Flash, web videos and free Software with Mediathek and JWplayer 5.3

I am just testing two (not only at first sight) promising video tools:

Whereas Jwplayer is a javascript-based player for websites that streams FLV, H.264 and other videofiles to a client with a flash-enabled browser, Mediathek is a Java-GUI that works as a frontend for many (really many) online video stores like those of german TV stations. (Update: and supports also podcasts and works as a digital TV recorder based on downloading and subscribing to streams.)


JWPlayer is a software that many big sites are using, like the infamous kino.to, and it seems very robust. Though it’s open source, there is a (not really expensive) commercial version available for some bucks. Nothing much to say, it just worked here.


Mediathek comes as a .jar archive, I tried version 2.3.0 that is marked as a "test" version, but it simply worked. Download and extract the .zip archive and enter "java -jar Mediathek.jar" in the subdirectory Mediathek_2.3.0, and you get the blank start screen after an automatic check for updates.

The very first step for everyone will be to update the film list via the prominent button "-> alle Filme neu laden" (What’s that in the english version?) and shortly after there will be a long list full of free available videos (see the screen shot below). Nice.

Mediathek after the first start

As you can see, Mediathek not only allows searching, viewing and listing of all those free videos, it also has three buttons to record them to file. That’s great for everyone who wants to create his own archive of his favorite TV program.

Please note: For instant replay the Video Lan Client Vlc must be installed, for recordings either Mplayer or Flvstreamer. Vlc is a great recommendation also for all Windows users, it really rocks. It checks and updates codecs automatically, doesn’t install nasty stuff that isn’t really needed and just works without consuming much ressources. Forget all the other spyware like Bill’s Mediaplayer, give it a try. Here you can see VLC on Ubuntu 10.10:

Mediathek uses VLC to replay, Mplayer and Flvstreamer for recordings.

And yes, Mediathek needs a current Java version – on my Ubuntu Maverick (10.10) :

# java -version
java version "1.6.0_20"
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (IcedTea6 1.9.1) (6b20-1.9.1-1ubuntu3)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 17.0-b16, mixed mode)

worked fine.

Update: Subscriptions and Podcasts, minor issues with paths

After some testing, I found out – to my big surprise – that Mediathek can also handle podcasts and supports so-called subscriptions (in german: Abonnements), where it tries to automatically detect new versions of TV programs available and lets you download and save them to disk at a mouse click. However, the default settings are not quite clear.

First: Subscriptions and podcasts have to be enabled in the main menu, only then the two separate tabs will appear – that’s not too obvious…

Second: You should set the path of downloaded/recorded files to some reasonable value. Its default points to /tmp, which might make sense on many systems. But as the dialog for new subscriptions and podcast downloads also offers a path entry, this is not really clear. Mediathek saves the file to the path: "Target_path_from_global_[abo|podcast]_settings / individual_path_from_single_download_settings".

So if Mediathek happens to fill up the wrong partition, have a look in the settings menu for subscriptions (Einstellungen | Abos einrichten) or podcasts (Einstellungen | Podcasts einrichten). In both Dialogs you’ll find a target path (Zielpfad or Basis-Zielordner) variable which I set to my /temp partition – which is completly different from /tmp which is being emptied at every boot.

The same applies to the default recording command that is linked with the buttons in the main window – you can change these programs (Mplayer, Flvstreamer) via the menu entry "Programme | Button einrichten". I found that not so self-evident. But what’s really cool is the fact that you can easily add your own set of programs for such buttons, that is really nice.


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