[wellylug] Multimedia Nightmares

Daniel Pittman daniel at rimspace.net
Fri Sep 11 17:13:16 NZST 2009

Jeff Hunt <jeffhunt90 at gmail.com> writes:

> Help. The multimedia aspects of Linux are driving me mad.


> So the question is - how do I find out what minimum set of codecs I need,
> where I get them from

Step 1: find all the multimedia files you will ever want to play.
Step 2: find the codecs for all of them.
Step 3: ...

Actually, an easier approach might be:

Step 1: prevent all progress in audio and video encoding forever, by owning
        patents on everything.
Step 2: ...solve the above problem, which is now bounded. ;)

> which will conflict with others

This is actually harder than the problem above.

> and how to find any obscure commands I need to issue. In other words how do
> I just get video and sound to work, both streamed and stored?

With great difficulty, in large part because...

> I know there can be long debates on legalities and VLC, xine and gstreamer,
> but the public just want one recommendation and set of instructions that
> will do the work.

...you can't have that *AND* be legal.  Which means, for example, that if the
Ubuntu team write those instructions they risk being held legally liable,
which sucks for them.

> They can experiment later. For instance I still don't know whether I need a
> vast quantity of w32 codecs to run a home computer doing ordinary things.

Yes and no: just flash is enough to cover *most* of the online video stuff,
today, but not all of it.

For that, yes, you need to break the law and install the win32 codecs.

> The sad reality is that although I am not the brightest star in the
> universe, most people know much less about this than I do, and if I can't
> get it sorted after 5 or so years then Linux is going to deservedly remain a
> poor relation to OSes that work out of the box.  (You know who I mean).
> In case I sound too negative, I am rapped at how Ubuntu installs, networks,
> runs pictures and documents, upgrades, installs new software, resists
> viruses etc. This is all brilliant. Now we need proper help files and
> intelligent guidance with restricted file formats.

Sadly, unless the law changes, or the people designing the codecs change their
views, you are pretty much stuck.

What you can potentially do, though, is find (or found) a distribution of
Linux that charges you money to cover the cost of licensing the appropriate
codecs, so can ship them out of the box...


Not the answer you were looking for, I know.
✣ Daniel Pittman            ✉ daniel at rimspace.net            ☎ +61 401 155 707
               ♽ made with 100 percent post-consumer electrons
   Looking for work?  Love Perl?  In Melbourne, Australia?  We are hiring.

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