14 Best Free and Open Source Media Players

Watching TV and films on computers running Linux is commonplace. Most Linux distributions ship at least one media player. But there are lots of high quality alternatives out there.

Wondering which media player we recommend? Here’s our verdict on the best free and open source media players. To qualify for inclusion as a media player, the open source software must meet our minimum standards as both a video and audio player. To avoid bamboozling readers, we’ve kept the number of featured media players to a sizeable number.

We include both console and graphical media players. Here’s our verdict with our legendary rating chart.

Ratings chart

Let’s explore the 14 media players at hand. Click the links in the table below to learn more about each media player.

Media Players
VLCCross-platform multimedia player and framework
mpvMedia player for the command line. libmpv is used by many front-ends
QMPlay2Qt based video and audio player
MPlayerMovie player which runs on many systems
SMPlayerQt based MPlayer front-end
ParoleModern simple media player based on the GStreamer framework
GridPlayerPlay multiple videos simultaneously
VideosMovie player for the GNOME desktop based on GStreamer
KaffeineSimple, easy to use, full featured media player
clapperGNOME media player built using GJS with GTK4 toolkit
Dragon PlayerMultimedia player with a focus on simplicity rather than features
xineVideo player for playing CDs, DVDs, BluRays and VCDs.
GlideSimple and minimalistic media player
QtAVCross-platform multimedia framework based on Qt and FFmpeg

This article has been revamped in line with our recent announcement.

Linux is endowed with many quality open source audio players which we cover separately in these articles: Graphical Music Players and Terminal-Based Music Players.

We don’t include media centers in this article as they are covered in this roundup: Best Free and Open Source Media Centers.

We have also excluded front-ends to mpv. This is because they are covered in this separate roundup.

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.
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2 years ago

VLC is great as a video player but pretty meh for audio.

Luke Baker
Luke Baker
2 years ago
Reply to  MissPiggy

If you’ve read any of my reviews you’ll know that I never recommend any music player that doesn’t support gapless playback.

It’s pretty amazing that VLC still doesn’t have that functionality. From my perspective, I therefore never recommend VLC as a media player. It’s horses for courses to a degree of course. Depending on your music tastes the lack of gapless playback may not be a factor at all.

That’s just my own personal opinion. Feel free to pipe it to /dev/null

2 years ago

I seem to remember that VLC 4.0 will add gapless playback. There’s nightly builds for 4.0. I’ve not tried if that has gapless playback. Anyone tried it?

Luke Baker
Luke Baker
2 years ago
Reply to  Siegried

I tried the latest build of VLC 4.0 recently. No sign of gapless playback.