April 20, 2019

Helix Player Needs More Cooking Time - page 3

Whence Helix?

  • March 8, 2004
  • By Kurt Wall

For the record, the plugin refused to work in Firefox 0.8 or Firebird 0.7 if I installed it in my home directory. In the system directory, the plugin showed up in "about:plugins" screen without issue. The installation also made some unwarranted assumptions about where things are installed on your system. For example, the installer wanted to install the browswer plugin in /usr/lib/mozilla/plugins. This is fine, except that I don't use Mozilla, I use Firebird and Firefox, and I have these lighter-weight broswers installed in /usr/local.

The installation warts notwithstanding, the standalone Helix Player started on my system and played all of the RealMedia files I could throw at it. Figure 1 shows a clip of Sting's After the Rain Has Fallen in Helix Player for Linux (the standalone client, not the plugin--see below for my trials with that).

I ran significant difficulties trying to get the browswer plugin to work. The plugin was properly detected, according to "about:plugins," but the plugin would not kick in for the appropriate file types. In other situations, the browswer plugin would try to start, then crash, taking the browser with it. A quick review of the Helix Community Web site revealed that others had had the same problem and more (core dumps, unpleasant interactions with other plugins, bad sound, no sound at all). After 20 minutes of fiddling with it, I gave up and configured my browser to play the supported filetypes using the standalone player as a helper application.

Helix Player has promise, but it isn't quite cooked yet. To be fair, I was not testing released builds (there are none), my testing was far from rigorous, and I didn't go to extraordinary lengths to get things to work. In short, Helix Player for Linux has potential, especially if the larger Helix project can deliver on its real promise: multi-format, cross-platform digital media playing, creation, and serving based on open source technologies. At the moment, though, Helix Player is not ready for prime time.

Kurt Wall is an all-around Linux geek. He has written all or parts of eight books about Linux and UNIX programming and system administration and is the technical editor for over a dozen other Linux- and UNIX-related titles. Currently, Kurt works for TimeSys Corporation in Pittsburgh and lives in South Park, Pennsylvania. He receives entirely too much email at kwall@kurtwerks.com.

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