VLC Media Player

VideoLAN Client (initially VLC Media Player) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG, DivX, Ogg, and many more) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. However in recent years it has also become a extremely powerful server to stream live and on demand video in several formats to our network and the Internet.

It started as a student project at the French École Centrale, Paris but is now a worldwide project with developers from 20 countries. (more). VLC is built in a modular way. This means that you can choose from a range of different modules to decide how to control VLC and how to display the video output.

VLC is the cross-platform media player and streaming server. VLC (initially VideoLAN Client) is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg,) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. It can also be used as a server to stream in unicast or multicast in IPv4 or IPv6 on a high-bandwidth network.

Some of the major selling points of VLC are:

    • Portable – What do I mean by portable? I mean you can get it for every conceivable Unix-like OS (Linux, BeOS, BSD, and Mac OS X) as well as Windows. Every OS you can really think of, it’s available for.
    • A note about DVD playback – VLC doesn’t enforce region codes, meaning you can play out-of-region DVDs with no problem. My Region 2 and Region 4 DVDs worked just fine on my home computer. Of course it gets better.
    • Streaming! – The real kicker: VLC doesn’t just play back media files. Oh no, my friend, it can also stream them. That’s right, you can now stream every media file, including DVDs, over a network. The only thing you need to worry about is network bandwidth, especially with DVDs. I smell a killer app for Gigabit Ethernet.
    • So how well does it work? – Pretty darn well. The reasonably easy-to-use interface doesn’t look or behave as polished as a commercial release, but overall it’s very functional.
    • Get the party started – When you want to play something, open the file icon, click the disc icon for your DVD or CD, or click one of the circular arrows to view a network media stream. A dialog box will appear asking you for additional settings or options.
  • Set up your stream – When you wish to stream content, check the box next to Stream Output and click Settings. Although VLC is designed to work with most Internet transport protocols, the easiest one I got running was the UDP. Do not fill anything in the Destination Target box. It will auto-fill when you click a transport method. Now enter the target machine’s IP, URL, or multicast IP address (if you have a multicast server setup).

The latest changes to the VLC program are:

  • Core support:
    – Internal strings handling is now UTF-8 based
    – New OSD system
  • Video output:
    – Fixed problems with OpenGL output
    – New –monitor-par (pixel aspect ratio) option
    – Fixed display problems with HDTV-1080 format
  • Input:
    – Support for RTP packet reordering
    – Fixed syntax for FTP URLs
  • Decoders:
    – Support for libSDL_image to import different image types
    – Musepack decoder using libmpdec
    – QDM2 audio support (needs ffmpeg from 19th Oct 2005 or later)
  • Video filters:
    – RSS feed overlay
  • Audio filters:
    – Fixes, enhancements and new options related to the Headphone Channel
    – Mixer and Dolby Surround
  • Stream output:
    – New shout output module to forward streams to icecast servers
    – Fixed several SAP and SDP announcement bugs
    – Fixed MTU handling to avoid IP fragments

The Operating System requirements are:

  • Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS
  • Debian, GNU/Linux, Mandrake Linux, Fedora Core
  • Familiar, Linux, YOPY/Linupy, Zaurus
  • SuSE Linux, Red Hat Linux, WinCE / PocketPC
Review by Jared Moya

VLC Media Player has an average rating 4.1 out of 5 based on 81 user ratings.