How to Install and Use FFmpeg on Debian 11

FFmpeg is the leading free, open-source multimedia framework, able to decode, encode, transcode, mux, demux, stream, filter, and play nearly all multimedia files that have been created on any platform. FFmpeg compiles and runs on Linux, Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, BSD systems, and Solaris.

In the following tutorial, you will learn how to install FFmpeg on your Debian 11 Bullseye operating system.


  • Recommended OS: Debian 11 Bullseye
  • User account: A user account with sudo privilages or root access (su command).

Updating Operating System

Update your Debian 11 operating system to make sure all existing packages are up to date:

sudo apt update && sudo apt upgrade

Root or Sudo Access

By default, when you create your account at startup with Debian compared to other distributions, it does not automatically receive sudoers status. You must either have access to the root password to use the su command or visit our tutorial on How to Add a User to Sudoers on Debian.

Install FFmpeg

By default, Debian’s 11 repositories contain FFmpeg packages installed with the apt package manager. Open up your terminal window and execute the following command:

sudo apt install ffmpeg

Example output:

How to Install and use FFmpeg on Debian 11

Type Y, then press the ENTER BUTTON to proceed with the installation.

Next, verify the installation with the following terminal command:

ffmpeg -version

Example output:

ffmpeg version 4.3.2-0+deb11u2 Copyright (c) 2000-2021 the FFmpeg developers

Note, in time. Your version number will be different.

If you would like to see which FFmpeg’s decoders and encoders are available, type the following commands:

ffmpeg -encoders
ffmpeg -decoders

How to use FFmpeg

The tutorial will cover some basic examples of how to use FFmpeg using FFmpeg.

The primary command usage for FFmpeg is as follows:

ffmpeg [global_options] {[input_file_options] -i input_url} …{[output_file_options] output_url} …

Note, you will need to use these commands on each new file. There is no saving technique to date.

FFmpeg Conversion Example

To convert audio and video files with FFmpeg, you will notice that you do not need to specify in your command the input and output formats. Instead, the input file format is auto-detected, and the output is given an output formulated from the file extension.

Convert a video file from mp4 to webm:

ffmpeg -i existingfile.mp4 newfile.webm

You can also include more output files than just 1. Example:

ffmpeg -i existingfile.wav newfile.mp3 newfile.ogg

Remember to check the list of supported formats using the following command:

ffmpeg -formats

FFmpeg Extract Audio from Video Example

If you want to extract the audio from a video file, this is done with the “-vn” input.

ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vn audio.mp3

Note, this will convert the audio to the existing bit rate of the original video file. To specify a new rate, enter as follows:

ffmpeg -i video.mp4 -vn -ab 128k audio.mp3

Some examples of the most common bit rates are 96k, 128k, 192k, 256k, 320k.

Comments and Conclusion

FFmpeg is an excellent multimedia software, the list is vast of what you can do with the software, and we only touched on a few choices out of dozens. Overall, this is a simple, lightweight program that works. We didn’t have an issue converting our files in our testing, and it was done rather quickly and efficiently.

To learn more about what FFmpeg can do, visiting their documentation page will help you with your goals.

Not what you were looking for? Try searching for additional tutorials.

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