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Old 09-09-2008, 08:58 AM   #1
trashbird1240
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TSSTCorp CD-RW/DVD-ROM: Xine drops frames after trying everything


Dear Fellow Slackers,

I have been trying to solve this problem for 1.5 years, I've read every thread from every distro and still have the same problem. Xine (and Mplayer, and VLC, and ...) drops frames from DVDs after about ninety minutes of playback, to the point that movies become unwatchable. The drive is an ATAPI drive with an IDE connector, listed as TSSTCorp CD-RW/DVD-ROM, shows up as /dev/hda, with the proper permissions (/dev/cdrom and /dev/dvd both point to /dev/hda, with permissions root:cdrom on /dev/hda). The machine is a Dell Dimension with Intel i810 graphics.

As I said, I have tried everything, from cleaning the DVD, to enabling different drivers, SCSI emulation, tweaking the options in Xine and all the other players, adjusting niceness, augmenting buffer size, etc etc. I have all the proper libraries installed. This happened with the stock kernel, and my custom kernels, in Slackware 12.0 and Slackware 12.1.

Now the caveats:

*This did NOT happen on PCLinuxOS 0.93a, or Slackware 11.0. Both had 2.6 kernels, but obviously earlier versions. It DID happen on PCLinuxOS 2007.

*Other machines, including a virtually identical Slackware installation, play these DVDs well. This other Slackware machine has SATA (SCSI?) connectors; the drive in this machine shows up as /dev/sr0, instead of /dev/hda (for obvious reasons). This other machine also has 4 GB of RAM and a Quad Core processor, with nVidia graphics.

*Some DVDs work just fine (parts I and II of Lord of the Rings, but not Part III!)

*Most aggravating of all: the DVDs play on Windows (albeit with diminished quality and a jumpy picture)

Seems to me like there's something about the drive that is not properly set up.

About SCSI emulation: the kernel config help says "You don't need SCSI emulation for CD writing anymore!" Might I need it to play DVDs?

Thanks for any suggestions,
Joel
 
Old 09-09-2008, 09:28 AM   #2
ledow
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You don't need SCSI emulation any more. You haven't for a while.

If you're experiencing problems, then it's almost certainly a drive or configuration issue. Given that the same drive works fine, it's a configuration issue. There is no reason for any reasonably modern PC (i.e. one that is capable of playing DVD's on any OS) not to play a DVD properly. I have a 600MHz thinkpad here and it copes with DVD's and more no problems at all.

So, that leaves the configuration issue. Do you have DMA enabled on the drive? Do you have 32-bit disk access? (both are configurable with hdparm). Do you have any daemons incessantly monitoring the DVD drive? Does the same DVD play perfectly if you copy it to the hard drive (I would assume it does)?
 
Old 09-09-2008, 09:31 AM   #3
ledow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trashbird1240 View Post
to enabling different drivers, SCSI emulation, tweaking the options in Xine and all the other players, adjusting niceness, augmenting buffer size, etc etc. I have all the proper libraries installed.
BTW: None of these should ever be necessary unless you are running on some ancient brick of a machine.
 
Old 09-09-2008, 09:55 AM   #4
trashbird1240
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Thanks for getting back to me.

Quote:
Given that the same drive works fine, it's a configuration issue.
I'm a little confused by what you mean here: same as what? Works fine doing what? Do you mean how it occasionally plays a DVD well? This is rare, and I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression in my original post. The DVDs that it played well last week were the only ones it played without problems for over a year.

Perhaps my statement about Windows was misleading: I meant when I play the DVD on another machine with Windows (my mother-in-law's laptop). My workstation is not a dual-boot machine.

Quote:
There is no reason for any reasonably modern PC (i.e. one that is capable of playing DVD's on any OS) not to play a DVD properly.
That's something of a broad statement: can you clarify what you mean? "Wrong configuration" counts as a reason.

Quote:
Do you have DMA enabled on the drive?
Yes.

Quote:
Do you have 32-bit disk access?
I don't know (not at that machine right now).

man hdparm says:
Quote:
-c Query/enable (E)IDE 32-bit I/O support. A numeric parameter can
be used to enable/disable 32-bit I/O support: Currently sup-
ported values include 0 to disable 32-bit I/O support, 1 to
enable 32-bit data transfers, and 3 to enable 32-bit data trans-
fers with a special sync sequence required by many chipsets.
The value 3 works with nearly all 32-bit IDE chipsets, but
incurs slightly more overhead. Note that "32-bit" refers to
data transfers across a PCI or VLB bus to the interface card
only; all (E)IDE drives still have only a 16-bit connection over
the ribbon cable from the interface card.
Is that what you're referring to?

