posted by Gary Routh on Tue 17th Aug 2004 19:07 UTC
IconI had bitter feelings about RealNetworks products and practices years ago, but over the last couple of years I find that RealPlayer8 is one of the first apps I open on my linux machines. I confess I am a BBC Radio addict living in the USA and streaming audio is my only way to listen.

Click for a larger view The recent announcement of RealPlayer 10 for Linux caught my eye and I decided it was worth taking it for a test drive. Since I was not sure how this might impact my production machines I decided to just slap a new instance of Slackware 10 on a spare partition of my test box. My main linux machines all run Slackware and Dropline Gnome so it seemed best to work with a 'plain vanilla' clean install.

My test box is a home built Abit AI7 mb, Pentium4 2.4GHz, 512MB ddr, 60GB Maxtor, Geforce3 ti500 video; my trusty old Ensoniq 5880 audio card; and nice high-speed cable broadband. I already have Slack 10 running in another partition on this machine with RealPlayer8 so I can compare the new and old on the same hardware.

My main concern about the new RealPlayer10 (RP10) was that it might break some of my older scripts and applications that I use to rip ogg audio files. I decided to take the full leap and loaded the Slack 10 CD's optional 2.6.7 kernel, Gnome 2.6.2, new Alsa 1.0.5 drivers, the latest Nvidia 1.0-6111 driver, GCC 3.3.4, and Mozilla 1.7. Install went smooth and I chose not to do any of my usual final configuration tweaks.

Click for a larger view I went to the new RealPlayer 10 website (www.real.com/linux) and downloaded the 6762kb RealPlayer10GOLD.bin file. This is the July 30, 2004 GTK+2 based package which sports a total rewrite from the years-old version we have all been running (Figure 1). There are lots of major changes so that is why I went to such an extreme to test it in a clean and pure install. You can learn more about the great new HelixPlayer1 project and how it relates to RealPlayer 10 at the Helix Community website. My focus here is on RP10 since I am primarily interested in streaming RealAudio.

Install was straight forward following Real's brief instructions on the website. To recap, I installed as root:

# chmod a+x RealPlayer10GOLD.bin (make it executable)
# ./RealPlayer10GOLD.bin (start install)
# specify directory: /usr/local/RealPlayer10 (typical Slack path)
# config system-wide symlinks in: /usr
# installation complete

I checked in /usr/local/RealPlayer10/ and found the usual collection of Real files and the 'realplay' executable. Gnome 2.6 even showed a menu listing for RealPlayer 10 (Figure 2). Found the nice new Real icon in the Slackware /usr/share/pixmaps directory. I made symlinks to my mozilla-1.7/plugins directory for the two Real plugins found in my /usr/local/RealPlayer10/mozilla : 'nphelix.so' and 'nphelix.xpt'. I also found 'libgtkhx.so' in my /usr/lib/realplay directory so I linked it to mozilla's plugin directory just in case (doubt if this one matters, but thought I should mention it in case it does help).

On first launch I was greeted by a nice clean new setup screen which stepped me through the Release Notes and License Agreement. The final screen presented two options with check boxes: 'check for updates' and 'configure mozilla helpers'. Needless to say, I checked the mozilla box. Joy of joys, there it was, the new RealPlayer screen in Slackware's plain theme. I believe it is suppose to adopt the user's chosen desktop theme. I poked around in the RP10 menus and noticed that the Preferences options are much more complete now (Figure 3). Although, I miss the old RealPlayer8 option: "enable support for old OSS drivers (Linux only)". Got me a little worried because my vsound app requires that. A major menu improvement is the 'Open Location' screen. It now has a large enough window to easily paste in urls (Figure 4) and is no longer limited to 10 items. The Help -> FAQ menu links to an excellent and very useful HelixPlayer / Realplayer FAQ webpage that explains numerous player details and project objectives.

Table of contents
  1. "Real Player, Page 1/2"
  2. "Real Player, Page 2/2"
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