Desktop Guide suggests Gxine for a default video player

Ari Torhamo ari.torhamo at
Fri May 4 03:40:41 UTC 2007

ke, 2007-05-02 kello 13:07 +0100, Phil Bull kirjoitti:

> No, nothing relies on totem-gstreamer for doing the automatic codec
> installation. It's just that, as far as I'm aware, automatic codec
> installation only works with the GStreamer backend and not xine. Of
> course, I might be wrong about this, so please feel free to correct me.
> I'll try to summarise the concerns which led me to recommend gxine:
>  * totem-gstreamer cannot play DVDs, but most users would probably like
> to play DVDs with a nice user interface.

Totem-gstreamer plays DVDs well, but menus don't work - which ofcourse
is enough for most to want to use another player.

> * The xine backend supports DVD playback, so using a xine frontend like
> totem-xine or gxine would be a good idea.
>  * totem-xine conflicts with totem-gstreamer, so only one could be
> installed at any one time.
>  * totem-gstreamer has some nice features which totem-xine doesn't have,
> such as automatic codec installation. For example, playing WMV files is
> a lot easier with totem-gstreamer.

I don't think there is much difference in how easy it is to play WMV
files in either player, but initial installation of the codec is
ofcourse more simple with Totem-gstreamer.

> * gxine *can* be installed at the same time as totem-gstreamer, so
> users get to keep all of the nice totem-gstreamer features while being
> able to play DVDs through gxine as well.

> That's why I chose gxine instead of totem-xine: the user is able to play
> DVDs while still having all of the advantages of the default
> totem-gstreamer. Otherwise, you lose the nice automatic codec
> installation feature.

You have a point in wanting to keep Totem-gstreamer. I just think that
the whole situation is crazy. Totem-gstreamer has been the default video
player for Ubuntu from the early days, but for all that time has the
community and the documentation been forced to lead users to
remove/replace Totem-gstreamer and install
Totem-xine/Xine/Gxine/VLC/M-Player/Whatnot and whatever additional
plugins and other packages they may need - and to my knowing only reason
for this currently is that DVD-menus don't work with Totem-gstreamer.
All this makes setting up Ubuntu to play videos unnecessarily messy and
confusing for a regular user. Oh well...

What about mentioning easy codec installation in the beginning of the
document? The link "Multimedia Codecs" at the end leads to a page which
doesn't know anything about this feature, which might confuse users.

The section "Playing proprietary formats" suggests using Gxine, Mplayer
or VLC media player for some undefined formats that "the default
applications are unable to handle" (isn't Totem-gstreamer the only
default application for video playback BTW ?). I don't know of any video
formats that Totem-gstreamer wouldn't play after the gstreamer plugins
family and w32codecs are installed, newer realvideo versions being an
exception (there may be other less known formats too - I'm not an expert
on this). What about removing this section altogether, because
explaining easy codec installation in the beginning would already cover
a large part of it, and the alternative players are not really necessary
to get support for other codecs. Perhaps a link to "Alternative video
players" would be enough?

If I may suggest, the first and main content of the page might be
Totem-gstreamer, easy codec installation (I think it needs to be
explained, because it requires user intervention in the form of
accepting codec installation) and adding support for the rest of the
formats not covered by the native gstreamer plugins - which in practice
means installing w32codecs. I think it would be better to eplain how to
install w32codecs, instead of linking to "Restricted formats", because
many users propably would spend hours - or quit - before getting the
thing sorted out there. In the introductory paragraph there could be a
link to the section "Playing DVDs" (which already exists). DVD playback
is a kind of an exception (requiring a different player and packages
that other formats don't use) and thus could be placed after the main

This message seems to be turning into a novell - better stop now :-) I
hope these thoughts made some sense.

Thanks for reading :-)

Ari Torhamo

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