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This is a collection of scripts to make downloading and building mpv, ffmpeg and libass easier. ffmpeg and libass get special treatment, because they are essential, and distribution packages are often too old or too broken.

Generic Instructions

Make sure git is installed. Also check that the dependencies listed in the next section are installed.

Checkout the build repo:

git clone

cd mpv-build

To get the ffmpeg, libass and mpv sources and build them, run the command:

./rebuild -j4

The -j4 asks it to use 4 parallel processes.

Note that this command implicitly does an update followed by a full cleanup (even if nothing changes), which is supposed to reduce possible problems with incremental builds. You can do incremental builds by explicitly calling ./build. This can be faster on minor updates, but breaks sometimes, e.g. the FFmpeg build system can sometimes be a bit glitchy.

Install mpv with:

sudo ./install

mpv doesn't need to be installed. The binary ./mpv/build/mpv can be used as-is. You can copy it to /usr/local/bin manually. Note that libass and ffmpeg will be statically linked with mpv when using the provided scripts, and no ffmpeg or libass libraries are/need to be installed. There are no required config or data files either.

Meson Support

These scripts do have support for building with mpv's meson build. They are not used by default. To invoke them, you must pass an additional environment variable, BUILDSYSTEM=meson to your commands. For example:

BUILDSYSTEM=meson ./rebuild -j4

The arguments that you pass should conform to meson conventions and not the waf ones.

Note: The meson scripts specifically invoke the new prefer_static built-in option. This requires a meson version of 0.63 or greater.


Essential dependencies (incomplete list):

  • gcc or clang, yasm, git
  • autoconf/autotools (for libass)
  • meson, ninja (libplacebo)
  • X development headers (xlib, X extensions, vdpau, GL, Xv, ...)
  • Audio output development headers (libasound, pulseaudio)
  • fribidi, freetype, fontconfig development headers (for libass)
  • libjpeg
  • OpenSSL or GnuTLS development headers if you want to open https links (this is also needed to make youtube-dl interaction work)
  • youtube-dl (at runtime) if you want to play Youtube videos directly (a builtin mpv script will call it)
  • libx264/libmp3lame/libfdk-aac if you want to use encoding (you have to add these options explicitly to the ffmpeg options, as ffmpeg won't autodetect these libraries; see next section)

Note: most dependencies are optional and autodetected. If they're missing, these features will be disabled silently. This includes some dependencies which could be considered essential.

Enabling optional ffmpeg dependencies

ffmpeg doesn't autodetect many dependencies. Instead, it requires you to enable them explicitly at configuration time. (And it will simply fail if the dependencies are not available.)

You can put additional ffmpeg configure flags into ffmpeg_options. For example, to enable some dependencies needed for encoding:

printf "%s\n" --enable-libx264    >> ffmpeg_options

printf "%s\n" --enable-libmp3lame >> ffmpeg_options

printf "%s\n" --enable-libfdk-aac >> ffmpeg_options

Do this in the mpv-build top-level directory (the same that contains the build scripts and this readme file). It must be done prior running ./build or ./rebuild.

NAME_options files (where NAME is ffmpeg/mpv/libass/fribidi)

These files can hold custom configure options which are passed to the respective configure scripts.

Empty lines are ignored, and every non-empty line becomes a single verbatim argument (including leading and/or trailing spaces) when invoking the respective configure script.

This means that shell quotes should not be placed at these files, and the values should not be indented.

The files can hold arbitrary values, except empty values and values which contain newline[s].

Except empty/with-newlines, any list of configure arguments, for instance:

./configure   --thing=foo --libs="-L/bar -lbaz" -x abc +z

can also be added to the file, like so:

printf "%s\n" --thing=foo --libs="-L/bar -lbaz" -x abc +z >> ffmpeg_options

Instructions for Debian / Ubuntu package

Run ./update first. Note that the NAME_options files are respected - but may conflict with the built-in Debian build options. For best results one should customize the build only via the files debian/rules and debian/control.

To help track dependencies and installed files, there is the option to create a Debian package containing the mpv binary and documentation. This is considered advanced usage and you may experience problems if you have weird third party repositories enabled or use exotic Debian derivatives. This procedure is regularly tested on Debian Sid.

Install some basic packaging tools with the command:

apt-get install devscripts equivs

In the mpv-build root directory, create and install a dummy build dependency package:

mk-build-deps -s sudo -i

You can now build the mpv Debian package with the following command:

dpkg-buildpackage -uc -us -b -j4

Adjust the "4" to your number of available processors as appropriate. On completion, the file mpv_<version>_<architecture>.deb will be created in the parent directory. Install it with:

sudo dpkg -i ../mpv_<version>_<architecture>.deb

where you must replace <version> with the version of mpv you just built (as indicated in debian/changelog) and <architecture> with your architecture.

To keep your package up to date, simply repeat the above commands after running the ./update script in the mpv-build root directory from time to time.

Local changes to the git repositories

Making local changes to the created git repositories is generally discouraged. Updating might remove local changes or conflict with them. Sometimes the repositories might be wiped entirely. If you make local changes, always keep them in a separate repository and merge them after updating.

In general, changes to the mpv-build repository itself are relatively safe, keeping branches in sub-repositories might be ok, and making local, uncommitted changes in sub-repositories will break.

Selecting release vs. master versions

By default, mpv, ffmpeg, libplacebo and libass use the git master versions. These are bleeding edge, but should usually work fine. To get a stable (slightly stale) version, you can use release versions. Note that at least for mpv, releases are not actually maintained - releases are for Linux distributions, which are expected to maintain them and to backport bug fixes (which they usually fail to do).

The following command can be used to delete all local changes, and to checkout the latest release version of mpv:


And run ./rebuild or similar. Use this to switch back to git master:


Or this to switch to a custom tag/branch/commit FOO:

./use-mpv-custom FOO

Likewise, you can use ./use-ffmpeg-master, ./use-ffmpeg-release or ./use-ffmpeg-custom BAR to switch between git master, the latest FFmpeg release, or to a custom tag/branch/commit BAR.

Use on your own risk.

mpv configure options

Just like ffmpeg_options, the file mpv_options in the mpv-build top-level directory can be used to set custom mpv configure options prior to compiling. Like with ffmpeg_option, it expects one switch per line (e.g. --enable-something).

But normally, you shouldn't need this.

Building libmpv

You can enable building libmpv by enabling the configure option:

printf "%s\n" --enable-libmpv-shared > mpv_options

Note that this will make the mpv-build scripts also enable PIC for all used libraries. For this reason, be sure to run ./clean before rebuilding.

The Debian packaging scripts do not currently support libmpv.


You can find us on IRC in #mpv on

Report bugs to the issues tracker provided by GitHub to send us bug reports or feature requests.


πŸ”¨ Helper scripts to compile mpv on Linux






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