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July 26, 2016

Codec support for openSUSE Leap 42.1

Do you use openSUSE Leap 42.1? Do you want Twitter to stop displaying "This browser does not support video playback." when you're looking at it in Firefox? Do you want support for stuff like watching DVDs and H.264/ACC in an mp4 container in gstreamer (used by the GNOME Videos application (Totem), Parole and others)? Do you want to do these things without polluting your install by adding third party repositories and replacing packages provided by openSUSE? Do you want to do that stuff on a machine you don't have root on? If you answered yes to any of the previous questions, keep reading.

For some years I used to maintain machines running SUSE Linux Enterprise Desktop and rolled my own solution for adding codec support to them by way of a single package that doesn't conflict with anything provided by SUSE. (The last iteration can be found at https://www.suse.com/communities/blog/additional-multimedia-codec-support-sled-12/) Having installed openSUSE Leap 42.1 I found that the recommend method for adding codec support was a page which said something like "this isn't available for technical reasons try this other place" and that other place talked about the phonon backend with no mention of gstreamer. Then I decided to build my own solution for openSUSE too. You can get it by clicking Stuff to add codec support to openSUSE Leap 42.1


You need to read the README.txt file for full details, but to give you an idea of what’s involved, the build process is as follows:

$ ./build


It'll tell you if there are packages you need to install. Install those, then run the script again. By default the plugins will be built to live in /opt/multimedia If you want them to live somewhere else then change the line

prefix=/opt/multimedia;

to reflect where you want to put them. E.g if you want them in your home directory you could use

prefix="${HOME}/.multimedia";

By default an rpm will be built but if you set the prefix to something in your home directory the rpm won’t be built as it’s assumed you’re specifying your home directory as the prefix because you don’t have root and hence can’t install an rpm.

What the script basically does is build a bunch of gstreamer plugins, stick them somewhere they don't clash with what's in openSUSE packages, and put something in place so gstreamer can find them. Making Firefox play videos in Twitter rather than display the "This browser does not support video playback." is done by including ffmpeg, which Firefox will use for video playback if it's installed. (Far as I can tell, the significant file is libavcodec.so. The ffmpeg binaries like ffmpeg, ffserver etc are also included.)

There's nothing for hardware decoding of H.264 included. I have an Nvidia card and use the propriety Nvidia drivers. I can get hardware acceleration for H.264 by installing gstreamer-plugins-vaapi which is in the standard Leap 42.1 repos. Unfortunately installing it renders Totem unable to play H.264 video. It displays black for a few seconds than borks. The version of gstreamer-plugins-vaapi included in Leap 42.1 is 0.5.10. I found that 0.7.0 is the latest version that will build with gstreamer 1.4.5 that's included in Leap, but that didn't work any better for me. (Seems it did for this guy though https://blogs.gnome.org/ovitters/2015/12/23/hardware-accelerated-video-playing-with-totem/bl ). Parole, the XFCE video application, works though. It uses GTK and gstreamer and works fine in GNOME. If you want to get minimalist about it, you could also use gst-play-1.0

$ gst-play-1.0 --interactive video.mp4

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