Excellent Ways of Watching TV on Your Linux Desktop

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Television, the little box that sits in the living room is something many people can't do without. If you have hooked up your TV to your computer then you might want to check out the list of free and open-source television software we published earlier. However, if you want to watch your favorite programs according to your own schedule, you won't have to rely on the idiot box anymore.

Thanks to the Internet, a lot of native as well as web applications have come up that make sure that you watch your favorite shows at the time and place you want. Here's a list of ways in which you could get the best television experience on your very own Linux desktop:

TV Shows (Desktop and Web, US only): Hulu is an ad-supported, on demand, video streaming service that offers a huge collection of TV shows, movies and other media. The Flash-based service allows its viewers to watch their favorite shows in a variety of formats including HD. You can choose to watch Hulu videos in your browser or you could download the desktop application. The application requires Flash and works well on Fedora and Ubuntu.

To complete your television experience, you can also use your infrared remote if you have an infrared sensor and the latest LIRC libraries installed. Hulu is only for United States citizens and it makes sure that even anonymous proxies don't have access to it. So, if you're not in the States, you might have to look for some other alternatives.

Anyways, the Hulu desktop application can be found HERE. The application is in beta, so expect to encounter some glitches.

BBC iPlayer ( Web, Desktop): BBC iPlayer is an Internet radio and television service from BBC which allows users to watch full TV-shows and radio programs. The service is restricted to UK users and it can be accessed on a variety of devices and platforms, including Linux. To use iPlayer on your Linux box, you can download the Adobe AIR version of the software from HERE.

Live Events

YouTube Live (web): YouTube has recently started showcasing live events like the Harry Potter premiere, DLF IPL (cricket) and Copa America (soccer/football). You can also watch live shows like Cali Lewis's Geekbeat LIVE and other interesting content.

Since YouTube Live is a relatively new service, don't expect to see a Lady Gaga concert broadcast there. The choice of content is severely limited but since YouTube is a part of Google, we can expect that to change real soon.

Livestation (Desktop, Web, Mobile): Livestation is a free service that offers live streaming of popular news channels like Al Jazeera (all languages), France 24, C-span, RT, BBC World News and more. Apart from news in English, Livestation also offers broadcasts in Arabic, French, German and Russian for select channels. Most of the channels are free to watch and can be viewed in standard quality. They also offer a premium version of their service that allows users to watch news in higher and lower (for low-bandwidth connections) quality. Unlike Hulu and BBC iPlayer, Livestation is available globally and across all platforms. You can choose to watch the news on the web, phone, PS3 or on your desktop. There is a Linux version of the application written in Qt with an experimental Debian/Ubuntu support.


YouTube Movies: If you spend a lot of time on YouTube, you must have noticed the neatly categorized movies section. It has been around for a long time and we've also written about some of the best movies you can find there.

Apart from the free movies, YouTube also offers movies for rent in some regions. So, if you're a big cinephile, grab a bucket of popcorn, choose a nice movie, and enjoy the lazy weekend with YouTube Movies.

Retrovision: If you're a fan of old movies, this site might interest you. It offers a good collection of TV shows, documentaries and movies from the yesteryears. The site, aptly titled Retrovision, also includes some classic cartoons like Betty Boop, Superman and Popeye.

Written by: Abhishek, a regular TechSource contributor and a long-time FOSS advocate.

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