New video formats are continually being developed, but Ubuntu 10.10 only supports older media players unable to play them properly. Since VideoLAN Client (VLC) stops at version 1.1.4 in Ubuntu 10.10, would compiling the latest VLC 2.0.3 provide Ubuntu 10.10 with an updated media player?
Here is another adventure in compiling VLC and eventually getting 2.0.3 to run in Ubuntu 10.10.
Obtain the VLC Source
Download the source code vlc-2.0.3.tar.xz from the VLC web site.
Extract vlc-2.0.3.tar.xz to a dedicated directory within home to keep things tidy.
Uninstall the Existing VLC
Completely remove VLC using Synaptic Package Manager. Search for “vlc” and choose Mark for Complete Removal. Do the same for other-vlc-related packages, such as vlc-nox.
Configuring…Over and Over
Switch to the extract VLC directory, and follow the compiling instructions. Configuration in a terminal is the first step.
Configure will halt about missing packages–one at a time. For each package, open Synaptic Package Manager and install the dev version of the package. Even though a package, such as libavcodec, might be installed, vlc wants the dev version. So, if it asks for libswscale, install libswscale-dev. Do this for each missing package (There are many!). Keep Synaptic open for convenience, and search for each missing package in the Quick Search box. Run ./configure after each newly installed package. Eventually, ./configure will complete without errors. Warnings are normal.
Why do this? True, there are commands that grab all dependencies, but they never worked in this experiment. The only workable solution was the trial and error approach.
If make and gcc are missing, install them with,
sudo apt-get install make gcc
After the configuration is complete, run make.
Make halted with error about “/usr/lib/libGL.so: No such file or directory.”
Actually, the file intended by libGL.so exists, but under a different name. This is why make aborted at this point. Running,
revealed that two files were present:
The file /usr/lib/libGL.so.1 was a symbolic link to the real file /usr/lib/libGL.so.295.53, which is what make was looking for. A simple way around this was to create a symbolic link directly to /usr/lib/libGL.so.295.53.
sudo ls -s /usr/lib/libGL.so.295.53 /usr/lib/libGL.so
Now, make should find the needed file. Ran make distclean and started over again.
make distclean ./configure make
Success! Make compiled vlc without any further problems. Time to test VLC and watch videos!
runs the compiled VLC from the build directory.
Also, VLC can be installed in the system by running,
sudo make install
Did VLC 2.0.3 Work?
Yes, but only a command line interface was possible. No GUI. Videos played, but only by typing long paths and using commands. Honestly, a CLI requires to much effort for casual viewing, so a GUI is preferable.
In addition, the compiled VLC 2.0.3 played videos with the same quality as the previous VLC 1.1.4. Hi10P videos still displayed compression artifacts, smudginess, and a purple tint, so nothing was solved. Checking the VLC version showed that version 2.0.3 was running.
VLC was removed by running,
sudo make uninstall
and then deleting the source file directory.
The original VLC 1.1.4 was reinstalled from the Ubuntu Software Center to regain the working Linux VLC.
A Surprising Solution
Linux is a versatile, powerful operating system capable of running Windows programs using wine, so why not simply use the Windows binary in wine? Would that work? After downloading VLC 2.0.3 for Windows, it was installed in Ubuntu using,
VLC installed quickly and easily without problems in a matter of seconds. A desktop shortcut even appeared. After opening VLC for Windows, a video file was opened from its menu, and–Lo and Behold–it worked!
The Hi10P test file played video perfectly with smooth full-screen motion. A little tearing was noticeable in a few places, but that might be because of the system. It was nothing major. The compression artifacts and smudginess VLC 1.1.4 exhibited during Hi10P playback were gone. The purple tint was also absent, and the colors displayed in their proper richness. Full GUI controls were present in the video overlay the same as on a Windows system. Even better is that video files could be dragged and dropped onto the Windows version of the VLC window for immediate playback just like the Linux VLC.
The only drawback was that audio playback–no matter how good the audio quality–seemed to play at a low resolution, making it sound scratchy–much like listening to a 128kbps joint-stereo MP3 audio recording of a waterfall. Playing the same file in a native Linux media player produced crystal clear audio.
It’s the best of both worlds in Linux. This solution was simple and took only a few moments to get an updated VLC on Ubuntu 10.10 compared to the lengthy process of compiling a native Linux binary.
To make video files open with the Windows VLC instead of the Linux VLC, open the video file’s properties, choose the Open With tab, and select the plain vlc option (Windows wine version) instead of VLC media player (native Linux version). Double-clicking on video files of the matching filename extension opens them in the Windows VLC.
Would Updating Wine Fix the Audio?
Probably, but this was not tested. Installing the latest Wine 1.5 is an intensive endeavor on Ubuntu 10.10 because it requires libc6 2.14 or greater, and there is no way to easily update libc6 in Ubuntu 10.10. So, Wine 1.4 was used with Ubuntu 10.10.
Winehq gives VLC 2.0.1 a silver rating using Wine 1.5.4.
Again, compiling VLC has been problematic in Ubuntu 10.10 due to outdated packages, so an OS upgrade might be necessary. However, Ubuntu 10.10 is so handy, useful, easy to use, and packed with convenient features missing from newer versions, that it is hard to give up.
Running the Windows version of VLC in wine quickly solves the problem of improper playback of newer video files, such as Hi10P. Compiling a working VLC for Ubuntu 10.10 is a difficult, time-consuming endeavor for those not familiar with VLC’s inner workings. Too many things go wrong during the configure and make phases, resulting in serious resolution efforts.
Wine to the rescue! VLC 2.0.3 for Windows is a miracle performer in Linux with wine and runs almost as good as it does on a Windows system–as far as can be determined from playback so far. Fullscreen is smooth, controls function as intended, filters and effects apply in real-time, and Hi10P videos play properly without the issues seen in earlier versions of VLC and other older Linux media players. Aside from the low-quality audio, VLC in wine runs well.
For those seeking a modern video player on an outdated version of Ubuntu, VLC 2.0.3 in wine is worth trying.