How to Install Handbrake on Debian 12, 11 or 10

Handbrake is a renowned open-source tool celebrated for its prowess in video conversion and transcoding. With its ability to handle various formats, it has become a staple for tech enthusiasts and professionals alike. This guide will demonstrate how to install Handbrake on Debian 12 Bookworm, Debian 11 Bullseye, or Debian 10 Buster. We’ll be delving into two distinct installation methods, both executed via the command line terminal:

  • Utilizing the apt package manager with Debian’s official repository.
  • Leveraging third-party repositories, such as deb-multimedia or Flatpak, with the Flathub repository.

Key Features of Handbrake:

  • Versatile Format Support: Handbrake can transcode virtually any video file format to various modern, widely supported codecs.
  • Device Presets: It comes pre-equipped with presets for quick conversions, tailored for various devices, ensuring optimal playback.
  • Video Filters: Features like deinterlacing, denoise, detelecine, and more allow for enhanced video quality and customization.
  • Subtitle Support: Handbrake supports both soft and hard subtitle tracks, giving users the flexibility to choose their preferred viewing experience.
  • Live Preview: Users can preview their changes in real time, ensuring the desired outcome before finalizing the conversion.
  • Batch Conversion: For those with multiple files to transcode, Handbrake’s batch scan feature streamlines the process, making it efficient and user-friendly.

With a clear understanding of Handbrake’s capabilities and its significance in video conversion, you’re well-equipped to embark on the installation journey. Whether you’re a seasoned Debian user or just getting started, this guide promises a seamless experience. Now, let’s delve into installing this indispensable tool on your Debian system.

Install Handbrake on Debian 12, 11, or 10 via APT

Method 1: Install Handbrake via Debian APT Repository

Step 1: Update Debian Linux

Keeping your Debian system updated is pivotal for both security and compatibility. By updating, you synchronize your system with the latest software repositories and packages. Execute the following commands to achieve this:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Install Handbrake via APT Command with Debian Repository

With your system current, you can proceed with the installation of Handbrake:

sudo apt install handbrake

Method 2: Install Handbrake via Deb-Multimedia Repository

Step 1: Update Debian Linux

As a foundational step, always ensure your Debian system is updated to work with the latest packages:

sudo apt update
sudo apt upgrade

Step 2: Import the DEB-Multimedia Apt Repository

The DEB-Multimedia repository is a specialized third-party source tailored for Debian Linux distributions. As Handbrake might not be available in Debian’s default repositories, this method utilizes the DEB-Multimedia repository.

For a secure installation, it’s essential to import the GPG (GNU Privacy Guard) key, which verifies the authenticity and security of the packages:

sudo gpg --no-default-keyring --keyring /usr/share/keyrings/deb-multimedia.gpg --keyserver --recv-keys 5C808C2B65558117

If there are issues during this key importation, the following command can assist by creating the necessary directories:

sudo gpg --list-keys

It’s prudent to back up your system at this stage. The DEB-Multimedia repository alters several backend dependencies. If your Debian system heavily relies on third-party software, these changes might affect those applications. While most users should find this process straightforward, caution is always advised.

Additionally, you can setup APT-Pinning, which we will demonstrate a little further down.

Next, import the repository using the command below. This command will match any Debian version, such as Bookworm, Bullseye, or Buster.

echo "deb [signed-by=/usr/share/keyrings/deb-multimedia.gpg] \ $(lsb_release -sc) main non-free" \
| sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/deb-multimedia.list

Heads up: If the import mentioned above command falters, you may miss some essential packages. Install them using:

sudo apt install dirmngr software-properties-common apt-transport-https curl lsb-release ca-certificates -y

After installation, attempt the import command again.

Step 3: Configure APT Pinning for Handbrake

Creating a Pinning Configuration File

To ensure your Debian system prioritizes Handbrake packages from the repository, initiate APT pinning. Start by opening your terminal and executing the command below to create a new pinning configuration file:

sudo nano /etc/apt/preferences.d/deb-multimedia-pin

Remember, for future prioritization of additional packages from this source, maintain the same pin to avoid potential issues arising from multiple pins.

Adding the Pinning Rules

With the file open, proceed to insert the following content:

Package: handbrake*
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 900

Package: *
Pin: origin
Pin-Priority: 1

Here’s the breakdown of this configuration:

  • The first section assigns a high priority (900) to all packages associated with Handbrake from the repository.
  • The second section assigns a low priority (1) to all other packages from the same repository.

To save your changes and exit the text editor, use CTRL+O followed by CTRL+X. This action ensures that your Debian system correctly prioritizes Handbrake packages during installation and updates.

Step 4: Refresh the Apt Packages List

After importing the GPG key and repository successfully, refresh your Apt packages list:

sudo apt update

To ensure all system dependencies are synchronized and current, consider executing an upgrade:

sudo apt upgrade

Step 4: Install Handbrake via APT Command with Deb-Multimedia PPA

With all prerequisites in place, you can now install Handbrake:

sudo apt install handbrake-gtk

Method 3: Install Handbrake via Flatpak and Flathub

Flatpak provides an alternative approach to software installation on Debian. It ensures applications run in isolated environments, enhancing system stability and security.

If Flatpak isn’t already configured on your Debian system, you might need to consult our detailed guide for its setup.

