Category: Video

Ubuntu 14.04: Media Programs

This is a continuation of my series on installing Ubuntu 14.04 Trusty Tahr.  My previous post covered installing programming environments and applications.  In this post, I’ll go through the different media programs that I installed back onto my laptop.  If you would like to see the complete list of posts, check out my Ubuntu 14.04 install page.


One of the most important programs that I use now is Shutter.  It allows me to easily take screenshots of what I am working and edit the screenshots.  The shutter package is easily installed from the Software Center.  Once installed, I tweaked a few of the settings in Edit > Preferences.

First, I changed the path for the screenshots from the Pictures folder to a new folder that I created called screenshots.

Setting Shutter Output Path

In addition, I checked the first two options on the “Behavior” tab to allow it to start when I boot up the computer.

Shutter Preferences

I installed the following other programs for working with visual media:

  • Gimp: for editing photos
  • Inkscape: vector-based drawing
  • Xournal: has features that allow marking up a PDF



These are the programs I use for playing and editing video:


This installed many different things for media.  For example, I noticed that it installed True Type fonts.  It also installs codecs for playing videos, etc.

sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

In addition, I installed the libdvdcss to get the restricted formats.  That was simply by installing this package…

sudo apt-get install libdvdread4

Then, I ran the script…

sudo /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/

Finally, I determined that I had to use the /dev/sr0 as the device for playing my DVDs.  Like this:

Opening a DVD in VLC

Next Steps

If you are following along with the complete install, check out my next post about Virtualbox.  Or, you can go to the list of posts in this series (Installing Ubuntu 14.04).


Troubleshooting: Playing DRM Videos from Amazon

This is the second time this has happened.  I keep getting:

Sorry we were unable to stream this video.  This is likely because your flash player could not be updated.

I had just reinstalled my media laptop with Linux Lite OS (a flavor of Ubuntu), and I was trying to watch a video from Amazon.  It was one of the Prime Instant Videos.

To fix the issue, I followed McDougall’s instructions.  Basically, it was just installing the “hal” package and deleting the .adobe and .macromedia settings directories:

sudo apt-get install hal
rm -r ~/.adobe ~/.macromedia

Finally, I rebooted and retried.  It all worked fine after that.


Taking Cheesy Pictures With Your WebCam

If you have to go to the grocery store, you may as well make it fun.  My son can’t quite read yet, so I like to make picture lists of what we need and I have him go through the list and help me get all of the items.  Usually, I just use Google’s image search to build my list of pictures.  Today, I couldn’t find the right picture, and I decided to try my hand at taking my own pictures.

Here’s where I got lazy.  Why take a picture with my phone or digital camera and then take the time to copy over to my laptop?  I have a camera on my laptop.  Why can’t I use that?

Here’s how to make it work…

Installing Drivers and Software

I found my answers in Ubuntu’s Documentation.  If you need help with the drivers part, you can look there, but my driver was installed by default with the Ubuntu installation.  The part I needed was Cheese.  The Cheese program did exactly what I needed.

Ubuntu Documetation: WebCam

You can either use Ubuntu Software Center to install Cheese like this…

Installing Cheese with Ubuntu Software Center

Or, you can use Synaptic…

Synaptic to Install Cheese

Once installed, you’ll find it under the Sound and Video menu:

Cheese on the Menu

Using Cheese

Taking the picture is as easy as saying Cheese!  Open the program, get your web cam pointed right, and click the take photo button.

Taking the Picture

Note, Cheese has different modes.  You can either take a picture, video, or burst mode.  You can select the mode at the bottom:

Mode Icons

More Info…

Cheese Website

Why Can’t the Users Just Rotate Their Screen?

We have a Kodak Zi6 video camera that we have been using to take home videos.  Today, we taped Clay taking some of his first steps, but we did it in portrait instead of landscape.  So, then, the next question is how can we rotate the video, so we don’t have to tell everyone to rotate their screen.

I found this post that suggested using Avidemux.  So, here is what I did:

First, simply open your video with the File > Open command or the Open button on the toolbar.  Next, you need to set the output formats that you want.  I found this post that suggested using MPEG-4 AVC (x264), AAC (Faac), and MP4.  Choosing the right format was rather difficult for me.  Here is what it looks like once you have made the choices:

Next, you need to use a Filter to rotate the video.   So, click the video filters button.

Next, double click on the Rotate filter in the list:

Now, choose your rotation angle:

The Rotate filter should move over to the Active Filters column and should show the rotation angle that you chose:

Now, you simply save your video using the File > Save command or the toolbar.  This will take a few minutes for your computer to process the video and write the file.  I chose an .mp4 extension.

Here is it processing the video:

So, that is it.  Please comment if you have suggestions.  I am still working out the best format to use for sharing with friends and family.  So, if you find something that is better, please let me know.