Petter Reinholdtsen

Why isn't Debian Edu using VLC?
27th November 2010

In the latest issue of Linux Journal, the readers choices were presented, and the winner among the multimedia player were VLC. Personally, I like VLC, and it is my player of choice when I first try to play a video file or stream. Only if VLC fail will I drag out gmplayer to see if it can do better. The reason is mostly the failure model and trust. When VLC fail, it normally pop up a error message reporting the problem. When mplayer fail, it normally segfault or just hangs. The latter failure mode drain my trust in the program.

But even if VLC is my player of choice, we have choosen to use mplayer in Debian Edu/Skolelinux. The reason is simple. We need a good browser plugin to play web videos seamlessly, and the VLC browser plugin is not very good. For example, it lack in-line control buttons, so there is no way for the user to pause the video. Also, when I last tested the browser plugins available in Debian, the VLC plugin failed on several video pages where mplayer based plugins worked. If the browser plugin for VLC was as good as the gecko-mediaplayer package (which uses mplayer), we would switch.

While VLC is a good player, its user interface is slightly annoying. The most annoying feature is its inconsistent use of keyboard shortcuts. When the player is in full screen mode, its shortcuts are different from when it is playing the video in a window. For example, space only work as pause when in full screen mode. I wish it had consisten shortcuts and that space also would work when in window mode. Another nice shortcut in gmplayer is [enter] to restart the current video. It is very nice when playing short videos from the web and want to restart it when new people arrive to have a look at what is going on.

Tags: debian, debian edu, english, multimedia, video, web.

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