How to Convert an MP4 to Avi in Ubuntu (and Watch on a DVD Player)

Are you an avid downloader of videos and movies (legally) online? Do you prefer to watch movies on your DVD player? It turns out, many people prefer to experience a good movie while relaxing on a sofa and watching it on a television screen. Unfortunately, if you have an older DVD player, you won’t be able to play MP4 videos directly from a USB or other external media.

The reason for this is that the standard AAC audio codec is incompatible with DVD players due to license restrictions. On the other hand, the MP3 audio codec is universally accepted. The open source version of DivX video codec is Xvid (essentially DivX spelled backwards) and is accepted by many DVD players including older ones displaying the DivX logo.

For Windows and Mac users, there are numerous applications to convert MP4 files and other formats into AVI format which older DVD players can play back. The story is different on Linux. There aren’t as many solutions and the process to actually get it done is sometimes too technical.

This MakeTechEasier solution is actually quite easy. Enter WinFF, a free open source video converter published under the GNU public license v3. It is cross platform and can be used on both Linux and Windows and supports several languages. Below is a tutorial on how to install and use WinFF in Ubuntu (Trusty Tahr).

Downloading and Installing WinFF


WinFF is available in the Ubuntu Software Center. Just launch your software center and type “WinFF” in the search bar. Take note that the application has certain dependencies that must be installed to make it work. One of thes is the libavcodec package, which can be obtained by installing the unstripped version of libavcodec-extra as suggested by WinFF during installation.


If you are running an old version of Ubuntu, you will have to install the WinFF Personal Package Archive (PPA) provided by Launchpad. Open a terminal window using “Ctrl + Alt + T” and type:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:paul-climbing/ppa


After that, update your system:

sudo apt-get update

Install WinFF:

sudo apt-get install winff

Lastly, install the unstripped version of libavcodec:

sudo apt-get install libavcodec-extra-53

Converting Videos with WinFF

WinFF is a versatile application that can convert single files or multiple files in multiple formats all at the same time. To begin conversion, launch the application by going to your launcher and typing “WinFF.” Click the icon to launch.

The interface is fairly straightforward and user friendly as shown below.


To start the conversion, select “AVI” from the drop-down menu of the “convert to” field. Next, select the preset from the options available – for example, xvid anarmorphic widescreen. Your choice will depend on your original video’s aspect ratio.

Next, click “Add” and browse your computer to find the video you want to convert. Select the output folder where you want the converted video to be saved. This could be an external flash drive which you can insert into the DVD player to watch the converted video.

Finally, click “Convert,” and a terminal window will pop up. All you have to do now is sit back and wait for the video to convert. The time taken will depend on the size of your video and processing power of your computer.


WinFF provides a variety of preset conversion settings for common formats and devices. These presets are intended to provide the best results for each individual codec. They have been designed to ensure the best quality, and unless you really know what you are doing, I don’t recommend tinkering with the presets.

Do you know of any other way to convert videos in Ubuntu and other Linux distros? Please share your insights with us in the comments below.

Kihara Kimachia
Kihara Kimachia

Kihara is a writer and digital media consultant. He has a great passion for technology. Connect with him via Twitter @kiharakimachia

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