New feature: easy codec installation, please test

Andreas Schildbach andreas at
Sun Feb 4 23:08:35 UTC 2007

Conrad Knauer wrote:

>> However, clicking an ASF only opens Totem, but does not play the file
>> nor try to install any codecs, nor present an error message. Again, this
>> might confuse users (like me). I must say that I did not manage to play
>> this file under Dapper, which is why I was hoping for the new
>> auto-detection.
> Does installing all the "bad" and "ugly" gstreamer plugins get it to
> play? Can you run it with gxine? vlc? mplayer with w32codecs?

Installing bad*/ugly*/w32codecs does not help on its own. Gxine plays at 
  least the audio, but no picture, and then complains about a broken 
mux. Finally, Mplayer plays the video fine. According to the output of 
mplayer, the file has the following format:

Playing PICT0867.ASF.
ASF file format detected.
VIDEO:  [M4S2]  640x480  24bpp  1000.000 fps    0.0 kbps ( 0.0 kbyte/s)
Clip info:
  comments: 3.00SG
Opening audio decoder: [msadpcm] MS ADPCM audio decoder
AUDIO: 11025 Hz, 1 ch, s16le, 44.4 kbit/25.14% (ratio: 5544->22050)
Selected audio codec: [msadpcm] afm: msadpcm (MS ADPCM)
open: No such file or directory
Couldn't open: /dev/mga_vid
open: No such file or directory
Couldn't open: /dev/mga_vid
[VO_TDFXFB] Can't open /dev/fb0: No such file or directory.
[VO_3DFX] Unable to open /dev/3dfx.
Opening video decoder: [ffmpeg] FFmpeg's libavcodec codec family
Selected video codec: [ffodivx] vfm: ffmpeg (FFmpeg MPEG-4)
alsa-init: using device default
alsa: 48000 Hz/1 channels/2 bpf/32768 bytes buffer/Signed 16 bit Little 
AO: [alsa] 48000Hz 1ch s16le (2 bytes per sample)
Starting playback...
VDec: vo config request - 640 x 480 (preferred colorspace: Planar YV12)
VDec: using Planar YV12 as output csp (no 0)
Movie-Aspect is 1.33:1 - prescaling to correct movie aspect.
VO: [xv] 640x480 => 640x480 Planar YV12
A:  10.7 V:  11.1 A-V: -0.335 ct: -0.014 278/278 15%  0%  1.1% 0 0
alsa-uninit: pcm closed

Should I file a bug (which package?), or is it a known issue?

>> Anyway, great feature! But it should be disabled for ordinary users.
> Egads, no!  It just needs tweaking; Feisty isn't due out until April
> and this is the exact sort of thing 'ordinary users' need to get MP3s,
> etc. working right.  Its the 'power users' who don't need this and
> will go and find the codecs in Synaptic on their own.

Maybe I should not have made such a broad statement. You are right, the 
feature will help many non-skilled people. On the other hand, there are 
many environments (like companies) that simply don't want their users to 
install packages (or plugins, for that matter). In the end, the 
companies are responsible for the software that is installed on their 
computers, and certain packages are not installed in Ubuntu for good.

Take the MP3 gstreamer package(s) for example, they are not contained in 
main because of possible patent problems. If a user installs it on a 
company's machine, that company might get sued by the patent holder. Or 
the user might install an unstable package (one of the ugly ones) and 
then have problems and calls the companies helpdesk without knowing that 
its the unstable package causing the problems.

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