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Windows Media in Firefox on Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid

January 29, 2011

Ubuntu has become so user friendly lately that it is surprising when something doesn’t work right.  I have a new Ubuntu Media player system I’d set up for watching on our HD TV… you’d think I could just watch a Windows Media stream on it…. but noooo. The system for my media player is a HP Compaq P4HT  running 10.04 Lucid. I got it to work in the end, and I’ll tell you how I did it. Here’s the story:

Today I was watching the Egyptian crisis unfold on live Aljazeera video stream (which is almost HD quality).   After I tried looking to see what was the headlines on Skynews in Firefox, but it responded with “Search for suitable plugin? The required software to play this file is not installed.”   When I click search, it looks but responds with “No packages with the requested plugins found” when searching for codecs to play back Windows Media 9 stream.   This is surprising because I have the “ the ubuntu-restricted-extras package” already installed. VLC will play the stream outside of Firefox so something is reading the file.  So how do I get the stream to play within Firefox which uses the Totem Browser Plugin 2.30.2?

Here’s what I tried. There was an informative thread here on the ubuntu forums, discussing something similar.  So installed Medibuntu repos to start.  I was then able to install the w32codecs package.  I restarted Firefox but no change.

I added the repository for the latest gstreamer with “sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gstreamer-developers”, then updated and upgraded. I then restarted Firefox and it works now!  Sad to say this is how complicated it was to get a simple thing like a Windows Media 9 video stream working properly in Ubuntu 10.04.   I guess it has to do with the complicated proprietary format licensing issues.

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