Get better DVD movie playback

If you followed Tip 65, on the preceding page, to enable DVD movie playback, you might have noticed that Totem doesn't provide access to individual chapters from the Go menu. in fact, in my tests, clicking entries on the Go menu while a DVD movie was playing did nothing.

To get around this, you can install the Xine version of Totem instead. This uses the Xine multimedia back-end, which is used in the KDE desktop, but is otherwise nearly completely identical. It fully supports DVD menus and chapter navigation using the Go menu.

Simply open Synaptic, then search for and install totem-xine. Once it's installed, you'll need to tweak a setting so that totem-xine automatically starts when a DVD movie is inserted. oPen a terminal window and type the following:

Run the terminal with a single key-press M 127

$ sudo update-alternatives --config totem

Then type 2 to select the second option from the list presented. Following this, all movies will playback in the Xine version of Totem. Unfortunately, with Ubuntu 8.04 at least, there appears to be no way of making just DVDs play back in the Xine version of Totem (changes to the system configuration using gconf-editor that should do the trick don't work). However, the Xine version of Totem is functionally identical to Xine, so there should be no difference in usability.

If you ever get confused about which version of Totem you're using (Ubuntu's own or Xine), click Help ^ About and look at the line that begins Movie Player using... The native Ubuntu version will read "Movie Player using GStreamer" while the Xine version will read "Movie Player using xine-lib...".

See also Tip 231, on page 272, to learn what alternative media player applications are available, most of which can also play DVD movie disks.

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