If the version taken from your distribution repository of mplayer2 doesn't
work for you, it is a good thing to report what didn't work to the bug
tracking system, so that it has benefits for both you and others:
- It gets fixed for your hardware in this release of your distribution.
- It will (with high probability) work when you upgrade to a newer version
of the distribution, without having to worry.
- It will benefit others that may have the same problem but, as you, have
not taken the task of reporting the error.
Recompilation on a particular system
Recompiling the program specifically for your machines is likely to have
better results than the "generic" flavor that a distribution releases (this
is, BTW, one of the motivations that the Gentoo folks have when they
recompile things to their own systems).
Of course, you may gain some improvements in speed, but you loose the
portability of the binaries.
The generic compilation
That being said, the general way recompiling a program in a current
Debian/Ubuntu system is to take the source package and its build
dependencies with something as:
sudo apt-get build-dep mplayer2
sudo apt-get install fakeroot
apt-get source mplayer2
then edit the file
debian/rules inside the directory created by the last
command to change the values that go in the
What can you do to tailor the application to your machines? You will have to
experiment (read: "measure/benchmark", see below) with which level of
-O3) the program runs faster.
To actually compile the program, you will need to run, inside the directory
created by the
apt-get source mplayer2 command:
fakeroot debian/rules binary
sudo dpkg -i ../*.deb
With GCC versions 4.7 or newer, you can even experiment with the
compilation level, which for playing videos is not going to cause too much
harm, but which can give you some improvements (enough to not accumulate
frames and get audio and video out of sync).
The system/hardware specific parts of the compilation
To compile the program specifically for the machine where you will be
executing it, it is a good thing to use GCC's
-mach=native flag. This will
probably make the binaries produced unuseable in other systems, but as long
as you care only for your system, that's the way to go.
Just to give you an idea of what options are enabled on my Core i5-2410M
when I use
-march=native, see (output reformatted to not destroy the
layout of the site):
gcc -march=native -E -v - < /dev/null 2>&1 | grep cc1
/usr/lib/gcc/i486-linux-gnu/4.7/cc1 -E -quiet -v -imultiarch i386-linux-gnu - \
-march=corei7-avx -mcx16 -msahf -mno-movbe -maes -mpclmul -mpopcnt \
-mno-abm -mno-lwp -mno-fma -mno-fma4 -mno-xop -mno-bmi -mno-bmi2 \
-mno-tbm -mavx -mno-avx2 -msse4.2 -msse4.1 -mno-lzcnt -mno-rdrnd \
-mno-f16c -mno-fsgsbase --param l1-cache-size=32 \
--param l1-cache-line-size=64 \
--param l2-cache-size=3072 -mtune=corei7-avx
From there you can see that GCC detected some "advanced" instructions that
my computer has (AVX) and others that it doesn't have (AVX2).
How to measure the results
As a hint, to benchmark, just play a short video, say,
mplayer -benchmark -vo null -nosound foo.mkv
This will "play" the video as fast as your system can and tell you how many
seconds it took to "play" the video in its entirety. Note that I said "play"
in quotes, because we are disabling:
- The sound decoding with
-nosound. Usually minor time is spent here, in
comparison to the other parts of playing a video.
- The time taken to actually display the video (
To see if the video card is getting in the way or not, you can omit the
null part from the command above and see if the video you want plays faster
than real-time (or whatever your goal is).
Some final words, part 1: the specific case of mplayer2
That being said, much of mplayer2 (and regular mplayer, when this later one
is taken from distributions) is that most of their processing is "offloaded"
to libraries. In particular, a lot of the decoding is made by libav or
ffmpeg, and those are the packages that should be compiled/optimized in the
In the case of "vanilla" mplayer (not mplayer2) taken from upstream, it uses
embedded copies of many libraries, which means that, if you compile it from
the upstream sources (instead of the method that I gave you above with
apt-get source mplayer2 etc), it will also compile its own libav/ffmpeg
and have the potential of being much faster than the alternatives.
Some final words, part 2: getting some gains without recompiling
It is not always necessary to recompile the mplayer/mplayer2 binaries
provided by your distribution if you change a few configuration parameters.
To avoid all the work above, I would begin by playing the videos with
mplayer -framedrop -lavdopts fast:skipframe=nonref:skiploopfilter=nonref foo.mkv
Of course, you can play with the options that I just gave you and the
manpage documents the possible values for
among other things.
And happy watching videos!