This post was originally published on December 15, 2009. The original can be found here.
Just about everything that I’ve ever read about media playback on Linux has been negative. As I understand the situation, the general consensus of the internet is that Linux should not be relied on to play media of any kind. Further, I know that the other guys have had troubles with video playback in the past.
All of which added up to me being extremely confused when I accidentally discovered that my system takes video playback like a champ. Now from the outset, you should know that my system is extremely underpowered where high definition video playback is concerned. I’m running Debian testing on a laptop with a 1.73 GHz single-core processor, 758MB shared video RAM, and a 128MB Intel GMA 900 integrated graphics card.
Incredibly enough, it turns out that this humble setup is capable of playing almost every video file that I can find, even with compiz effects fully enabled and just a base install of vlc media player.
Most impressively, the machine can flawlessly stream a 1280x528px 1536kb/s *.mkv file over my wireless network.
As a comparison, I have a Windows Vista machine with a 2.3GHz processor, 4GB of RAM, and a 512MB video card upstairs that can’t play the same file without special codecs and the help of a program called CoreAVC. Even with these, it plays the file imperfectly.
I can’t explain how this is possible, but needless to say, I am astounded at the ability of Linux.
Previously I was running KDE 4.3.3 on top of Fedora 11 (for the first experiment) and KDE 4.6.5 on top of Gentoo (for the second experiment).