oss $ ./configure $ make # make install $ cd makemkv-bin $ ./configure $ make # make install
MakeMKV should then be fully installed and available to use normally.
Debian Stretch can be an absolutely amazing platform for multimedia, if you enable the right repository and add the right packages to your system. Many of these tools are insanely powerful and can be used for much more than can be covered in a single article. Experiment and enjoy your Linux multimedia experience.