Playing 1080p Video in Ubuntu Without Lag

I have not-so-bad specs for my laptop:
– Dell XPS M1530
– Intel Code 2 Duo CPU 2.40GHz
– Running Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10

I have no problem running 720p .mkv HD video files. No lagging, no dropped frames whatsover. However, when running 1080p .mkv files, especially those big sizes full-HD Blue Ray medias, I have:
– Lagging,
– Dropped frames,
– 100% CPU utilizations.

It doesn’t matter if I’m using VLC, or Totem Movie Player, it will always have those problem above. From what I’ve read, this is probably due to FFMpeg codecs for H.264 decoding.

However, I have a solution, found from

Below are the steps:
1. Install mplayer:
sudo apt-get install mplayer-nogui

2. Run your 1080p .mkv files with it:
mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau /path/to/the/mkv/file

Now the HD movies playing in my Ubuntu laptop are smooth as it can be.
Try it out. Cheers.

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Justin Germino

I had a friend who had same issue with Ubuntu and playing Hi-Def movies with VLC. He was running Hardy Heron though and had not upgraded to Koala. Does this only make the movies work with MPlayer, or will they work with other players as well?


this is completely outdated, I tried your method but it didn’t work, mplayer is no longer sourced (it seems?) as the install command did not work, however i easily installed mplayer2 but opening the file by file path seems not to work, here’s what I get:

MPlayer2 UNKNOWN (C) 2000-2011 MPlayer Team
mplayer: could not connect to socket
mplayer: No such file or directory
Failed to open LIRC support. You will not be able to use your remote control.

Playing /home/esla/Desktop/The.
File not found: ‘/home/esla/Desktop/The’
Failed to open /home/esla/Desktop/The.

Playing Hangover.
File not found: ‘Hangover’
Failed to open Hangover.

Playing 2.mkv.
File not found: ‘2.mkv’
Failed to open 2.mkv.

Exiting… (End of file)


I got it to work by:
mplayer /path/to/file

but the framerate was horrible, i though I was missing your vdpau, wicth I’m not but wiki it and you find that vdpau is a nvidia hd driver, this computer has an ATI card, not my personal preference but it’s a friend’s computer I’m trying to get this to work on, so changing the graphics is out of the question. The ATI equivalent for NVIDIA vdpau seems to be xvba, i installed the driver using synaptic, but replacing the word vdpau by xvba in your comand line shows the same result as the one i posted above, so does putting only one of the two amends to how to play the file.

I also installed medibuntu repositories followed by ubuntu restricted extras pack (for witch i had to uninstall vlc and it’s lib codec) then, libdvdcss2 (via terminal, synaptic, softcent, and synaptic respectively)

I found an article that seems to be the way to configure your ATI graphics for HD usage:

I’m going to follow it’s instuctions and then repost.


I’m sorry it not the first thing I pasted that shows up when I type:

mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau /path/to/file


mplayer -vo xvba -vc ffh264xvba /path/to/file


mplayer -vo xvba /path/to/file or mplayer -vc ffh264xvba /path/to/file

but sound launches for all four commands and I get this error message:

MPlayer2 UNKNOWN (C) 2000-2011 MPlayer Team
mplayer: could not connect to socket
mplayer: No such file or directory
Failed to open LIRC support. You will not be able to use your remote control.

Playing /home/esla/Desktop/HNGV2.mkv.
[mkv] Track ID 1: video (V_MPEG4/ISO/AVC), -vid 0
[mkv] Track ID 2: audio (A_DTS) “english”, -aid 0, -alang eng
[mkv] Will play video track 1.
Detected file format: Matroska
VIDEO: [avc1] 1920×800 24bpp 23.976 fps 0.0 kbps ( 0.0 kbyte/s)
Load subtitles in /home/esla/Desktop/
Failed to open VDPAU backend cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
[vdpau] Error when calling vdp_device_create_x11: 1
[ass] auto-open
Forced video codec: ffh264xvba
Cannot find codec matching selected -vo and video format 0x31637661.
Opening audio decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg/libavcodec audio decoders
AUDIO: 48000 Hz, 2 ch, s16le, 1536.0 kbit/100.00% (ratio: 192000->192000)
Selected audio codec: [ffdca] afm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg DTS)
[AO OSS] audio_setup: Can’t open audio device /dev/dsp: No such file or directory
AO: [alsa] 48000Hz 2ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
Video: no video
Starting playback…
A: 4.4 (04.3) of 6109.7 ( 1:41:49.7) 1.4%

in this message we can see that mplayer still tries to open vdpau even though i used another command (surely one that doesn’t exist but watev’ ) and that the video tries to launch foreshadowing bad framerate by declaring a failing 23.976 fps but does not show the kilobytes per second and then crashes, it pursues it task by launching the sound which it does successfully, 1.4% is where i stopped the task.

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