After having used OMXPlayer for many years, I am now trying to install vlc for command line on a Raspberry Pi B+ (Buster Lite) without X:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade
sudo apt-get install vlc-bin

Testing vlc with cvlc /opt/vc/src/hello_pi/hello_video/test.h264 or another video gives no video output or error, only

VLC media player 3.0.12 Vetinari (revision 1.0.6-1618-g917488b78)

Testing on a Raspberry Pi 3+ (Stretch Lite) without X gives the same result.

  • try -V aa or -V fb
    – Jasen
    Jun 7, 2021 at 2:04
  • -V aa or -V fb makes no difference. Jun 7, 2021 at 6:21

2 Answers 2


I have found out that in addition to vlc-bin, installing vlc-plugin-base (~500 Mbyte) solves my problem. Writing cvlc /opt/vc/src/hello_pi/hello_video/test.h264 now displays the video.

But isn't there a more minimal VLC install (< 500 MByte) as a substitute for OMXPlayer?

  • 1
    perhaps vlc is capable of playing more formats that omxplayer, which is why you need to install more libraries - run apt-cache depends omxplayer vs apt-cache depends vlc-plugin-base Jun 6, 2021 at 0:41

You need to use the ncurses interface.

vlc -I ncurses ... 
  • vlc -I ncurses ... makes no difference. No video output. Jun 5, 2021 at 16:31
  • @EddySorngard: It's typically understood that you get no video with the Lite distro. One distro is called desktop - it weighs in at 1.18GB ; the other distro is called Lite - it weighs in at 0.44GB. Perhaps you'd be better off with the desktop version???
    – Seamus
    Jun 6, 2021 at 16:25
  • 1
    @Seamus There can be graphics (eg. the raspberr[y|ies] at boot), including video, on the framebuffer. OMXplayer can do this, and supposedly so can mplayer and vlc. I've only tried the first one (the command above is in online vlc documentation). Generally the rest of the interface is either very minimal or using TUI libs like ncurses, because there are no full fledged GUI libs to use (Qt used to have a framebuffer port but I think it has been abandoned).
    – goldilocks
    Jun 6, 2021 at 17:21
  • Do you mean that you can replay MP4 video on a headless system with something less than 500MB of "add-ons"?
    – Seamus
    Jun 6, 2021 at 18:15
  • Looks like omxplayer is only available in the repo for 32-bit; apt install omxplayer on a 32-bit lite system reveals "672 MB of additional disk space will be used" which does include some X lib stuff. A source build would probably be lighter: github.com/popcornmix/omxplayer presuming you already have build tools (they are a few hundred MB). From that github page it looks like it isn't in active development.
    – goldilocks
    Jun 6, 2021 at 18:52

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