WFTL Bytes

Written by BinnyVA on October 21, 2008 – 11:42 pm -

WFTL Bytes “your occasiodaily FOSS and Linux news show” is a video podcast by Marcel Gagné. Go see it – it is Good – Good with a capital ‘G’. WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming.

This is WFTL(pronounced ‘Wuftal’) has to say about itself…

This is WFTL Bytes!, your occasiodaily FOSS news show featuring the latest Linux and FOSS news with your host, Marcel Gagné. WFTL Bytes! is a fast, fun, occasionally a bit goofy, but always informative look at technology news and events as seen from a free and open source software perspective. This includes Linux and everything that that orbits it. Watch! Enjoy! Comment on the stories. I want to know what you think and what you’ve got to say, either about the show in general, the topics covered, of the stories themselves. Tell your friends, relatives, co-workers . . . tell everybody!

WFTL Bytes does for Linux what Zero Punctuation does for gaming

A Demo

Here is a couple of episodes to get a feel of the show…

That’s it folks, go subscribe to WFTL Bytes and check out Marcel’s latest press hat. Bye.

Seriously, I’m done. Bye.

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Posted in News, Opinion, Reviews, Video | 1 Comment »

SMPlayer – Linux Video Player

Written by BinnyVA on September 18, 2008 – 12:37 am -

I have used a lot of video players on Linux – and over the time my favorite video player have changed. When I wrote the post Top 5 Video Players in Linux, it was VLC. After that, the position was held by Xine for a long time. But that was before I discovered SMPlayer.

SMPlayer is a front-end for MPlayer, from basic features like playing videos, DVDs, and VCDs to more advanced features like support for MPlayer filters and more.


Remembers the settings of all files you play
So you start to watch a movie but you have to leave… don’t worry, when you open that movie again it will resume at the same point you left it, and with the same settings: audio track, subtitles, volume…
Extremely Configurable
This is one feature I absolutely must have in a video player – I want to use very specific settings. And SMPlayer is one of the few players that lets me do that.
Configurable subtitles
You can choose font and size, and even colors for the subtitles. Or you can drag and drop a subtitle file into the player when you are playing a video – the video will use that subtitle file from then on. Or you can automatically get the subtitle of the currently playing film from OpenSubtitles with the click of a button(you need the latest version for this).
Audio track switching.
You can choose the audio track you want to listen. Works with avi and mkv. And of course with DVDs.
Seeking by mouse wheel.
You can use your mouse wheel to go forward or backward in the video.
Video equalizer
Allows you to adjust the brightness, contrast, hue, saturation and gamma of the video image. I have never used this feature – but it might come in handy for a bad quality video.
Multiple speed playback
You can play at 2X, 4X… and even in slow motion. SMPlayer speeds up the audio as well – which is kinda distracting – I wish they would mute it in fast mode.
Several filters are available: deinterlace, postprocessing, denoise… and even a karaoke filter (voice removal).
Audio and subtitles delay adjustment
Allows you to sync audio and subtitles.
Advanced options
Such as selecting a demuxer or video & audio codecs, providing mplayer command line options and more. Seriously, take a look at the Preferences dialog of this app.
Allows you to enqueue several files to be played one after each other. Autorepeat and shuffle supported too.
Binaries available for Windows and Linux.
Free Software
SMPlayer is under the GPL license.

Installing SMPlayer

In Fedora/Red Hat system, you can install SMPlayer using yum…

yum install smplayer

The package name is the same for Ubuntu/Debian systems…

apt-get install smplayer

Or you can download the app from their site and install it manually.

Related Links

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Posted in Applications, Reviews, Video | 7 Comments »

Adding Support for almost All Video Formats/Codecs in Linux

Written by BinnyVA on September 13, 2008 – 12:25 am -


There is an over abundance of video formats right now – fortunately, our favorite OS, Linux, is capable of handling all of them. But some video formats are not supported ‘out-of-the-box’ – in such cases, we have to install the necessary codecs. This guide will show you how install the codecs for just about every video format under the sun.

Before going into the topic further, let me pacify the flamers in the audience. There are many codecs that include DRM and many are proprietary – and for this reason, many distros refuse to support them. But these can be supported using external software – whether or not to do that is a choice I leave to the readers. I am only handling the technical issue of installing the codecs here. The moral and ethical concerns have been handled by others better than me.

The Players – Video Trinity

There is no shortage of video players in linux. Among these, three players are more prominent than the others – these are Mplayer, Xine and VLC. I call them the Video Trinity. Before doing anything, install all three players. Yes, all of them.


Mplayer is perharps the most popular among linux video players. You can install it in a Red Hat/Fedora system using this command(the command for debian/ubuntu systems will be similar – can someone post it in the comments?)…

yum install mplayer mplayer-fonts mplayer-gui

If you are on a Debian based system – like Ubuntu, use this command…

apt-get install mplayer mplayer-fonts mplayer-skins


xine is a free multimedia player. It plays back CDs, DVDs, and VCDs. It also decodes multimedia files like AVI, MOV, WMV, and MP3 from local disk drives, and displays multimedia streamed over the Internet. It interprets many of the most common multimedia formats available – and some of the most uncommon formats, too. Installing xine is just as easy…

yum install xine xine-lib xine-skins xine-lib-extras-nonfree 

Again, on a Debian/Ubuntu system, use the command…

apt-get install xine-ui


VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols. VLC is popular in the windows crowd as well. Here is the command to install it…

yum install vlc

Debain/Ubuntu uses should use the command…

apt-get install vlc

With these 3 players installed, you must be able to open 90% of the video files out there. But for the more exotic video formats, we must install the extra codecs provided by mplayer. First install the codes available in your distro’s repository – in Fedora(with Livna repository) the command I used is…

yum install gstreamer libdvdcss gstreamer-plugins-ugly audacious-plugins-nonfree-mp3 kdemultimedia-extras-nonfree ...

