November 7, 2014

Linux Howtos 1- Playing Audio & Video

I have heard a lot of people, who have just installed GNU/Linux on their systems and are new to Linux, say stuffs like, "This can do nothing, Linux is not so good". What they actually mean is, "I don't know how to configure it to do the stuffs I want". Everybody faces this problem in the very beginning of their association with Linux. This series of post will somewhat try to make their start with Linux less bumpy. This post is Fedora specific but some of the steps can be applied to other distros as well. This series will contain three posts. This post will be about audio and video. The next will contain network and file sharing related setups and the last will be about fine tuning your system according to your necessity.

How to play audio and video on Linux

Since most of the audio and video normally used are proprietary, the codecs are not packaged with the Linux distributions. So to play audio and video formats like mp3, wma, avi, xvid, wmv, their codecs need to be installed. The ffmpeg codec pack is the largest and most versatile open source codec pack. A lot of players and tools used on Linux systems are based on this codec pack. These include popular ones like mplayer, gnome-mplayer etc. VLC media player also comes with its own set of codec packs. So installing mplayer-gui and VLC is necessary and sufficient to play almost any kind of audio and video on Linux. The following packages are sufficient for playing proprietary audio and video formats on your Linux box (distro independent):

xine* (this means all packages whose name start with xine)

Additionally you can also install packages like

kmplayer (For KDE)
gnome-mplayer (For GNOME)

How to install these on Fedora

Now comes the installation part. To install any non propritory packages in Fedora first step is to set up the rpmfusion repository. Go to . Download the two repository packages namely rpmfusion-free and rpmfusion-nonfree for your respective Fedora version.

Install these two packages by using the command in terminal. These commands must be issued as root. So first thing to be done is log in as root by issuing

[sherry@brc ~]$ su -
[root@brc ~]# rpm -ivh <path to the rpmfusion free repository rpm>
[root@brc ~]# rpm -ivh <path to the rpmfusion nonfree repository rpm>

Now you are ready to install any software that you want.

Easiest way to install these on Fedora is to use yum which is a package management tool. Issue the following commands as root:

[root@brc ~]# yum install mplayer-gui vlc ffmpeg xine*


[root@brc ~]# yum install gnome-mplayer kmplayer xmms

This will get all your videos and songs playing. This procedure is Fedora speciefic. For other distros try doing a google search like "install codecs on ".

P.S: VLC and mplayer might have problem playing some videos if you do not disable the SELinux or atleast make it permissive. For that go to System->dministration->SELinux Management. There make the default to disable or permissive.

Two excellent sites to get help on Fedora related stuffs:

