Ubuntu – How to know if nvidia vdpau is working for mplayer/vlc/totem

nvidiavideo player

I have a laptop with a discrete Nvidia graphics card .

How can I know if my video player be it mplayer or vlc or totem is using nvidia VDPAU or not?
For example, running mplayer2 with the script below, I get this message:

Failed to open VDPAU backend libvdpau_nvidia.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

But I do have such file in the system:

-rw-r--r-- 1 root root 1800952 2011-11-23 07:39 /usr/lib/nvidia-current/vdpau/libvdpau_nvidia.so.290.10

Script to find out codec for a file:

#Script to automatically find out which codec a file is using and determine whether or not to use VDPAU.

#if no input display usage
if [ -z "$1" ]; then
    echo usage: $0 /path/to/file

#remember to change this to the path of your mplayer binary
cd $mplayerlocation

#kinda a lame way to do it, but bring up mplayer and pipe the output to a temporary file, then read which codec the file is
./mplayer -identify -vo vdpau $1 > /tmp/VIDEOCODEC &
sleep 0.5
killall mplayer
videocodec=`cat /tmp/VIDEOCODEC | grep ID_VIDEO_CODEC | cut -c 16-25`

echo "VIDEO CODEC: $videocodec"

if [ $videocodec = "ffh264" ]; then
    echo \n Playing $1 with $codec codec \n
    ./mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau $1


if [ $videocodec = "ffmpeg2" ]; then
    echo \n Playing $1 with $codec codec \n
    ./mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffmpeg12vdpau $1


if [ $videocodec = "ffwmv3" ]; then
    echo \n Playing $1 with $codec codec \n
    ./mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffwmv3vdpau $1


#VC1 is not supported on most gpus
#uncomment if it is supported on your gpu
#if [ $videocodec = "ffvc1" ]; then
#   codec='VC1'
#   echo \n Playing $1 with $codec codec \n
#   ./mplayer -vo vdpau -vc ffvc1vdpau $1
#   exit

#if it isnt one of those it is not supported by vdpau
#so we should play without vdpau
./mplayer $1

EDIT: apparently it can't find the library, not even when calling it via bumblebee's v3 optirun, although the library is there:

optirun vdpauinfo 
display: :0.0   screen: 0
Failed to open VDPAU backend libvdpau_nvidia.so: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory
Error creating VDPAU device: 1
avilella@magneto:~$ locate libvdpau_nvidia.so | xargs ls
/usr/lib/nvidia-current/vdpau/libvdpau_nvidia.so  /usr/lib/nvidia-current/vdpau/libvdpau_nvidia.so.1  /usr/lib/nvidia-current/vdpau/libvdpau_nvidia.so.290.10

EDIT2: I tried again with Ubuntu 12.04 and I still can't get it to work.

Best Answer

To address your question & a bit on enabling gpu decoding with mplayer or vlc.


The easiest way to see if you are getting gpu decoding thru vdpau is to do what you've done - run mplayer from a terminal. Atm what you've shown indicates you're not getting it.

The requisites for mplayer are:

mplayer or mplayer 2

nvidia-current or the nvidia drivers directly from nvidia, the nvidia-current package will do.


Make sure you've meet the above, then run the command you did before, though make sure the video is h.264

Ex. of terminal output, removed irrelevant lines

$ mplayer  -vo vdpau -vc ffh264vdpau /home/doug/Videos/sintel.mp4 
MPlayer2 UNKNOWN (C) 2000-2011 MPlayer Team
Playing /home/doug/Videos/sintel.mp4.
Detected file format: QuickTime/MPEG-4/Motion JPEG 2000 format (libavformat)
[lavf] stream 0: video (h264), -vid 0
[lavf] stream 1: audio (aac), -aid 0, -alang und
VIDEO:  [H264]  1280x546  24bpp  24.000 fps  1597.2 kbps (195.0 kbyte/s)
Forced video codec: ffh264vdpau
Opening video decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg's libavcodec codec family
Selected video codec: [ffh264vdpau] vfm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg H.264 (VDPAU))
VO: [vdpau] 1280x546 => 1280x546 H.264 VDPAU acceleration 
[vdpau] Got display refresh rate 59.991 Hz.

