Article from Issue 210/2018

Graham checks out VLC 3.0, MenuLibre 2.1.5, Texttop, Flameshot, Chomper, Godot 3.0, and much more!

Media player

VLC 3.0

There can't be many Linux users who haven't heard of or installed the venerable VLC. For many years, it's been an essential installation requirement, even if you don't play back movies on your Linux machine. It's just as good at playing YouTube videos and for listening to Internet radio, which is why the release of version 3 is such a milestone; it's perhaps one of the biggest updates to one of the most popular open source projects out there. This is reflected in the download links. These prominently list iOS, Android, Mac OS, Windows, and even Windows Phone, while Linux users are challenged by asking their favorite packager rather than providing a direct download. There's not a snap or flatpak in sight, reflecting the origin of the majority of VLC users. Fortunately, for most distributions, the latest release can indeed be installed with a simple sudo snap install vlc without even asking your packager.

It's surprising that something called the "VideoLAN client" has taken so long to get its best new feature: the ability to natively browse network filesystems such as Samba, SFTP, NFS, and FTP. You've always been able to paste an accessible URL into the network file requester, but you needed your desktop or background operating system to have mounted a remote filesystem first or delivered the data via its own transport mechanisms. As most of us like to store our media on remote devices, such as a NAS, this was always a problem. Now VLC can access these files without any extra help, and it makes a big difference, especially on Android.

While the VLC user interface looks largely the same as version 2 – complete with an even larger set of advanced settings – it can play back far more media. In particular, thanks to a considerable number of OpenGL acceleration additions on Linux, you can now play 4K and 8K videos at 60 frames per second, as well as 360-degree videos, such as those recorded for virtual reality headsets. Video playback now includes support for the latest home-theatre buzzwords, including the ability to play back high-dynamic range video and ambisonics 3D audio, if you have the hardware configuration to make sense of these.


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