June 12, 2010

F13 Release Party, Bangalore

Although I was thinking about a release party for quite some time, but lack of a proper venue was acting as a deterrent. Thanks to Dependra Shekhawat and his colleague Saket for giving the idea about FSMK office as a possible venue. Within no time I contacted Vikram Vincent and Naveen Mudunuru and fixed up everything. Invitation mails were sent to the various mailing lists and the preparations were on.
Ankur and me decided to share the job of burning media. We together burnt around 15 F-13 Desktop Live CDs. The attendees were also requested to bring their flash drives along with them. We were expecting not more than 10 attendees and were keeping our fingers crossed. I was hoping to meet some new people and also understand what FSMK does. I also planned to distribute some stickers and buttons I got from Pune and others that I had from previous events.
It was a little difficult at first to find the place and Hiemanshu called up a person who knew the place to find out the exact location. Google map was wrong this time. Without much ado we reached the place where two people were already waiting. It was a small apartment although sufficient for our purpose. we waited for some more people to come before starting. Deependra had brought his colleague along (who is from Jadavpur University and off-course a Bengali). My friend Vignesh, who is actively involved with FSMK was also there along with his colleague from On Mobile. One of my colleague also joined us. To all our surprise, a very aged person, who had seen the invitation on one of the mailing list, also joined us. I was overwhelmed. He wanted Linux to be spread to to the SMEs and also gave us some ideas. More on that later. After a few more people joined in, we started the event beginning with a very interesting discussion FLOSS scenario in Bangalore and Karnataka in general. Naveen gave us some really interesting facts. They are trying really hard to take Linux and FOSS to the grass root level and have been successful to a large extent. They have also done some community computer center projects similar to the Bijra Project.
By the time we started our Release party agenda, there were around 15 people in the room and eager to learn about the new Fedora. One guy arrived a little late. Everyone was given the one page release note and a Live CD. Some also Live USBs to be made and we obliged. Ankur was the designated candidate for elucidating more on the chic Fedora 13 features. He did a really good job. When I was busy taking snaps, Deependra talked about the functioning of the Fedora project. I also added my own experiences. Some guys who had brought their laptops started trying the live CDs. At this point Naveen tabled the proposal that they can arrange some workshops in the various engineering colleges once the hols are over. Deependra was very excited at this and to help out. We decided to have atleast a couple of such workshops at different colleges sometime during August. A few people also got interested to join the efforts. At the end the people were told about the various resources, and ways to contribute. Naveen said that he can do some documentation and translations to Telegu and Kannada if required. I promised to get back to him regarding this.
All said and all done the pizzas were getting cold and without much delay we started treating ourselves. With this and a few closing notes we closed the release party. The head count was around 15. Overall it was a small yet productive release party with lots of discussions and sharing of experiences. Hope to see more such events in the future.

June 3, 2010

FAD Pune 2010

It all started with a discussion on having a FUDCON India this year. Someone suggested some agendas, others observed the agenda as more suited to a series of FADs, and we decided to have a FAD, off course in Pune as that would make the job of finding a venue, internet connectivity and people a piece of cake. More on that later.

FAD, which is the abbreviated form of "Fedora Activity Day", is an event where people meet up together and work towards getting things done. Everyone has some plans of how they want to spend their time during a FAD and so did all of us. Someone wanted to do some packaging, others aimed at some serious bug zapping and some just wanted to sit and hack on some tough piece of code. Mine was the simplest plan of getting stuffs packaged. I wanted to get some packages reviewed and review some in return. The next few lines shines some light on what I did in the two days.
I had a very start on the first day when I accidentally broke my specs. Wasn't really able to read stuffs and could not get much done. Still I tried to review rtnpro's python-keyring package as I had taken that up earlier. It was missing some dependency and wasn't really compiling. Tried to fix that for him, could not get it done. Even Kushal da tried his hand on it but in vain. Next was getting python-plwm reviewed which I had submitted earlier. Rahul happily took up the task and recommended a few changes which I did and submitted. In the afternoon had a great discussion on Open Hardware with Siddharth from BHASHA . He is a great guy with a barrage of ideas. tuxdna DNA got interested in the ARMStrongIDE project and took it up actively. In the evening, Rahul showed me how to start a different window manager by using .xinitrc . It was really fun. Thus the first day bode farewell.

After a good night sleep, all of us were back on Sunday, all charged up to get things done. Second day was a little more eventful for me. Got my specs repaired. Susmit da had already prepared a wishlist for Fedora Medical Spin. Started packaging one of those, GNUMed to be precise. Also helped Ankur in his glorious attempt tp package kufper which uses the waf build system that too an age old version. Sayamindu da's talk was the highlight of the day, "OLPC as a downstream of Fedora and problems faced". In the mean time rtnpro worked on his vocab building application and Ankur on Fedora tour. Harsh did some packaging for Medical spin as well. Runa spent the day working on Gnote help. By this time, it was evening and Rahul wanted to discuss what we achieved, what more could have been done, what went wrong. Everyone had different opinions but on one stream all agreed - "We need to have more specific agendas". An online version of this event ought to follow soon. The day was concluded with some FUDCON related discussions and so was the FAD.

