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FFmpeg is a versatile tool to encode and decode a multitude of video and audio formats. x264 encodes high-quality H.264 video.

Choose your Ubuntu
0.The instructions on the page are for Ubuntu Natty Narwhal 11.04 and Ubuntu Maverick Meerkat 10.10. Separate instructions are also available for older, supported releases:
Install FFmpeg and x264 on Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 LTS
Install FFmpeg and x264 on Ubuntu Hardy Heron 8.04 LTS
Retired Guides: Ubuntu Karmic Koala 9.10 Ubuntu Jaunty Jackalope 9.04, Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex 8.10, Ubuntu Dapper Drake 6.06 LTS

Install the Dependencies
1. Uninstall x264, libx264-dev, and ffmpeg if they are already installed. Open a terminal and run the following (you can usually paste into a terminal with shift+ctrl+v). Copy and paste the whole code box for each step.
Code:
sudo apt-get remove ffmpeg x264 libx264-dev
2. Get all of the packages you will need to install FFmpeg and x264 (you may need to enable the Universe and Multiverse repositories):
Code:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential checkinstall git checkinstall libfaac-dev \
libjack-jackd2-dev libmp3lame-dev libopencore-amrnb-dev libopencore-amrwb-dev \
libsdl1.2-dev libtheora-dev libva-dev libvdpau-dev libvorbis-dev libx11-dev \
libxfixes-dev libxvidcore-dev texi2html yasm zlib1g-dev

Install x264
3. Get the current source files, compile, and install x264.
Code:
cd
git clone git://git.videolan.org/x264
cd x264
./configure –enable-static
make
sudo checkinstall –pkgname=x264 –pkgversion=”3:$(./version.sh | \
awk -F'[” ]’ ‘/POINT/{print $4″+git”$5}’)” –backup=no –deldoc=yes \
–fstrans=no –default

Install libvpx (optional)
4. This is used to encode VP8 video. If you follow this step, add –enable-libvpx to the FFmpeg ./configure line in step 5.
Code:
sudo apt-get remove libvpx-dev
cd
git clone git://review.webmproject.org/libvpx
cd libvpx
./configure
make
sudo checkinstall –pkgname=libvpx –pkgversion=”1:$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M)-git” –backup=no \
–deldoc=yes –fstrans=no –default

Install FFmpeg
5. Get the most current source files, compile, and install FFmpeg.
Code:
cd
git clone git://git.videolan.org/ffmpeg
cd ffmpeg
./configure –enable-gpl –enable-libfaac –enable-libmp3lame –enable-libopencore-amrnb \
–enable-libopencore-amrwb –enable-libtheora –enable-libvorbis –enable-libx264 \
–enable-libxvid –enable-nonfree –enable-postproc –enable-version3 –enable-x11grab
make
sudo checkinstall –pkgname=ffmpeg –pkgversion=”5:$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M)-git” –backup=no \
–deldoc=yes –fstrans=no –default
hash x264 ffmpeg ffplay ffprobe

Install qt-faststart (optional)
6. This is a useful tool if you’re showing your H.264 MP4 videos on the web. It relocates some data in the video to allow playback to begin before the file is completely downloaded. Usage: qt-faststart input.mp4 output.mp4.
Code:
cd ~/ffmpeg
make tools/qt-faststart
sudo checkinstall –pkgname=qt-faststart –pkgversion=”$(date +%Y%m%d%H%M)-git” –backup=no \
–deldoc=yes –fstrans=no –default install -D -m755 tools/qt-faststart \
/usr/local/bin/qt-faststart

Adding lavf support to x264 (optional)
7. This allows x264 to accept just about any input that FFmpeg can handle and is useful if you want to directly use x264.
Code:
cd ~/x264
make distclean
./configure –enable-static
make
sudo checkinstall –pkgname=x264 –pkgversion=”3:$(./version.sh | \
awk -F'[” ]’ ‘/POINT/{print $4″+git”$5}’)” –backup=no –deldoc=yes \
–fstrans=no –default
That’s it for installation. You can keep the x264, libvpx, and ffmpeg directories in your home directory if you plan on updating later. See Updating FFmpeg and x264 below for more details.

