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Make sure you install the mplayer-gui. It has buttons and sliders that make playback easier. Once you install, you start it by typing "gmplayer" in a console instead of "mplayer". Right click on the gmplayer window to select VCD, DVD, or a video file.
I haven't noticed a speed difference. The command line wins for flexibility thats for sure. It is easy to use options with the mplayer, but for general ease of use, I like gmplayer. I like to be able to use a slider to go to a specific point in a video rather than using pageup/down, arrows keys, etc. to jump in 10 sec, 1 min, or 10 min increments. Besides, the gui is intuitive for someone who has never used mplayer before. Mplayer comes with extensive documentation on playing and transcoding, for those who want to learn it. I did RTFM and subscribe to users mailing list to learn In fact, I no longer use windows for creating divx files because mencoder is faster and more flexible. (I do use the command line there because it is easier to apply filters and do vbr audio than it is with gmencoder).
until the most recent cvs I d-loaded the gui had trouble, for instance if i loaded prefs they would be in keep behind mode, i would have to minimise everything including the play window to use it (it still worked fine otherwise) also it crashed a lot, and last but not least I have nvidia twin view, on fullscreen mode it would fill my left screen only with picture (as it should0 then make my right screen completely black (rather than letting me use it) of cource the cvs fixed all this.
Did you try to mount the VCDs first? You shouldn't. Let's say your mount point for your CD-ROM drive is /mnt/cdrom and it points to /dev/cdrom, then just configure mplayer to recognise that you have such a device, and it should be able to play your VCDs.
OK, I've returned home and now can give a more detailed step-by-step guide.
1) Start gmplayer.
2) Right click on the GUI interface (not the media display window) and click Preference.
3) Click on the Misc tab (should be the last one) and look at the bottom of that section.
4) Fill in the correct value for CD-ROM device and DVD device (if you have any).
5) Click OK
Device should be in the /dev/location format. To know this value, try running this in a console: cat /etc/fstab and see where your CD-ROM mount point points to. It should be something similar to one of these:
first you need to get the mplayer source and compile it, there are packages but chances are you do not want them, as well you might want to get the windows dll's on there site for quicktime and relmedia. you do not need these for vcd, but they are nice to have around
you will need to compile the source, by default it will not make gmplayer however, follow these instructions to compile getting the gui and the windows dll codec support:
extract the dll files that you downloaded, place them in the directory /usr/lib/win32/ you may need to make the directory (mkdir /usr/lib/win32)
next you compile mplayer
extract the mplayer source and enter the directory it is extracted to
when that finishes type the following:
make && make install
when that is done you should be able to run gmplayer