First errata (already!)

Good news: November 1 represents the Publication Date of openSUSE Linux Unleashed, already cracking some of the charts at Amazon (wow!).

But this very evening I discovered the first big error in the book. It’s tragic, I know. There will be a more formal Errata page on the book’s site when it gets built, but I want to share this with you while the experience is fresh.

The book has a lengthy section describing openSUSE’s lack of out-of-the-box support for proprietary multimedia codecs (notably MP3 and encrypted DVDs), with instructions on getting MP3s to play on your system. Perfectly good instructions, if somewhat complicated. Tonight I found out it doesn’t have to be that hard. The openSUSE engineers have finally come up with a simple solution to this vexing problem.

I’ve been using the truly fabulous Amarok player for music and podcasts with a minimum of hassle. After a YaST update, I lined up some podcasts, clicked Play and got an unexpected error message, along with an unexpected solution. I don’t have the actual message here, but essentially it said “We can’t play this file — Would you like to get the proper codecs?” Clicking Yes opened a Konqueror web browser to the openSUSE Software site. There you get a choice between getting the commercial Fluendo codecs or the community supported free codecs. Visiting the Fluendo Webshop lets you purchase and download some reasonably-priced codecs, ranging from the free MP3 codec to the “complete set of playback plugins” for 28 Euros. The MP3 codec is a tarball you have to install yourself. For some users, this isn’t a problem, but newbies with a command-line phobia may have trouble.

For ease of use, just click Community Information from the openSUSE Software page. The openSUSE Community Multimedia site opens. Scrolling down past the information on Ogg Vorbis, one sees the Restricted Multimedia Formats section, along with the truly marvelous solution: The One-Click Install Wizard. Separate buttons for KDE (with Amarok) and GNOME (with Banshee) users, but basically the same sets of codecs.

Click the link and some minutes later, you have the proper support installed. I had to quit Amarok and reload, but thenceforward the previously loaded podcasts played just beautifully. Problem solved.

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