The Netbook Newbie's Guide to Linux
The Eee PC and video
The Asus Eee comes with a video player application called
smplayer which is a fancy front-end to the multi-talented, cross-platform command line utility
mplayer. It seems to do a pretty good job, but there have been complaints on that Web about limitations of the formats it can handle. And, of course, some suggested remedies.
smplayer on the Eee
mplayer has its own set of inbuilt codecs, ready to play most of the common multimedia file types. Notably missing from the version supplied with the Eee is H.264, widely used by Apple and others. It was withdrawn allegedly for intellectual property reasons, but the Eee User Wiki gives instructions on how to revert to the earlier version.
I couldn't get this to work - it appears that the earlier version of
mplayer is no longer in the repositories. Instead, I tried this method of extending
mplayer's codec list. The script recommends running
sudo apt-get install netselect first.
netselect reads the list of servers in your
/etc/apt/sources.list file and picks the fastest one to download from.
Alas, this didn't add the H.264 codec to
mplayer either. The solution seem to be to install an alternative video player, the venerable
vlc, which, like,
mplayer, brings its own comprehensive list of codecs to the party. Unlike
mplayer, this list includes H.264. Installation is simple:
sudo apt-get install vlc
Once you've done this,
vlc is available from the command line, or you can add it as an icon to the Simple Desktop using the procedure we discussed last time. If you're running your EEE PC in full desktop mode,
vlc turns up automatically as an option in the Launch Menu under Applications/Multimedia.
Full Desktop Mode
If you've found a way of getting
(s)mplayer to play H.264 encoded files, or have come up with a better solution than
vlc, perhaps you'll let me know*.
In the next episode, I'm hoping to explore the Bluetooth possibilities of these machines, and we'll be discussing some more of the underlying Linux/Unix fundamentals that underpin these netbooks. ®
As of the time of writing, there's a copy of mplayer 1.0 at http://download.tuxfamily.org/eeepcrepos/pool/etch/. It's listed there as
...and then running the command:
The install threw up some minor errors, but I now have an