MP3 audio, Flash and Microsoft Fonts Working In Ubuntu

Two simple shell commands unlock useful proprietary software


Ubuntu places restrictions on audio and video formats. The upshot is that there are patent and copyright restrictions that make it too complicated to provide the required libraries and software required to include them as part of the base installation ISO.

Like many Linux distributions, Ubuntu favors free and open-source solutions where practicable. However, some use cases don't support a viable FOSS alternative. To extend functionality with proprietary software, Ubuntu offers a metapackage called ubuntu-restricted-extras that installs everything you need for playing MP3 audio, MP4 video, Flash videos and games—and also common Microsoft Fonts such as Arial and Verdana.

How to Install the Ubuntu Restricted Extras Package

To install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package do not use the Software Centre.

During the installation a license message appears that you must accept before the Microsoft fonts will install. This message never appears within Ubuntu Software Centre, which then hangs forever.

To install the ubuntu-restricted-extras package, open a shell session and type the following command:

sudo apt install ubuntu-restricted-extras

A message pops up during the installation with the license agreement for the Microsoft fonts. To accept the agreement press the Tab key on your keyboard until the OK button is selected and press return.

The following files are installed as part of the ubuntu-restricted-extras package:

  • Gstreamer plugins (ability to play MP3 audio)
  • Microsoft web fonts
  • Adobe Flash plugin
  • LAME (ability to create compressed audio)

The ubuntu-restricted-extras package does not include libdvdcss2, which makes it possible to play encrypted DVDs.

As from Ubuntu 15.10 you can get the files necessary to play encrypted DVDs by typing the following command:

sudo apt-get install libdvd-pkg

You will now be able to play MP3 audio, convert music to MP3 from other formats and from MP3 to other formats, play Flash videos and games and watch DVDs on your computer.

When you use LibreOffice you will also have access to fonts such as Verdana, Arial, Times New Roman, and Tahoma.