gst-launch-1.0 Man page

GStreamer(1) General Commands Manual GStreamer(1)


gst-launch – build and run a GStreamer pipeline


gst-launch [OPTION…] PIPELINE-



gst-launch is a tool that builds and runs basic GStreamer pipelines.

In simple form, a PIPELINE-DESCRIPTION is a list of elements separated
by exclamation marks (!). Properties may be appended to elements, in
the form property=value.

For a complete description of possible PIPELINE-DESCRIPTIONS see the
section pipeline description below or consult the GStreamer documenta‐

Please note that gst-launch is primarily a debugging tool for develop‐
ers and users. You should not build applications on top of it. For
applications, use the gst_parse_launch() function of the GStreamer API
as an easy way to construct pipelines from pipeline descriptions.


gst-launch accepts the following options:

–help Print help synopsis and available FLAGS

-v, –verbose
Output status information and property notifications

-q, –quiet
Do not print any progress information

-m, –messages
Output messages posted on the pipeline’s bus

-t, –tags
Output tags (also known as metadata)

-e, –eos-on-shutdown
Force an EOS event on sources before shutting the pipeline
down. This is useful to make sure muxers create readable files
when a muxing pipeline is shut down forcefully via Control-C.

-i, –index
Gather and print index statistics. This is mostly useful for
playback or recording pipelines.

-f, –no-fault
Do not install a fault handler

-T, –trace
Print memory allocation traces. The feature must be enabled at
compile time to work.



gst-launch also accepts the following options that are common to
all GStreamer applications:

Prints the version string of the GStreamer core library.

Causes GStreamer to abort if a warning message occurs. This is
equivalent to setting the environment variable G_DEBUG to
‘fatal_warnings’ (see the section environment variables below
for further information).

A comma separated list of category_name:level pairs to specify
debugging levels for each category. Level is in the range 0-9
where 0 will show no messages, and 9 will show all messages.
The wildcard * can be used to match category names. Note that
the order of categories and levels is important, wildcards at
the end may override levels set earlier. The log levels are:
9=MEMDUMP. Since GStreamer 1.2 one can also use the debug level
names, e.g. –gst-debug=*sink:LOG. A full description of the
various debug levels can be found in the GStreamer core library
API documentation, in the “Running GStreamer Applications” sec‐

Use –gst-debug-help to show category names

Example: GST_CAT:5,GST_ELEMENT_*:3,oggdemux:5

Sets the threshold for printing debugging messages. A higher
level will print more messages. The useful range is 0-9, with
the default being 0. Level 6 (LOG level) will show all informa‐
tion that is usually required for debugging purposes. Higher
levels are only useful in very specific cases. See above for
the full list of levels.

GStreamer normally prints debugging messages so that the mes‐
sages are color-coded when printed to a terminal that handles
ANSI escape sequences. Using this option causes GStreamer to
print messages without color. Setting the GST_DEBUG_NO_COLOR
environment variable will achieve the same thing.

GStreamer normally prints debugging messages so that the mes‐
sages are color-coded when printed to a terminal that handles
ANSI escape sequences (on *nix), or uses W32 console API to
color the messages printed into a console (on W32). Using this
option causes GStreamer to print messages without color (‘off’
or ‘disable’), print messages with default colors (‘on’ or
‘auto’), or print messages using ANSI escape sequences for col‐
oring (‘unix’). Setting the GST_DEBUG_COLOR_MODE environment
variable will achieve the same thing.

Disables debugging.

Prints a list of available debug categories and their default
debugging level.

GStreamer info flags to set Enable printout of errors while
loading GStreamer plugins

Add directories separated with ‘:’ to the plugin search path

Preload plugins specified in a comma-separated list. Another
way to specify plugins to preload is to use the environment



A pipeline consists elements and links. Elements can be put into bins
of different sorts. Elements, links and bins can be specified in a
pipeline description in any order.



Creates an element of type ELEMENTTYPE and sets the PROPERTIES.



Sets the property to the specified value. You can use gst-inspect(1) to
find out about properties and allowed values of different elements.
Enumeration properties can be set by name, nick or value.



Specifies that a bin of type BINTYPE is created and the given proper‐
ties are set. Every element between the braces is put into the bin.
Please note the dot that has to be used after the BINTYPE. You will
almost never need this functionality, it is only really useful for
applications using the gst_launch_parse() API with ‘bin’ as bintype.
That way it is possible to build partial pipelines instead of a full-
fledged top-level pipeline.



Links the element with name SRCELEMENT to the element with name
SINKELEMENT, using the caps specified in CAPS as a filter. Names can
be set on elements with the name property. If the name is omitted, the
element that was specified directly in front of or after the link is
used. This works across bins. If a padname is given, the link is done
with these pads. If no pad names are given all possibilities are tried
and a matching pad is used. If multiple padnames are given, both sides
must have the same number of pads specified and multiple links are done
in the given order.
So the simplest link is a simple exclamation mark, that links the ele‐
ment to the left of it to the element right of it.



Creates a capability with the given media type and optionally with
given properties. The media type can be escaped using ” or ‘. If you
want to chain caps, you can add more caps in the same format after‐


in lists and ranges: [(TYPE)]VALUE

Sets the requested property in capabilities. The name is an alphanu‐
meric value and the type can have the following case-insensitive val‐
– i or int for integer values or ranges
– f or float for float values or ranges
– b, bool or boolean for boolean values
– s, str or string for strings
– fraction for fractions (framerate, pixel-aspect-ratio)
– l or list for lists
If no type was given, the following order is tried: integer, float,
boolean, string.
Integer values must be parsable by strtol(), floats by strtod(). FOURCC
values may either be integers or strings. Boolean values are (case
insensitive) yes, no, true or false and may like strings be escaped
with ” or ‘.
Ranges are in this format: [ VALUE, VALUE ] Lists use this format: { VALUE [, VALUE …] }

The examples below assume that you have the correct plug-ins available.
In general, “osssink” can be substituted with another audio output
plug-in such as “esdsink”, “alsasink”, “osxaudiosink”, or “artsdsink”.
Likewise, “xvimagesink” can be substituted with “ximagesink”,
“sdlvideosink”, “osxvideosink”, or “aasink”. Keep in mind though that
different sinks might accept different formats and even the same sink
might accept different formats on different machines, so you might need
to add converter elements like audioconvert and audioresample (for
audio) or videoconvert (for video) in front of the sink to make things

Audio playback

gst-launch filesrc location=music.mp3 ! mad ! audioconvert !
audioresample ! osssink
Play the mp3 music file “music.mp3” using a libmad-based plug-in and
output to an OSS device

gst-launch filesrc location=music.ogg ! oggdemux ! vorbisdec !
audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink
Play an Ogg Vorbis format file

gst-launch gnomevfssrc location=music.mp3 ! mad ! osssink
gst-launch gnomevfssrc location= !
mad ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink
Play an mp3 file or an http stream using GNOME-VFS

gst-launch gnomevfssrc location=smb://computer/music.mp3 ! mad
! audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink
Use GNOME-VFS to play an mp3 file located on an SMB server

Format conversion

gst-launch filesrc location=music.mp3 ! mad ! audioconvert !
vorbisenc ! oggmux ! filesink location=music.ogg
Convert an mp3 music file to an Ogg Vorbis file

gst-launch filesrc location=music.mp3 ! mad ! audioconvert !
flacenc ! filesink location=test.flac
Convert to the FLAC format


gst-launch filesrc location=music.wav ! wavparse ! audioconvert
! audioresample ! osssink
Plays a .WAV file that contains raw audio data (PCM).

gst-launch filesrc location=music.wav ! wavparse ! audioconvert
! vorbisenc ! oggmux ! filesink location=music.ogg
gst-launch filesrc location=music.wav ! wavparse ! audioconvert
! lame ! filesink location=music.mp3
Convert a .WAV file containing raw audio data into an Ogg Vorbis or mp3

gst-launch cdparanoiasrc mode=continuous ! audioconvert ! lame
! id3v2mux ! filesink location=cd.mp3
rips all tracks from compact disc and convert them into a single mp3

gst-launch cdparanoiasrc track=5 ! audioconvert ! lame !
id3v2mux ! filesink location=track5.mp3
rips track 5 from the CD and converts it into a single mp3 file

Using gst-inspect(1), it is possible to discover settings like the
above for cdparanoiasrc that will tell it to rip the entire cd or only
tracks of it. Alternatively, you can use an URI and gst-launch-1.0
will find an element (such as cdparanoia) that supports that protocol
for you, e.g.:
gst-launch cdda://5 ! lame vbr=new vbr-quality=6 ! filesink

gst-launch osssrc ! audioconvert ! vorbisenc ! oggmux !
filesink location=input.ogg
records sound from your audio input and encodes it into an ogg file


gst-launch filesrc location=JB_FF9_TheGravityOfLove.mpg ! dvd‐
demux ! mpeg2dec ! xvimagesink
Display only the video portion of an MPEG-1 video file, outputting to
an X display window

gst-launch filesrc location=/flflfj.vob ! dvddemux ! mpeg2dec !
Display the video portion of a .vob file (used on DVDs), outputting to
an SDL window

gst-launch filesrc location=movie.mpg ! dvddemux name=demuxer
demuxer. ! queue ! mpeg2dec ! sdlvideosink demuxer. ! queue ! mad !
audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink
Play both video and audio portions of an MPEG movie

gst-launch filesrc location=movie.mpg ! mpegdemux name=demuxer
demuxer. ! queue ! mpeg2dec ! videoconvert ! sdlvideosink demuxer. !
queue ! mad ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink
Play an AVI movie with an external text subtitle stream

This example also shows how to refer to specific pads by name if an
element (here: textoverlay) has multiple sink or source pads.

gst-launch textoverlay name=overlay ! videoconvert ! videoscale
! autovideosink filesrc location=movie.avi ! decodebin ! videocon‐
vert ! overlay.video_sink filesrc ! subparse !

Play an AVI movie with an external text subtitle stream using playbin

gst-launch playbin uri=file:///path/to/movie.avi sub‐

Network streaming

Stream video using RTP and network elements.

gst-launch v4l2src ! video/x-raw,width=128,height=96,for‐
mat=UYVY ! videoconvert ! ffenc_h263 ! video/x-h263 ! rtph263ppay pt=96
! udpsink host= port=5000
This command would be run on the transmitter

gst-launch udpsrc port=5000 ! application/x-rtp, clock-
rate=90000,payload=96 ! rtph263pdepay queue-delay=0 ! ffdec_h263 !
Use this command on the receiver


gst-launch -v fakesrc num-buffers=16 ! fakesink
Generate a null stream and ignore it (and print out details).

gst-launch audiotestsrc ! audioconvert ! audioresample !
Generate a pure sine tone to test the audio output

gst-launch videotestsrc ! xvimagesink
gst-launch videotestsrc ! ximagesink
Generate a familiar test pattern to test the video output

Automatic linking

You can use the decodebin element to automatically select the right
elements to get a working pipeline.

gst-launch filesrc location=musicfile ! decodebin ! audiocon‐
vert ! audioresample ! osssink
Play any supported audio format

gst-launch filesrc location=videofile ! decodebin name=decoder
decoder. ! queue ! audioconvert ! audioresample ! osssink decoder. !
videoconvert ! xvimagesink
Play any supported video format with video and audio output. Threads
are used automatically. To make this even easier, you can use the play‐
bin element:

gst-launch playbin uri=file:///home/joe/foo.avi

Filtered connections

These examples show you how to use filtered caps.

gst-launch videotestsrc ! ‘video/x-raw,format=YUY2;video/x-
raw,format=YV12’ ! xvimagesink
Show a test image and use the YUY2 or YV12 video format for this.

gst-launch osssrc ! ‘audio/x-raw,rate=[32000,64000],for‐
mat={S16LE,S24LE,S32LE}’ ! wavenc ! filesink location=recording.wav
record audio and write it to a .wav file. Force usage of signed 16 to
32 bit samples and a sample rate between 32kHz and 64KHz.

Comma-separated list of debug categories and levels (e.g.
GST_DEBUG=totem:4,typefind:5). ‘*’ is allowed as a wildcard as
part of debug category names (e.g. GST_DEBUG=*sink:6,*audio*:6).
Since 1.2.0 it is also possible to specify the log level by name
9=MEMDUMP) (e.g. GST_DEBUG=*audio*:LOG)

When this environment variable is set, coloured debug output is

When set to a filesystem path, store ‘dot’ files of pipeline
graphs there. These can then later be converted into an image
using the ‘dot’ utility from the graphviz set of tools, like
this: dot -Tsvg -o foo.svg (png or jpg are also possible
as output format). There is also a utility called ‘xdot’ which
allows you to view the .dot file directly without converting it

Path of the plugin registry file. Default is
~/.cache/gstreamer-1.0/registry-CPU.bin where CPU is the
machine/cpu type GStreamer was compiled for, e.g. ‘i486’,
‘i686’, ‘x86-64’,

Set to “no” to force GStreamer to assume that no plugins have
changed, been added or been removed. This will make GStreamer
skip the initial check whether a rebuild of the registry cache
is required or not. This may be useful in embedded environments
where the installed plugins never change. Do not use this option
in any other setup.

Specifies a list of directories to scan for additional plugins.
These take precedence over the system plugins.

Specifies a list of plugins that are always loaded by default.
If not set, this defaults to the system-installed path, and the
plugins installed in the user’s home directory

Set this variable to a file path to redirect all GStreamer debug
messages to this file. If left unset, debug messages with be
output unto the standard error.

Useful Orc environment variable. Set ORC_CODE=debug to enable
debuggers such as gdb to create useful backtraces from Orc-gen‐
erated code. Set ORC_CODE=backup or ORC_CODE=emulate if you
suspect Orc’s SIMD code generator is producing incorrect code.
(Quite a few important GStreamer plugins like videotestsrc,
audioconvert or audioresample use Orc).

Useful GLib environment variable. Set G_DEBUG=fatal_warnings to
make GStreamer programs abort when a critical warning such as an
assertion failure occurs. This is useful if you want to find out
which part of the code caused that warning to be triggered and
under what circumstances. Simply set G_DEBUG as mentioned above
and run the program in gdb (or let it core dump). Then get a
stack trace in the usual way.

The plugin cache; can be deleted at any time, will be re-cre‐
ated automatically when it does not exist yet or plugins
change. Based on XDG_CACHE_DIR, so may be in a different loca‐
tion than the one suggested.


gst-inspect-1.0, gst-launch-1.0,


The GStreamer team at

May 2007 GStreamer(1)