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1.  About MPLAYER

Note: Have you known that the DJGPP version of MPLAYER supports playing of streamed internet radios ?! (needs internet connection and packet driver)

Note: Since MPLAYER DOS port doesn’t support many sound cards, try SB Live! PCI card. This card has a driver which is able to emulate SB 16. The card has also a good quality and is very inexpensive now !

2.  Project origin and history

MPLAYER is an open source GPL multimedia/audio/video/”movie” player, based on the FFMPEG codec library, originating from Linux and supporting some other platforms as well. It supports a huge amount of codecs, actually almost all except few most exotic ones, thus, most of them are proprietary (thanks to those who reversed the closed binaries :-) ), and of course the few free ones as well.

All the support is compiled into one executable (for DOS or Win32) of cca 17 MiB size (2011 versions) - this is the “full” size, so it can compress down to cca 6…8 MiB with UPX, ZIP or 7-ZIP. The size is further growing as codecs and features are being added, on the other side of course in the past it was significantly smaller, cca 10 MiB for version 1.0RC1 back in 2006.

Project started in year 2000, in 2006-Oct-23 version 1.0RC1 was released (severe “CPUID-bug”), 2007-Oct-07 version 1.0RC2 (pretty stable, Theora playing worked at the time (see Video ), no Theora encoding in MENCODER, no Dirac and “experimental” only Snow support), 1.0RC3 and 1.0RC4 also do exist, but were never announced or advertised (“forgot to release”), instead SVN versions were used. After 6 years of waiting for 1.0 , 2012-Jun-10 the developers announced release of version 1.1 (source code), so there is no and there never will be any 1.0-final version.

Supports many fileformats/”containers” and codecs, so it can play almost every audio/video file: WMV x264 xvid libavcodec faad2 faac musepack libmpeg2 liba52 mp3lib libtheora vorbis flac speex MPEG 1/2/4, ASF/WMV 1/2/3, MOV, AVI (with almost all the possible codecs), FLV, OGG/OGV Theora, HuffYUV, WebM/VP8, …).

Some packages contain a related product: MENCODER . See Video and DevelLibs for additional MENCODER and FFMPEG info.

3.  Features

  • Play audio or video files from local storage
  • Play audio or video files from internet
  • Play video from VideoCD or DVD
  • Play streamed internet radio
  • Decomposition / decompression of audio & video files


MPLAYER can play virtually any audio/video fileformat (like OGV, AVI, MPG,…) in most of existing variants. In computer terminology, the variants of multimedia fileformats are called codecs . MPLAYER supports almost all codecs internally so you don’t need any DLL libraries and external codecs, as opposite to the most of Windows players. For very exotic and obscure fileformats/codecs which support isn’t built-in you actually can use the external codecs from Windows DLL’s , however this feature is controversial among the developers (GPL compliant or not ? Useful or disturbing ?) and highly experimental, especially in DOS, where as far known nobody tested it so far. A list of all native or externally supported fileformats/codecs can be found on MPLAYER website.

Decompresion & decomposition

MPLAYER supports frame decomposition into series of images (PNG, uncompressed by default, and also, less useful, JPG), and decompression into “raw” YUV4MPEG video format, also it can output animated GIF (probably not very useful). Similarly, the sound can be extracted into a WAV file. This feature is included as “faked output driver” - specify -vo help or -ao help on the commandline to see the list of supported “drivers” - some of them “connect” to video or sound hardware, some do save into a file, “ null ” completely disables the output. When a file-based or “null” video output is specified, then no graphics / GUI support (HX GUI, VESA, CVidix) is required and MPLAYER acts like a pure commandline application - this works very well both (see below) via HX and using the DGJPP port. Extracted frames can be viewed, edited or re-merge later. This feature can also be useful for conversion from problematic format to a more comfortable / compatible / free format, later you will probably want to recompress using APEG encoder, FFMPEG, FFMPEG2THEORA or MENCODER. Another use is when testing some “buggy” video - when MPLAYER runs in pure commandline mode, you can better check the arising error messages and don’t risk “follow-up” trouble (like GPF in Ring0).

Personally I (Laaca?) use this feature for striping the audio stream from youtube videos for other editation in sound editors. Most often striping the songs from feary tales.

4.  Project pages

Some DJGPP ports by Michael Kostylev , including MPLAYER 1.0RC2 , MPLAYER SVN 2008 versions, FFMPEG2THEORA 0.19 (all very obsolete now), and later MPLAYER versions (download doesn’t work ???). Unfortunately, Michael ’s pages are often offline so you maybe rather use this unofficial mirror: (latest version of MPLAYER is 2008-Oct, of FFMPEG 2009-Jan).