Or in Debian/Ubuntu system

apt-get install gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly-multiverse gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad gstreamer0.10-plugins-bad-multiverse gstreamer0.10-ffmpeg

Essential Video Codecs

The binary codec packages provided by mplayer adds support for codecs that are not yet supported natively, like newer RealVideo variants and a lot of rare formats. Note that they are not necessary to play most common formats like DVDs, MPEG-1/2/4, etc. Take a look at the codec status table for the list of currently supported codecs in Mplayer.

Instructions for installing binary codecs can be found in the README or in the README.txt file that accompanies each codec package. Detailed usage instructions are in the codecs section of the documentation. A brief overview of the installation procedure is given below...

Installing the Codecs

First, download the codecs package that matches your system. In most cases, that is Linux x86.

First, extract the file to a local directory. There should be 64 files(currently). Next, we have to copy this to the system's codecs folder(usually /usr/local/lib/codecs/). To do this, you must have root user privileges...

sudo cp -R essential-20071007/ /usr/local/lib/codecs/

Voila - we have installed the codecs. But we are not done yet. Some players look for the codecs in other folders - to accommodate those players, we have to link the other folders to the central codecs directory. To do that, run these commands(as root)...

ln -s /usr/local/lib/codecs/ /usr/lib/codecs
ln -s /usr/local/lib/codecs/ /usr/lib/win32
ln -s /usr/local/lib/codecs/ /usr/local/lib/win32

Playing the Video

Now open up the video you are trying to play in any video player(say mplayer) - in 99% of the cases, it will play without any issues. In the unlikely event of a problem, open up the same video in xine. If it still does not play, go to vlc. Your video will be working in atleast one of these three players.

Did it work for you - let me know in the comments...

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Posted in Configuration, Troubleshooting, Video | 14 Comments »

Creating a Screencast in Linux

Written by BinnyVA on August 7, 2008 – 11:02 pm -

RecordMyDesktop is a tool to create screencasts in Linux easily. A screencast is a video capture of your desktop – a video equivalent of a screenshot.

Install RecordMyDesktop

You can install RecordMyDesktop in Red Hat/Fedora systems using the command…

yum install recordmydesktop

For debian/ubuntu systems, I am guessing that the package name does not change(can anyone confirm this?). The command in this case is…

apt-get install recordmydesktop

Creating a Screencast

First start the application – that’s in Menu > Multimedia > gtk-recordMyDesktop.

There will be a small image of your desktop inside this application – drag a rectangle inside this preview area to select the record area. Once the selection is made, there will be a bigger rectangle on your screen highlighting the record area. Only the space within this area will be captured.

Now press the Record button to begin your recording. You will notice that you have a new icon in the system bar – something like this…

When this icon is a gray square, that means its recording. You can end the recording by left clicking on this icon. This show a new window that will show the status of encoding of the captured video. Depending on the size and length of the captured video (and your processor speed), this might take a long time.

Once this process is completed, you will be shown the main window once again. Now click on the ‘Save As’ button to save the file as a ogg Theora video file.

That’s it – you have created your first linux screencast! Congratulations!

Feel free to play around in the application – and make some screencasts. One you have done that, upload it to youtube – and post the URL in the comments.

A Screencast

Here is my first screencast. A screencast that shows you how to create a screencast using recordMyDesktop. The background music is ‘Recursion’ by Michael David Crawford – I thought it was appropriate.


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Posted in Applications, Uncategorized, Video | 4 Comments »

Top 5 Video Players in Linux

Written by BinnyVA on May 9, 2007 – 12:26 am -

Good video players are a must for a desktop system. Good games still have not come to Linux – watching videos are the only time pass available for us ;-). So, I decided to make a list of the Top 5 Video players in Linux.

Linux users have a great advantage in this area. Earlier, Windows used to dominate this field – but with the advent of Vista, Windows is trying to self-destruct. The content played there is locked by DRM. We don’t have any such problems.

5. Totem


Totem is the official movie player of the GNOME desktop environment based on xine-lib or GStreamer. It features a playlist, a full-screen mode, seek and volume controls, as well as keyboard navigation.

I never liked totem – it almost never works in my system.

4. Kaffeine


Kaffeine is a full featured Multimedia-Player for KDE. By default it uses xine as backend.

3. Xine


xine is a free multimedia player. It plays back CDs, DVDs, and VCDs. It also decodes multimedia files like AVI, MOV, WMV, and MP3 from local disk drives, and displays multimedia streamed over the Internet. It interprets many of the most common multimedia formats available – and some of the most uncommon formats, too.

2. MPlayer


MPlayer is a movie player which runs on many systems (see the documentation). It plays most MPEG/VOB, AVI, Ogg/OGM, VIVO, ASF/WMA/WMV, QT/MOV/MP4, RealMedia, Matroska, NUT, NuppelVideo, FLI, YUV4MPEG, FILM, RoQ, PVA files, supported by many native, XAnim, and Win32 DLL codecs. You can watch VideoCD, SVCD, DVD, 3ivx, DivX 3/4/5 and even WMV movies..

Make sure you install gmplayer along with MPlayer

1. VLC Media Player


VLC media player is a highly portable multimedia player for various audio and video formats (MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, DivX, mp3, ogg, …) as well as DVDs, VCDs, and various streaming protocols.

The best video player in Linux. I use this almost exclusively.

Other Options…

My conclusion is supported by 2006 Members Choice Poll. The order is a bit different – but still.

This post is a part of the ‘Top 5’ group writing project.

Posted in Applications, Video | 38 Comments »