Mediaplayers: Codecs, plugins, configuration...
This is a general question, that is, a general "software" question.
I would like to be able to better understand how mediaplayers (Totem, Xine, MPlayer, etc.), plugins, codecs, etc. work. The idea here is not simply to get everything working, it's to understand how to get everything working so that I (and others) can be more autonomous and resolve similar problems on any distro/setup.
I'm on Mandriva 2007.0 Free. I click on a link and RealPlayer opens up, everything works. The next time I do the same thing I get sound only. The next time it's video only. I then try to click on a different link. Totem: Error message. Etc., etc.
Is there an easy way to know what plugins/codecs/etc. are already installed? Is there an easy way to know which are necessary to get things working properly (in any media player)? How about a good site/link that explains this as well as the different formats, different ... alsa, etc... This is all extremely abstract to me, and I would like to understand the workings of all of these things. I'm interested in stand-alone as well as embedded media player configuration/setup.
Perhaps there is someone out there who has a very good understanding of the workings of all of these things that could give me a few pointers, links, HowTo's... or anything that might enlighten me on the subject.
I remember having a similar problem on FC6. I was able to get everything working, but I now realize that I didn't learn anything along the way!