5.  MPLAYER usable in DOS ?

End of 2006, after 1.0RC1 release, the idea came up to use the Win32 port (starting from commandline, using low-level GUI API only) in DOS with help of HX-DOS extender, but it didn’t work. In begin of 2007, new fixed Win32 versions compiled from SVN came up, and on 2007–03–10, MPLAYER was found to WORK on DOS via HX using the -vo gl driver. The stability and performance however were bad, and although Japheth did put some efforts into getting it better, it remained suboptimal, and even worse, the 1.0RC2 version stopped working with HX. Fortunately, on 2007–10–23, Michael Kostylev released a DJGPP port, very buggy at the beginning, but fixed soon, later very good versions (from 2008) became available. According to Mik ’s history document ( , his port started already in 2007 March, and 2007-Mar-09 a “public release” happened, but nobody noticed at that time. ;-) Thanks to this port, the previous HX approach became obsolete, but since end of 2008, no updates are available anymore. End of 2009, Sherpya ’s Win32 binaries got “DOS support” by enabling -vo sdl driver, and in 2013 versions, even -vo sdl and -vo directx can can be used.

There are 5 “era” ’s of MPLAYER usage with “true” video output in DOS:

  • Old Win32 support using -vo gl - very slow (nobody ever found out why) and only 2007 versions, historical and now useless
  • Use the old DGJPP port by Mik - fast, standalone except DPMI host, 2008 versions, no further updates, bad Theora and no WebM/VP8, TAK and OPUS support
  • Win32 support using -vo sdl - fast, problems with big videos, 2010 versions
  • Use the new DGJPP port by Khusraw - supports some PCI sound hardware, WebM/VP8 supported, Theora broken (?), 2011 versions
  • New Win32 versions from 2013 - both -vo sdl and -vo directx can work, there are useless 2 missing imports and problems with big videos and fullscreen (HX GUI bug)

All variants have several issues common:

  • In DOS only one screen output “channel” is available. This is a different situation compared to other platforms which have more channels / “windows” . Problem is that MPLAYER expects the output to flow into 2 separate “windows” , one for video output, second one for its text messages, and neither the DOS port addresses this problem, nor HX (as of 2.17) is able to handle it well. Because of that in DOS it is a good idea to redirect the messages into a file or, even better, into fake device using the > NUL redirection, or to disable the output messages at all by -really-quiet option, otherwise both will get messed into same screen so it looks ugly and can even affect performance or reliability.
  • MPLAYER (except Khusraw ’s binaries) doesn’t support any PCI soundcard (having built-in or loadable drivers) like f.e. Mpxplay or (very limitedly) QuickView . It fully relies on “legacy” ISA soundcards compatibility. Because of that you can expect traditional problems (total silence) with on-board chips and PCI souncards. More info on SoundCardChip page. However we expect that in future in HX-DOS will have some AC97 driver which will enable sound for some modern integrated or PCI sound cards, making the Win32 port more interesting again.
  • Crashes of MPLAYER, preferably on old CPU’s. Reasons can be:
    • Page faults (most likely bugs in decoding process, no longer that frequent, can be CPU independent, in common code or multiple or all code branches, or CPU dependent, obviously, the “older” branches (MMX, generic) are less tested and thus more vulnerable than the “modern” SSE2 and above ones.
    • Illegal instructions. This is more a problem, it can arise from bad CPU detection, or more likely unconditional execution of “modern” instructions (various binaries using CMOV instruction were observed, needing at least Pentium 3), also “pollution” of code branches by higher instructions than intended (there were binaries around using the PINSR (SSE instruction) in MMX code branch, crashing on Pentium 1 then).
To debug such crashes, it is a good idea (for Win32 version via HX) to set SET DKRNL32=32 preventing MPLAYER (with help of DKRNL32) to catch them and output useless bug reporting hints specific to Linux, and get more useful crash reports from HDPMI32 (check whether the crash comes from MPLAYER at all, it can be some of the HX DLL’s too). Also you can try to specify an alternative codec implementation (see below).
  • Big videos - need considerable more CPU performance to decode and transfer to the screen. May not fit on screen, zooming down may be possible but costs further performance, or not work in some cases (-fs does not work with -vo sdl in 2010 versions, see below).
  • MPLAYER is not that much optimized for efficiency on slower systems as QV, also the HX’s Win32 emulation brings “by design” a small slowdown, you need at least cca 500 MHz P3 to play in real-time (depends much from resolution, codec used, etc.). Fortunately, on insufficient CPU’s it still plays intactly, just slowly, while for example VLC (on non-DOS systems) completely trashes the video in such cases. For videos to play faster on slower machines, the option -framedrop may be used. Also you should activate the MTRR hack using VESAMTRR from HX package on CPU’s supporting it.

