I am getting started on my HTPC Raspberry Pi build. I was wondering if I use XBMC I absolutely need to buy the codec to play all videos (if it is not hardware accelerated would it play if I overclocked it?)

Also if I use Raspbian with Omxplayer, do I still need to buy the licence?

  • Just a comment to add a vote of confidence in Raspbmc; I've been using it for nearly a year now, playing 1080p video over HDMI with no trouble. I use a 7-port powered USB hub with a 5V 3A power supply to add in a wireless keyboard/mouse pickup, a terabyte hard drive and a receiver for an IR remote. Perfect setup. It sits behind my TV, plugged directly into the router over Ethernet, so I can stream TV using things like the BBC iPlayer plugin, and I use FileZilla to FTP new videos to it over the LAN because it's more reliable than Samba, for some reason. Aug 30, 2013 at 9:54

4 Answers 4


The H.264 license is included. If you stick to H.264, you don't need an extra license.

DVD playback is problematic, because you can buy the MPEG2 license, but it's not currently possible to buy a license for the DTS audio.

You may be able to decode DTS audio satisfactorily in software on an overclocked RPi. For example an H.264 with 1536kb/s DTS audio I tried used 30-60% CPU @950MHz

Stick to H.264


You don't "absolutely" need license, unless you want to play the content (be it MPEG2 or VC1).

Regarding your build I strongly suggest you take a look at raspbmc, it's a highly optimised XBMC/HTPC distribution.


If you're going to play any content except the MPEG2 encoded one, you don't need any license, it's already included. For MPEG2 content (read: DVD disks) you have to spend a few dollars and get a license.

  • thanks! i think i'll skip the codecs then. almost done getting the parts for my build. just waiting for my sd card now Aug 24, 2013 at 2:49

If the DVD you wish to play is already ripped to a drive, you can easily convert the files in the VIDEO_TS folder to a playable format sans license. Did and done. It's not worth my time to buy a codec that is potentially problematic anyway.

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