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DVD playback on Linux just got better

But don't hold your breath

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Amid all the copyright brouhaha over DeCSS, the DVD encryption code-cracker, it's easy to forget that the Norwegian teenager who wrote the utility did so simply so he (and others) could watch DVD movies on Linux machines.

To date, the DVD experience (not just movies) on Linux boxes has been decidedly inferior to that of the Windows platform.

This is changing, albeit slowly - today, for example, Cyberlink, unusually a Taiwanese software company, is launching PowerDVD-Linux, the world's "first pure software DVD player for Linux".

PC-DVD playback can be conducted at full-frame rate on a Linux box without having to use a hardware accelerator. The CPU requirement is not that exacting either - Celeron 333 and above.

PowerDVD-Linux can playback a variety of multimedia file formats such as VCD, Audio CD, MP3, DAT and many other multimedia file formats. And it supports a clutch of go-faster video chipsets.

But when is it going to hit the street? PowerDVD-Linux may be optimised for Linux, but it is not really designed for the Linux community. Or for retail - yet(unlike Cyberlink's Windows-flavoured DVD playback software which can be purchased over the counter).

On its Web siteCyberlink says the software is only for information appliance manufacturers. In other words this is an electronics-embed-give-us-your-licence-fee-deal, not a download-from-SourceForge-and-play-thing.

Cyberlink cites IDC forecasts that information appliance sales will jump from 11 million units in 1999 to 89 million units in 2005. How many of these will be based on Linux and how many of those will have PowerDVD software installed, it does not say. ®

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