Why Ubuntu can't play MP3 files by default? I was going to ask a bit more detailed question but I won't. It's just ridiculous.

  • 4
    THIS is ridiculous : mp3licensing.com/help/developers.html
    – eri0o
    May 29, 2016 at 21:10
  • 1
    This is like patenting 2+2=4. I have no more questions. I don't expect any answer anymore. This is enough. I'm going to boycott mp3.
    – pvc
    May 29, 2016 at 21:15
  • 6
    Good news a lot of the patents run out in 2017. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MP3 May 29, 2016 at 21:31
  • 1
    yay! A win for the FOSS community! ('o')/
    – carreter
    May 29, 2016 at 21:44
  • The only free audio formats I know are Ogg and FLAC, but there should be more.
    – eri0o
    May 29, 2016 at 21:49

2 Answers 2


You can see why in this article of the community wiki: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/RestrictedFormats

The introduction of the article gives the logic behind this decision:

Ubuntu strives to make all of the most important software available to its users automatically. However patent and copyright restrictions (see Ubuntu License Policy) complicate distribution of software to support non-free formats...

Ubuntu’s commitment to only include completely free software by default means that proprietary media formats are not configured “out of the box”. See Ubuntu’s Free Software Philosophy and the Free Formats page for a more comprehensive discussion of these issues.


MP3 is not a free media format, which creates licensing issues and conflicts with the Free Software Philosophy of ubuntu and linux in general.

  • 2
    That's insane. I've created my own MP3 encoder/decoder as one of my programming assignments at my university and no one has ever told me that it is illegal.
    – pvc
    May 29, 2016 at 21:22
  • @pvc See US patent 5,703,999 which doesn't expire until December 30, 2017 (as well as several others). May 29, 2016 at 22:25

Please search for Gstreamer at Software Centre and you will find some Gstreamer pluggins and codecs already installed but some are still not installed at all.These are often called "Ugly" packages. Please install the remaining uninstalled one and you will be fine.

Using Ubuntu 18.04.1 Budgie Desktop Environment

Thank You


  • Welcome to Ask Ubuntu! You may want to elaborate on the names of the plugins to install.
    – user595510
    Sep 17, 2018 at 22:23
  • Edited see the image all of same names "Gstreamer Multimedia Codecs"
    – Datta
    Sep 20, 2018 at 23:15

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