Poll: What video player should Ubuntu MATE 17.10 ship by default?

Please vote for your preferred default video player in Ubuntu MATE.

  • Totem
  • VLC

0 voters

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I voted Totem - since I remember it was simple enough for when I was using Ubuntu (GNOME 2/Unity) many years back.

I like (and use) VLC which is great as a lot of formats can be thrown at it, but in my experience it can act funny (like garbled video / oddly pitched audio) when seeking over certain media formats. It’s even locked up my computer too (NVIDIA drivers + Xorg likely culprits) :open_mouth:

Edit: I’ve switched to MPV, since it’s doing the job well. :slight_smile:

Not even bothering to vote, since the people seemingly had already made up their mind. I think for a lot of people, it’s nice to have a default player that interfaces with Android so well, with a multitude of applications being able to use it’s networking functionality.

If replacing the default media player, remember; familiarity is key. If a user can’t work it in Windows, most likely they’ll be lost in the open-source userlands without some familiar anchors to cling onto.


I’m all for basic and streamlined defaults. And this necessarily goes for default applications. VLC is too much baggage claim at the airport to be considered a good default. And if there was a time when it was justifiable to include it as a default, today multimedia support in Linux is so rich, VLC can no longer claim that it alone supports multiple formats, is lightweight, or any other similar thing, without facing the fact it has to compete with other (and in some people opinion, far better) solutions.

Let me reaffirm this: I am for basic and streamlined defaults. And VLC is no such thing. From an user perspective, on an operating system such as Linux, I could say I shouldn’t need to care much with what comes pre-installed. It is, after all, always exciting to install our own software and get rid of what we don’t want. But that isn’t the entire truth. Certain software development practices can affect a distro in more subliminal ways. VLC development isn’t stable, being composed of essentially two code bases (the core player and library and the ever exceedingly complex GUI) and repeatedly plagued by bugs, some more serious than others, which affect user experience. Distro maintenance suffers from those flaws too, because even if problems can only be fixed upstream, they invariably demand resources to be pulled by everyone, from package maintainers to quality assurance, support teams and even the distro advocates to ease the complications being experienced by users. Just recently we had a serious security related bug tied to VLC, a program that some stubborn people keep considering a staple of any Linux distribution.

There are alternatives, superior to VLC that need to be considered in a more serious manner by Ubuntu MATE team than a simple poll of what we the users want. Because the matter of fact is that what users want is not necessarily what’s best for them. Or for the distro. I don’t say this to call users ignorant (although I’ll be the first to admit I am ignorant on many things Linux), I say this because users develop habits and practices that aren’t compatible with a distro that wishes to remain stable and problem free. If you make a poll about users wanting to have PlayOnLinux pre-installed, regardless of the result, you’d know with a good enough number of participation, you’d get a very large number of people saying “Yes”, and the headache that would be for the next version to include it.

So, I do fell this poll has already trapped itself into a corner by the simple fact it is asking the general population if they wish to use something else other than the most popular thing. What exactly did you expect to learn? These type of decisions should instead be made by the team while weighing more important contests than popularity. Not everything that is done behind closed doors is a sign of lack of caring for the userbase. And be damned those who think it is. They clearly never managed a project.

I’m voting for GNOME MPV for the frankly much, much, superior stable code and release cycles it offers, without losing anything to the feature set of VLC. And the benefits all that brings to Ubuntu MATE the distro and its teams. If I’m a user I can then install VLC if I so wish. To be clear I would in fact be uninstalling it partially, since I am a MPV user, but I prefer another player to GNOME’s. Another excellent alternative, for the exact same reasons, is the QtAV running QMLPLayer. I’m not considering Totem because its close integration with the Gnome Shell worries me of future developments that can make it harder to maintain on different DEs with less features or significant differences in presentation, that end up making users compare “their” Totem on Ubuntu MATE and the Totem “others” are using on Gnome Shell. Truth be told I deposit very little confidence on the GNOME development team.

Sorry for the long post. As Blaise Pascal once said, I didn’t have the time to make it shorter.


Certainly an impassioned response. I understand the security concerns, and like to counter with “Block communications you don’t know which aren’t explicit and verifiable.”

I think you meant GNOME MPV? Anyway, the reason I mentioned everything I did is because I use VLC for just that; I can download an app from the Google Play store, follow some directions and control media from my phone. VLC is popular on Windows, and VLC had come as default for a rather long time on Ubuntu et al. I think above and beyond we need for Ubuntu to adopt for all systems a specialty firewall software that constantly pesters the user when new communications are detected by a device, showing what source program may be requesting it if we can. ESET Smart Security has this feature in their commercial suite, and I find it quite useful to allow only the communications I want to let access my machine.

