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How to stream online video on Linux with VLC

Have a livestream you’d like to watch on your Linux PC? Unsure how to do it? Try using the VLC media player! It supports a myriad of live streaming protocols, like RTSP, HLS and more, and you can use it to stream online video on Linux.

Install VLC on Linux

While the VLC Media player remains one of the most used video apps on all of Linux (and other platforms) it’s not the default player on many mainstream Linux operating systems. So, before we can go over how to stream video to VLC on the Linux desktop, we must go over how to install it. Luckily, the VLC application is readily available for installation.

To get VLC going, launch a terminal window and follow the instructions that correspond with your operating system.

Note: to use VLC you must be running Ubuntu, Debian, Arch Linux, Fedora, OpenSUSE or have the ability to run Flatpaks/Snaps.

Ubuntu

Ubuntu is the most popular Linux operating system, so it’s no surprise that the VLC application is in the main software repo. To install it, enter the following Apt command in the terminal.

sudo apt install vlc

Debian

The VLC media player is fully open source, and this means that the Debian project has no problem including it in the default software sources. To install it, you’ll need to enter the following Apt-get command in a terminal window.

Note: much of the software you’ll find on Debian Linux (including VLC) is quite out of date. While it allows everything on the OS to be stable, it often means users miss out on the latest features. If you’d like the newest VLC on Debian, check our article on how to install more modern versions of programs on the operating system! Alternatively, follow the Flatpak or Snap instructions.

sudo apt-get install vlc

Arch Linux

Arch has a recent version of VLC available for its users, and it can easily be installed via the Pacman package management tool.

sudo pacman -S vlc

Fedora

Fedora has VLC and users can install it with the Dnf package manager tool.

sudo dnf install vlc

OpenSUSE

Looking to get VLC on OpenSUSE? Launch a terminal window and use the following Zypper command to get it going.

sudo zypper install vlc

Flatpak

The VLC project supports the Flatpak universal packaging format. However, before you can install it, you must get the Flatpak runtime working on your Linux PC. To do this, launch a terminal window, search for “flatpak” and install it.

Unsure of how to install and set up the Flatpak runtime? Follow our guide to learn how!

Once the Flatpak runtime is up and running, enter the following commands to get VLC for Flatpak on your Linux PC.

flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub https://flathub.org/repo/flathub.flatpakrepo

flatpak install flathub org.videolan.VLC

flatpak run org.videolan.VLC

Snap Package

VLC is in the Snap store. To install it, enable Snap packages on your distribution.

Need help getting Snaps working? Follow our tutorial and learn how to set it up! Then, enter the command below to install the latest version of VLC for Snap.

sudo snap install vlc

Stream online video

Though you wouldn’t know it, VLC is one of the best tools to watch a livestream with. It can handle virtually any type of livestream protocol. Also, it can livestream too! VLC truly is amazing!

To watch live streams in VLC, launch the program and follow the step-by-step instructions below!

Step 1: Find a compatible livestream. Not sure how? Do a Google search of the content you’d like to watch, and add some of the following examples.

+ RTSP stream

+ HLS stream

+ MMS stream

Step 2: In VLC, click “Media,” look for the “open network stream” button and click on it.

Step 3: Paste the network stream URL into the box and click “play” to load it up.

Note: be sure to click the “playlist” button if the livestream you’re watching in VLC is an M3U file. There may be more than one stream available to watch

Step 4: Look at the VLC controls, find the “repeat” (aka loop) button and set it to the loop option 1. This will ensure that the stream continues to play even if it dies due to network issues.

Record live streams with VLC

Did you know that not only can VLC play internet live streams, but it can record them for you in real-time? Yes, really, and it’s all possible thanks to VLC media player’s awesome “convert” feature.

To record a livestream, select the “Media” menu and click the “open network stream” button. Then, paste the network stream URL into the box.

Click the down arrow next to the play button and select the “convert” option.

After selecting “convert,” a new window will appear. In this window, look for the “Destination” section and click the “browse” button.

Using the file browser, browse for a location to save the stream. As VLC plays, it will continuously record the livestream to a file. To stop the recording, click the stop button.

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