It's availability depends on the kernel features, but by using the Linux framebuffer provided by the kernel (or Direct Framebuffer library, which allows hardware acceleration) it should be possible to play video on the console, too.
For example, using MPlayer:
mplayer -vo fbdev filename.avi or
mplayer -vo directfb filename.avi should do the trick if all the required pieces are in place. As pointed out in the other answer,
vlc might be easier to get working and it also supports both the old FB and DirectFB.
Wikipedia article says the following about the framebuffer:
There are three applications of the Linux framebuffer.
- An implementation of text Linux console that doesn't use hardware text mode (useful when that mode is unavailable, or to overcome its
restrictions on glyph size, number of code points etc.). One popular
aspect of this is the ability to have console show the Tux logo at
A possible graphic output method for a display server, independent of video adapter hardware and its drivers.
Graphic programs avoiding the heavy overhead of the X Window System.
The last item includes several Linux programs such as MPlayer, links2,
Netsurf, fbida and libraries such as GGI, SDL, GTK+ and Qt Extended
can use the framebuffer directly. This is particularly popular in
There is now a library DirectFB which provides a framework for
hardware acceleration of the Linux framebuffer.
There's also a Q & A exactly on this topic on this very same forum, and of course the old Framebuffer HOWTO.
Most notably, you should have
/dev/fb0 character device available (or more than one if there are multiple framebuffer devices available). At the bare minimum, the output of
zcat /proc/config.gz |grep FB should contain
CONFIG_FB=y, but I'm not quite sure if the modern GPUs with DRM also need a sort of a legacy driver to make FBDEV work (in my case, I seem to have
CONFIG_DRM_I915_FBDEV=y for the Intel GPU).