I do agree that security should come first, but try telling that to users who are familiar with what they already know, and probably love? There’s going to be a lot of passion on display if VLC is taken away as a default application (even though you have to install it for Windows anyway).

Just some boring history. Totem was integrated with Gnome2 and provided media information for a properties tab in Nautilus. It may have been libraries Totem used, I’m not sure. I do remember loosing the Nautilus tab if Totem was uninstalled.

There was a recent query about this feature for Caja. Worth a look?


I voted for Gnome MPV. Lightweight and stable. But Smplayer is the best.

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My take on this is VLC uses Qt and we therefore end up making the ISO larger by carrying GTK+ and Qt. Although I’ve done the best we can to integrate VLCs style to match the rest of MATE Desktop, it is not perfect. VLC doesn’t support HiDPI and that is something we’re working towards in MATE. VLC is more than just a player it is all things to all people, a power user tool.

GNOME MPV use the same toolkit as the rest of the MATE Desktop, there is even a gsettings override to disable CSD which makes GNOME MPV fit right in with everything else. It is a simple player with wide format compatibility and just the right options exposed to the user. Totem shares many of the qualities that GNOME MPV has but integrates will Ubuntu package management to install additional codecs on demand. GNOME MPV and Totem are both HiDPI capable.

My thinking was to switch to GNOME MPV or Totem and make VLC available via the Software Boutique so it is a simple install away.


@marfig As you will have seen from the poll I ran earlier in the year about changing the default panel layout, we didn’t go with the result that had the most votes. We were swayed by the comments.

The polls certainly produce useful data but it is the comments, such as yours, that a more valuable. The polls are really a catalyst for conversation. And it works, we’re talking now :slight_smile:

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I say Gnome MPV, simple, looks good, works awesome.


I didn’t remember it, when I was writing that. You are absolutely right. Although I was being more gentle in my critic than the tone in my post probably suggested :wink:

A question rises though. Won’t this make the first Qt-based application installation a bit scary for new users? Although I can think of the Boutique playing a role here to ease that shock, since it sort of hides away the details of the package being installed, It will still make the download larger and introduce new Qt entries in the menu, which might confuse or scare a few users. I’m a bit inclined to think you should ship with Qt, if you just look at it as another common necessity application. Notwithstanding the iso size.

I never tried the GNOME player, having been always an SMPlayer user. But after hearing this, I definitely need to check it out.

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No. The Qt theme integration is implemented system wide and far more robust in 17.10 than it has been in previous releases.

EDIT - And I should add, doesn’t require Qt to be installed ahead of time.

Does anyone know if HiDPI is being worked on for VLC 3.0 ?

Isn’t VLC stable still on Qt4? Only Qt5 supports HiDPI.

I chose GNOME MPV, because VLC is made in Qt, and is using more space because of Ubuntu MATE having also to deliver by default.

Also, GNOME MPV is more oriented to begginers and whoever wants VLC is easily available in the boutique.

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Over the years it has never failed me, plays everything, has a cli interface and it doesn't look bad with MATE IMO. Finally several good apps have qt dependencies so it's nice to have a base already installed and integrated.

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Mr. Wimpress, you should considering SMPlayer because it is the most comprehensive and yet ligthweight media player in Linux for now. Smplayer has any feature that doesn’t exist in other media player.

Totem is not good enough to load subtitle, and for several times I found problem playing HD videos using VLC in low end computers.

If you judge Smplayer only by its looks, you have to judge MATE’s default theme. All we need is finding good theme and everything will be perfect.

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Just to mention, somebody did try in the past to make VLC use GTK;

It seems dead, Jim; the developer moved the project to another repo and called it GNOME media player, but that died too. At the very least it should show the option to make VLC use GTK instead of Qt is there, if someone wants to put the work into it. I would love for a full GTK port with all the functionality of the Qt player if it means VLC remains kept, since I use that player with apps from Android to interface remotely with it for internet radio and movies for parents, whenever they want to watch something.

VLC by default is the best option for newbies like me.
I had VLC on my iMac and it never fails me, as well as now on Ubuntu-MATE for 8 months, now, and we use it every single day.
I am not a Terminal guy to tweak thing i dislike, or do not want to install some codec package because the media player cannot read some exotic files, in this regard VLC is perfect as it can read all media for the non geek guys like me.
Now that VLC use what you call Qt, newbies like me don’t care, and we don’t have even a clue about what is Qt, at the end VLC works well for us and the user interface is very familiar for all the Windows and Mac user who have taken a leap switching to Ubuntu-MATE or any GNU/Linux distribution.

Learning a new OS takes times, having some well known softwares where people like me have already our marks is a great plus which made our learning curve a lot less steeper.