bookmark_borderHow to watch Twitch, YouTube and others with VLC

If you’re a person like me, you may have also a problem with Flash based streams. Flash is and always has been a resource hungry monster with a lot of security issues. The problem is that a lot of streaming platforms still requiring Flash in order to let you watch their streamers, shows or programs. One of this streaming portals for e.g. is Twitch. But luckily there is a solution for a problem like this. The software Streamlink.

About Streamlink

Streamlink is a fork from Livestreamer. The fork happened because the main developer of Livestreamer decided to drop the development for it. Since then, a lot of work has been made in Streamlink, including additional plugins for a lot of video on demand services or streaming platforms. Streamlink is written in Python and uses different libraries to allow users to watch video streams like Twitch with their favorite video viewers (like VLC, MPlayer and so on).

How to install Streamlink on Ubuntu

Steamlink can be easily installed under almost every Linux distrubution. On Ubuntu the latest and greatest Streamlink version can be downloaded through a so called PPA. A PPA is an addition to the already existing package repositories. This PPA is maintained by the official Streamlink developers and can be added to your system like this:

user@machine:~$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:nilarimogard/webupd

The following two commands are installing Streamlink:

user@machine:~$ sudo apt-get update
user@machine:~$ sudo apt-get install streamlink

That’s it. With these three simple commands you’ve installed Streamlink under your Ubuntu box. There are several other Linux distrubtions supported and there are also Windows and OS X binaries which can be used. You see the full list of supported operating system on the official download page of Streamlink here: Streamlink installation.

How to use Streamlink?

Now that you’ve installed Streamlink, we can start using it. Just simply open a terminal window and enter streamlink, followed by the URL to the stream / video you want to open with your personal video player of your choice (the stream will be shown with the best possible quality, due to the option best):

user@machine:~$ streamlink best

Platforms like Twitch and YouTube are already supported of course. But there are plenty of other TV stations and Video-on-demand platforms, which are supported and can be used with streamlink, including the Itlian TV station RAI or the german ARD channel. A complete list of built-in plugins can be found here: Streamlink built-in plugins

Tune your Streamlink

Streamlink has a configuration file which is located in your home directory as a hidden file under Linux machines. This file is called .streamlinkrc. You can basically set every option you can also pass to Streamlink through command line in the configuration file. A full set of available options is listed here: Streamlink options.
An important option here however is to set the desired player you want to use with Streamlink. For e.g. if you set the following line in your .streamlinkrc, you are using VLC as the default player whenever you open a stream with Streamlink:


You can change vlc with mplayer any other video play of course. You can also add options which should be passed to the video player. For e.g. starting a stream in full screen with VLC:

player=vlc --fullscreen


Streamlink (or the former livestreamer) is a very needed and loved piece of software. It literally brings back the fun in watching live streams on Twitch or similar platforms. You don’t need to use flash in order to watch your favorite streams. Besides this, streamlink in combination with your video player of choice is way lesser resource hungry than the old flash technology. Give it a try. You will not regret it 😉
However, one downside: There will be no ads shown. While this sounds like a good thing in the first place, please keep in mind that the streamer you’re watching doesn’t get any money. So please, if you enjoy the stream you’re watching, consider subscribing to them for a few bucks per month. The incoming helps the streamer to go on with his / her work and helps Twitch to let the servers running in the future.