Curious Multimedia Dependancies

The jokes made about confusing Linux dependancies may at times seem funny, but they reflect a sad truth. After my previous complaint about gui nuisances in Rythmbox, I installed of copy of FC6 – 64bit to a spare partition. Following my own FC6 Guide, I came upon the MP3 section.

Adding MP3 support to Rythmbox (GTK based GNOME media player) requires:
yum install gstreamer-plugins-ugly
This downloads 7 packages which are less than 1MB and most come from the Livna repository.

However the popular MP3/media player in KDE, Amarok, is not included in the distribution so when you install it your yum command will look like:
yum install amarok amarok-extras-nonfree
This pulls down 26 packages totalling 31MB!!! However 18MB alone are for the single Amarok package.

The funny thing was near the end of the yum download list:

Updating for dependencies:
 libgpod           x86_64    0.4.2-0.1.fc6   updates     202 k
 rhythmbox         x86_64    0.9.8-1.fc6     updates     4.0 M

So basically installing Amarok with MP3 plugins will require you to install Rythmbox — a totally unrelated media player.

At first this may seem confusing but the real reason for this is the dependancy on libgpod which is a helper library to interface with your iPod. Since amarok requires libgpod as does rhythmbox, an update to libgpod will pull down an update to both media players. While this isn’t very confusing if you take a moment to think about dependancies, it would make someone wonder why they have a GNOME media player when they only use and install KDE applications.

At first I thought it was curious. However most Fedora users know that it is pretty rare to live without any GTK or GNOME apps on their computer. Even if they entirely prefer KDE.

From XMMS to Rhythmbox

Back in 2000, xmms was the hot MP3 player for Linux that everybody loved. Most likely due to it’s near perfect match in design and functionality to Winamp. Well time makes you bolder and MP3 players get older. And with no major updates (not even a port to GTK2), xmms just sits around. Recently some distributions have stopped including it in favor of more modern players. So I tried Rythmbox (the Music management and playback software for GNOME.). After 2 week I can say modern does NOT mean better.

A look at XMMS, a very simple interface.

xmms

All the standard playback buttons including play, pause, previous, next. As well as volume, balance and position sliders. Note that I’m at track 330 (Velvet Revolver) in my playlist.

A look at Rythmbox, a very simple interface as well. Maybe too simple.

rythmbox

Hmm, so I can hit play, go previous or go next. But wait how do I stop? Of course silly me, I can hit Play again to Stop. Or wait is that hit Play to Pause?? Hmmm? I guess play just isn’t what it used to be. Perhaps I have no Pause or Stop because I have no room. That must be it. Why? Because on my toolbar I have my most common functions which includes “Create an Audio CD…”. Yup, that sure sounds like something I do every single day.

Okay, so the toolbar buttons aren’t intelligent. At least we have a button for volume. I don’t know who prefers a button, but press it and lo and behold it reveals a slider. The whole volume changer is absolutely quirky. Why oh why hide the slider? Another space issue?

While I could go on, there’s one more absolutely annoying feature. Why is it everytime I close the player listening to Oasis, I start again with .38 Special? The position in the playlist is lost. Lost! Like the tv show.

Before 2 weeks ago, I had never really used any other MP3 player other than XMMS. I was using FC6 and Rythmbox 0.9.7 and to be fair there are many features I do like. However the small issues can be incredibly annoying. I plan to try some other players as well.

Dell Linux Survey

Dell’s IdeaStorm provided a method for Dell customers to provide feedback to the company on what consumers really wanted. Not surprisingly, the biggest request was for Dell to pre-installed Linux on their Desktops and Laptops.

Currently there are vendors who support Linux on their computers, however most of this focus has been on enterprise level linux (Red Hat Enterprise Desktop, Novell SuSE Desktop) and not necessarily free community distributions like Fedora or Ubuntu. While enterprise versions have the longest support cycles, they often lack modern hardware support and many small features that the common desktop would require.

There is an official Dell Linux Survey running from March 13 to March 23 asking consumers to help prioritize Dell’s linux focus.

VOTE!

I urge everyone to vote and tell everyone they know to vote. Please be realistic with your prioritizations. Priority should be on a community distribution, and NOT an enterprise distribution.

Realistically UBUNTU is the best choice for distribution (whatever you do, DO NOT pick Fedora) – or write in KUbuntu.

VOTE!

Daylight Savings Time Change RedHat 8.0

In the past I’ve never actually changed my time settings on my computer, usually when booting into Linux the NTP (Network Time Protocol) server does the trick. However the local operating system (whether Linux or Windows) usually retains timezone settings in some way. I do not know if the RedHat/Fedora method is consistent with other Linux distributions. My personal desktop is running Fedora, Ubuntu, Windows 2000 and XP – all rather modern software with updates, so I wasn’t the least bit worried. However I seem to have forgotten my PVR (Personal Video Recorder) computer.

In 2004 I built a home theater type PC to play and record digital media (DivX, MP4, MPEG2, MP3, etc.) and set it up with my television and my amplifier. I had made the original draft of the idea in 2003, and even though RedHat 9.0 was available I had built my design on RedHat 8.0. So essentially I forgot about the DST change, until today, when I found out some TV shows were all 1 hour off.

I really did not do any form of investigation on how to fix this. My first thought was that I needed to update the NTP rpm and that would fix it. So I foolishly uninstalled the previous RPM and pulled a RHEL (Red Hat Enterprise Linux) source rpm and installed it. That’s when it occurred to me it had nothing to do with NTP. I knew that NTP uses UTC (Universal Time Coordinates), but I wasn’t thinking. So a quick look on the web tells me that timezone data in RedHat is directly handled by glibc. How nice, one of the core parts of the operating system. I wasn’t in the mood to do that much updating. So I followed the instructions provided here. Basically all I needed to do was replace the timezone data filestzdata and restart the NTP daemon.

Worked for me.
Good thing I’m not a server administrator.

Mar 17, 2007: Looks like Jason had the same issue on his Myth box. :-)