How to Make “ffmpegthumbnailer” work in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot?

If you haven’t heard then “ffmpegthumbnailer” is an awesome little tool that uses the faster and more efficient FFmpeg multimedia library to help Nautilus file manager create video thumbnails faster than Totem does. Now Totem is based on Gstreamer framework and I don’t know whether it’s Totem or Gstreamer to blame here but you can make Nautilus create video thumbnails under GNU/Linux (Ubuntu in this case) a hell lot faster than Totem does!.

But here’s the thing. The method that was used in Ubuntu 11.04 to replace Totem’s entries with ffmpegthumbnailer don’t work in Ubuntu 11.10 since it’s based on the Nautilus 3.0. This is because Nautilus 3.0 is a part of Gnome Shell desktop and the new Gnome Shell uses a different “registry” database manager called “Dconf-editor” which replaced the previous “Gconf-editor” and was used in Ubuntu 11.04 and below versions.

But by using a simple trick (won’t take more than few seconds!) we can make it work under Ubuntu 11.10.

1. First install ffmpegthubmnailer in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot by using the below command.

sudo apt-get install ffmpegthumbnailer

2. Now just run Nautilus as the root user. For that use the below command in your Terminal window.

gksudo nautilus

3. Now using Nautilus, go to the below folder path…



Copy the selected file to somewhere “safe”, just in case :)…

4. Copy the file called “totem.thumbnailer” to your “Home” folder as a safety precaution.

5. Now I’ve simply created (replaced the totem-thumbnailer with ffmpeg actually, no magic, just changed two lines of codes) a new file by the same name but makes sure to launch ffmpegthumbnailer instead of totem. First download it from here.

6. It’s compressed (otherwise I couldn’t upload it to this site). So extract the file inside it (named: “totem.thumbnailer”) and just copy and paste that file into to the above mentioned “/usr/share/thumbnailers” folder and when asked, simply replace the original one.

If you’ve closed the file manager then use the command in the Step 2 to re-open it. Otherwise you won’t be able to replace this file.

Now hit the magic button! = “Replace”

7. Now type the below command to restart nautilus and ffmpegthubmnailer should generate video thumbnails like crazy instead of Totem!.

nautilus -q

If however you want FFmpegthumbnailer to create all the thumbnails from scratch (including “failed” thumbnails, etc) then simply go to “.thumbnails” folder which is in your “Home” folder (hidden by default). Simply delete all the contents inside the folders named: “fail”, “normal” and “large”. That’s it.

Forgive my poor taste in music but hey!, it works ;-)…

Now whenever you enter a folder where previously you had Totem created video thumbnails… now ffmpegthumbnailer will start creating them all over again, with speed of course. Enjoy!.

An RHCE, 'Linux' user with 14+ years of experience. Extreme lover of Linux and FOSS. He is passionate to test every Linux distribution & compare with the previous release to write in-depth articles to help the FOSS community.

40 thoughts on “How to Make “ffmpegthumbnailer” work in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot?”

  1. Hi, few weeks ago this trick was stop working on my Ubuntu Precise after some updates. But then I reapplied this trick and the thumbnailer worked again. Thanks Gayan!

  2. Hi Gayan,

    I need your support please…With this ffmpegthumbnailer i cannot see the thumbnails in the network file but if i change again to totem-video-thumbnailer i see the thumbnails!! (network – I maen the files from another pc! )

    • Hi Harun,

      I don’t have a network to test this out, but I did a little research and it seems that ‘ffmpegthumbnailer’ doesn’t seem to support creating thumbnails for remote files that are accessed through ‘GIO’ (a Gnome based virtual file system, which is also used for making access easy to remote files for Gnome applications). Sorry about that.


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