6.  Specific info for the Win32 port on HX

6.1  Versions available or tested

Some historical 2007 versions verified to work (slowly) via HX in DOS:

  • “ Mar 06, 2007 ”, “  MPlayer Sherpya-SVN-r22472–4.1.2 © 2000–2007 MPlayer Team ”
  • “ May 29, 2007 ”, “  MPlayer Sherpya-SVN-r23404–4.2.0 © 2000–2007 MPlayer Team ”

Some 2010 versions working:

  • “MPlayer-rtm-svn-31878.7z” 6′660′700 2010–07–31 2010–08–01 MPlayer Sherpya-SVN-r31878–4.2.5 © 2000–2010 MPlayer Team

Some 2013 versions working:

  • “MPlayer-generic-r36169+g2844ea8″ “mplayer.exe” 21′718′016 2013–04–11 04:37 “MPlayer sherpya-r36169+g2844ea8–4.6″
  • See BTTR forum…id=12261

6.2  Requirements and syntax

Requires HX-DOS Extender 2.17 (2.16 exposes ignorable missing imports, experimental support of 2007 versions since 2.11 and 2.11-pre) with HX GUI and some support files and DLL’s , for 2010–08 versions of MPLAYER and HX:

  • DADVAPI.DLL DCIMAN32.DLL DDDRAW.DLL DGDI32.DLL DKRNL32.DLL DUSER32.DLL OLE32.DLL SB16.DLL (even if no compatible card present or sound not used) SHELL32.DLL VESA32.DLL WINMM.DLL WS2_32.DLL WSOCK32.DLL (dummy version also good enough ???)
  • CRTDLL.DLL GLU32.DLL OPENGL32.DLL MSVCRT.DLL (bad, ReactOS versions still don’t work)

See “External files” in HXDOScomplists#toc13 .

Starts from commandline. Usage (assuming executable name MP.EXE (patching with PESTUB or having HXLDR32 installed is not a good idea here - see below about “-g” ) :

DPMILD32 -g MP -vo sdl MYVIDEO.OGV -really-quiet

“ -g ” is the “force-GUI” switch for HX / DPMILD32 (running without it or using PESTUB or HXLDR32 for “direct” start can work or not, nonrecommended)

“ -vo sdl ” selects the SDL video “driver” (SDL.DLL file is NOT needed, SDL code included in the MPLAYER binary in 2010 versions)

“ -really-quiet ” or “ > NUL ” is a disposal against disturbing text messages. Note: make sure to write “NUL” and not “NULL” (DOS “faked device providing data vanish” has one L only, while MLAYER’s audio or video “driver” with this functionality has 2 L ’s).

Historical “-vo gl” support:

“ -vo gl ” selects the OpenGL video “driver” (SDL not involved / SDL.DLL not required). MPLAYER itself always could use also other video outputs but OpenGL was the only working “true” video output in HX-DOS emulation in 2007 versions (they didn’t support SDL).

If you don’t hear any sound you can try to explicitly specify the -ao win32 audio output but it is not usually needed as this is the default setting.

6.3  Video size: “fullscreen vs unfullscreen”

Maybe you could ask: “Well, but which video resolution will be used ?”

For Win32 port, it is specified in one file in HX-DOS distribution, in HXGUIHLP.INI . There you can specify the used video mode (640×480×16bpp is the minimum) and few other settings. For DGJPP port, 640×480 is the default.

An issue is the “fullscreen vs unfullscreen”. MPLAYER itself prefers fullscreen using hardware scaling, but availability of that as well as behavior in this area are very dependent from the platform and video “driver” selected. Switch -fs selects fullscreen. In 2007 versions using -vo gl it was optional, both fullscreen and unfullscreen did work (some problems with unfullscreen reported ???), same for 2008 DGJPP versions (both work well), note that fullscreen is slower - can be significantly slower, since scaling is done by software in this case, while QV (see Mediaplayers ) and players on non-DOS systems usually use hardware scaling. Fullscreen does NOT work this way for the 2010 versions using -vo sdl , however you can specify -zoom (enable software scaling) and -x and -y (specify screen size, not automatically “peeked” when using SDL ???) followed by X and Y size, values can be equal or smaller than the used screen resolution, this way you can try to zoom up a small video as well as zoom down a too big one, it may work well or not, some mysteries left.

7.  Specific info for DJGPP version

7.1  Features

It is a native port for DOS so it works much better (no DLL’s needed) and faster than (previous 2007) HX emulation. Sound output is done (in Mik ’s public versions) by Allegro library, so it supports all “important” ISA soundcards standards, thus only very old ones (SB16, SBPro, Gravis), suboptimal, an “emulation driver” could help for a few PCI cards (SB 512 / Live24) - so the problem with most integrated and PCI soundcards remains.

