VLC unable to play music from Samba share (Your input cant be opened: unable to open the MRL)

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Published on August 10th 2021 - Listed in Multimedia Linux Samba


After I recently upgraded my Linux Mint I noticed that VLC (my preferred multimedia player) was unable to play a playlist I created. The playlist contains a list of songs which are all stored on a central NAS, accessible through a Samba (SMB) share.

Your input can't be opened

Instead of loading the playlist and starting the play the songs, VLC would return an error on each playlist entry:

Your input can't be opened:
VLC is unable to open the MRL 'smb://nas/Music/Song.mp3'. Check the log for details.

VLC error: VLC is unable to open the MRL

However when using another audio player (for example Rhythmbox), the playlist and songs played just fine. This means a Samba share access/permission problem can be ruled out.

Samba settings are gone!

While researching this error, I came across a very helpful post, which focuses on the same error but was caused by Samba permissions. However the post helped made me aware of the (vast!) VLC internal settings.

In VLC, use [CTLR]+[P] key combo (or Tools -> Preferences) to open the Preferences window. At the bottom of the Preferences window switch to "All" to show all settings:

Then I wanted to verify the Samba settings (as suggested in the linked post) under Input / Codecs -> Access modules -> SMB. But... there is no SMB entry!

What the... ?!

Install SMB plugin as separate package

Could it be that this setting is somehow "outside" the default VLC package and moved into a separate/optional package? Kind of the same way Nginx modules are now handled? Let's check the currently installed vlc packages:

ckadm@mintp ~ $ dpkg -l|grep vlc
ii  libvlc-bin:amd64              3.0.9.2-1               amd64        tools for VLC's base library
ii  libvlc5:amd64                 3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer library
rc  libvlccore8                   2.2.2-5ubuntu0.16.04.4  amd64        base library for VLC and its modules
ii  libvlccore9:amd64             3.0.9.2-1               amd64        base library for VLC and its modules
ii  phonon4qt5-backend-vlc:amd64  0.11.1-1build1          amd64        Phonon4Qt5 VLC backend
ii  vlc                           3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer
ii  vlc-bin                       3.0.9.2-1               amd64        binaries from VLC
ii  vlc-data                      3.0.9.2-1               all          common data for VLC
ii  vlc-l10n                      3.0.9.2-1               all          translations for VLC
rc  vlc-nox                       2.2.2-5ubuntu0.16.04.4  amd64        multimedia player and streamer (without X support)
ii  vlc-plugin-base:amd64         3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer (base plugins)
ii  vlc-plugin-notify:amd64       3.0.9.2-1               amd64        LibNotify plugin for VLC
ii  vlc-plugin-qt:amd64           3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer (Qt plugin)
ii  vlc-plugin-skins2:amd64       3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer (Skins2 plugin)
ii  vlc-plugin-video-output:amd64 3.0.9.2-1               amd64        multimedia player and streamer (video output plugins)
ii  vlc-plugin-video-splitter:amd64 3.0.9.2-1             amd64        multimedia player and streamer (video splitter plugins)
ii  vlc-plugin-visualization:amd64  3.0.9.2-1             amd64        multimedia player and streamer (visualization plugins)

There are indeed separate plugin packages! Let's search for samba:

ckadm@mintp ~ $ sudo apt-cache search vlc|grep -i samba
vlc-plugin-samba - Samba plugin for VLC

Ha! Gotcha!

Let's install:

ckadm@mintp ~ $ sudo apt-get install vlc-plugin-samba

In case VLC is still open at this point, close (quit) the VLC program.

SMB shows up and playback works!

After a new VLC start, the SMB setting now shows up and playback of files/songs located on the Samba share now work again!



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