Elementary OS

Fixing VLC choppy playback in Elementary OS

I recently experienced some trouble with VLC and heavy mp4 files; although “normal” HD files would play fine, VLC would not play ball with my GPU when playing some heavy 1080p mp4 files. Here’s how I fixed it on my Samsung Ativ Book 9 Lite.

I am using Elementary OS Luna and the ATI Radeon driver from Jockey (the post-release update from the “Additional Drivers”). The FOSS driver for my GPU (ATI Radeon HD 8250) does not work well for now, so I use the proprietary driver until the FOSS driver is fixed.

In VLC, I checked the “Use GPU accelerated decoding” box in the Input & Codec settings, but 1080p mp4 files still failed to play properly. I searched and found a solution that worked for me in an AskUbuntu page. So apparently, installing the proprietary GPU driver and ticking a box in VLC is not enough to make VLC use the GPU. You also have to install a bit of software blob so that VLC can use the GPU for decoding. Weird.

Anyway, I installed these packages (please note that these commands worked for me but might not for you, please make sure you understand them before copying/pasting in your terminal):

To check that everything worked and that VLC is able to pick up your GPU, use the vainfo command. My output looks like this:

I had no problem ever since with VLC and large H264 files, it works like a charm again, and playback is silky smooth. I really wish I could have the same experience with the FOSS driver, but unfortunately the nice people that make the Linux kernel have not picked on it yet.

N.B.: This solution works with the 3.11.0-26-generic kernel. I tried the 3.13 kernel but my laptop boots to tty. Not funny.