5. Software Installation

For a fast start after you have gone through the configuration procedure described above, do this:

up2date flash-plugin xmms-mp3 xine totem mozilla-j2re mozilla-acroread

will install Flash, MP3, mpeg/AVI/DVD-reading capability (including DeCSS for encrypted DVDs), and a better plugin for PDFs. If up2date aborts complaining that RPMs are missing GPG signatures, you can do the following, assuming you trust your net connection is not being compromised by a man-in-the-middle attack:

up2date --nosig flash-plugin xmms-mp3 xine mozilla-j2re mozilla-acroread

This won't give you RealMedia; for that, you need to do a little more dancing. What follows is information about how to install individual multimedia packages, including Java.

5.1. Macromedia Flash

Fedora won't distribute from their site because Macromedia's license doesn't permit it, but there are no other legal barriers to using the RPMs at http://macromedia.mplug.org/.

With the up2date preparation described above, you can install Flash by typing:

up2date flash-plugin

5.2. MP3

Fedora won't ship MP3-capable software because the Fraunhofer Institute's patent license terms are not compatible with the GPL.

Note: If your Fedora distribution is fresh out of the box, you will probably have to make /dev/dsp be owned by yourself before you can play any sounds at all.

Assuming you've got your yum configuration pointed at livna.org the command

up2date xmms-mp3

should make your XMMS program mp3-capable.

Installing xmms-mp3 will probably install an ALSA library, which you can ignore if using a pre-2.6, non-ALSA configuration. To actually enable MP3 playing, you'll need to run xmms. Select Options > Preferences > Audio I/O Plugins from the menu; this will pop up a window listing plugins. Select "MPEG Layer 1/2/3 Placeholder Plugin" and uncheck [ ] Enable Plugin. With this placeholder gone, xmms will plug in xmms-mp3 automatically.

If you want simple MP3 sound editing, I'm a big fan of Audacity (but be aare that some newer Audacity releases, after about 9.1, have known problems with ALSA and with the AC97-compatible sound chips now built into many motherboards). The command

up2date audacity

will grab and install both Audacity (a very nifty multi-format audio editor) and the lame library that it needs as a plugin to do MP3s. Audacity has no IP-law problems in itself; lame is affected by the Fraunhofer Institute patents.

5.3. Java

Java is downloadable and redistributable from Sun, but only for personal and not-for-profit use. Sun's Javs license is non-open-source, so Fedora and most other Linux distributions won't carry it.

Assuming your yum configuration points at Dag Wieers's repository, the following command will Java-enable your browser:

yum install mozilla-j2re

You can test your Java plugin at Sun's Applets page. Note that some of these applets (Escher and Starfield, when I checked) appear to be broken. BouncingHeads makes a good test.

5.4. Adobe Acrobat

You may have noticed that PDF pages downloaded off the Web often display as blank pages in Mozilla, though they look fine when viewed locally with xpdf. I don't know why this is, but in several cases I've been told by the creator that they were made with Adobe Acrobat. It is therefore a good bet that Adobe's official Acrobat plugin will help. Install it with

yum install mozilla-acroread

Adobe's Acrobat plugin is proprietary, so Fedora and other distributions won't carry it. But there is no known legal problem with the RPM.

5.5. Local MPEG and AVI

MPEG (the format used on DVDs) represents itself as an open standard, but most Linux distributions won't ship software that read it because of blocking patents held by MPEGLA. AVI and Apple QuickTime have proprietary codecs covered by patents, so most Linux distributions won't ship software that decodes them, either. But with the setup we've described, this command

up2date xine

will install or update the xine player that can handle these formats. Doing this will also install a number of support libraries, including the libdvdcss plugin that the xine people won't talk about on their site because they are too frightened of the DVDCCA's attack lawyers.

Test this on any DVD. Remember that you have to either link /dev/dvd with your physical DVD device or go through xine's impenetrable configuration dialogue. Also remember that the physical device has to be readable by you.

xine has an elaborate GUI of its own, but most of the guts of the program are in a callable library and there are several other front ends for it floating around (none of them shipped with FC1). One of these is gxine, a Gnome front end which as of January 2004 doesn't have an active maintainer. Another (which I haven't seen but have been told good things about) is the kaffeine front end for KDE. Both of these are carried at livna.org. But the best of the front ends is probably totem, available from livna.org. This is a nice clean interface that doesn't confuse the eye by trying to look like expensive stereo equipment.

5.6. Streaming Web audio and video

Here are some test locations to try streaming audio and video clips from:

The Netscape folks have a Plug-in Manager web page that's handy for checking which plugins you have available and which MIME types they interpret (the "Show Details" link below each plugin takes you to the associated MIME type list).

The rest of this section describes several almost complete failures, mainly so that you will know that they are not due to a misconfiguration on your part. Linux multimedia streaming is still very, very broken.

5.6.1. Web audio streams via RealPlayer

RealMedia uses a proprietary codec covered by patents, though RealNetworks ships source code of a reference implementation under a non-open-source license. Because this license is proprietary, most Linux distributions do not ship a RealPlayer client.

The Daily xine builds has potentially valuable bits on it. One of the good bits is a RealPlayer 9 RPM, something I have been unable to find in any apt or yum repository.

This works under Fedora, even though the Netscape plugin manager page doesn't detect when it's installed. You will have to fill out a small pop-up form the first time it runs; beware that the permission-to-spam-you button defaults to on and you must toggle it off. Because RealNetworks does not have a clean record when it comes to spam, I recommend giving them a bogus address just to be on the safe side. Images do not appear within the page, instead the plugin launches an external program in a separate window.

5.6.2. Web video streams via mplayer-plugin

The command

up2date mplayerplug-in

should in theory give your Mozilla the ability to stream AVI, QuickTime, Windows Media, and MPEG audio/video files. As of January 2004 (mplayer-0.92, mplayerplug-in-1.0, mozilla-1.4.1), however, AVI and QuickTime don't work at all. Results vary from a hang through putting an unkillable blank window on the screen to crashing Mozilla. Windows Media works sometimes (watch for the legend "cache fill" and an increasing percentage in the display window before the video itself plays) but occasionally it crashes Mozilla. MPEG audio files load but don't play. MPEG video tests without audio seem to work.

The failure pattern seems to finger mplayerplug-in, as mplayer appears to handle these file types OK when they're local.

5.6.3. Web video streams via gxine

The command

up2date gxine

should also in theory give your Mozilla the ability to stream AVI, QuickTime, Windows Media, and MPEG audio/video files throgh gxine. As of January 2004 (xine-0.9.22, gxine-0.3.3, mozilla-1.4.1), this works about as well as mplayerplug-in, which is to say not at all well. I've seen some success with MPEG files, but often with audio dropouts.

The failure pattern seems to finger the gxine plugin, as xine handles its file types OK when they're local.

5.6.4. Web video streams via the experimental xine plugin

One potentially valuable bit on the Daily xine builds site is the experimental xine plugin to display streamed video through a xine window placed within the browser frame. This is currently pre-release software, and I could not get it to load because of a xine library problem. Here's hoping it will work someday.

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Generated: 2007-01-26 17:57:51