Welcome!

Linux Containers Authors: Jyoti Bansal, Elizabeth White, Yeshim Deniz, Liz McMillan, Pat Romanski

Related Topics: Linux Containers

Linux Containers: Article

A streaming media player for the rest of us

Xine plays popular streaming media formats flawlessly & installs like a dream

After my less than satisfying visit to the land of Linux streaming media viewers just a few weeks ago, I was a little reluctant to try another, in spite of the readers who suggested I look at Xine. I shouldn't have been. I found the Xine experience satisfying in every aspect.

Xine installation is quick, easy, and well documented. On my Red Hat 7.2 desktop box with its 1-GHz Athlon CPU, 512 megabytes of RAM, and a GeForce 2 MX video card, I got video that rivaled anything I've seen, even in full-screen mode.

I downloaded xine-lib-0.9.8.tar.gz and xine-ui-0.9.8.tar.gz source code tar balls from the Xine project page on SourceForge. A perfectly behaved configure script -- I was impressed by the level of detail and information provided by the scripts -- started the normal install process of ./configure; make; make install. Per the README on the Web site, I installed xine-lib first, then xine-ui.

Please note that for a variety of reasons, the installation process I described does not give you a Xine installation capable of handling all media formats that can be viewed on Xine. Some require plug-ins or Win32 DLLs. The most onerous of those reasons are legal.

Warning: Rant about the DMCA ahead

Give me a hand for a second so I can get up on this soapbox. I love America, but our political system has become so corrupt that it isn't uncommon to see bad people make bad laws and good people threatened with prison time as a result. I'm talking about the DMCA, of course. However, the same can be said of UCITA and other spawn of the marriage of unbridled corporate greed and purchased political power.

How can it be a crime for me to go the store and purchase a DVD drive for my computer, purchase a DVD movie at another store, and bring them home and watch the movie? It appears to be one, because I am running Linux and I don't have an "approved" software to decrypt the movie. We need a modern day Boston Tea Party. We need to send the crooks a message. An unencrypted message. We need to send it loud and clear: WE'RE TAKING BACK THE CONSUMER RIGHTS YOU STOLE FROM US IN PASSING THE DMCA! Okay, I'll get off that soapbox now.

Back to our rave about Xine

The Xine homepage lists a number of related sites and projects that can fill in the missing parts. I visited several of them and ended up with a Xine that could play encrypted DVDs as well as AVIs requiring Win32 DLLs. I also grabbed DVDNav. I am not sure that what I did was legal. Such is the dark cloud cast by the DMCA. (Ed. Warning: Back to the soapbox again.) None of us will be sure until the FBI, which should be unmasking bin Laden's myrmidons, makes a midnight raid on our homes, seizes our computers, and misplaces us for days or weeks in a maze of federal jails.

The GUI interface for Xine is skinnable and in fact, version 0.9.8 includes several optional skins you can select from if you don't care for the default. The first skin I chose (xinetic) crashed the GUI when I selected it. I restarted Xine and chose a different one, mp2k. That one didn't crash. Keep in mind this is beta software.

If you like to fiddle with your audio/video options, Xine is there. You can set just about anything, from paths to device names to the "demuxer selection strategy." The Setup menu includes tabs for gui, video, audio, misc, input, mrl, and codec. You don't have to fiddle with these choices, or at least I didn't. Nevertheless, you can if you have an itch that needs scratching.

So how does it play, you ask? I slipped the bought and paid for copy of my only DVD movie ("The Omega Code") into the drive to find out. It played beautifully. It was awesome. The sound was great, too. I don't believe I have ever seen better video on a PC, regardless of platform, and that includes an eye-popping demo on Be OS several years ago. I captured the image below with Xine's built-in snapshot function while watching the movie.

The Omega Code

I found some helpful hands for my Xine install and setup on the #xine channel on the Open Project Network (irc.openproject.net). Those willing to help newbies with their questions include xine developers and project leaders from related projects. As another newbie on the channel remarked while we were there, it's great to be able to get help from folks who really know what they are talking about.

