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Ubuntu Linux: Watch and Play BBC / YouTube Videos With Totem Movie Player

The Totem Movie Player application is a movie player for the GNOME desktop (default on Ubuntu Linux) based on GStreamer framework and xine library, and enables you to play movies or songs. You can watch Youtube video or listen BBC streams (podcasts) with this player without installing anything else such as Flash.

Totem Movie Player is simple and easy to use player. It provides the following features:

  1. Support a variety of video and audio files.
  2. Provide a variety of zoom levels and aspect ratios, and a fullscreen view.
  3. Seek and Volume controls.
  4. A playlist.
  5. Complete keyboard navigation and much more

How to watch / listen BBC videos in the Linux?

Start Totem by visiting Applications > Sound & Video > Movie Player

Make sure Youtube and BBC content enabled. Click on Edit > Plugins:

Fig.01: The Totem Movie Player Plugins

Fig.01: The Totem Movie Player Plugins

Make sure you place a check in the box labeled 'YouTube browser' and 'BBC content viewer' > Click Close to save changes.

How do I view BBC content under Ubuntu Linux?

To see all BBC content, select BBC from the box located in upper right side of Totem. A list will be fetched for you. Double click a podcast to listen:

Fig.02: BBC Content Under Linux

Fig.02: BBC Content Under Linux

How do I view YouTube Video under Ubuntu Linux?

Simply select YouTube from the box located in upper right side of Totem. Type a search such as "Quantum of Solace James Bond" and hit [Enter] key. Totem will search YouTube.com for your keywords. It will load results in sidebar. Simply double-click a video to watch it:

Fig.03: Watching Youtube Video Using Totem

Fig.03: Watching Youtube Video Using Totem

Important keyboard shortcuts for For Totem:

Keyboard shortuctDecscription
ptoggle between play and pause
Escexit full screen mode
ftoggle full screen
htoggle display of on-screen controls
0resize window to 50% original size
1resize window to 100% original size
2resize window to 200% original size
rzoom in the video
tzoom out the video
Left-arrowskip back 15 seconds
Right-arrowskip forward 15 seconds
Shift+Left-arrowskip back 5 seconds
Shift+Right-arrowskip forward 15 seconds
Ctrl+Left-arrowskip back 3 minutes
Ctrl+Right arrowskip forward 10 minutes
Up-arrowincrease volume by 8%
Down-arrowdecrease volume by 8%
bjump back to previous chapter/movie in playlist
njump to next chapter/movie in playlist
Ctrl+Eeject the playing optical media
Ctrl+Oopen a new file
Ctrl+Lopen a new URI
F9toggle display of the playlist
mshow the DVD menu
cshow the DVD chapter menu

Command line options

To view other command line options that are available, type totem --help or read man page:
$ totem --help
$ man totem

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{ 18 comments… add one }

  • Rahul November 9, 2008, 10:47 am

    Thanks a lot

    Needy post

  • 1fastbullet November 9, 2008, 3:33 pm

    Just a note to mention that the BBC plug-in is absent from default Totem options in my 8.04 version of Ubuntu.
    On the other hand, Youtube was there and I’m looking forward to using it. Anything that might play youtube videos more reliably will be a welcome addition.

  • nixCraft November 9, 2008, 4:08 pm


    This plugin is included with 8.10 only. So you may want to upgrade your desktop system.

  • Frank Smith November 9, 2008, 7:48 pm

    On My default hardy 8.04 I have the youtube plugin but it seems to just hang when trying to play the stream.

    An error occurred:

    ffdemux_swf: Element doesn’t implement handling of this stream. Please file a bug.

    This normal ?

  • nixCraft November 9, 2008, 8:52 pm


    This is known bug for old Ubuntu version:

    you better upgrade it…

  • chika.tambun November 19, 2008, 6:56 am

    i’ve set on system >> preference >> network proxy…
    but i can’t connect to bbc server



  • lolcat5 December 6, 2008, 11:10 am

    I find that BBC radio programs played through Totem will just stop after a few minutes. Happens at any time of day, with any program.

  • staid February 12, 2009, 10:46 am

    Hey, thanks heaps for this! Was looking for a Youtube player (firefox + adobe plugin’s not working) and this is ideal. BBC content is bonus++.

  • paul June 21, 2009, 7:25 am

    BBC can not connect to the server
    please help me!!

  • chandan August 24, 2009, 9:41 am

    i am ubuntu version -10 user , i got problem in totem player that ..when i am opening any file to play then it suddenly open and closed without playing that file . ..plz send me solution of this problem.

    chandan kumar pandey

  • kashyap December 11, 2009, 1:14 pm

    can any one tell how to save youtube videos played through totem???

  • alex February 14, 2010, 3:27 am

    Totem – BBC can not connect to the server. Help anybody? Thank you!

  • bart34 February 22, 2010, 11:22 pm

    Since a fresh install of 9.10, Totem cannot connect to BBC server. It worked for me since 8.10. Youtube still works fine.

  • GDI July 9, 2010, 9:26 am

    If the Ubuntu development team can solve these video playback problems with Youtube and Hulu, etc, they will go a long way toward making Linux a viable replacement for Windows.

    • John July 10, 2010, 4:03 am

      I guess they have done just that. Ubuntu 10.04 works fine with Totem. Let’s hope the next upgrade doesn’t break it again. Thanks guys.

  • Abubakar Dangida December 16, 2010, 6:27 pm

    Am using ubuntu 10.04, BBC works fine with me but, when i try opening a video on youtube it tells me “Could not open location; you might not have permission to open the file.”. Help me out please. Thanks.

  • John December 17, 2010, 2:25 am

    Correction to my comment of February 22, 2010 – Totem worked fine with BBC 8.10 up to 10.04 . Now I can see the directory tree but cannot load files in 10.10 (NOT 9.10). Sorry about any confusion.
    Is this a licencing block as I am not in UK? I used to get messages explaining that I am not allowed some files but now I can’t get any.

  • Fred October 26, 2012, 3:27 am

    Dont work. Cant play them without Adobe player which mine wont update!! Other ideas??

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