Step 1: Enable Flathub on Your Debian System

Flathub is the primary repository for Flatpak applications. To activate it, use the following command:

sudo flatpak remote-add --if-not-exists flathub

Step 2: Install Handbrake Through Flatpak

With Flathub now active, you can proceed to install Handbrake:

flatpak install flathub fr.handbrake.ghb -y

Having outlined these methods, you can install Handbrake on your Debian system. The subsequent section will guide you on launching and effectively using Handbrake.

Launch Handbrake on Debian 12, 11 or 10

After successfully installing Handbrake on your Debian system, you have a couple of methods to initiate the application. Depending on your comfort level with the command line or graphical user interface, we’ve detailed methods to cater to both preferences.

CLI Commands to Launch HandBrake

For those familiar with the terminal, Handbrake can be quickly started using the following command:


If you opted for the Flatpak installation method, the command to initiate the Handbrake will be slightly different:

flatpak run fr.handbrake.ghb

This command ensures that the isolated version of Handbrake, as facilitated by Flatpak, is initiated, granting you access to its comprehensive video conversion features.

GUI Method to Launch HandBrake

For users who lean towards a visual interaction, Handbrake can be effortlessly accessed through your system’s application menu. Here’s a step-by-step guide to navigate to it:

  1. Access the Main Menu: Begin by clicking on the ‘Activities’ or ‘Menu’ option, typically located at the top-left or bottom-left corner of your screen, depending on your Debian desktop environment.
  2. View All Applications: Proceed to the ‘Show Applications’ or ‘All Applications’ option, which displays a list of all installed software.
  3. Locate Handbrake: In the search bar, type ‘Handbrake’. As you type, the list will filter, and the Handbrake icon should appear. Click on it to launch the application.
Handbrake application icon on Debian Linux desktop
The Handbrake icon is ready for launch on a Debian Linux system

Tips for Getting Started with Handbrake on Debian 12, 11 or 10

Here are some expert tips to enhance your experience and maximize Handbrake on Linux.

General Tips for Handbrake on Debian

  • Stay Updated: Linux distributions, especially Debian, are continuously evolving. Ensure that Handbrake is always updated to its latest version. This guarantees access to the latest features and ensures optimal compatibility with your system.
  • Explore Documentation: Handbrake has a rich set of documentation and an active user community. Before diving deep, spend some time with the official documentation, forums, and community discussions.
  • Leverage Presets: Handbrake offers a plethora of presets tailored for different devices and formats. Before starting any conversion, explore these presets to identify the one that aligns best with your requirements.

Customization Handbrake Tips with Debian

  • Create Custom Presets: While Handbrake’s built-in presets are comprehensive, there might be specific settings you frequently use that aren’t covered. In such cases, create and save your custom presets for future use.
  • Adjust Quality Settings: Handbrake allows you to adjust the quality of your conversions. Depending on your needs (e.g., smaller file size or higher video quality), tweak the settings accordingly.

Advanced Handbrake Usage Tips with Debian

  • Batch Conversion: If you’re dealing with multiple videos, Handbrake’s batch conversion feature is a lifesaver. Instead of converting videos one by one, queue them up and let Handbrake handle the rest.
  • Preview Before Conversion: To avoid wasting time on lengthy conversions that might not yield the desired result, use Handbrake’s preview feature. It provides a short sample of the final video based on the current settings.
  • Subtitle Handling: Handbrake supports both soft and hard subtitle tracks. Depending on your viewing preference, you can embed subtitles into the video or keep them as separate files.
  • Use the CLI: For those comfortable with the command line, Handbrake offers a CLI version. This can be especially useful for automating tasks or integrating Handbrake into larger workflows.
Handbrake application interface on Debian Linux
Handbrake’s user interface post successful installation on Debian Linux.

Managing Handbrake on Debian 12, 11, or 10

Update Handbrake on Debian

APT Handbrake Update Commands

Before proceeding with any software updates, it’s essential to refresh the package lists from the repositories. This ensures that you’re pulling the latest versions available:

sudo apt update

Once the package lists are up-to-date, you can proceed to upgrade Handbrake to the latest version available in the repositories:

sudo apt upgrade handbrake

Flatpak Handbrake Update Command

If you’ve opted for the Flatpak installation method for Handbrake, you can specifically update it with the following command:

flatpak update fr.handbrake.ghb

To ensure all your Flatpak applications are up-to-date, it’s a good practice to check for updates across all installed apps periodically:

flatpak update

This command fetches the latest versions of all your Flatpak applications from their respective repositories.

Remove Handbrake From Debian

There might be instances when you decide to uninstall Handbrake from your Debian system. The uninstallation process will vary based on your chosen installation method.

APT Command Removal For Handbrake

If you’ve installed Handbrake using the APT package manager, the following command will uninstall it:

sudo apt remove handbrake*

For a comprehensive cleanup, ensuring all user configuration data related to Handbrake is eradicated, use:

sudo rm -rf ~/.config/handbrake

Flatpak Command Removal For Handbrake

Installations done via Flatpak, the following command ensures a complete removal of Handbrake:

flatpak uninstall fr.handbrake.ghb


In a recap of what has occurred in this guide, we’ve navigated the intricacies of installing HandBrake on Debian versions 12, 11, and 10. From leveraging Debian’s APT repository to utilizing Flatpak, we’ve explored diverse installation methods tailored to user preferences. HandBrake, as a leading video converter, offers many features, and having it on your Debian system ensures a seamless video conversion experience. As always, keeping software updated and well-maintained is paramount for optimal performance and security.

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