I was trying to play a QuickTime movie on Ubuntu (“Hardy Heron”, 8.04) and was surprised to find out that Totem (the default Mozilla plug-in for streaming movies) had a (ahem) hard time to play the movie. VLC to the rescue: well, almost. It’s the codecs, dude.
First verify if the ‘ubuntu-restricted’ downloads are installed: You can either issue an ‘sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras’ or you can look in the ‘Add/Remove’ option in the Application Menu. Select ‘All Available Applications’ and do a search for ‘ubuntu-restricted’. If not, on to the hard way.
First I recommend to get rid of the default Mozilla/Firefox video plugin (which is Totem and it totally sucks): sudo apt-get remove totem-mozilla mozilla-plugin-vlc xine-plugin kaffeine-mozilla helix-player mozilla-helix-player.
Then, install Mplayer by invoking sudo apt-get install mplayer mozilla-mplayer
After this, you should be able to view Quicktime movies in all of your installed videoplayers (Totem, VLC and MPlayer). When MPlayer is installed, don’t forget to enable the software-mixer in the preferences: and if you’re SOL, you may want to restart the computer right after that (I had some bad luck with my machine which may have been unrelated to the MPlayer installation).
I think my troubles started with the fact that I originally installed ‘Gutsy Gibbon’ on my machine: the dist-upgrade to Hardy Heron, issued just yesterday, most likely didn’t automatically finish the setup of the ‘ubuntu-restricted’ package, so, if you started out from scratch with ‘Hardy Heron’, you should not have any troubles viewing WMV/Quicktime, since it is supposed to have been installed. If you plan to stick to Gutsy (and upgrade to Hardy afterwards) , you most likely want to follow the steps mentioned above.
Update 1: Notice that even if you issue ‘manual apt commands’, the installed packages will add the correct program icon to the appropriate ‘Application menu’ in Gnome. I assume, the same is true if you’re working with Kubuntu or Xubuntu.
Update 2: If you noticed that Ubuntu has problems playing sound in concurrent sessions (i.e. sound in a Flash player goes OK in FireFox, but no sound in MPlayer/Banshee or vice versa), you should definitely follow these instructions to correct the problem. Requires some editing of resource files: nothing spectacular.