Totem Movie Player 2.32.0 Review

key review info
  • Application: Totem 2.32.0
  • Reviewed on:
  • Written by:
application features
  • Play any xine or GStreamer supported file (depending on the backend chosen, defaults to xine)
  • (7 more, see all...)

Long gone are the days when users had to search for a balanced media player that could do most tasks without any hassle. We're used sifting through at least a half a dozen software programs before we can find a suitable player, and even have two of them installed in the same time, each complementing the other ones shortcomings.


It’s hard to find faults with Totem Movie Player, its success being based on a solid performance and stability. Sure, maybe some of the younger and not so savvy audience doesn't know what Totem is, but if you’ve installed Ubuntu then you've most probably used Movie Player (for some reason Totem is not in the name), albeit not at its full potential.

So, Totem Movie Player is the default movie player in Ubuntu, but it can run on any OS that uses the GNOME desktop environment. It used to come in two separate versions, one based on GStreamer multimedia framework and the second one based on Xine. After GStreamer introduced the ability to play encrypted DVDs, the developers stopped supporting the Xine version, although it can still be found and installed from Ubuntu Software Center.

The stable version and the one tested by us is 2.32.0, but users can also install 3.0.0, which has become the new stable version.

If by some freakish accident you no longer have Totem Movie Player installed, getting it back is rather simple. Just open the run command dialog (Alt+F2) and type sudo apt-get install totem-gstreamer. For yum-based distributions the command is sudo yum install totem and for portage-based distributions is sudo yum install totem. After installation, Totem Movie Player can then be found in the Sound & Video menu entry.


You mustn’t be fooled by the simple interface because the power resides in the wide base of plug-ins, a few of them even being provided by default, although most of them are rather useless.

The first thing users notice is the smooth integration with GNOME, manifested in small nuances like thumbnails, while browsing in Nautilus (through a plug-in though).

Sure it plays all kinds of format like avi, flv, mkv, mp3, ogg etc, but it also provides support for DVDs, users getting the same access to chapters, root and play options exactly like a simple DVD player. Even more, it can also play encrypted DVDs which is much appreciated if you are a movie fan and have lots of original discs at home. Totem also has support for m3u, asx, SMI and shoutcasts files.


Files can be maneuvered in a simple playlist attached at the side of the player, with easy access to shuffle, repeat and other similar commands from the right click menu, including volume control. You need to access Edit > Preferences > General in order to enable play from last point and automatic loading of subtitle files.

In the next tab, in the Edit > Preferences > Display menu, there are further options, this time to enable deinterlacing, to disable the use of screensavers during playback (not sure why this is not default, without an entry in the Preferences menu), and to resize the window according to the resolution of the video.

In the Edit menu there's also an entry for important plugins. A few plugins are already installed, but only one is of some use. The Subtitle Downloader, for example, sounds great on paper, but the implementation is faulty and it's not making use of the subtitle repositories out there.

Good and Bad

Even if Totem Movie Player is lightweight and easy-to-use, it's also lacking in features. If it wasn't offered by default in the Ubuntu distro, it probably wouldn't make its way on to many computers.

First off it doesn't has any settings for audio and video. There's no bass, treble or boost control, and nothing like color, contrast and brightness settings. Everything has to be done right from the system, which is not such a great method.

Secondly, subtitles cannot be adjusted, except for the font and encoding. There is no time sync, color or any other feature for that matter.

On the positive side, the player can be used on displays connected to TV-out or other monitors, and everyone will be able to just open it and use it, without trying to figure out its features or how everything works.


Totem Movie Player is a good player, but not a great one. If we factor in the existing features and the lack of needed features, the sum is not in its favor. The only thing that's keeping this player above all others are its amazing stability and the ability to play almost anything. Know this: there are better and nicer media players out there, but if you're contented with what Totem is offering, there is no need to replace it.

user interface 4
features 2
ease of use 4
pricing / value 5

final rating 3
Editor's review
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