Desktop Guide suggests Gxine for a default video player

Ari Torhamo ari.torhamo at
Sun May 6 02:54:57 UTC 2007

la, 2007-05-05 kello 08:59 +0100, Phil Bull kirjoitti:

> " * If you try to play a video which Ubuntu cannot play, it will attempt
> to install support for it automatically. You will be asked to confirm
> that you want to install support for the video, and it should play
> immediately once installation is complete."

One thing that I would add is "If you don't understand the questions,
you may just click OK". This should be told to the user during the
installation too.

I just tried easy codec installation with the Live CD and realized that
if you document it properly, the guide will be very long and the process
looks... well, very impractical. The process has just too many steps and
same steps are repeated many times. I'll describe the steps in the end
of this message. Perhaps the best thing to say would be "Choose OK
whenever you are asked and tick every box there's to tick and don't give
up", or something :-/

> You've hit upon an interesting problem, that people might not know what
> a codec is. Perhaps a small 'glossary of computer terms' might be an
> appropriate new inclusion this release cycle?

Good idea.

> I have to disagree with the use case you propose above, however. In my
> experience, people don't read documentation when they get a 'scary'
> message, they just forget about it.

People can't just forget about the kind of a messages we are talking
about here, because they have to make a choice - and they may not know
the right one. It's different with messages that come with just an "OK"
or "Close" button.

> > The easy codec installation does explain something about the process
> > itself, but what's told is not enough and is partly confusing (codecs,
> > restricted formats, etc.) Perhaps the best thing would be to make the
> > whole process so trasparent that users would hardly notice it.
> Exactly, easy codec installation should be seamless - the user should
> barely notice that it's there. 

Well said - the user should barely notice. 

> It's probably best to change theterminology used in the user interface
> if it's confusing, e.g.:
> Restricted formats => Types of multimedia with legal issues
> Codecs => Support for particular types of multimedia

A very good point. There was a good thread about this subject BTW in
July 2006 with the title "Words to avoid?"

For the end, this is what happens when a user tries to watch a wmv video
with Totem on a fresh Feisty installation (I used the Live CD for taking

1. When the user tries to open the file, the following window appears:

Search for suitable codec?

The required software to play this file is not installed. You need to
install suitable codecs to play media files. Do you want to search for a
codec that supports the selected file?

The search will also include software which is not officially supported
by Ubuntu.

No   Yes 

2. When the user clicks "Yes", the Add/Remove Applications program is
started. In the case of a wmv file, two packages are shown in the
program window. The packages are not selected by default and many people
will just click "Yes" here. This leads to the following error message:

An error occurred

The playback of this movie requires a Advanced Streaming Format (ASF)
demuxer plugin which is not installed.

The error message doesn't say that user didn't select anything in the
previous window. Instead it talks about missing Advanced Streaming
Format and demuxer plugin. The packages should be selected by default.

The user can't go back in the process, so he will try to open the file
again in Totem, which is still open. But this time the easy codec
installation won't start. Instead the user will see the above error
message again. He is stuck as long as he understands to restart Totem.

3. If the user in the previous phase ticks the first box, this window
appears before user has time to tick the second one:

Install community maintained software?

GStreamer extra plugins is maintained by the Ubuntu community.

You need a working internet connection to continue.

Cancel   Install

4. When the user clicks Install, this window comes up: 

Restricted Software

The use of some of this software may be restricted in some countries.
You must verify that one of the following is true:

1. These restrictions do not apply in your country of legal residence
2. You have permission to use this software (for example, a patent
3. You are using this software for research purposes only

Cancel   OK

5. When the user clicks OK, the same window immediately comes up again.

6. Clicking OK there makes the tick disappear from the first box.

7. When the user ticks the first box again, the Restricted Software
message window is shown one more time.

8. Clicking OK brings the tick back in the first box.

9. Now the user is able to tick the second box, which brings up the
Restricted Software window once more.

10. The second box gets ticked when the user clicks OK.

11. Now the user can click Apply in the Add/Remove window.

12. After clicking OK this window comes up:

Apply the following changes?

Please take a final look through the list of applications that will be
installed or removed.

Cancel   Apply

13. A message window saying "Changes applied" comes up. The user clicks

14. The video doesn't start, but the player appears minimized on the
lower panel. Clicking it doesn't open the player, but brings the focus
to the Add/Remove program window (which was left open previously).

15. When the user clicks OK, Totem opens with this message window:

Search for suitable codec?

The required software to play this file is not installed. You need to
install suitable codecs to play media files. Do you want to search for a
codec that supports the selected file?

The search will also include software which is not officially supported
by Ubuntu.

No    Yes

16. When the user clicks Yes, Add/Remove program window appears once
again with GStreamer ffmpeg plugin readily ticked.

17. When the user clicks OK there, Totem starts to play the video.

This was the process of Easy Codec Installation :-/ I don't know how it
should be documented. Perhaps I would use my time better by doing a bug
report about the process (someone may well already have done that).

Thanks for reading :-)

Ari Torhamo

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