I tried out, for the first time in a few months, a nifty little multimedia player for Linux, called the Whaaw Media Player. While it’s not really anything that will make you go “wow” when you see it for the first time, if you’re in the market for a lightweight-yet-powerful multimedia player, then the Whaaw Media Player might be exactly the thing for you.
First, because the Whaaw Media Player is small. Really small. In fact, when I downloaded it, I couldn’t believe the download was as tiny as it was. How small? About 165 KB. That’s a lot smaller than the amount of space a paperback book takes up on a hard drive (in text format), or about 15 seconds of MP3 audio. We’re talking miniscule.
So in my mind, the Whaaw Media Player is immediately perfect for any Linux distribution looking to save space on their installation disc. In fact, I just checked, and to install the Whaaw Media Player, along with all the codecs needed to play practically anything, would take up about 9-10 MB. That’s about 2 MP3s, if you’re keeping track. Still insanely small.
Of course, you’re thinking that something that small can’t possibly play anything, right?
Wrong. Since the Whaaw Media Player is built on the GStreamer framework, it can play anything GStreamer supports. What that means is the Whaaw Media Player really can play about anything. It can play all the popular portable music formats (AAC, MP3, WMA), the popular video formats (Divx, WMV, Quicktime), can stream audio/video off the Internet, and – with the addition of the libdvdcss2 library – play DVDs. That’s a lot of formats!
And the Whaaw Media Player actually looks nice doing it, which I realize isn’t the most important thing in the world, but if you had your choice of two media player, which played the same formats, and one was “pretty” while the other was “pretty ugly,” which would you choose? Thought so.
In addition to everything listed above, the Whaaw Media Player also supports playlists, which means you can drag a bunch of videos or audio files into its playlist window, and the Whaaw Media Player will go through them in order.
I mentioned that the Whaaw Media Player plays DVDs, and that’s true, it does. Unlike other players, however (such as VLC, for instance), playback is a bit primative. I had no trouble playing my test DVDs, but unlike other players, which actually allow you to move through the DVDs menus, the Whaaw Media Player offers no such ability. In fact, you’ll have to tell the Whaaw Media Player which track on the DVD you want to play. Most of the time the movie itself will be the first track, but not always, and on a DVD full of television show episodes, this can be a bit cumbersome. Similarly, if you want to watch a foreign language film using subtitles, you’re out of luck, since the Whaaw Media Player doesn’t support them.
Still, as I mentioned, the Whaaw Media Player is a great little player for a lightweight Linux distribution, or anyone looking to save on hard drive or system resources. It’s small, doesn’t have a lot of extra requirements (GTK, Python and PyGTK are the big ones, and the Python bindings for GStreamer a tiny one). It works quite well, is intuitive, and for casual users will be a good choice.