This was the first FAD I ever attended and it was a great learning experience for me. It was lot more fun and productive and collaborative than any irc version can ever be. Hope to see atleast annual FADs in the years to come if not more.

December 10, 2009


This blog is really a special one. This is an account of a lot of firt times. This was my first visit to Coimbatore, not exactly frst rather first proper visit. Last time I visitted it only for changing a bus on my way to Kodaikanal from Ooty. Also it was my first ever paper presentation in an international conference. First time staying in a hotel alone (seriously). Well enough with firsts, now that you know what this blog is about, let me try and pen down an account of the trip.

Day 1

First thing worth mentioning is that, at this moment, I have been awake for the last 40 hours or so. Writing this blog entry just to keep myself from dozing away in the middle of the cultural programme and dinner. Though the bus was pretty comfy but it's a bad habit of mine that I cannot sleep in a bus. Reached here in the morning at 5:45 am , came straight to PSG college of engineering only to find that the guard has no idea where the conference is happening. He sent me to the PSG hostels where another guard told me that the conference is probably at PSG college of arts. The PSG college of arts was at a place which was more deserted than any place I have ever seen. The guards there were completely taken aback by the simple word "conference". Unable to find out any furtehr information, came back to PSG tech in an auto and I am not kidding when I say that the auto walas here are even bigger robbers than their counterparts in Bangalore. This time I barged straight in, roamed the campus and finally found what I was looking for. The registration was to begin at 8:30 and it was only 6:45. So I went back to Gandhipuram in search of a really cheap hotel. Found a decent hotel for 370 per day and came back after taking shower.

The organizers were really helpful and helped me to get myself registered. The conference had already began. After an awesome breakfast, started attending the plenary taks one by one.

The lunch was as sumptuous as the breakfast. My poster presentation was in the afternoon. I finished setting up the bits and pieces of papers and slides I had prepared on the very last day and the day before that , staying awake till 4 in the morning. So the moment finally arrived and a few people came by wanting to know what my work was all about. I explained tem prperly and also handed them printed copies of my paper. After this I went for a NABIC session where I saw a paper being presented which had only excerpts from other papers. It was basically a compilation of 6 previous papers. How can something like this get selected? Currently sitting here at Quadrangle waiting for the cultural programme to start. Is extremely tired. I will simply throw myself into bed once I reach the hotel.

Made some new friends on the first day, one from Bangladesh, one from Iran and two more from Japan and China. Nice to see these friendly people. Took a lot of snaps wit them. The guy from China said that Indians are great scholars and mentioned that they never even knew what paper presentations and conferences are when they were in college. I don't how that should make me feel keeping in mind the tremendous growth of research in China, but I really feel proud on something like that coming from a Chinese. See you guys tomorrow.

Day 2

This day was much more on the technical side. Reached the venue a little late. The plenary talks were really good. Dr. Hideyuki Takagi had a talk on "Interactive Evolutionary computing". Lot of the topics were new to me and thoroughly enjoyed the talks and presentations. Bo stuck with me all through the day. After lunch , there were some more interesting presentations. Talked to a lot of people, got their contacts.

The poster session on the second day saw a lot more crowd. Later in the day, I talked to Dr. Mario Koeppen about an idea that I had. I shall be working on that. H gave me some pointers and some ideas to. I will be in touch with him. After the sessions, there was the awards ceremony followed by the gala dinner which brought an end to a very fruitful day.

Day 3

There were no no plenary talks today but only a tutorial on "Content based image retrieval". I did not register for it although I should have as it could have been useful for me. Once the presentations got over, it was time for lunch. A trip to a place called 'Isha Yoga Centre' was organized by the conference committee. This place was inside a reserve forest and was pretty awesome. The ambience was calm and serene and, as the saying goes, one can meet with his inner self if he keeps an open mind. I really enjoyed the trip.

Thus came an end to the conference and it was time to bid goodbye to all the new friends. My bus was at 10:45 p.m which I boarded and was on my way to Bangalore.

