Ubuntu Restricted Extras - Lets Ubuntu Play Everything

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A fresh install of Ubuntu 10.04 (Lucid Lynx) comes complete with Firefox, the Rhythmbox music player, and the Totem movie player. You may find, however, that some websites don’t work correctly because Flash and Java are missing, you may also find that a lot of your media files do not play. This is because Ubuntu (for legal reasons) only comes with support for free and open source audio and video formats. Many technologies such as Flash, MP3 and DVD are proprietary or patent encumbered and can not be included on the Ubuntu CD.

Thankfully, it’s extremely easy to set up your new Ubuntu system to play just about any media file you can throw at it. All you need to do is install one software package from the Ubuntu Software Center and your system will be configured to enjoy all of your media files and the whole internet. The software that we need to install is called “Ubuntu Restricted Extras.” This package, in turn, will download, install and configure Flash, Java, core Microsoft fonts (the fonts used on many websites), MP3 support, DVD support (for unencrypted DVDs) and support for just about every other audio and video format you can imagine.

To install this package, open the Ubuntu Software Center (by clicking Applications -> Ubuntu Software Center) and search for “Ubuntu restricted extras.” You should see the “Ubuntu restricted extras” package in the search results, then just click “Install” and let Ubuntu’s built-in package manager do all the hard work for you!

Because this package downloads and installs a lot of other packages (many of them not located on Ubuntu’s servers), it can take some time to finish downloading. Just be patient and let the process finish. It’ll be worth it in the end.

Once the package has been installed, you can restart Firefox and you should now be able to access all your favorite sites, like YouTube, that require the Flash plugin, play any multimedia files you may have, and watch non-commercial DVDs.

Bonus: Installing support for commercial DVD playback

Due to many varying laws around the world, Ubuntu can not ship support for commercial (encrypted) DVD playback. To install support for commercial DVDs, all you need is to install one file which can be found at Medibuntu called “libdvdcss2.” Medibuntu is a software repository that contains several restricted multimedia related applications, and you can follow the instructions on their site to install this repository on your computer. In our case, we just want the libdvdcss2 file, so we can install it manually. Just visit this page and download the libdvdcss2 package for your computer (either 32-bit or 64-bit). Once you’ve downloaded the file, simple double click it and follow the instructions to install. You should now be able to watch all your favorite DVDs on Ubuntu!

Legal Warning: Check with your local laws to make sure usage of libdvdcss2 would be legal in your area.

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