How-To: Install or Build a Working Version of Handbrake for Ubuntu

Update: To install a working version of Handbrake in Ubuntu 10.10 or 11.04, you’ll need to install from the PPA, and you’re probably best off doing so like this…

First, you’ll need to add the Handbrake PPA (personal package archive) to your Ubuntu system. Open up a Terminal window and use this command:
For the official builds:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-releases

Or for the nightly builds:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:stebbins/handbrake-snapshots

After the repository has been added, update your system’s listing of its repositories with this command:

sudo apt-get update

Once the repository listings have been updated, you can then install the graphical version of Handbrake with this command:

sudo apt-get install handbrake-gtk

You can also install the command line version of Handbrake with this command:

sudo apt-get install handbrake-cli

Props to Jonathon Moeller for his write up on this 10.10 technique.

If You’re Still Want to Build Your Own Copy However…

The currently available pre-packaged version of Handbrake (the Video/DVD transcoder/ripper) at the time of writing is 0.9.4 (actual filename for the 64-bit version: HandBrake-0.9.4-Ubuntu_GUI_x86_64.deb) – and it’s about as much use as a chocolate teapot on Ubuntu 10.04… You simply can’t endcode/transcode with it because it’s broken, with the Add to Queue and Start buttons permanently greyed out because the functionality behind them is mashed.

So let’s build a fresh version that works!

Step 1.) Get the Necessary Libraries

A quick trip to the command line will get everything you need (where everything you already have in this list is simply ignored):

sudo apt-get install subversion yasm build-essential autoconf libtool zlib1g-dev libbz2-dev intltool libglib2.0-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libgtk2.0-dev libgudev-1.0-dev libwebkit-dev libnotify-dev libgstreamer0.10-dev libgstreamer-plugins-base0.10-dev

Step 2.) Get the Source Code

Create a folder for it, move to it, then grab the latest source code via subversion like this:

mkdir handbrake
cd handbrake
svn checkout svn:// hb-trunk

Step 3.) Build It!

Once we’re in the right place, this configure line with the given switch will configure and make Handbrake in one fell swoop:

cd hb-trunk
./configure --launch

Step 4.) Test It!

After a successful build, you’ll see the executable HandBrake-CLI in the build folder – but you’re probably after the GUI version, which is tucked away in build/gtk/src and called ghb – just go to the right folder, launch it and give it a try out – should be absolutely mint.

There are a stack of different options for the encoding process which can slow down the encode/transcode process and increase the quality – I went with these final settings to get high encoding quality without the encode process taking all week:

HandBrake - Working
HandBrake - Now Working! Woo-Hoo!


11 thoughts on “How-To: Install or Build a Working Version of Handbrake for Ubuntu”

  1. Thanks a lot !

    After trying for hours to get the default handbrake package running on Ubuntu 10.4, I stumbled over this site and building “my own” handbrake installation
    was no problem at all (thanks to this excellent guideline). Now I am able to convert videos again :o)

    Please feel hugged.


  2. Great how-to I was able to use handbrake to move dvd’s to my Asus 1201N netbook running Ubuntu 10.4 amd64, 4 GB ram, 250 GB Hd Atom 330 (dual core) with Nvidia Ion graphics. Works great!

  3. “you’re probably after the GUI version, which is tucked away in build/gtk/src and called ghb – just go to the right folder, launch it and give it a try out “

    Being a complete newbie, I am having a really difficult time with this statement above. I find ghb but am not sure how to get it to run.

    So far I have followed the instructions to the letter and everything has lined all my ducks in a row, now all I have to do is learn how to launch ghb… What do I need to do to run/launch this folder/file… I have been asking for any and all how to’s to find out the command to run/launch ghb and Nada, Zip, Zero, Rien, Nothing… It has to be something easy, but for the life of me I am not seeing it.

    1. Once you’re in the same directory as the ghb binary (i.e. the GUI version of handbrake) just run:


      So, for example, to get into the directory and then launch the ghb executable, you’d simply type the following from the terminal (assuming you’re already inside the hb-test folder):

      cd build/gtk/src

      Sometimes it’s also possible to build or download files which are executables, but you can’t run them because they don’t have the executable flag set on them (which I don’t think is the case in this instance) – but just for future reference, if you know a file should be executable, and you look at it in a directory from the command-line using ls -al and it doesn’t have the x (for eXecutable) flag set, then you just need to set the flag with:

      chmod +x NAME-OF-FILE

      So, if we had a file called somegame which I -know- should be able to be run, but simply won’t, I could use:

      chmod +x somegame

      And it should launch!

      Hope this helps! =D

      1. Thank you r3dux for your kind and very rapid reply. I am an older than dirt retired Navy Chief and I can follow orders and directions like you wouldn’t believe. I am also a ex field engineer from Sperry Univac and even tho I never had the chance to learn programming per-se, I did a lot of work in machine language keeping the mainframes on the Navy Ships running… I make my home in French Polynesia on the island of Raiatea and my photo site has a lot of our flora and fauna feel free to visit and download anything you want as I do not have a lock on the ability of anyone to copy my work…

        I am in fact uploading a batch of photos now, and that is happening along with this and very soon my attempt of running Handbrake.

        I will let you know how that turns out in a very few minutes.

        Maruru Roa

        Ken Jackson
        CPO USN Ret.

  4. hej r3dux, afters hours of trying and surching I found this/your how to on the web – and it works great – thanks a lot!!! –rd

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