GST123: Command-line Based Multimedia Player for Ubuntu Linux


GStreamer is an extremely powerful, open-source, multimedia framework that is mainly used in GNU/Linux (although it supports other platforms). If you don’t know what a multimedia framework is, then is simple terms, it’s a set of multimedia playback (including encoding) libraries (each enabling playback and encoding of various codes) that let programmers to easily create multimedia applications.

For instance, let’s assume that I was creating a simple audio player that supports the MP3 format. Then I’d have to figure out how to read the MP3 codec (“decode”), optimize the player for that, I’d even have to learn about how to properly render the audio file to an audio output etc and that is a really complicated task.

But what happens when you use a multimedia framework for that is, all those hectic tasks such as codec decoding, communicating with a sound server (a special kind of software that takes the audio data from multimedia apps and takes it to your hardware based audio output devices such as the Sound Card for instance), optimizing the codes for optimal playback, filters for audio/video enhancements etc will be taken care by the framework.

Thus, you just gotta figure out the user interface and other whatnot of your program, because now whenever you want to play a file, your program will “ask” the multimedia framework (usually using simple commands) to do all the “hard work” rather than trying to do all that by itself (ahh what a relief! ;-)).

“gst123″ in action ;-)

Anyway, as I was saying, because of the power and features of the Gstreamer framework, a lot of multimedia players are built on top of it. Totem, Banshee, Rhythmbox, Juk, Kaffeine etc are just a few to name.

However, if you don’t like GUI tools that much and also a bit of a command-line addict ;-) who’s looking for a lightweight multimedia player that’s based on the Gstreamer framework, then you should try “gst123″.

Main features …

*. Well, it’s ugly as hell! ;-).

*. Supports playing a huge number of both audio & video codec (anything that Gstreamer supports) such as MP3, Ogg Vorbis, AAC, MPEG 1/2/4, H.263/264, AVI, Windows audio/video codecs, VOB  and more.

*. You can load playlists into it and can make them Repeat, Shuffle or choose Random playback but you still cannot create a playlist though.

*. While playing a file it outputs information such as the audio/video bitrate, codec type, sample rate (if it’s an audio file, then it shows you Artist, Album, Year … audio meta-data in general) and track duration and few other details.

However, while I was using it, the video codec data was  missing, still it plays videos quite nicely nonetheless.

*. You can manually disable the video output.

*. Change audio output (to a different sound server for instance).

*. You can use the usual keyboard shortcuts used in Totem (or the ones defined by Gstreamer to be precise) for video/audio playback control such as:

“f’ for full-screen, “1” for normal size, “m” for mute, “q” for quitting, “arrow-keys” for changing playback position etc.

That’s pretty much it actually.

If interested, you can install “gst123″ in Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by simply typing the below command in your Terminal window.

sudo apt-get install gst123

A simple example …

Using it is extremely simple. For instance, let’s say that I wanted to open a file called “1.mkv”, in my Home folder. Then I’d open the Terminal and type something like the below command.

gst123 1.mkv

Just replace the “1.mkv” with your own file’s path. That’s it!.

Whenever you want to quit, simply type “q” (within the terminal window or the if it’s a video, then on it’s window) or press “Ctrl” + “c” keys. You can also “Pause” the playback by using the “Space-bar”.

You can read its manual for learning about other commands. For that, please use the below command.

man gst123

Although it’s not even near the power of the awesome “mplayer”, still if you’re looking for a command-line based multimedia player that uses little of your system resources and supports a massive amount of multimedia file formats, then try “gst123″.

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