Stop traffic: VLC has been updated
A new version of VLC has been released — and, yes, it finally includes VLC Chromecast support!
VLC 3.0 is the latest stable update to the hugely popular open source video player and, accordingly, is packed full of changes.
Thanks to the beauty of open source software the bulk of the improvements will benefit everyone, whether on Linux, Windows, or macOS, or running the mobile app on Android, Chrome OS or iOS.
Wondering what’s new in VLC 3.0? So was I, so I scoured to change log to pull out the five most notable changes on offer.
The 5 Coolest Things in VLC 3.0
1. VLC Chromecast Support – at last!
As you’d expect the feature lets you cast video and audio files from your PC or laptop direct to a Chromecast, be it connected to a TV or a speaker.
While VLC Chromecast support isn’t as user-friendly as I’d like it be — you won’t, for example, see a Chromecast icon appear in the toolbar when available — it is still straight forward and easy to use.
In VLC 3.0 you’ll find a new option listed in the Playback menu called “Renderer”. In this menu you’ll see local Google Cast enabled devices that are available on your network, and you can quickly select one to stream content to.
To send video to a Chromecast with VLC you will, obviously, need to make sure you’re connected to the same network as a compatible Google Cast device. Then open the video you want to cast and go to thePlayback > Output Renderers option in the toolbar.
The sub-menu will then quickly ‘scan’ your network and list any available Chromecast or Google Cast devices if finds. Finally, to begin streaming a video to Chromecast from VLC just select your device from the list. VLC will connect and begin to stream your video automatically.
It’s worth nothing that you won’t see any obvious indication that you’re casting in VLC itself (though player controls and volume will continue to work).
Although the feature isn’t perfect it offers up an alternative to tools like MKChromecast, which have let you cast video from Ubuntu to Chromecast for a while.
2. VLC 3.0 is an LTS release
According to the VLC 3.0 change log the 3.x series will serve as the basis of a long-term support branch maintained on a”best-effort basis”.
Not a “feature” feature as such, I know, but it’s still something of a boon, especially if you’re not a fan of endless software updates.
Security fixes will continue to pushed out and published to the 3.x series going forward, though it’s unlikely that any major new features or interface changes will be added. This makes sense, and it will allow developers to be more adventurous in VLC 4, which is widely expected to feature a major UI redesign.
As part of its LTS status VLC 3.0 will als be the ‘last working version of the app for quite a few systems, including Windows XP, Vista, macOS, macOS versions prior to 10.10, and outdated versions of Android and iOS.
3. VLC 3.0 Supports Network Browsing
If you tend to store oodles of media files, movies and music on a server or remote file system for access from other devices, this update will be well worth upgrading to.
VLC 3.0 adds support for network browsing of files on remote filesystems, such as those on SMB, FTP, SFTP, and so on.
And, helpfully for sFTP connections in particular, VLC now supports sftp username and passwords options in URL input and key authentication.
4. It Supports Adaptive Streaming
‘Adaptive streaming’ doesn’t sound very exciting, but the addition of it in VLC 3.0 is pretty interesting for fans of open standards
Often referred to as ‘next-generation video compression’, Dynamic Adaptive Streaming over HTTP (also known as DASH) is an snowballing standard for HTTP streaming that, to quote a paper written on it, “enables segmented progressive download by exploiting existing Internet infrastructure”.
Like I said: it doesn’t sound exciting.
But DASH support in VLC 3.0 means you’ll be able to stream high quality video more smoothly, with less buffering, and fewer dropouts while also making more efficient use of bandwidth.
As DASH is developed as an open standard that anyone can use it’s also codec-agnostic, working with multiple different media file types (unlike the Apple equivalent HLS).
For a bit more background on the who, how and whys of DASH streaming check out this article on deCast.com.
5. It uses OpenGL on Linux for Smooth 4K Playback
VLC has supported OpenGL for a long time, but it’s only in VLC 3.0 that the player now OpenGL by default on Linux, instead of Xvideo as the default video output.
Hardware accelerated video decoding is also enabled on all platforms, for H264 & H265 content allowing you to play back 4K 60fps video (and theoretically even 8K video) with minimal impact to your CPU.
If you do notice any hiccups with video performance from these new settings you can switch back to Xvideo (or any other supported video output source) through the preferences > video page.
Other Changes in VLC 3.0
Befitting of a major update there are plenty of other notable changes in VLC 3 that you may want to know about. These include:
- Support for even more video formats
- Initial support for Wayland (including a screen capture plugin)
- Videos can be started paused on the first frame
- Support for HDR video
- Support for 360-degree video and audio
- Auto-detection of external audio tracks (e.g, ac3, m4a, aac, etc)
- Support for “ambisonic” audio
- Support HDMI pass-through for Audio HD codecs, like E-AC3, TrueHD or DTS-HD
- Live adjustments to subtitle sizing
- HDMI/SPDIF pass-through support for WASAP
- Stereo option added to headphones mode
- GStreamer improvements
And a whole lot more.
Install VLC 3.0 On Ubuntu & Other Linux Distros
You can download VLC for all platforms from the official Videolan website.
To install VLC 3.0 on Ubuntu you’ll need to use compile it from source, use a third-party PPA, or wait for the Flatpak and Snap apps to be updated.
To upgrade to or install VLC 3.0 on Ubuntu and other Linux distributions you can use the Flatpak or Snap version of VLC; download the source code from the VLC website; or keep an eye out for a VLC PPA on Launchpad.
So far only the VLC Daily Builds PPA seems to be offering the latest builds, but as it is a daily builds PPA it is not stable or recommended for everyday use.
Ubuntu 18.04 LTS will include VLC 3.0 in the repo, ready to install out of the box.