Sunday, August 21, 2011

MP3 in Fedora 15

I've been using a Fedora 15 Live USB to test Gnome 3, and also looking at how easy Fedora 15 is to do everyday task. Probably one of my most common everyday tasks on Linux is listening to MP3s and watching rips of TV shows and films. I was able to do this on Fedora 15 without much trouble, by following a series of notifications and advice links. Today I came across a review of Fedora 15 where the author (a person with lot more IT experience than me) has gone down the same road as me but somehow failed to reach the end.
Movie player is default application for MP3 files and it suggests to search for MP3 plugin. Of course I want to search. And search is... unsuccessful. Manual search in Package Manager is also unsuccessful. You probably know that MP3 support in Fedora is famous topic.
This has inspired me to write a walk-through for anybody struggling to listen to MP3s or play a movie in Fedora 15. (I've chosen a video file for this walk-through because I get video and MP3 working in one swell foop.)

The review writer has done what I did, tried to play a file and seen a notification about missing plugins and an option to search for them:

Here we go with the search:

And my search is also unsuccessful:

(I think that notification should really say Failed to find plugin.)

However, if the review author had clicked the More information button, he would have found the answer. The button launches the Fedora Project Wiki page:
If you're seeing this page, it is probably because you tried to search for something in PackageKit, but it could not find what you were looking for in the Fedora repositories. Look at the contents below to find information about specific issues you might encounter.
Scroll down the page and you'll find that the decoders you need are actually codecs which cannot be included in the Fedora repository because they are "patent encumbered or under an unacceptable license", and that you need to get them from a third party repository. Follow the link and you'll be offered several. I've used before, so I clicked on that, and then on the Enable RPM Fusion on your system link. I opted for Graphical setup via Firefox web browser, and selected Fedora 15. This brings up the option to open an rpm file:

After the download, there's a prompt to install the file:

A request for additional confirmation:

[Update: Repeat the process for the nonfree repository.]

Now we go back to our media file and try to play it again. We get the same notification about missing plugins- but don't be disheartened:

This time the search finds the plugins we need (in the third party repository we added, of course).

And we get another request for additional confirmation (and a chance to look at the packages that are going to be installed).

Then we are asked if we trust the source of the packages. (This is important! In this case, we can trust the signed packages from this trusted source, but clicking through confirmation dialogues like this without being sure is not a good habit to get into.)

And finally we can watch our film. (And listen to MP3s too, as the film required the MP3 codec.)

Update: Tried this procedure myself after a clean install of Fedora 16, and although video worked, MP3 coded audio in video (or indeed, just MP3 files) wouldn't.
In the end the solution was to manually install the GStreamer  streaming media framework "ugly" plug-ins and the Non Free GStreamer streaming media framework "bad" plug-ins.


  1. Nice write up however, this is a perfect example of what a FAIL is. For anyone new trying to make the jump from Windows this isn't something they should have to do for such a basic task!

  2. lool? mp3 is non free codec and its not included in fedora by default. There is only free and open source software.
    FAIL is windows course you are paying for software that is most buggy and unsecured in the world.

    Please read more about Linux and GPL.

    If you want to install nonfree and not open source software\codecs in fedora 15 with one click, please see this program:

    p.s. and don't speak about the things, you don't understand.

  3. Fedora owes nothing to people switching from Windows. Distro's and developers need to stop worrying about 'new users' and just build a great distro or application and the users will follow.

    Fedora principle is to only ship free software that does not infringe on others rights.

    If people wish to use Fedora then they OWE it a bit of brain power and time. Part of choosing non-free software is the work required to purposely infringe on the right of another (in acceptable jurisdictions of course).

    Otherwise you are free to choose a distro that ships with the software you want.

  4. Good review of Fedora 15 here:

    It mentions the EasyLife program and demonstrates what it can do.

  5. Fedora owes nothing to people switching from Windows.

    This is why ya'll will always be relegated to less than 1% desktop penetration.

  6. This is why ya'll will always be relegated to less than 1% desktop penetration.

    Which is a myth given the fact Microsoft admitted desktop usage of Linux distribution is above 4%. Amazing how that small percentage caused impact on a giant.

  7. Considering Microsoft has no bearing on my life and I am perfectly happy with my Linux desktop and could not do my daily job without it, I honestly don't care what % of people use Linux. My grandma doesn't need Linux, she needs a web browser and as long as I can reach her that way then I am fine.

    I invested my effort and time to learn and use Linux with the rewards being plenty of opportunities. The community was here before it was considered cool to be a 'Windows Replacement' and I have a sneaking suspicion it will still remain even if my grandma does not switch.

    Those that take up the *choice* to use Linux are aware there will be hurdles and plenty of great people have overcome them to join and participate in open source. If it's not your hobby then cool, I got a few others besides Linux also.

    Nobody hands out Freedom so you must desire, want, fight, savor every drop of Freedom you have. Otherwise you have no idea what you've lost anyway.

  8. Sigh I posted the first comment about windows. I'm an RHCE, use Linux EVERY day and Slackware is actually my distro of choice. (15yrs)

    So for the record I know a little.

    I NEVER said it should be included. READING is important. I said it was much for a basic task. Most users want to perform basic computing task and would use whatever is easy and stable. Linux stable, easy not so much.

    And 4% is nothing. Linux hurt MS in the server market, and look what Apple is doing to the desktop.

  9. Its not just the MP3 codec problem... Installing skype, google earth and some others are just one little story.
    Gnome3 looks like my phone OS, gnome2 is too old, KDE have more bugs than windows 95, others are just crap...
    And this is just start when we talk about linux...
    For example, i liked one creative sound card, X-fi fataity titanium pro. In windows i have 600mb drivers! like 1 whole distro. Tons of options, tons of nice usefull things that i need to listen music with great sound quality!
    In linux you get what? ONE SLIDER FOR VOLUME!
    Are you kidding me?

  10. For example, i liked one creative sound card, X-fi fataity titanium pro. In windows i have 600mb drivers! like 1 whole distro.

    Creative have a Linux driver for that card on their web site- it's only 68.8KB.

    (compared to 47.53MB for Windows.)

    Which shows that manufacturers see the value of the Linux market, and suggests that the Windows drivers are bloatware.

  11. Seriously you bring up Creative who are known assholes when it comes 'secrets'.

    There are plenty of other hardware manufactors of sound cards that work perfectly fine under Linux with advanced EQ's and tuning options for sound output.

    And your seriously happy with a 600Mb driver? I can make an entire PC or Server function with 600mb of compiled code but Creative can't make your sound card work?

    If you want bug free desktops go buy an OS otherwise you can spend 5 minutes reporting your problem/bug and another 5 minutes with a kind person that reaches out to help you debug it.

    Linux is not free in the fact that it magically makes your life a Fischer Price toy with two big shiny buttons that make the an LED light turn on and off.

    It's a complicated Operating System that deals with ton's of human error that is introduced at multiple levels of hardware to software.