Creating and working with Matroska files
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MKVToolNix 9.6.0

Table of contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Installation
    1. Requirements
    2. Optional components
    3. Building libEBML and libMatroska
    4. Building MKVToolNix
    5. Notes for compilation on (Open)Solaris
    6. Unit tests
  3. Reporting bugs
  4. Included libraries and their licenses
    1. avilib
    2. Boost's utf8_codecvt_facet
    3. libEBML
    4. libMatroska
    5. librmff
    6. nlohmann's JSON
    7. pugixml
    8. utf8-cpp

1. Introduction

With these tools one can get information about (mkvinfo) Matroska files, extract tracks/data from (mkvextract) Matroska files and create (mkvmerge) Matroska files from other media files. Matroska is a new multimedia file format aiming to become THE new container format for the future. You can find more information about it and its underlying technology, the Extensible Binary Meta Language (EBML), at

The full documentation for each command is now maintained in its man page only. Type mkvmerge -h to get you started.

This code comes under the GPL v2 (see or the file COPYING). Modify as needed.

The icons are based on the work of Alexandr Grigorcea and modified by Eduard Geier. They're licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

The newest version can always be found at

Moritz Bunkus

2. Installation

If you want to compile the tools yourself then you must first decide if you want to use a 'proper' release version or the current development version. As both Matroska and MKVToolNix are under heavy development there might be features available in the git repository that are not available in the releases. On the other hand the git repository version might not even compile.

2.1. Requirements

In order to compile MKVToolNix you need a couple of libraries. Most of them should be available pre-compiled for your distribution. The programs and libraries you absolutely need are:

  • A C++ compiler that supports several features of the C++11 standard: initializer lists, range-based "for" loops, right angle brackets, the "auto" keyword, lambda functions, the "nullptr" key word, tuples and alias declarations. Others may be needed, too. For GCC this means at least v4.8.0; for clang v3.4 or later.

  • libEBML v1.3.4 or later and libMatroska v1.4.5 or later for low-level access to Matroska files. Instructions on how to compile them are a bit further down in this file.

  • libOgg and libVorbis for access to Ogg/OGM files and Vorbis support

  • zlib — a compression library

  • Boost — Several of Boost's libraries are used: "format", "RegEx", "filesystem", "system", "math", "Range", "rational", "variant". At least v1.46.0 is required.

You also need the rake or drake build program or at least the programming language Ruby and the "rubygems" package. MKVToolNix comes bundled with its own copy of "drake" in case you cannot install it yourself. If you want to install it yourself I suggest you use the "drake" version because it will be able to use all available CPU cores for parallel builds.

Installing "drake" is simple. As root run the following command:

gem install drake

2.2. Optional components

Other libraries are optional and only limit the features that are built. These include:

  • Qt v5.2 or newer — a cross-platform GUI toolkit. You need this if you want to use the MKVToolNix GUI or mkvinfo's GUI.

  • libFLAC for FLAC support (Free Lossless Audio Codec)

  • lzo and bzip2 are compression libraries. These are the least important libraries as almost no application supports Matroska content that is compressed with either of these libs. The aforementioned zlib is what every program supports.

  • libMagic from the "file" package for automatic content type detection

  • libcurl for online update checks

2.3. Building libEBML and libMatroska

This is optional as MKVToolNix comes with its own set of the libraries. It will use them if no version is found on the system.

Start with the two libraries. Either download releases of libEBML 1.3.4 and libMatroska 1.4.5 or get a fresh copy from the git repository:

git clone
git clone

First change to libEBML's directory and run ./configure followed by make. Now install libEBML by running make install as root (e.g. via sudo). Change to libMatroska's directory and go through the same steps: first ./configure followed by make as a normal user and lastly make install as root.

2.4. Building MKVToolNix

Either download the current release from the MKVToolNix home page and unpack it or get a development snapshot from my Git repository.

2.4.1. Getting and building a development snapshot

You can ignore this subsection if you want to build from a release tarball.

All you need for Git repository access is to download a Git client from the Git homepage at There are clients for both Unix/Linux and Windows.

First clone my Git repository with this command:

git clone

Now change to the MKVToolNix directory with cd mkvtoolnix and run ./ which will generate the "configure" script. You need the GNU "autoconf" utility for this step.

2.4.2. Configuration and compilation

If you have run make install for both libraries then configure should automatically find the libraries' position. Otherwise you need to tell configure where the libEBML and libMatroska include and library files are:

./configure \
  --with-extra-includes=/where/i/put/libebml\;/where/i/put/libmatroska \

Now run rake and, as "root", rake install. If you don't have "rake" installed yourself then use the version bundled with MKVToolNix: ./drake and ./drake install.

If you want to use all available CPU cores for building then you have to use drake instead of rake. drake knows the parameter -j much like make does. You can also set the environment variable DRAKETHREADS to a number and the build process will automatically use that number of threads for a parallel build:

./drake -j4



2.5. Notes for compilation on (Open)Solaris

You can compile MKVToolNix with Sun's sunstudio compiler, but you need additional options for configure:

./configure --prefix=/usr \
  CXX="/opt/sunstudio12.1/bin/CC -library=stlport4" \
  --with-extra-includes=/where/i/put/libebml\;/where/i/put/libmatroska \

2.6. Unit tests

Building and running unit tests is completely optional. If you want to do this then you have to follow these steps:

  1. Download the "googletest" framework from (at the time of writing the file to download was "")

  2. Make gtest usable:

    1. Either extract the framework inside the "lib" sub-folder and rename the resulting folder "gtest-1.6.0" to "gtest"


    2. Extract the archive somewhere and create a symbolic link to it inside the "lib" folder called or create a symbolic link called "gtest".

  3. Configure MKVToolNix normally.

  4. Build the unit test executable and run it with

    ./drake tests:unit

3. Reporting bugs

If you're sure you've found a bug — e.g. if one of my programs crashes with an obscur error message, or if the resulting file is missing part of the original data, then by all means submit a bug report.

I use GitHub's issue system as my bug database. You can submit your bug reports there. Please be as verbose as possible — e.g. include the command line, if you use Windows or Linux etc.pp.

If at all possible please include sample files as well so that I can reproduce the issue. If they are larger than 1 MB then please upload them somewhere and post a link in the issue. You can also upload them to my FTP server. Details on how to connect can be found in the MKVToolNix FAQ.

4. Included libraries and their licenses

MKVToolNix includes and uses the following libraries:

4.1. avilib

Reading and writing avi files.

Copyright (C) 1999 Rainer Johanni, originally part of the transcode package.

License: GNU General Public License v2 URL:

4.2. Boost's utf8_codecvt_facet

A class utf8_codecvt_facet, derived from std::codecvt, which can be used to convert utf8 data in files into wchar_t strings in the application.

License: Boost Software License - Version 1.0 URL:

4.3. libEBML

A C++ library to parse EBML files

License: GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 URL:

4.4. libMatroska

A C++ library to parse Matroska files

License: GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 URL:

4.5. librmff

librmff is short for 'RealMedia file format access library'. It aims at providing the programmer an easy way to read and write RealMedia files.

License: GNU Lesser General Public License v2.1 URL:

4.6. nlohmann's JSON

JSON for Modern C++

License: MIT URL:

4.7. pugixml

An XML processing library

License: MIT URL:

4.8. utf8-cpp

UTF-8 with C++ in a Portable Way

License: custom (see lib/utf8-cpp/source/utf8.hpp) URL: