Video Lan Client is a piece of free software, obtainable from www.videolan.org. vlc and its companion vls (video lan server, more streaming oriented and with no graphic interface) were originally developed for LAN/WAN streaming of education video, but they developed into an amazing solution for:
- playing Audio CDs, DVDs, VCDs, DivX, MP3s and other various media
- streaming those sources in a variety of ways; unicast and multicast on IPv4 and IPv6. The sources can be streamed as they are, or re-encoded. This means that, for example, you can stream a DVD over a slow connection by re-encoding it with a codec that is less demanding than MPEG2.
vlc is available for Windows, Linux (various distributions), Mac OS X and even for the Zaurus. And of course, you get the sources that have been reported to compile on other UNIX variants and clones.
User's impression: vlc makes most other media players pointless. It played more or less everything that I have thrown at it, including VCDs that other players simply would not look at. It has a spare, simple interface and it very rarely breaks. It ignores region codes. After installing vlc, I have not touched the Windows Media Player.
Thanks to dannye for pointing out that the right capitalization is "VLC" - although they seem to like calling the executable "vlc". Must be some French perversion.