May 15, 2009

Fedora Activity Day at Dr. B.C Roy Engineering College

On 14th May, Thursday, a Fedora Activity Day was organized by the Durgapur Linux Users' Group (DGPLUG) at Dr. B.C Roy Engineering College, Durgapur. Though this event was in planning for a long time and was supposed to happen 1 months earlier, it had to be postponed by more than a month. But it finally materialised. Well as they say- "Better late than never".
Ratnadeep contacted me long back and I agreed to take a session on FEL and helping them out with the FAD in general. On the day of the FAD, I was all ready to tune in to FEL mode.
The organizers had arranged for a nice computer lab for the FAD. It had around 30 computers and each was running a FEL live DVD, the ones they had burned the previous night. These would be serving a triple purpose- FEL demonstration, KDE desktop demo and free media. All set up, we were waiting for the students who started arriving at around 11:30 a.m and the lab was almost full by 12:00 noon. We were there, ready to get, set and go.
The FAD started with an "Introduction to Fedora project" by makghosh followed a very nice presentation on " Myths about Linux busted with Fedora" by Kishan Goyal. Subhodip chipped in at times where some extra information needed to be provided. These two sessions established the foundation and explained to the people what Fedora is. Next in line was a very colourfull demonstration by our artwork team members, the Linux chix of DGPLUG. They showed some cool Inkscape handiwork and some artwork they had made themselves. What's the use of a Linux installation if you cannot use it. Yes usability is very important and the next demo served exactly this purpose. It was a demo on Desktop usability. Sunny Sharma, with a little help from Ratnadeep and me, did a pretty great job of amazing the audience with the frills and cool graphics of KDE. It was already 2:10 and our stomachs were growling. So we decided to take a lunch break and meet at 2:45 sharp.
The people were really punctual and almost all of them were back at 2:50 p.m after a trip to the canteen upstairs. I forgot to mention that there was a blizzard outside and we had a power cut. The lab was running of UPS which was crying out loud and could give up any moment. All the PCs were switched off and only the bare necessities were kept running- the projector and the laptop. Under such grave circumstances I got up to start a demo of IRC. Sunny Sharma was helping me out. The Airtel mobile office connection that we were using was damn slow and we were left with no other choice than as Airtel blocks IRC port. We explained them the concept of IRC, what are networks, what are channels and what are nicknames. Connecting to a network and joining a channel was also showed. Channels like #fedora, #fedora-india, #dgplug, #nitdgplug, ##linux on freenode were sown. Then came the very important thing about IRC ettiquette. Roshan Singh and Shakthi Kannan helped us demonstrate IRC live. Roshan helped establish a very good point that its not always geeky stuffs on IRC but we also have fun.
By this time a few electronics students had joined the crowd and they had come exclusively for the Fedora Electronics Lab session. So we began the FEL session without further delays. The UPS had already run out of life and I had to use the laptop to show them the various things we can do with FEL. No big screen this time. Almost the whole portfolio was demonstrated. I kept in mond the student's necessities and demonstrated only those tools in details which would be useful to them. gsim85, Ktechlab, octave, piklab, gresistor, drawtiming, ghdl were some of the tools. I had prepared some examples and used them to illustrate the functionalities. One student was also asked to try his hand on KTechlab and he did a pretty good job. KTechlab pretty much was the spotlight tool. The students were also give some tips on how to contribute to FEL , the fedora-electronic mailing list and some sites wich might come in handy. The power cut still loomed large and a concensus was reached to continue with the other sessions the next day.
I wasn't present the next day but as I heard that around 30 people attended the sessions, and learned a lot from the gcc, vim, shell commands sessions. As a toping to the ice cream, Subhodip gave a presentation on how to contribut to FOSS. That was pretty much it. All that remained was a follow up to this event which is already under planning and will probably be held in August. Till then the participants ave got enough to chew on.