Using your Raspberry Pi makes for a great way to watch movies. Since the Raspberry Pi is so small and makes no noise, even setting it beside your TV is a great alternative to using a full PC or Blu Ray player, etc. When it comes to playing movies or video files on the Raspberry Pi, there are a few choices for software we can use.
Of course, most any media player available on other Linux systems should also be compatible with the Raspberry Pi. But due to its lightweight nature, there are a few media players that may work better specifically for the Raspberry Pi, including some that have been optimized particularly for the device. In this tutorial, you will see how to play movies on a Raspberry Pi.
In this tutorial you will learn:
- How to install VLC
- How to install Kodi
- How to install Plex
- How to install OSMC
|Category||Requirements, Conventions or Software Version Used|
|Software||VLC, Kodi, Plex, OSMC|
|Other||Privileged access to your Linux system as root or via the
# – requires given linux commands to be executed with root privileges either directly as a root user or by use of
$ – requires given linux commands to be executed as a regular non-privileged user
Using VLC on Raspberry Pi
VLC is installed by default on Raspberry Pi OS, and it is safe to say that it will be able to play back any kind of video file that you throw at it. It can decipher most any video codec, including H.264 and H.265, and handle a myriad of file types from compressed videos to full disc copies of Blu Rays, and pretty much any other type of content.
With newer video codecs like H.265, some of the older Raspberry Pi models may have a little trouble playing the video smoothly. This is because it takes additional CPU power to handle the decompression of the video, so the newest Raspberry Pi models like the Raspberry Pi 4 will do the best job at handling these kinds of videos.
You can install VLC Media Player on the Raspberry Pi with this command:
$ sudo apt install vlc
Using Kodi on Raspberry Pi
Kodi can scan your entire movie library and present it in a navigable menu, which feels a lot like using a dedicated service like Netflix. Kodi is great for users that have a decent sized movie library and want a simple way to present their collection on the monitor or TV screen, with movie posters, synopses, and everything else you would expect from a dedicated movie application.
While Kodi works great for movies, you will probably want an additional media player (we mean VLC) handy to open the other video files you may have sitting around on your Raspberry Pi.
You can install Kodi on the Raspberry Pi with this command:
$ sudo apt install kodi
Using Plex on Raspberry Pi
Plex is similar to Kodi, except that you can also use it to share out your movie library to other devices. This is best leveraged on a Raspberry Pi if you already have a dedicated PC that is sharing out movies, and you want to use your Raspberry Pi to connect to that device and mirror the movie library on to, say, your TV.
You can install Plex on the Raspberry Pi with these commands:
$ sudo apt update $ sudo apt install apt-transport-https $ curl https://downloads.plex.tv/plex-keys/PlexSign.key | gpg --dearmor | sudo tee /usr/share/keyrings/plex-archive-keyring.gpg >/dev/null $ echo deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/plex-archive-keyring.gpg] https://downloads.plex.tv/repo/deb public main | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/plexmediaserver.list $ sudo apt update $ sudo apt install plexmediaserver
Using OSMC on Raspberry Pi
OSMC is a full operating system meant for turning your Raspberry Pi (or other device) into a dedicated movie player. Most of its features are based on Kodi, and therefore the two have a lot of similarities. OSMC is a full screen movie organizer and player, which will manage your movie library for you and present it in a digestable way, so you can navigate and find the film you want to watch. It can combine your movie library from a variety of sources, including locally attached storage, another computer on the network, etc.
You can install OSMC on the Raspberry Pi by downloading the latest image.
In this tutorial, we saw how to play movies on a Raspberry Pi system. If you just need a simple application to play back video files, then VLC will be the perfect choice for you. If you need a dedicated movie application to help organize and present your library, then you will find Kodi or Plex to be most helpful. Or, if you want to transform your Raspberry Pi into a dedicated movie player, it is worthwhile to download and install OSMC as your new operating system for the device.