The Ultimate Guide To Manage Your Audio/Video Files In Linux

Have you ever come across a situation where you wanted to convert a video from one format to another in your Linux machine and you have absolutely no idea how to do it? What about playing DVD on Ubuntu or rip your favorite VCD to mpeg file?

Below, I have come up with a great list of software that you can use to handle your video/audio files in Linux. All the software listed are compatible with any of the Linux distros out there. The installation instructions and screenshots are based on Ubuntu, so if you are on a different distro, you will have to change the command accordingly.

Play VCD in Linux

Basically, most, if not all, multimedia players out there are able to play VideoCD. Personally, I would recommend using VLC since that is the only multimedia player you ever need to play all kind of audio/video files.

In Debian-based Linux distro,

sudo apt-get install vlc

Create VCD

CD burner software such as Brasero and K3b are capable of creating VCD or SVCD on the fly.

For K3b, you have to make sure that the source file is in mpeg format. There is no restriction in Brasero.

Ripping video from VCD

The easiest way to rip a VCD movie to mpeg format is via K3b.

Install K3b

sudo apt-get install k3b

Open up the K3b and go to Tools -> Rip Video CD

Alternatively, VLC also allows you to transcode the VCD movie into another format.

Open the VLC. Click on Media->Convert/Save.

For more detailed instruction, check out how to easily transcode media files with VLC

The command line way

If you prefer the command line way of doing thing, here is the instruction.

sudo apt-get install vcdimager

Insert the VCD to the CD-ROM

In the terminal, type

vcdxrip -C

Note that the C in the above command is a Capital C.

This will instruct vcdxrip to rip the movie from the VCD in the CD-ROM.

Extracting audio from VCD

Using the VLC method, you can easily rip the audio file from the VCD.

Under the Convert/Save option, click on the Audio Codec tab and check the Audio box. If you are converting to mp3, select MP3 from the dropdown box, else select the format that you want to convert to. Input the file name (with the extension) and click Save.

Watching DVD in Linux (particularly Ubuntu)

Ubuntu does not allow you to play DVD movie due to legal and technical restrictions. You have to install the ubuntu-restricted-extra package and run the libdvdread3 installer script. Check the tutorial for detailed instruction.


For ripping DVD, I personally use Handbrake. It comes with several preset profiles, including iPhone and PS3, that you can use to quickly rip the DVD into your desired format.

To install handbrake, download the deb file here.


Another software that you can use is AcidRip. It is packed with useful features, but arranged in a messy way. I have quite a hard way navigating through the options. One good thing about this software is that it is included in the repo, so you can easily install it clicking here or by using the command:

sudo apt-get install acidrip


(Note: To rip DVD, your computer must first be able to support DVD playback. Refer to the above instruction to enable DVD playback in your Linux machine.)

Create DVD (DVD authoring)

If you are looking to create your own DVD with menu, chapters, subtitles etc, two of the best software that I have tried are DeVeDe and Mandvd. Personally I prefer ManDVD as it gives you more customization options and a detail walkthrough of the whole DVD creation process. However, if you are looking for a software that you can use quickly without much configuration, then DeVeDe is the one to go for.

To install ManDVD, download and install the deb file from GetDeb.

To install DeVeDe, click here, or in the terminal

sudo apt-get install devede


One good thing about DeVeDe is that you can also use it to create VCD as well.

Converting from one format to another

Both Handbrake and VLC are able to convert your video files from one format to another, but if you are looking for a small application just for converting videos, you might want to try out Winff. This is a small frontend GUI for the FFMPEG library and will work with most file formats.

Installation instructions for the various distro can be found here.

Editing video files

Avidemux, Kino and KDEnlive are three great video editing software that are both powerful and easy to use. Avidemux is Gnome-based while Kino and KDEnlive are KDE-based.

Subtitle editor

For those who wanted to create your own subtitles for your video files, Gnome-subtitles and Aegisub are two simple software you can use to edit your own subtitles. Gnome-Subtitles is a simple and lightweight application for simple subtitles creation and editing. Aegisub provides more functionality such as  subtitles dragging, scaling and rotating. There is even a karaoke template that you can apply to your music video.


Inserting subtitles to your video files

There are two ways that you can use to insert subtitles into video files: Softsub and Hardsub.

Softsub are separate instructions, usually a specially marked up text with time stamps to be displayed during playback and it is usually controlled on the player side. Hardsub is when the subtitle text is irreversibly merged in original video frames, and so no special equipment or software is required for playback.

Quoted from Wikipedia

For Softsub, VLC has a feature that allows you to load a separate subtitles files while watching the video. In VLC, go to Tools-> Preferences. At the left bottom under the Show Settings, click All. At the left pane, go to Video->Subtitles/OSD. On the right pane, input the location of the subtitles file into the field Use Subtitles File.


For Hardsub, you can use Avidemux to embed the subtitles file into the video.

In Avidemux, first load the video file. Next, go to Video->FIlters. On the left pane, select Subtitles. Choose the appropriate subtitle option and add it to the Active Filter pane.

Update: On the main screen, you have to select a video encoder before the subtitle filter can take effect. Thanks to J.M for reminding.


Extracting Audio CD

In Gnome, the SoundJuicer does a good job in converting your audio CD to the format you want. In Ubuntu, if you want to extract your CD to MP3 or Flac format, you will have to first install the required codecs.

Alternatively, you can also use K3b to rip audio CD.

Creating audio CD

Brasero and K3b can achieve this task easily. Select the Create audio CD option and drag and drop your music files into the container. It will automatically convert them to audio CD format.

Converting audio files from one format to another

I have previously covered Sound-converter which is a great software that supports conversion to most audio formats.

Editing audio files

Needless to say, Audacity is the best candidate for this. You can also use it to convert audio files from one format to another.

What else have I left out?