Ubuntu – VLC will sometimes have issues displaying video in fullscreen.


Recently VLC has been having issues displaying video in fullscreen mode. AFAIK, nothing has changed with the video card drivers and it's certainly the same version of VLC. (/me shakes a fist at the repository maintainers)

This has worked without issue in the past. In fact, I've had as many as 6 instances of VLC running, each playing a video. One was always fullscreen on my second monitor, while the others were tiled on my primary monitor. I was able to toggle any of the other 5 into fullscreen mode and the video displayed without issue.

Lately, I've been having trouble running 2 instances in fullscreen mode. (Sometimes, even a single instance will not display the video in fullscreen.) VLC will continue to play the video, but in fullscreen mode I see nothing but a black screen. Sometimes, the video will display if I maximize the VLC window. Other times, I have to settle for a smaller sized window.

I don't know if this is pertinent, but sometimes changing the min/max state of a Firefox window (Minefield, specifically) seemed to allow the troublesome instance to display the video in fullscreen mode. However, that did not prove to be a consistent workaround. Sometimes, it seemed that closing a Firefox window did the trick, though that isn't consistently successful either. (I futzed with Firefox, because with the crazy number of windows and tabs that I normally have open, it regularly hogs about 1 GB of RAM.)

Another bit of funkiness that comes to mind is the fact that my secondary monitor is considered the primary on boot-up. I use xrandr to designate the real 1st monitor as primary after boot-up, as suggested by someone in a question I asked on the Unix & Linux SE site.


  • Ubuntu 10.10 w/ Gnome and Compiz
  • 8GB RAM
  • AMD Phenom II 965 Black Edition
  • Asus M4A79 Deluxe mobo
  • XFX ATI Radeon HD 5750 w/ 1GB RAM

VLC is configured to use the hardware overlay for video (as per the default setting)

Does anyone have an idea what may cause this issue or how I may go about troubleshooting it? Right now I have 2 instances of VLC playing, each in fullscreen mode on a separate monitor.

Best Answer

In Tools > Preferences > Video > Output change the Default to X11, save and restart vlc.

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