Quote:
Do you have any daemons incessantly monitoring the DVD drive?
What's the best way to check? Would there be any suspects, e.g., something related to HAL or KDE? This happens regardless of desktop (I've done that experiment).

Quote:
Does the same DVD play perfectly if you copy it to the hard drive (I would assume it does)?
I will try this experiment. This is one thing I have not tried.

Thanks!
Joel
 
Old 09-09-2008, 12:02 PM   #5
keefaz
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When I have problem with DVD/CD drive operations, I usually check errors with dmesg command,
maybe could you post the errors shown by dmesg if any ?
 
Old 09-12-2008, 09:53 AM   #6
ledow
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Quote:
Originally Posted by trashbird1240 View Post
Do you mean how it occasionally plays a DVD well? This is rare, and I'm sorry if I gave the wrong impression in my original post. The DVDs that it played well last week were the only ones it played without problems for over a year.
Well, come on, the first thing to eliminate is if the DVD drive actually works - boot up a LiveCD or put that drive into another machine and see if you can get it to work with ANYTHING. See if the symptoms persist. If they do, throw the bloody thing away and get another one at a boot sale for about 1.

If they don't (i.e. it works fine in another computer / another operating system on the same computer), you can start pointing fingers at your configuration, operating system, cabling, DMA, etc. Until then, you're just wasting your time.

You said you've been trying to fix this problem for 1.5 years, so I assumed that you verified that the problem wasn't anything too stupid (such as a faulty, or dirty DVD drive - even a bit of dust or fluff the size of a human hair on the internal lens can stop a DVD drive dead).

It's like saying "My car won't move along the road, so I'm going to inspect the road for glue because it must be faulty." Check the obvious first.

What I mean by "There is no reason for any reasonably modern PC (i.e. one that is capable of playing DVD's on any OS) not to play a DVD properly." is that all PC's are more than fast enough, with capable hardware, fast enough drives and data buses, etc. to play a simple DVD even without most hardware assistance (accelerated video drivers etc.). When you have a working DVD drive, obviously (grr....).

Even in the worst configuration a modern PC should laugh at a DVD - older PC's could struggle if you didn't have DMA etc. enabled properly, good drivers, fast video buses, accelerated drivers etc.

It gets me that you know whether DMA/32-bit IO is enabled (and yes, that was the option I meant) but didn't think to check the drive itself works in another machine (or that a different drive in your machine shows the same symptoms).

To check to see if the computer is swamped with other stuff and can't play a DVD, run top. If you hit anything near 100% CPU Usage while playing a DVD, there's something wrong. Top will show up the main culprit. I very, very much doubt that will do anything on a modern PC because you would have to basically kill the PC to stop DVD's playing smoothly.

It gets me that you've switched desktop environments, too, without checking whether the drive is at fault.
 
Old 09-12-2008, 10:41 AM   #7
trashbird1240
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ledow View Post
Well, come on, the first thing to eliminate is if the DVD drive actually works - boot up a LiveCD or put that drive into another machine and see if you can get it to work with ANYTHING. See if the symptoms persist. If they do, throw the bloody thing away and get another one at a boot sale for about 1.
Well, we use dollars here, but I'll see if they accept pounds

These are all good suggestions, but you're right I'm pretty sure it's the drive itself, for a number of reasons: I have booted up a LiveCD from memory (that was PCLinuxOS 2007) and tried to play it and had the same problems. The next reason to suspect the drive is that it has trouble playing certain CDs. Another is that the frame-dropping always happens at between 60 and 90 minutes into the films; as long as that corresponds to similar physical locations across DVDs, then it's definitely the drive.

A big reason I have not replaced it is that I don't play DVDs often enough for this problem to happen and/or to make me care enough, or to make it worth the money.

The fact that it burns CDs perfectly does cast some doubt on the drive being the problem, but I think it could just be wearing out.

Also, you say "obvious" like that means the same things to everybody: not necessarily true --- which is why I wrote in to the forum at this late time. It's not obvious to me because I don't buy hardware very often. Maybe I should as there's no reason this computer should not be upgradeable for many years.

Thanks for the discussion,
Joel
 
  


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