I also had a chance to exchange a couple of e-mails with Guenter Bartsch, who started the Xine project in 2000. Before his formation of the Xine project, it had simply been a part of the Livid/OMS (Linux Video/Open Media System) work. Bartsch had an itch that wasn't getting scratched, or at least not scratched quickly enough, in Livid/OMS. He felt that work on syncing the audio and video portions of streaming media was way behind where it should be, and patches he submitted to help accomplish this never seemed to be accepted. Hence, the Xine project was born.

As you can tell from my soapbox remarks earlier, I'm not too happy about American IP law at present, especially that of the DMCA. I asked Bartsch for his views on the situation. He replied "From a practical standpoint the worst effect of the DMCA on the Xine project is the uncertain legal situation it created -- we just don't know what we are allowed to do. Some courts say source code is protected by free speech so don't worry about the DMCA as long as you only provide sources, others interpret the DMCA in a stricter way."

When I asked Bartsch what he liked most and least about Xine today, he didn't shy away from the question. "I like its architecture which allows it to support many different formats and decoders while maintaining high performance and good a/v synchronization," he wrote. "My biggest concern at the moment is robustness/stability of the video output engine, there are some problems with mpeg streams that contain still images -- but I hope we'll find a good solution for that soon, at least we're heavily working on it."

He did not shy away from questions about "the competition" nor how Xine stacks up to them. Bartsch said he rarely looks at or uses other media players, but he does look at Mplayer occassionally. The number of different formats MPlayer supports impresses him most. As for Xine itself, he believes it provides the best performance, the best synchronization of video and audio, and the best coding style.

Another developer had told me that as a result of my column on Mplayer, a Xine developer decided to create a Xine test script to help resolve some of the most common problems users run into when installing Xine for the first time. I asked Bartsch if this story was true and he acknowledged that it was. However, he also went on to say that he was "surprised" by my column about Mplayer and thought it was unfair, reminding me that it is a free software project. "If you don't like it," Bartsch said, "you're free not to use it."

More Stories By Joe Barr

Joe Barr is a freelance journalist covering Linux, open source and network security. His 'Version Control' column has been a regular feature of Linux.SYS-CON.com since its inception. As far as we know, he is the only living journalist whose works have appeared both in phrack, the legendary underground zine, and IBM Personal Systems Magazine.

Comments (0)

Share your thoughts on this story.

Add your comment
You must be signed in to add a comment. Sign-in | Register

In accordance with our Comment Policy, we encourage comments that are on topic, relevant and to-the-point. We will remove comments that include profanity, personal attacks, racial slurs, threats of violence, or other inappropriate material that violates our Terms and Conditions, and will block users who make repeated violations. We ask all readers to expect diversity of opinion and to treat one another with dignity and respect.


