If you are looking for a transcoder that is free, open-source and cross-platform and perfectly converts your common media files from one format to another, HandBrake is the right solution for you. The software was originally developed by Eric Petit aka ‘titer’ in 2003 for the sole purpose of ripping media from a DVD to data storage devices. From then on, the software has gone through a lot of changes to become an efficient solution for the conversion of your multimedia formats. The software uses third-party libraries like libvpx, FFmpeg and x265 and allows transcoding functionality on Linux, MacOS and Windows.

Here are a few features of Handbrake things that will help you choose it over its competitors:

  • Handbrake can convert almost all video formats to MP4 and MKV
  • It will enable you to resize and crop videos to match your requirements
  • You can restore low-quality videos for better graphics
  • It helps you in removing combing artifacts that are usually caused by telcine and interlacing
  • Handbrake provides support for downmixing or surround sound into matrixed stereo
  • It supports adjusting of volume levels and dynamic range for some selective audio formats
  • It retains subtitles and also lets adding/removing of subtitles stored as text
  • You can skip unwanted audio conversion for certain audio formats
  • It enables you in making smaller videos instead of the original ones, so that they take less space in your storage

In this article, we will list two ways to install the Handbrake transcoder on a Debian system; one is through the graphical user interface and the other through the Debian command line, the Terminal.

We have run the commands and procedures mentioned in this article on a Debian 10 Buster system.

Install handbrake trough the Debian Software Manager (UI)

For a person who does not want to open the Command Line much, installing a software present in the Debian official repository through the UI is very simple. On your Debian desktop Activities toolbar, click the Software icon.

Software Installer

In the following view, click on the search icon and enter Handbrake in the search bar. The search results will list the Handbrake entry as follows:

Search for Handbrake

Click the Handbrake package that suits your requirements, from the search results. The following dialog will appear:

Handbrake Video Transcoder

Click the Install button to begin the installation process. The following authentication dialog will display for you to provide your authentication details as only an authorized user can install software on Debian.

Authenticate as admin

Enter your password and click the Authenticate button. After that, the installation process will begin, displaying a progress bar as follows.

Installing software

HandBrake will then be installed to your system and you will get the following message after a successful installation:

Handbrake Installation successful

Through the above dialog, you can choose to directly launch HandBrake and even Remove it immediately for whatever reason.

You can launch HandBrake through the UI any time you want by entering HandBrake in the Application Launcher search or access it directly from the Applications list.

HandBrake Icon

This is how the HandBrake UI would look like:

Transcode Videos using HandBrake

Install HandBrake through the Command Line

Open the Debian command line, the Terminal, through the Application Launcher search as follows:

Debian Terminal

You can access the Application Launcher through the Super/Windows key on your keyboard.

Enter the following command in order to refresh the list of available packages:

$ sudo apt-get update

This command will update your system’s software repository index with that of the Internet so that you can install the latest release of a software.

Update packages

The system will ask you for your password as only an authorized user can add, update, remove and configure software on Debian.

Now enter the following apt-get command in order to install the latest HandBrake:

$ sudo apt-get install handbrake

Install HandBrake

The system will prompt you with a Y/n to confirm the beginning of the installation procedure. Enter Y and then hit Enter. The installation process will begin and might take some time depending on your Internet speed.

You can then launch HandBrake by entering the following command in your Terminal:

$ handbrake

Start HandBrake

This will launch the HandBrake UI on your Debian.

Uninstall through the UI

You can uninstall HandBrake through the Debian Software Manager by first searching for it through the Search button and then clicking the Remove button from the following view:

Remove via UI

A dialog will ask you if you are sure about removing the software from your system. Please enter the Remove button to uninstall HandBrake. An authentication dialog will display for you to provide the authentication details for a sudo user as only an authorized user can uninstall software on Debian. Enter your password and click the Authenticate button. After that, the uninstall process will begin, removing HandBrake from your system.

Uninstall Through the Command Line

In order to uninstall HandBrake from your system, enter the following command as sudo:

$ sudo apt-get remove handbrake

The system will prompt you with a Y/n option in order to begin the uninstall procedure. Please enter Y and hit Enter to begin. HandBrake will then be removed from your system.

Through this article, you can install the feature-rich transcoder, the Handbrake both through the graphical user interface and the Debian command line. After reading this article, you are also capable of removing the software when you no longer need it. Now you have a cross-platform media conversion software that you can add to your list of most usable media tools.

Transcode Videos on Debian Linux using HandBrake
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Karim Buzdar

About the Author: Karim Buzdar holds a degree in telecommunication engineering and holds several sysadmin certifications. As an IT engineer and technical author, he writes for various web sites. You can reach Karim on LinkedIn