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Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada

I live in the Fortress of Solitude. I drive the Silver Beast. My obsession is justice. I used to be a Windows software developer. I retired in 2000 when my stock options helped me achieve financial security.

Saturday, January 28, 2006

How to Get Started with Linux, Part II

When you've installed SUSE Linux, your PC is not quite complete. A number of proprietary programs and components, such as Java, Macromedia Flash, Windows Media support, and DVD playback, are missing. This is because proprietary software is not compatible with the Open Source philosophy and GPL license. DVD playback and DVD ripping, in particular, may be in violation of certain countries' copyright laws. For example, the United States has the damn annoying Digital Millennium Copyright Act or DMCA, which restricts people's fair use rights with respect to copyrighted materials. (Help fight for your fair use rights by going here.)

However, as an individual, you may install these programs at your own discretion. You assume the responsibility for any possible violations. I, for one, am not afraid to do so. Why should these ass-lickers tell **me** what I may or may not do with my own computer?! Let them come after me if they're so inclined. I can't believe that anyone would go to the trouble of going after small fish like me.

So, here's what you do to install the extra software needed for things like DVD and MP3 playback, playing RealMedia, and so on...

You will be using the "Software Management" component of YaST, the Control Center for SUSE Linux, to install the extra software. But before you do this, you need to point YaST to the correct software repositories. This is not as scary as it might sound.

First, startup YaST and open the "Installation Source" component. Click the "Enable or Disable" button in order to prevent YaST from referencing your installation CDs. Then click on the "Add" button, select "HTTP..." and enter

into the Server Name field. Click OK.

Again, click on the "Add" button, select "HTTP..." and enter

into the Server Name field. Click OK. Do the same for:

Once you're done, you need to turn off "Refresh" for each of the above software sources. You do this by selecting each software source line and clicking on the "Refresh On or Off" button. When you're finished, click on "Finish."

There, you're ready to begin installing your extra software.

Installing Thunderbird
If you like Firefox, then you will like Thunderbird. Thunderbird is one of the best email programs available. While Kmail is a perfectly adequate email client, why not use a superior program?

To install Thunderbird, go back to YaST and open the "Software Management" component. Starting Software Management will cause it to read package information off the Internet. This will take some time, so be patient.

Once it's done, search for "MozillaThunderbird" in the Search field. You will find two search results. Check off "MozillaThunderbird" only.

Installing Java
Java may be needed for visiting some websites. To install it, open Software Management again. Search for "sun" and check off the following search results:
  • java-1_5_0-sun
  • java-1_5_0-sun-alsa
  • java-1_5_0-sun-jdbc
  • java-1_5_0-sun-plugin

Installing Multimedia Add-ons
Open Software Management again. Search for "w32codec-all" and check off the search result.

Then search for "flash" and check off the search result. Accept the license agreement.

Then search for "realplayer" and check off the search result "RealPlayer."

Search for "mplayer" and check off the search result "MPlayer."

Search for "kaffeine-mozilla" and check off the search result.

Click Accept, click Continue at the pop-up dialogue, and then eventually click Finish to return to YaST.

Installing DVD Playback
To play DVDs, you will need to install the DVD decoding program. You will find it here.

Use Firefox to download this file - it will be saved in the Home Folder of "My Computer" on your desktop. Click on the libdvdcss2-1.2.9-1.i386.rpm file and then click on "Install Package with YaST." Enter your root password and the installation will begin.

You're almost done! The last thing you need to do is modify the video player to play DVDs. From YaST, open Software Management again and search for "xine." Right-click on the blue-coloured package and select "Update" from the drop-down menu. Click Accept, Continue, and Finish.

And you're done! You will find all of the above explained in more detail here, if you need further help. So now your SUSE Linux PC is ready to:

  • Play DVD movies
  • Play MP3
  • Play Windows Media
  • Play RealMedia
  • Visit Flash-enabled websites
  • Visit Java-enabled websites



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