We all have our preferences when it comes to choosing a media player for our systems. Some prefer VLC Media Player, an open source cross-platform software that acts as a media client for playing the vast majority of media file formats. Then there is the popular Windows Media Player, a multimedia player owned by Microsoft and has its own unique features.
If you are new to Linux, you may be looking for an alternative to Windows Media Player that you can use in your Debian. Unfortunately, there is hardly any alternative to Windows Media Player that provides the same comfort and look. There are undoubtedly extremely efficient media players available for Debian such as VLC, Amarok, Smplayer and XBMC Media Center. However, there is one workaround that can help you get a media player that tunes well on Debian and gives you the visual experience of Windows Media Player. The solution is to use VLC Media Player’s skins feature. These VLC skins will help you customize the theme to suit your preferences. On the next page, there are several such themes / skins available for VLC:
This is how VLC Media Player looks by default on Debian system:
In this article, we will explain how to download the Media Player skin from the aforementioned website and configure it on your VLC player. We have followed the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Debian 10 Buster system.
Loading the Windows Media Player Shell
The videolan.org website stores a large amount of skin data that can be configured on the VLC media player at the following link:
Open the website and download the Media Player 12 theme by clicking on it:
Once you have done this, the following page will open containing information and rating of the skin, as well as a download link:
This skin is as close as possible to Windows Media Player.
Click the Download link and the following dialog box will open to save the file:
Click the Save File button to save the .vlt file in the Downloads folder by default.
Setting up a new skin on VLC player
Now that you have a .vlt skin loaded on your system, you can configure it like this:
Open the Options option from the Tools menu on your media player.
This will open the following view of simple settings:
In the Appearance section, select the Use Custom Skin option.
Select a skin resource file using the Select button. This will allow you to select the downloaded skin from where you saved it. Select the .vlk file and click the Open button. Then click the Save button in the Easy Settings view. Close VLC player and open it again. You now have the following new take on the Windows Media Player 12 skin:
You can see how similar it is now to Windows Media Player.
Return to default skin for VLC Player
Open VLC Player and right-click anywhere in the title bar, select Interface and then select Select Skin. Here you will see the default option.
Choose the default option, after which your VLC Player skin will change to an authentic VLC style skin.
With this simple trick, you now have the closest thing to Windows Media Player in your Debian.
Bonus: make VLC your default media player
By default, Gnome music and video players are used by Debian to play media files. However, you can configure your system to play audio and video files through the VLC player by making the following changes:
Access system settings either through the application launcher or by clicking the down arrow located in the upper right corner of the screen. Then you can click the settings icon located in the lower left corner of the following view:
Click the Details tab in the left pane, and then the Default Applications tab in Details view. On the right hand side, the default apps that are being sued for their respective purposes will be shown.
Click the Music drop-down menu, which is set to Rhythmbox by default. Select VLC media player from the list, then all your music files will open in VLC media player by default.
Alternatively, select the VLC media player from the Videos dropdown so that all your videos will also open in the default VLC player.
Close the settings utility.
Well, after a while you will get used to Linux based media players and start enjoying their features rather than looking back at your former, Windows. Until then, enjoy this new skin!
How to install themes for VLC Media Player on Linux