If you do support/get vdpau thru mplayer you can set a vc= line in ~/.mplayer/config to auto check & use the appropriate ffvdpau* decoder for supported codecs

Another way to check is to use vdpauinfo. The package is only available in 12.04 but can be installed in 11.10. To do so go here, download & install with gdebi, though software center may install for you if you wish to try


To use open a terminal & run vdpauinfo

Ex. of some of the output of vdpauinfo on a laptop with basic vdpau support

$ vdpauinfo
display: :0   screen: 0
API version: 1
Information string: NVIDIA VDPAU Driver Shared Library  280.13  Wed Jul 27 17:18:15 PDT 2011

Video surface:

name   width height types
420     4096  4096  NV12 YV12 
422     4096  4096  UYVY YUYV 

Decoder capabilities:

name               level macbs width height
MPEG1                 0  8192  2048  2048
MPEG2_SIMPLE          3  8192  2048  2048
MPEG2_MAIN            3  8192  2048  2048
H264_MAIN            41  8192  2048  2048
H264_HIGH            41  8192  2048  2048
VC1_SIMPLE            1  8190  2048  2048
VC1_MAIN              2  8190  2048  2048
VC1_ADVANCED          4  8190  2048  2048


If you have nvidia hardware & can't or don't have vdpau support then don't bother with vlc which uses vaapi & is tricker to enable. Additionally the performance of vaapi on nvidia is very much hardware dependent. I've enabled here but don't use, ffmpeg multi-thread is better with my hardware in vlc.

This is just the basics of getting vaapi & enabling in vlc. For specifics you'd need to search & or ask how .

The requisites for vlc are:

vlc & ffmpeg shared libs that have vaapi support, 11.10 is good there.

libva1, also install libva-x11-1 vainfo


Your biggest issue may be that ubuntu's versions of libva* & vdpau-va-driver aren't new enough, you'll need to get further advice there. In 12.04 they are adequate

Running vainfo in a terminal should tell you where you stand

Ex. here of vainfo

$ vainfo
libva: libva version 0.32.0
Xlib:  extension "XFree86-DRI" missing on display ":0.0".
libva: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/nvidia_drv_video.so
libva: va_openDriver() returns 0
vainfo: VA API version: 0.32
vainfo: Driver version: Splitted-Desktop Systems VDPAU backend for VA-API - 0.7.3
vainfo: Supported profile and entrypoints
  VAProfileMPEG2Simple            : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileMPEG2Main              : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileH264Main               : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileH264High               : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileVC1Simple              : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileVC1Main                : VAEntrypointVLD
  VAProfileVC1Advanced            : VAEntrypointVLD

To enable gpu decoding in vlc thru vaapi & ffmpeg, two ways

From a terminal, no need to set in preferences

vlc --ffmpeg-hw /path/to/supported/video/name

To set in vlc's gui, the prior posts are incorrect as to how, actual way is shown in screen

Tools > Preferences > Input/Codecs > check the box, reading up on "Skip H.264 in-loop deblocking filter" may prove worthwhile

enter image description here

Ex. from terminal of vlc gpu decoding thru vaapi, using the repo vlc in 12.04 though 1.2/1.3/2.0 are preferred versions, a ppa for 2.0 should be available if desired

vlc --ffmpeg-hw '/home/doug/Videos/sintel.mp4' 
VLC media player 1.1.13 The Luggage (revision exported)
clipped .....

libva: libva version 0.32.0
Xlib:  extension "XFree86-DRI" missing on display ":1".
libva: va_getDriverName() returns 0
libva: Trying to open /usr/lib/dri/nvidia_drv_video.so
libva: va_openDriver() returns 0
[0x863468c] avcodec decoder: Using VA API version 0.32 for hardware decoding.
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