A list of supported features is/was available at the official site of the DJGPP port. Pretty all codecs and fileformats are enabled (Theora support inferior, WebM/VP8 didn’t exist at that time, missdetected as “broken MP3″), as well as support of DVD and network. Among other, it’s the only real-time DVD player for DOS by now, and can be used to play streamed internet radio sound (but ISA cards only).

7.2  Video output

Very interesting is the video output (Allegro is not used). You have two choices:

  • You use the default VESA output - it is a standard way for DOS programs with all positives and negatives. The good thing is that it works on every video cards without need of any drivers, the bad thing is that in some recent cards the video BIOS is very problematic, some even buggy or incomplete so some important videomodes are missing. Second bad thing is that it doesn’t use any hardware acceleration of your card.
  • Or use the CVidix output. It is a graphics library which will access your videocard NATIVELY, without needing the video BIOS. It is almost unique feature in DOS world. The main advantage is the speed. It just beats the VESA output and allows you to watch virtually any video on Pentium with 250 MHz absolutely smoothly. The bad thing is that it doesn’t work on all videocards. F.e. it doesn’t work on GeForce 4 and newer (yet). Note that CVidix driver can not set the videomode itself. You have to do it manualy by a .BAT file:
REM set mode
REM start MPLAYER with all parameters
MP %1 %2 %3 %4 %5 %6 %7 %8 %9
REM return into text mode
Better: -vesa:vidix

8.  Usage examples

Now I describe some typical cases of using MPLAYER. For Win32 port via HX the additional content as mentioned above must be added into the commandline. Following are some examples of .BAT files which sets the necessary switches about stream input and video and sound output:

REM playing audio/video file
REM this one needs at least 2010 version of MPLAYER
REM official extension is "webm" but we have only 3 letters in DOS
MP EXAMPLE.WEM -really-quiet

REM playing video file having sound
REM we have no ISA card so we can disable decoding of sound
MP video.avi -ac null > NUL

REM playing a audio/video file from internet

REM playing a streamed internet radio: radio Echo Moskvy (Russian)

REM playing a streamed internet radio: radio Ultra (Russian)

REM playing a DVD
REM supposing that we have our DVD drive on letter F:
REM and want to play the first track
MP -zoom -dvd-device F: dvd://%1 > NUL

REM playing a DVD
REM here we prefer to just select the .VOB file by name:
MP F:\video_ts\vts_01_1.vob > NUL

REM playing a film with subtitles
MP titanic.avi -sub > NUL

REM decompose into frames
REM challenges filesystem's limits
REM needs very much space and directory will be very long
REM can cause very slow access or trouble
MP -vo png -ac null JURAPARK.MPG

REM uncompress and split into audio and video stream
REM needs very much space
REM challenges filesystem's defragmentation prevention strategy
REM or exposes lack of thereof, as well as maximal file size
REM YUV4MPEG file will be always "420" format (subsampled by factor
REM 2 both horizontally and vertically) even if input is not subsampled
REM output video file name is always "STREAM.YUV" and posible previous
REM file is replaced, audio file name is fixed to "AUDIODUM.WAV"
REM note the switch is "-ao pcm" rather than "-ao wav" but
REM file is WAV rather than raw PCM audio nevertheless
MP -vo yuv4mpeg -ao pcm JURAPARK.MPG

For advanced options look at manual of MPLAYER.

For subtitles you have to prepare the TTF font which contains your language set and place it into right directory. Lets assume that you have the MPLAYER.EXE in C:\MPLAYER directory. You have to create and provide following subdirectories and files:


Then you have to set the environment variable DJDIR :


This settings will work but you can additionally specify the codepage set and other settings. To do it you have to edit the C:\MPLAYER\MPLAYER\CONFIG file. Add following lines:

#character set
subcp = cp1250
#font size
subfont-text-scale = 4

9.  Few hints

9.1  Downloading videos from YouTube:

(posts deleted)

9.2  Multiple decoders

For some audio and video codecs there are multiple decoder implementations included in the binary. One of them is the default, but there are commandline switches -vc and -ac to pick another one (use -vc help or -ac help to get the list). This way one can try to fix codec problems like crashes, poor performance, and garbage or bad quality output. Also one can specify -vc null or -ac null to completely suppress decoding of a stream to speed up processing of the other one (may not work for all containers).

9.3  Filters

Can you use the filters? MPLAYER has lots of possibilities for advanced video processing. For list of them just write MPLAYER -vf help .

9.4  Removing artifacts when playing a DVD

When playing DVDs you often see ugly image artifacts caused by video interlacing. To remove them use: MPLAYER -vf deinterlace -zoom -dvd-device F: dvd://%1

10.  See also

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Page last modified on April 29, 2013, at 08:41 AM