For legal and political reasons, Ubuntu does not pre-install players for certain media formats (different countries have different laws, etc), but it does make it simple for you to install the restricted packages yourself.

Note: In this case restricted refers to the restriction placed on Ubuntu from pre-installing the software, not adult content.

Note: You'll probably also want to check out So I installed Ubuntu... Now what? for a one-shot command that will install mp3, m4a, and other media codecs as well as perform several other common (and important) tasks for a freshly installed Ubuntu.

Install with Ubuntu Software Center

Note: During the installation process you may be required to click Agree to accept some license agreements.

First install curl

  1. Open Ubuntu Software Center
  2. Search for curl
  3. Install curl (may be called Get a file from an HTTP, HTTPS, or FTP server)

Now install the ubuntu-restricted packages

  1. Search for Ubuntu Restricted
  2. Install ubuntu-restricted-extras (has the description for mp3, dvd, etc)
  3. Install ubuntu-restricted-addons

Although that will get you the basics, there are many more media codecs that can be installed (including wma), but not through Ubuntu Software Center, you'll have to continue on to the Terminal section.

Install with Terminal

Note: During the installation process you may be required to use the arrow and <enter> keys to accept some license agreements.

Now run this command in Terminal (it uses curl to get the installer and then runs it immediately)

sudo apt-get install -y curl && \
curl -L -s \
  | sudo bash && \

Terminal will exit when the installation completes successfully. From this point forward, opening your mp3s and such (i.e. by double clicking on them) should open Rythmbox Music Player or Totem Movie Player and play them.

Can't Play MP4s or M4Vs?

mp4 is an encrypted format that (for now) can only be decrypted using an authorized iTunes account from Mac or Windows.

You can't easily play mp4s on Ubuntu easily (because it's an encrypted format) , but you can unlock mp4s and m4vs from an authorized iTunes account.


By AJ ONeal

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