64-bit Linux

There was some discussion on the fedora-devel list about changing the default architecture for 32-bit Fedora. Which would mean that users running 32-bit Fedora with modern CPU’s will see some improvement, while older hardware will need to be supported by some secondary means or not at all.

There are some good points in the thread, but the question I found myself asking was: “Why do I still run 32-bit Linux at all?”. For 3 years, all of my computers have been 64-bit hardware.

I thought it was the web, however …

  • Flash: Runs great using 32-bit software in 64-bit Fedora (the native 64-bit plugin is currently in beta).
  • Java: OpenJDK has had a native 64-bit browser plugin for Java for over a year (the official native 64-bit plugin for Sun Java was released almost 6 months ago) .
  • I don’t even use things like RealPlayer anymore, and most websites no longer bother to embed video directly.

I often would recommend to people that multimedia had limitations or would require work in 64-bit Linux, but all my DVD’s, music and collected media work perfectly fine! And if you’ve looked at tutorials for media playback, there is little or no difference in the work required. (FYI: I have not missed anything for NOT having the win32 binary dll’s).

The only insignificant difference is the (sometimes) 10-15% size increase in downloads and applications for using 64-bit software. However for the performance gain, the cost in hard disk or download time is well worth it.

I feel silly for installing CentOS 32-bit on my personal server last year. That is not even used for multimedia or web. I think may upgrade it.

I admit I’ve been a luddite for far too long. If your hardware supports it (almost no new hardware is pure 32bit), then you should be using 64-bit Linux. In your next update or install cycle, skip the i386 and go download the X86_64!

Xine Crashing in Fedora 10

If you are using Xine from RPMFusion and experiencing crashing immediately after loading in Fedora 10, it is probably due to this bug.

Quick work-around is to use Alsa instead of PulseAudio. Open a shell and launch Xine as follows:

[mirandam@phoebe ~]$ xine -A alsa

To make this setting stick, do the following:

Right-Click in the Xine window > Settings > Setup….

In the gui tab, change the Configuration experience level to Advanced, then hit Apply at the bottom of the window.

Next go to the audio tab, change the audio driver to use to alsa, hit Apply, then close the window.

Restart Xine and the problem should no longer occur.

MPlayer compile on RedHat 8.0

I have a 4yr old Athlon-XP machine which I use as a Media Center/Home Theater PC. It is running RedHat 8.0 (heavily modified) with a Hauppauge PVR-250, MPlayer and some simple/buggy front end. Seeing as I designed it at the end of 2003, quite a bit of software is out of date.

The most critical componets are the ivtv driver that runs the PVR-250 and MPlayer. I won’t update the ivtv because I built it for a 2.4.24 kernel and I had to write my own recording application and my own scheduler daemon for recording TV. So as with all interdependent software – its easy to break something.

My MPlayer has been giving a great deal of trouble recently. It is running version 1.0pre5 which I beleive was released in 2004(?). Some of the MPEG2 recordings from the PVR-250 have some issues during playback. I’m hoping the problem will go away with an updated MPlayer, although I know I will get improvement with ivtv, but I can’t afford to do that.

The last “released” version of MPlayer was 1.0RC2. There are no available packages for RedHat 8, so I used my MPlayer compile guide. Since MPlayer only recently supported a GTK2 gui I chose to use a GTK1 gui since that’s what I had in Redhat 8. Virtually everything else was properly autodetected. So my configure step looked like this (quite simple):

[root@proteus MPlayer-1.0rc2]# ./configure --enable-gui \
	--enable-largefiles \

Unfortunately the make step (the compiling) broke with this error:

In file included from /usr/include/netdb.h:28,
                 from network.h:16,
                 from stream.h:65,
                 from stream_dvd.c:32:
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:259: parse error before '(' token
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:259: parse error before "__u32"
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:260: parse error before '(' token
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:260: parse error before "__u16"
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:262: parse error before '(' token
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:262: parse error before "__u32"
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:264: parse error before '(' token
/usr/include/netinet/in.h:264: parse error before "__u16"
stream_dvd.c: In function `dvd_parse_chapter_range':
stream_dvd.c:168: warning: passing arg 2 of `strtol' from incompatible pointer type
make[1]: *** [stream_dvd.o] Error 1
make[1]: Leaving directory `/root/dvr/mm/mplayer/MPlayer-1.0rc2/stream'
make: *** [stream/stream.a] Error 2

I hunted through the mplayer-users mailing list and found out that this is a problem with a Redhat being very old and basically no longer support. Someone suggested doing the following.
Edit /usr/include/netinet/in.h and at line 259, add following:

//mjm - to compile for MPlayerRC2
#undef ntohl
#undef ntohs
#undef htonl
#undef htons

Then I was able to rerun the make. Then I reverted the file back to its original.

Some other things: I did also update to the latest release of XviD. I’m pretty sure that the ancient version of Xine is probably broken as well, but since I only used that to play DVD’s, I’d much rather use my Samsung DVD Player.

I know that RedHat 8 is forever out of date, so I’m updating the system to CentOS, but that’s been quite troublesome, more on that later.

MPlayer RC2 Released

The MPlayer team released RC2 of the multimedia package. The last release RC1 was almost 12 months ago. The changes are typical: newer support of less significant codecs, major optimizations and improvements on more popular codecs. This release has a great deal of work done on streaming (Live555).

I don’t know if we will ever see an official 1.0 release, however it seems unimportant as everyone probably should just be updating their “snapshots” of MPlayer ever 3-4 months so they don’t have to wait 14 or 12 months.

I took this as an opportunity to update my MPlayer compile guide for Fedora. I do not recommend compiling from source, but I myself prefer doing it. For the more practical users, most repositories should be coming online soon with updates for yum. Simply run:

# su -c ‘yum update mplayer’

I’ve checked Livna, FreshRPMs and ATrpms, none seem to have the update yet. So yum users will have to wait.

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.


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.


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.

Creative Zen Vision M in Linux

Well I normally don’t get too many gifts or exchange too many gifts during Christmas. But this year I got an MP3 player. I got the Zen Vision M from Creative. And I was very much impressed. Outside of MP3 playback. It has video playback for MPEG, Divx, Xvid and Windows Media. It also has a FM radio, which can be recorded as well as a voice recorder. Reviews on the internet rate it better than the video iPod.

There was one big disappointment: the device was engineered to only work with Windows Media Player 10, which is only supported in Windows XP. Windows XP/MP10 use something called MTP: Media Transfer Protocol to communicate with MP3 players. Unfortunately I run Windows 2000. Luckily the device worked perfected in Fedora Core 6 using libmtp (supported in Fedora Extras).

I installed Gnomad 2 and Amarok (both in FC: Extras):

# sudo yum install gnomad2 amarok

I can use Gnomad to add files to and from the Zen. This looks similar to something like FTP.

However Amarok provides access almost identically to Windows Media Player once setup.

To configure go to:
Settings > Configure Amarok… > Media Devices
Select Add Device…
Use the plugin: MTP Media Device
Enter a name for the device “My Zen”
Hit “Okay”

In the main window, on the left, select Media Device and hit the Connect button. Make sure you are NOT connected to Gnomad or something else.

Once connected it shows music properly sorted with album and artist, etc. However the Zen does have one annoying issue. It relies entire on ID3v2 tags instead of ID3v1, so all my music from 1998 to the past few years appear unsorted.

I’m pretty sure there is a way to use some perl library to script a command to copy all data from v1 to v2 for all my music. I’d appreciate any hints. For now, I’m manually editting every file and copying. What a pain.

In any event I highly recommend this device. Much better than the iPod in both features and price.