@ThingsExpo Stories
In order to meet the rapidly changing demands of today’s customers, companies are continually forced to redefine their business strategies in order to meet these needs, stay relevant and continue to see profitable growth. IoT deployment and development is integral in this transformation, and today businesses are increasingly seeing the value of investing their resources into IoT deployments. These technologies are able increase ROI through projects such as connecting supply chains or enabling sm...
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
Multiple data types are pouring into IoT deployments. Data is coming in small packages as well as enormous files and data streams of many sizes. Widespread use of mobile devices adds to the total. In this power panel at @ThingsExpo, moderated by Conference Chair Roger Strukhoff, panelists will look at the tools and environments that are being put to use in IoT deployments, as well as the team skills a modern enterprise IT shop needs to keep things running, get a handle on all this data, and deli...
SYS-CON Events announced today that SoftLayer, an IBM Company, has been named “Gold Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 18th Cloud Expo, which will take place on June 7-9, 2016, at the Javits Center in New York, New York. SoftLayer, an IBM Company, provides cloud infrastructure as a service from a growing number of data centers and network points of presence around the world. SoftLayer’s customers range from Web startups to global enterprises.
In his opening keynote at 20th Cloud Expo, Michael Maximilien, Research Scientist, Architect, and Engineer at IBM, will motivate why realizing the full potential of the cloud and social data requires artificial intelligence. By mixing Cloud Foundry and the rich set of Watson services, IBM's Bluemix is the best cloud operating system for enterprises today, providing rapid development and deployment of applications that can take advantage of the rich catalog of Watson services to help drive insigh...
Existing Big Data solutions are mainly focused on the discovery and analysis of data. The solutions are scalable and highly available but tedious when swapping in and swapping out occurs in disarray and thrashing takes place. The resolution for thrashing through machine learning algorithms and support nomenclature is through simple techniques. Organizations that have been collecting large customer data are increasingly seeing the need to use the data for swapping in and out and thrashing occurs ...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @CloudExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
With major technology companies and startups seriously embracing Cloud strategies, now is the perfect time to attend @CloudExpo | @ThingsExpo, June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY and October 31 - November 2, 2017, Santa Clara Convention Center, CA. Learn what is going on, contribute to the discussions, and ensure that your enterprise is on the right path to Digital Transformation.
SYS-CON Events announced today that EARP Integration will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. EARP Integration is a passionate software house. Since its inception in 2009 the company successfully delivers smart solutions for cities and factories that start their digital transformation. EARP provides bespoke solutions like, for example, advanced enterprise portals, business intelligence systems an...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs oft...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Outscale, a global pure play Infrastructure as a Service provider and strategic partner of Dassault Systèmes, will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Founded in 2010, Outscale simplifies infrastructure complexities and boosts the business agility of its customers. Outscale delivers a secure, reliable and industrial strength solution for its customers, which in...
SYS-CON Events announced today that Cloud Academy will exhibit at SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Cloud Academy is the industry’s most innovative, vendor-neutral cloud technology training platform. Cloud Academy provides continuous learning solutions for individuals and enterprise teams for Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, Google Cloud Platform, and the most popular cloud computing technologies. Ge...
As cloud adoption continues to transform business, today's global enterprises are challenged with managing a growing amount of information living outside of the data center. The rapid adoption of IoT and increasingly mobile workforce are exacerbating the problem. Ensuring secure data sharing and efficient backup poses capacity and bandwidth considerations as well as policy and regulatory compliance issues.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Interoute has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Interoute is the owner operator of Europe's largest network and a global cloud services platform, which encompasses over 70,000 km of lit fiber, 15 data centers, 17 virtual data centers and 33 colocation centers, with connections to 195 additional partner data centers. Our full-service Unifie...
SYS-CON Events announced today that delaPlex will exhibit at SYS-CON's @ThingsExpo, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. delaPlex pioneered Software Development as a Service (SDaaS), which provides scalable resources to build, test, and deploy software. It’s a fast and more reliable way to develop a new product or expand your in-house team.
The 21st International Cloud Expo has announced that its Call for Papers is open. Cloud Expo, to be held October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, brings together Cloud Computing, Big Data, Internet of Things, DevOps, Digital Transformation, Machine Learning and WebRTC to one location. With cloud computing driving a higher percentage of enterprise IT budgets every year, it becomes increasingly important to plant your flag in this fast-expanding busin...
Internet of @ThingsExpo, taking place October 31 - November 2, 2017, at the Santa Clara Convention Center in Santa Clara, CA, is co-located with the 21st International Cloud Expo and will feature technical sessions from a rock star conference faculty and the leading industry players in the world. @ThingsExpo Silicon Valley Call for Papers is now open.
Amazon started as an online bookseller 20 years ago. Since then, it has evolved into a technology juggernaut that has disrupted multiple markets and industries and touches many aspects of our lives. It is a relentless technology and business model innovator driving disruption throughout numerous ecosystems. Amazon’s AWS revenues alone are approaching $16B a year making it one of the largest IT companies in the world. With dominant offerings in Cloud, IoT, eCommerce, Big Data, AI, Digital Assis...
DevOps is often described as a combination of technology and culture. Without both, DevOps isn't complete. However, applying the culture to outdated technology is a recipe for disaster; as response times grow and connections between teams are delayed by technology, the culture will die. A Nutanix Enterprise Cloud has many benefits that provide the needed base for a true DevOps paradigm.
SYS-CON Events announced today that Progress, a global leader in application development, has been named “Bronze Sponsor” of SYS-CON's 20th International Cloud Expo®, which will take place on June 6-8, 2017, at the Javits Center in New York City, NY. Enterprises today are rapidly adopting the cloud, while continuing to retain business-critical/sensitive data inside the firewall. This is creating two separate data silos – one inside the firewall and the other outside the firewall. Cloud ISVs ofte...