Wednesday, July 15, 2009

VLC media player problems on Ubuntu and Mint

I've been using VLC as my preferred media player on the EeePC 901 for some time now mainly because you don't have to worry about installing codecs and everything just seems to work, or at least it did.
Now I should point out here that I have only used the audio in VLC as I rarely, if ever, watch video.
However, just recently I've noticed that VLC (0.9.9 from the repos) at times refuses to accept a music folder that I drag into it and eventually I'm forced to force-quit VLC.
Trying to start VLC from a terminal, when it wasn't going to work (refuse music folders dragged to it) gave

Running vlc with the default interface. Use 'cvlc' to use vlc without interface.
libdvdnav: Using dvdnav version 4.1.3
libdvdread: Using libdvdcss version 1.2.10 for DVD access
libdvdread: Couldn't find device name.
libdvdnav: Can't read name block. Probably not a DVD-ROM device.
libdvdnav: Unable to find map file '/home/paul/.dvdnav/.map'
libdvdnav:DVDOpenFilePath:findDVDFile /VIDEO_TS/VIDEO_TS.IFO failed
libdvdnav:DVDOpenFilePath:findDVDFile /VIDEO_TS/VIDEO_TS.BUP failed
libdvdread: Can't open file VIDEO_TS.IFO.
libdvdnav: vm: failed to read VIDEO_TS.IFO

This problem seemed to be somewhat worse in Linux Mint 7 than in Ubuntu 9.04. What I found in Mint was that many (more than ten) instances of VLC could be running at the same time when I had this problem. Not only that but it seemed impossible to quit any of these instances by means of the kill or killall commands.
Even more strange is that rebooting Linux Mint did not cause any of the running instances of VLC to quit. I don't think I've seen this phenomenon before. However, by shutting down for a short time and then restarting, it was eventually possible to get rid of this plethora of running, but non-functioning, VLC instances.
I found essentially no references to the problem I was experiencing in Google so no easy solution was available.
However, I installed an upgraded VLC (1.0.0) according to this guide in both Ubuntu and Mint on the 901 and everything looks good so far. Certainly, I can use kill to quit VLC from the CLI. Up to now I have never seen more than one instance of VLC by using ps -e | grep vlc.
Nevertheless, I should point out that the severe problems that i saw with VLC 0.9.9 in Linux Mint seemed to develop only after some days of use.
So whether the good performance of VLC 1.0.0 will persist is not known right now. I'll post an edit should anything untoward occurr.

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