How to Make Ubuntu Play MP3 Files

By Trevor Bekolay on June 8th, 2010

Because of licensing issues, Ubuntu is unable to play MP3s out of the box. We’ll show you how to play MP3s and other restricted file formats in about four mouse clicks.

The philosophy behind Ubuntu is that software should be free and accessible to all. Whether MP3 and other file formats are free is unclear in many countries, so Ubuntu does not include software to read these file formats by default.

Music Player_001

Fortunately, it does include a package that installs the most commonly used file formats all at once, including a Flash plugin for Firefox.

Note: These instructions are for Ubuntu 10.04. There are small differences for earlier versions of Ubuntu.

Play MP3 Files

Open the Ubuntu Software Center, found in the Applications menu.

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Click on View and ensure that All Software is selected.

Ubuntu Software Center_001

Type “restricted extras” into the search box at the top-right. Find the Ubuntu restricted extras package and click Install.

Ubuntu Software Center_002

Enter your password when prompted.

Authenticate_003

Once the install is complete, close out of Ubuntu Software Center, and you’ll be able to play MP3 files! To confirm this, we’ll open up Rhythmbox, found in the Sound & Video section of the Applications menu.

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Our test MP3 plays with no problems!

Note: If Rhythmbox tells you that MP3 plugins are not installed, close Rhythmbox and reopen it. You should not have to install anything extra through Rhythmbox.

The Disco King - Carry On Wayward Son_005 

Despite this extra step, playing the most common audio and video file formats – including Flash videos on the internet – is simple. All the software comes installed, you just have to teach them how to read your files.

Trevor is our resident Linux geek, but always keeps his eyes open for neat Windows tricks too.

  • Published 06/8/10
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