How to watch free online TV on Linux

Wanted to watch TV on your Linux box, and preferably for free? FreetuxTV is an online TV player which was originally developed to let the subscribers of French ISPs (e.g., Free, Orange, SFR) watch live TV channels streamed by those ISPs. Over time, FreetuxTV has added additional free online TV, web radio and webcam channels to the list, and now the (crowdsourced) FreetuxTV database carries channels in over 50 different languages.

While FreetuxTV channels are not premium quality in any means (and for good reason), it can still be a good option especially for expats who typically don't have the luxury to watch live TV programs or radio of their home countries. In this tutorial, I am going to describe how to watch free online TV on Linux using FreetuxTV.

Install FreetuxTV on Linux

First, you need to install VLC as FreetuxTV uses VLC backend to play TV or radio channels. Refer to this tutorial to install VLC on your Linux system.

After that, follow the distro-specific guidelines below to compile and install FreetuxTV. The latest FreetuxTV is built with GTK3-based GUI.

To install FreetuxTV on Debian, Ubuntu or Linux Mint:

$ wget https://freetuxtv.googlecode.com/files/freetuxtv-0.6.6.tar.gz
$ tar xvfvz freetuxtv-0.6.6.tar.gz
$ sudo apt-get install gcc make autoconf automake intltool libtool gettext libgtk-3-dev libdbus-glib-1-dev libsqlite3-0 libsqlite3-dev libcurl3 libcurl4-openssl-dev libvlc-dev libnotify-dev
$ cd freetuxtv-0.6.6
$ ./autogen.sh
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
$ make
$ sudo make install

To install FreetuxTV on Fedora:

$ wget https://freetuxtv.googlecode.com/files/freetuxtv-0.6.6.tar.gz
$ tar xvfvz freetuxtv-0.6.6.tar.gz
$ sudo yum install vlc-devel dbus-glib-devel libnotify-devel libcurl-devel intltool gtk3-devel sqlite-devel
$ cd freetuxtv-0.6.6
$ ./autogen.sh
$ ./configure --prefix=/usr/local
$ make
$ sudo make install

Watch Online TV with FreetuxTV

To launch FreetuxTV, simply run the command:

$ freetuxtv

The first time you run FreetuxTV, you will be asked to add channel group(s) you are intrested in. The channels are categorized by languages.

Once you add one or more channel groups, it will appear in the left sidebar of FreetuxTV.

To watch a TV channel, simply click on the corresponding icon.

Record Live TV with FreetuxTV

Since live broadcasting has varying time schedules across different countries in different timezones, FreetuxTV is also designed to allow you to record live TV or radio at scheduled time slots, so you can enjoy them later at your convenience.

To record the current channel, click on the record icon at the bottom. It will pop up a window where you can set the recording period.

Once you start recording, you can check the status of recording by clicking on "Recordings" tab on the left.

You can choose among different transcoding formats in the Preferences window.

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Dan Nanni is the founder and also a regular contributor of Xmodulo.com. He is a Linux/FOSS enthusiast who loves to get his hands dirty with his Linux box. He likes to procrastinate when he is supposed to be busy and productive. When he is otherwise free, he likes to watch movies and shop for the coolest gadgets.
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15 thoughts on “How to watch free online TV on Linux

  1. Hiya,

    Could I watch BBC iplayer on it as well? this is something which is restricted to UK only but now I am in India and would like to watch programs here just the same way I use to watch in England.

  2. This didn't work on my Linux MInt 16.
    "[FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with GTK3
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with LibVLC version 2.1.2
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with libnotify version 0.7.6
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Loading FreetuxTV 0.6.6
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Loading user interface from path /usr/share/freetuxtv/ui
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Initializing user interface
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)

  3. Doesn't work (ubuntu 10.04). On the line:
    $ make
    it just responds:
    *** No targets specified and no makefile found. Stop.
    On the line:
    sudo make install
    it responds:
    *** No rule to make target 'install'. Stop.

    Any suggestions?

    • ./configure may have failed. You need to verify that all dependent packages are installed.

      On Ubuntu, an easier way to install FreetuxTV is to use FreetuxTV PPA:

      $ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:freetuxtv/freetuxtv-dev
      $ sudo apt-get update
      $ sudo apt-get install vlc freetuxtv
  4. Siduction version crashes in user interface
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with GTK3
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with LibVLC version 2.1.2
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Compiled with libnotify version 0.7.6

    ** (freetuxtv:1712): WARNING **: Error retrieving accessibility bus address: org.freedesktop.DBus.Error.ServiceUnknown: The name org.a11y.Bus was not provided by any .service files
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Loading FreetuxTV 0.6.6
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Loading user interface from path /usr/share/freetuxtv/ui
    [FreetuxTV] INFO : Initializing user interface
    Segmentation fault

  5. I'm looking for some more channels on FreeTuxTV if anyone knows of any.. Most of the channels on WebTV seem to be dead links, and few of the other channel groups seem to work.

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