Using FFmpeg and x264
The easiest method for high quality video encoding is by using the libx264 presets. See x264 –fullhelp for more info on these options.

One-pass CRF (Constant Rate Factor) using the slow preset. One-pass CRF is good for general encoding and is what I use most often. Adjust -crf to change the quality. Lower numbers mean higher quality and a larger output file size. A sane range is 18 to 28.
Code:
ffmpeg -i input -acodec libfaac -aq 100 -vcodec libx264 -preset slow -crf 22 \
-threads 0 output.mp4
One-pass CRF (Constant Rate Factor) using the medium preset, animation tuning, baseline profile, and level 3.0:
Code:
ffmpeg -i input -acodec libfaac -aq 100 -vcodec libx264 -preset medium \
-tune animation -profile baseline -level 3.0 -crf 20 -threads 0 output.mp4
Two-Pass encode using the fast preset. Two-pass encoding is usually used when you want a specific output file size.
Code:
ffmpeg -i input -pass 1 -vcodec libx264 -preset fast -b 512k -threads 0 \
-f mp4 -an -y /dev/null && ffmpeg -i input.avi -pass 2 -acodec libfaac -ab 128k \
-ac 2 -vcodec libx264 -preset fast -b 512k -threads 0 output.mp4

Updating FFmpeg and x264
Development of FFmpeg and x264 is active and an occasional update can give you new features and bug fixes. First, remove some packages and then update the dependencies:
Code:
sudo apt-get remove ffmpeg x264 libx264-dev libvpx-dev
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install build-essential git checkinstall yasm texi2html \
libfaac-dev libjack-jackd2-dev libmp3lame-dev libopencore-amrnb-dev \
libopencore-amrwb-dev libsdl1.2-dev libtheora-dev libva-dev libvdpau-dev \
libvorbis-dev libx11-dev libxfixes-dev libxvidcore-dev zlib1g-dev
Update x264:
Code:
cd ~/x264
make distclean
git pull
Now compile x264 as shown earlier in the guide starting with the x264 ./configure line. Update libvpx:
Code:
cd ~/libvpx
make clean
git pull
Now compile libvpx as shown earlier in the guide starting with the libvpx ./configure line. Update FFmpeg:
Code:
cd ~/ffmpeg
make distclean
git pull
Finish the installation starting with the FFmpeg ./configure line.

Reverting Changes Made by This Guide
To remove FFmpeg/x264 and other packages added for this guide:
Code:
sudo apt-get autoremove x264 ffmpeg qt-faststart build-essential git checkinstall \
yasm texi2html libfaac-dev libjack-jackd2-dev libmp3lame-dev libsdl1.2-dev \
libtheora-dev libva-dev libvdpau-dev libvorbis-dev libvpx libx11-dev libxfixes-dev \
libxvidcore-dev zlib1g-dev
Lastly, delete the x264, libvpx, and ffmpeg directories in your home folder.

Additional Resources
x264 revision log
FFmpeg revision log
HOWTO: Proper Screencasting on Linux
HOWTO: Easily enable MP3, MPEG4, AAC, and other restricted encoders in FFmpeg

If You Need Help
Feel free to ask your questions here and we will try to answer you. Helpful information includes your Ubuntu version, names of any third-party repositories or PPAs you are using, FFmpeg command, and the complete FFmpeg output if applicable. Other sources for help are the #ffmpeg IRC channel and the ffmpeg-user mailing list.

Recent Updates
2011-07-11: (Natty/Maverick) Replaced git-core dependency with git because git-core is the old, obsolete name.
2011-07-10: (Natty/Maverick) Removed –enable-vaapi and –enable-vdpau from FFmpeg configure. This is still autodetected, and therefore usually not required, but the documentation was unclear and there was a misleading comment in a relevant commit.
2011-07-06: (Natty/Maverick) Add –enable-vaapi and –enable-vdpau to FFmpeg configure. Sort FFmpeg configure options alphabetically.

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