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Conducting Virtual Meetings with Linux, Part I - page 3

Online Conferencing on the Cheap

  • May 14, 2002
  • By Rob Reilly

In order to listen to an audio stream you will need some type of MP3 audio player. I like Xmms because of its slick user interface. Another common player is mpg123. Most distributions have Xmms, so installation should be easy using the normal methods. Current source and RPM's are available for download at www.xmms.org/download.html.

Next, you will need to start up a web browser. I typically use Mozilla 1.0C1 or Netscape 4.78. If you like Konqueror or Galeon, use one of those. I suppose you could even use Lynx, although I have not tried it.

A browser is needed for several reasons.

  • You need to get the audio stream started.
  • You need to be able to view web pages as they are discussed. Obviously you will have to navigate to the page on your own, as the meeting host talks about them.
  • If you want to initiate a discussion about a web site, it's always nice to look at the same page that the physical meeting members see. How many times has a site changed since you last visited it earlier in the day?

For our Melbourne example, navigate to www.mlinux.org and click on "Listen In". Next, click on "Click here to listen", also known as http://65.124.51.132:8000/.

A box will appear that allows you to save the file, or open it in an application. You'll want to open it in XMMS. If the "Listen In" picture shows "On Air," XMMS will load and after a few seconds you should hear the meeting in progress. (Don't be discouraged, sometimes there isn't much talking at the beginning because equipment is being shuffled and members are settling in.)

Depending on your sound card settings you may need to start a mixer program and adjust the levels if the volume is real low. I like smixer or gamix.

There isn't much to Xmms, it just sits there playing the audio stream. I had some problems with version 1.2.5-67 whenever the stream would end. My laptop would lock up. My temporary solution was to click the Stop button before the stream ended. Now I'm running Xmms version 1.2.7 and don't seem to have the crash problem.

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