Archive for August 4th, 2006

Ubuntu – mplayer (via automatix) codec problems

I was experimenting with automatix, and decided to use it to download mplayer and the Win32 codecs. That seemed to work okay, and I had a working mplayer installation. I didn’t think anything about it, until I downloaded a video file from a Yahoo buddy. The video wouldn’t play, but the audio from the file would. Which sounds like the classic symptoms of a codec problem.

I tried playing the video via VLC, which was nice enough to let me know which codec the video was encoded in (fourcc IV50). Unfortunately, that’s a proprietary codec, and the VLC team are very draconian about avoiding proprietary codecs. But armed with this knowledge, I was able to track down the DLL that mplayer should have been using to decode the video (ir50_32.dll). It existed on my system in both /usr/lib/codecs/ and /usr/local/lib/codecs. Something about those paths tickled a memory, but I couldn’t place it, so I moved on.

The next step was to throw mplayer into super-verbose mode (mplayer -msglevel all=6) and watch the output. And the output told me exactly what I needed to know: the paths mplayer was searching for codecs. There was no /usr/lib/codecs, but there was a /usr/lib/win32. And that was the memory that was trying to surface earlier. I remember that mplayer made the switch to /usr/lib/win32 a few versions back. Apparently, automatix isn’t hip to this change, or something went wrong when it installed the win32 codecs.

Anyway, the ultra-quick fix was:

cd /usr/lib
sudo ln -s codecs/ win32

mplayer immediately found ir50_32.dll (and a whole heaping load full of other codecs) and was able to play the IV50 file.

Mission completion!

Profile picI am a 40-ish uber-geek, Daoist and family man. Blessed to have one incredible wife and three wonderful kiddos. Dao has been kind to me.

August 2006
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