RealPlayer with ALSA support … and WMA/WMV support

I already wrote something about the hopefully soon comming Alsa support of the HelixPlayer. What I completly missed that day was that there are not only nightly builds for the HelixPlayer but also for the RealPlayer: realplayer nightly builds.

I tested them today which was, to be honest, pretty disapponting from the stable-point-of-view: it wasn’t able to show any video file I gave it, whether it was a ram-stream from the internet or whether it was a local video file. But sound files worked well, and so I had the possibility of test these – and they worked without problems on my Alsa!
The options had already an interface to set the sound output (OSS or Alsa at the moment) so I think this part is already integrated and will not change in the future. The only thing we have to do now is to wait.

Speaking about waiting and future there is another interesting thing about HelixPlayer I came across:
First, the “Atlas” called release which is version 3.0 is estimated for 2006 – that would mean that either we see two HelixPlayer releases this year or they will skip version two, called “Cayenne” (note: in other development information is cayenne mentioned as version 1.5, but I take the homepage as the most recent information source).
The second interesting thing is the project overview for the version 3.0: besides DBUS support to integrate better in other programs there is a H.264 support planned. There is also a JSR135 adaption planned to bridge Java applications to take usage of the HelixPlayer. But since this project searches two developers for helping them this might not be ready in time? I can only guess since I had no look at the actual development lists and communication at all!
But in spite of everything, the most important and surprising information was this:

Windows media integration features

WMFSDK binary integration on Windows
WM-Audio decoder components integration on all platforms
WM-Video decoder components integration on all platforms
WM-Protocol component integration for all platforms
WM-DRM component integration for devices
ASF file format component integration for all platforms
ASX file format support for all platforms
DRM extensibility to arbitrary number of DRM solutions

Read careful: it talks about integration on all platforms! That would mean that with the “Atlas” release of HelixPlayer we would get native and legal WMA/WMV support on Linux.

Different from my previous statement there will be no DRM in Linux but only on “devices”, whatever that may be. But going through the development papers it gets pretty clear that Windows will be the only DRM-supported Desktop operating system. So the world is back in shape again πŸ˜‰

WMA/WMV unrelated, but HelixPlayer related I hope that the HelixPlayer will develop fast in the near future, and will bring us a new, alsa ready stable release which than can be used as a backend for KDE4 – it looks to me that the HelixPlayer is a quite promising alternative to Gstreamer (not to mention NMM, but I haven’t seen anything real from them until now, although the Phonon people are really excited about them).
And I have to admit that I really like the option of having HelixPlayer as an alternative since at least one of the other big media players in the Linux-world, mplayer, is factual dead – there has never been a 1.0 release, and the rumors and discussion about the way how it is developed in these days shows why.
Sure, there is still Xine, which is doing a damn good job (it is my kaffeine backend, and I use it quite a lot), but whenever I hear other people talking about the future of media applications on Linux I never ever hear anything about Xine – one of the reasons is probably that it has to stay in the nonfree repositories which is a real blocker for other application developers. :/
So HelixPlayer and Gstreamer are, at the moment, the two apps which will carry the Linux desktop into the “new media world” (nmw πŸ˜‰ ). But, who knows, maybe NMM will rise fast and strong with KDE4 and will push everything else away? That would at least mean a stronger development, and that is very healthy for the users. πŸ™‚

2 thoughts on “RealPlayer with ALSA support … and WMA/WMV support”

  1. Mplayer dead? there are good reasons for never having released a 1.0. The player plays anything. converts from virtually anything to many things. Its far more robust in this manner, not to mention more stable, then gstreamer or helix. Xine is indeed good, but it has nothing like the playing or converting power of mplayer. Oh and btw if you use aoss in the meantime you can get realplay to output alsa.

  2. To be dead means to not have any ongoing development. This is completely independent from the current capabilities or features, so your argument doesn’t work here.
    As mentioned in the text the main problem is that the development was dead at the time of writing (at least for people outside of the development core) and that the development is still even today kind of unpredictable.

    About the features you mentioned: sure, you’re right, I didn’t say anything against it. But the Linux world needs for example a player which is without any single doubt fully legal, and has a clear way of introducing and using plugins to enhance the capabilities. Both, gstreamer and helix, meet these requirements. Also, both have strong company support.

    Btw.: since some time went by since I wrote this article: it looks to me that helix is also kind of unpredictable in its development: all roadmaps given at the page are completely obsolete and speak about releases which should have happened some months ago but never happened.

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