RealPlayer/HelixPlayer 11.0 released

Tux
More than half a year after the targeted release date the RealPlayer/HelixPlayer for Linux was released in version 11.0. The new release delivers long expected features like full ALSA integrateion and Flash and WMA support.

The release is definitely surprising – because it was already announced almost a year ago. But besides the date the release complies with the expectations:

  • WMA support
  • Flash support
  • ALSA integration
  • Playlist support
  • Surround support
  • LSB compliance

As usual the program can be downloaded as bin or as RPM either with proprietary (WMA/Flash/Real) codecs – called RealPlayer – or without – called HelixPlayer. In case you are working on a RPM system you can even see the LSB compliance working in case you haven’t installed the LSB dependency package:

# rpm -Uvh RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm
Error: Missing dependecy:
        lsb >= 3.1 is needed by package RealPlayer-11.0.0.4028-20080225.i586

Of course this can easily be solved on Fedora by

# yum --nogpgcheck localinstall RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm
Setting up Local Package Process
Excluding Packages from Livna for Fedora Core 8 - i386 - Base
Finished
Examining RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm: RealPlayer - 11.0.0.4028-20080225.i586
Marking RealPlayer11GOLD.rpm to be installed
Resolving Dependencies
--> Running transaction check
[...]
Installed: RealPlayer.i586 0:11.0.0.4028-20080225
Dependency Installed: pax.i386 0:3.4-4.fc8 redhat-lsb.i386 0:3.1-19.fc8
Complete!

Anyway, the question remains where HelixPlayer fits into today’s Linux desktop: first of all while there is now a new release the future of the program is yet again very uncertain. The current development progress plan has its last entry in the middle of 2007, and the the next roadmap isn’t set up yet, only release goals are set. But these are already quite old.
But the even larger problem is anyway that there are already several audio/video engines available for Linux: Xine, VLC, mplayer and GStreamer. Years ago the situation was different and HelixPlayer would have been able to close a gap. But that never happened.

Nevertheless, if the HelixPlayer guys do it right in the future they will provide a Phonon backend for KDE 4 so that the users could choose HelixPlayer/RealPlayer. That would give them the possibility to get back into the game quickly.
But if this also takes a couple of years that the developers should first ask themselves what they currently aim for on the Linux desktop.

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