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UPDATE (original text preserved below)

With the real ffmpeg about to return (in 15.04), Jon Severinsson's PPA no longer working (for ffmpeg), and both avconv-ffmpeg (now called "libav") and the real ffmpeg (now back to just "ffmpeg") dropped from interim releases, the question has become: How to most easily install ffmpeg in pre-2015 distros?


Anyone know how to install the real, current ffmpeg (not the older version by avconv that comes w/ Ubuntu) without having the problems mentioned here?


  • Everything works (or so many have written),
  • Use the new syntax, and
  • After some research -- and without getting into the controversy -- I simply believe the packagers made a mistake going with avconv. This is a fix.

Apparently it's not as easy as it should be due to versioning conflicts, and that avconv and ffmpeg can't coexist on the same machine (noted in the accepted answer of the above-linked post). Though at least one guide mentions installing ffmpeg locally (~) to achieve coexistence.

My release is Precise 12.04.3 LTS, but it appears this would apply to newer ones also.

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Have you seen How to Compile FFmpeg on Ubuntu? It does not conflict with any libav junk from the repos. –  LordNeckbeard Nov 9 '13 at 22:28
@LordNeckbeard: Yes, thanks, did see that. Easiest is sometimes best (see my result, below). As long as Jon Severinsson is going to the trouble to help others, might as well use his work. (And with great appreciation, I do.) –  u2n Nov 11 '13 at 3:36
I suggest you rephrase a bit the "reasons" part. It seems you are implying that the assumed superiority of ffmpeg over avconv is a fact and that Ubuntu users are in trouble because the repository has broken software. This could confuse and scare some novice users. I hope you will understand my point, as you seem to agree it's better not to get «into the controversy». –  Andrea Lazzarotto Aug 18 '14 at 21:32
@Brad I keep believing it's wrong to scare new users by letting them think they have broken software and that they need to "fix" it. –  Andrea Lazzarotto Oct 19 '14 at 22:47
Hey guys, thanks for the comments. Since the bogus avconv version of ffmpeg has been removed from all the latest releases, there's nothing to uninstall anymore (and no more controversy either :^). Jon Severinsson is updating his ppa regularly so the real ffmpeg rocks on -- w/ easy install and updates. This post will serve as the update here for now. (Will do a full cleanup later.) –  u2n Oct 20 '14 at 21:24

2 Answers 2

up vote 17 down vote accepted

New day, decided to risk borking and found a method that works.

It is straightforward, though there is a danger point after removing avconv (libav-tools, in first line) when a (typical) autoremove message appears. Be sure to ignore it.

Thinking that any problems would come from incompatibilities in the support libs (codecs, filters, etc.), I did a dry run through each step and made careful note of the files affected. Turns out, this was unnecessary because all the files properly update on their own: No need to install/remove anything separately.

# Replace avconv with the real ffmpeg
#   www.askubuntu.com/a/373509/165265
sudo apt-get remove ffmpeg
sudo apt-get purge libav-tools
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:jon-severinsson/ffmpeg
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install ffmpeg
sudo apt-get install frei0r-plugins              # recommended
sudo apt-get --purge autoremove

Pretty painless, eh? To confirm, I executed these commands on a second 12.04.3 machine. AFAICT, everything works perfectly on both. (Streaming with ffmpeg | netcat as I write.)

Couple of notes: The last command, 'autoremove', was included for general cleanup, but didn't do anything. And not sure what was done in the linked post to cause all the trouble. No trace of it here.

This is going into my Ubuntu post-install script.

Much gratitude to the community. Very happy to have old new ffmpeg back. The solid feel has returned.

share|improve this answer
Thanks, this worked like a charm! :) –  Mladen B. Nov 12 '13 at 7:44
Phew. Thanks. avconv seems soo close to ffmpeg, but it seems to have some different flags. No thanks. FFMPEG works great. Only reason I can think for Ubuntu to switch is some political reason. Forget that noise. ffmpeg ftw! –  Doc Jan 2 '14 at 3:10
The sudo apt-get dist-upgrade line seems unnecessary to me for the purpose of this post. Most people who are trying to install ffmpeg probably wouldn't want to trigger a distribution upgrade as a side effect. –  cxrodgers Jul 21 '14 at 18:35
@cxrodgers, absolutely right. Fixing now, thanks. –  u2n Aug 18 '14 at 21:15
I wonder why you recommend frei0r-plugins? I don't fully get what they bring even after reading the documentation. –  Hartator Oct 30 '14 at 3:01

I have had no problem till now using the static build provided by the ffmpeg proyect. There are pointers in http://ffmpeg.org/download.html --- I used the gusari.org ones.

Download the version/build you need (either 32 or 64 bit), then put the executable in your $PATH (for example, ~/bin).

For example:

% wget http://ffmpeg.gusari.org/static/64bit/ffmpeg.static.64bit.2013-11-05.tar.gz
% tar xvzf ffmpeg.static.64bit.2013-11-05.tar.gz
% ./ffmpeg
ffmpeg version N-56828-gb5f219c Copyright (c) 2000-2013 the FFmpeg developers
built on Oct  3 2013 05:27:30 with gcc 4.6 (Debian 4.6.3-1)

Being completely static should have no problem with various Linux version (to a limit, probably the kernel should be not too old).

share|improve this answer
Thanks, Rmano. Will upvote your answer as an alternative soon as I reach the magic number. "Alternative" because, from what I've read, the very thing that makes static builds reliable -- having all the dependencies built-in -- also makes them 'heavy' (large and memory-hungry). For that reason, I was shying away from going that route in favor of the normal-weight, auto-updated version of the program. ... Think I may've got it, post upcoming... –  u2n Nov 9 '13 at 13:25
Well, although that is generally true for static executable, in this case ffmpeg do not use graphical or heavy general libraries. Obviously you are right if you end up running various copies of ffmpeg in parallel. –  Rmano Nov 9 '13 at 15:15
The accepted answer PPA route contains version 0.1 which is wayyyyyy old. You'll want to use this answer's method to get a lot of commands working. –  deadghost Apr 1 '14 at 8:38

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