Video and Volume woes in Ubuntu : GMplayer and VLC

I finally moved my home laptop (an Acer Aspire) to Ubuntu 9.10. Everything ran smoothly and I was impressed at the ease of setup. This distro definitely has come a long way since I first tried it. However I did have one major issue. After upgrading to all the latest updates and attempting to play a movie using Ubuntu’s default movie player totem, nothing would show 😦

That is, I would be able to hear the audio of the .avi that was being played, but the video output itself would be black. Changing the different outputs made no difference. Eventually I changed to using VLC (video lan player) and the gnome mplayer. Both these players were displaying video with no issues. Each of the players had its own minor issue however.

Gnome Mplayer had very low volume. On windows, the files would play with quite a high volume, but in GMplayer, the sound was lower than what I wished for. I checked the volume levels on all the audio outputs, for both the alsa and pulse sound mixers, to no avail. Turns out there is actually another way to increase the volume:

– Go to the home folder of the user (cd ~)
– cd into hidden folder “.mplayer
– Edit the config file in this folder
– changed audio output to alsa (first line)
– added the last two lines to the output, so the whole config file follows:


# Write your default config options here!



This solved my volume problem and I could play the movies at a comfortable level using the hardware volume control.

The minor issue I had with VLC is that the VLC version that is currently included in the Ubuntu repository is 1.0.2. In this version, attempting to change the order of the videos/songs in the playlist would not work, and sorting the playlist by title or date or any other criteria would cause the program to crash. This issue got fixed in 1.0.3, and the easiest way I found to install this version is to do the following:

– Download and install the “Ubuntu Tweak” program from here:

– Go to the “Source Centre” section and download VLC from there

The alternative which is still very easy involves downloading VLC from a ppa (personal package archive), such as is outlined in the article below:

In the above article, note that you should change the occurances of jaunty into karmic for Ubuntu 9.10

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