Video Conversion

11 Best Free and Open Source Linux Video Converters

Last Updated on March 1, 2024

Given there are many different video formats available, a free video converter is an extremely useful piece of software. The best video converters make the conversion process simple, and support a wide number of different codecs and formats.

Video conversion is a narrower term for transcoding. Transcoding is the process of the conversion of digital data (typically video and audio files) from one format to another. It involves extracting tracks from a digital media file, decoding the tracks, filtering, encoding, and then multiplexing the new tracks into a new container. Transcoding will reduce the quality of the tracks unless lossless formats are used.

There are many reasons to transcode media files. Some popular examples include the ability to convert files so that they are supported on a target device, and at the same time removing commercials, and reducing the file size. While transcoding is a very CPU intensive task, modern processors with a high number of cores offer impressive conversion rates provided the transcoding software supports multi-core architectures.

Please be aware that if you’re converting videos from YouTube, that’s against Google’s terms of service. And it’s also likely to be illegal as it constitutes a breach of copyright unless the copyright holder has given explicit consent, or the video is published under an open source license.

Here’s our verdict on the best free video converters. They are each published under an open source license. While VLC and mpv are primarily multimedia players they also offer conversion functionality.

Ratings chart for the best free and open source video converters

Let’s explore the 11 video converters at hand. For each title we have compiled its own portal page, a full description with an in-depth analysis of its features, a screenshot of the software in action, together with links to relevant resources.

Best Free Video Converters
HandBrakeMultithreaded cross-platform media transcoding application
FFmpegMultimedia player, server and encoder
Shutter EncoderGraphical frontend to FFmpeg with editing features
avconvPart of libav-tools; fork of FFmpeg
VideomassCross-platform GUI for FFmpeg and youtube-dl
VLCVdeo player which also converts multimedia to different formats
transcodeUtility to encode raw video/audio streams
FFQueueGraphical frontend to FFmpeg written in C++
mpvCross-platform media player with video encoding support
MEncoderMEncoder is included in MPlayer
CianoEasy way to convert your multimedia files to the most popular formats
Best Free and Open Source SoftwareRead our complete collection of recommended free and open source software. Our curated compilation covers all categories of software.

The software collection forms part of our series of informative articles for Linux enthusiasts. There are hundreds of in-depth reviews, open source alternatives to proprietary software from large corporations like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Adobe, IBM, Cisco, Oracle, and Autodesk.

There are also fun things to try, hardware, free programming books and tutorials, and much more.

Originally Published on 22 May 2019

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Dave Hussre
Dave Hussre
4 years ago

I think FFmpeg is the most powerful one, but not an easy one to work with, especially for those, who are not experienced enough to work in terminal.

11 months ago

Never heard of Shutter Encoder before, will give it a try when I get home.

11 months ago

FFMPEG is the most powerfull and versatile in this selection.
One must use it with Zsh, due to its completion ability.

11 months ago
Reply to  Olivier

Maybe it’s the best for you. But I prefer software with a GUI.