Saturday, September 17, 2005

Windows: It Doesn't Just Work

Not long ago, I noted that the title to one of my posts wasn't altogether fair.

This title, OTOH, is completely fair.

One of the usual complaints about Linux is that things don't "just work." Well, friends, let me tell you, some times it isn't the Linux system that has the problem:

Several weeks ago, I added a DVD drive to my Linux computer. It performed flawlessly: it reads, plays, rips, burns and reads to CD, and does the same for DVDs. All with stuff that came straight out of Fedora Core, except for the addons that are needed to get around RedHat's nervousness about MP3s and DVD encoding. But that was simple: a little bit of jiggling here, a little more jiggling there, all from easily obtainable, free, open source projects. It just worked!

Emboldened, I went out and bought another identical DVD drive for the Windows machine. This one is from Monarch Computer, including the Nero OEM Suite 3, which, you'll note, is supposed to play DVD movies.

The drive came in the same condition as the one from, i.e., no box, no instructions, bubble-wrapped, and probably previously returned. Software came clearly marked OEM in a paper sleeve. About what I expected.

OK, installation was easy, now that I know how to get the front of the Dell case off. Do you know how dirty a computer can get? I'd removed the main panel of the Dell last month, so the main compartment wasn't dirty, but the front compartment? I've seen the insides of vacuum cleaners that looked better. A lot of dust gathered there since I last opened the case. More than in the Linux box. Probably the difference is a matter of location, though I can't imagine why it's the Windows box that draws in more dust.

(Because Windows sucks, Dave. Quiet, Hal.)

Anyway, installing was a breeze. Windows found the drive immediately, and I was able to play CDs and read DVD directories without installing the Nero software. So I tried to watch a movie.

I was given two choices: Windows Media Player (version 8), and RealPlayer, version 10.

Neither worked. WMP8, I understand, it doesn't play DVDs by default. RP10, on the other hand, should. However, it gives an error which suggests that it's not able to decode the copy protection. So maybe I need a driver for that.

So I installed the Nero software. Try to play a DVD. It just blinks. Look at the package. There is a very small asterisk. It says that this version, unlike the version described above, won't play video DVDs. Thanks, Monarch.

OK, go install Windows Media Player 10, widely advertised to play DVDs.

It probably does. On some machines. However, on this Windows machine, using exactly the same hardware that my Linux box uses to successfully play DVD movies, Windows won't play the movie.

Even when I go down to 16 bit color and 800x600 resolution.

It does suggest that I might purchase a third party video decoder from a company other than Microsoft.

OK, Windows users. Yeah, those of you who drift in from time to time looking for information about Firefox and rtsp: tell me how I can get my Windows machine, with exactly the same hardware as my Linux machine, to play DVD movies in the same, easy, fashion my Linux machine does.


Anonymous said...

There is mplayer for Windows too. Maybe u can try that. But I never have had any problem using even Windows Media player on Windows.

rcjhawk said...

Hmm. I'll look into it. If there was a Xine for Windows, I'd be happy. I didn't particularly like the way mplayer dealt with the DVD menu -- basically, it doesn't read it.

However, I have bigger problems to worry about at the moment. The DVDs will just have to be watched on the DVD player or the PS2 for now ...

Daisy said...
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Daisy said...
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Daisy said...

Sorry, I ranted about Windows users and pirated software in the previous post. Here's the info I posted in the second without any references:

media player classic seemed to work straight away with playing DVD's. I doubt it's got libdvdcss built into it but I'd give it a try.

Also, try videoLAN. That might help too:

You need to find either a libdvdcss port or a method to remove the CSS limitation with region codes.

Wimp can play DVD's, it just won't open protected one's. DVD Region Free will let you remove the protection if VideoLAN or MPC don't work:

Don't know if DVD-Region Free is legal.

You do go to don't you?

rcjhawk said...

VLC looks interesting, anyway.

However, I got a note in my recently restored email saying that my (pleas, whines, threats never to buy anything from them, pick one) to Monarch computer had melted the heart of the tech support staff, and they were sending me, free of charge, something called "Power DVD." Presumably this will have the proper DVD decoding software.

By USPS, which once left me one of these. So far the software hasn't arrived.

I suppose that computer manufactures now ship DVD software along with new computers equipped with DVD drives, so this problem shouldn't happen in the future. But there will be other issues with Windows, don't worry.

rcjhawk said...

P.S. Monarch sent me not one, but two copies of the software. So far, though, I haven't had any requests to install it on the Windows machine, so I haven't. Go figure.