Frequently Asked Questions (RealPlayer 10, Helix Player 1.0)

Helix Player Home > Players for Unix > Helix Player and RealPlayer 10 General FAQ


Frequently Asked Questions (RealPlayer 10, Helix Player 1.0) Note: The new FAQ page is at:

Q. What is the difference between RealPlayer and Helix Player?

Please see the RealPlayer vs Helix Player FAQ

Q. What distributions does RealPlayer run on?

RealPlayer has been tested and qualified to run on:

  • Sun's Java Desktop System

The player should work on most Linux distributions with x86 compatible chipsets, Mozilla 1.4 or higher, and gcc 3.2 or higher.

An unsupported build compiled with gcc 2.95 is available for distributions with older
support libraries and web browsers.

Q. What media types and protocols does Helix Player support?

  • Theora (content must be encoded with Alpha3 or greater)
  • Vorbis
  • Ogg
  • Basic SMIL 2.0
  • H263
  • RealPix
  • RAM and RPM playlist formats
  • RTSP streaming with RTP
  • HTTP streaming
  • RealText
  • RealEvents

Q. What media types does RealPlayer support?

All media types supported by the Helix Player plus:

  • RealAudio, RealVideo
  • mp3
  • mp4 audio (AAC unprotected only)
  • Flash 4
  • Uncompressed audio (wav, au, aiff)

Q. What additional media types are available? I am confused about MPEG-4 support.

Source for a MPEG-4 implementation for Helix is available from Helix CVS. Binary components for MPEG-4 are not provided.

Q. Can I distribute the Helix MPEG4 implementation with my Helix-based application?

Distributing Helix with MPEG-4 requires additional licensing beyond that laid out in the RCSL. Contact for further information on licensing helix MPEG-4 support for distribution.

Q. Why do you provide source but not binary support for MPEG-4?

The source code for the MPEG-4 implementation is provided as a convenience for potential distributors. Those distributors are invited to obtain a license for MPEG-4 support separately.

Q. What media types are planned?

The following media types are planned:

  • Plain text
  • Advanced SMIL 2.0
  • .mov container
  • .avi container

Q. What media types are not supported?

The following media types are not supported:

  • RealAudio 3
  • Windows Media (wmv/wma/asf, mms streaming)
  • Older QuickTime codecs (eg, Sorenson. New QuickTime supported via MPEG4)
  • MPEG1, MPEG2
  • Digital CD playback
  • DVD

Q. What level of support does the player have for SMIL?

The player contains the same full SMIL2.0 renderer as RealPlayer 10 for Windows. Some SMIL2.0 features are not yet fully supported by the Helix Player. Current known issues include:

  • No support for opening a clip in a new window
  • SMIL error message text descriptions are unavailable

We are working towards improving our support for SMIL2.0.

Q. I cannot listen/watch media from <insert website here>. Help!

Here are a few things you can check before you log a bug:

  1. Make sure you are using the latest stable build of the player, or a recent nightly build.
  2. If you are using Helix Player, make sure the bug in question is not something that is only available on RealPlayer (see above)
  3. If you are using a stable build, try a nightly build to see if the problem still exists. If it doesn't, mention that this issue appears to be solved in the latest nightlies in any bug report you file.
  4. If you are using the mozilla plugin, read the section on troubleshooting the mozilla plugin.
  5. If you are missing a component, use the help button in the "missing component" dialog box to get more information. RealAudio 3 and MPEG-4 video are both examples of components that do not ship with the player.

Q. Can I run the Helix/RealPlayer10 concurrently with RealPlayer 8/9? What about Helix Player and RealPlayer10?

Yes, all players can be run independently.

Q. The build I downloaded contains "linux-2.2" in the filename, but I am using a different kernel. Will my player work?

The download filenames can be read as follows:
realplay-linux-2.2-libc6-gcc32-i586 indicates that:

  • It was built on a machine with a 2.2 kernel (the player should work on most 2.x linux kernels).
  • It was built using gcc 3.2.0 or higher (important for mozilla compatibility)
  • It was optimized for i586.
  • If a filename starts with "legacy" it indicates a build compiled with an older compiler (gcc 2.95). Legacy builds are linked against older libraries, and may be required for full plugin functionality in versions of mozilla older than 1.4.

Q. What are the requirements for Helix Player?

The Helix Player requires gtk+-2.0.0 or later. Also see the developer page for information on dependencies for building the Helix Player.

Q. Do I want the gcc3.2 compiled player, or the gcc2.95 compiled player?

For full plugin functionality, the mozilla plugin for the Helix Player must be compiled with the same major version of gcc as Mozilla.

In mozilla, this information is available by entering about:buildconfig in the location bar.

  • If mozilla is compiled with gcc version 2.95 or if mozilla is version 1.3 or older, you will want a player that is build with gcc 2.95 (marked "legacy" on the downloads page).
  • If mozilla is compiled with gcc version 3.2 or newer, or if mozilla is version 1.5 and newer, you will want a player that is built with gcc 3.2.
  • If in doubt, gcc3.2 is the best choice for modern linux distributions.

Q. Why does RealPlayer use RPM as an extension?

RealNetworks and Red Hat both independently started using the .rpm extension around the same time in 1995.

RealNetworks used .rpm as an extension for its RealPlayer Plugin Metafile file type (audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin).

Red Hat used .rpm as an extension for its Red Hat Package Manager packages (x-redhat-package-manager).

We are committed to coexisting peacefully with .rpm packages on Linux. All comments and suggestions on this topic are appreciated.

If you are a content developer, consider using smil as for modern alternatives to the .rpm format when authoring RealPlayer/HelixPlayer content. If you have an existing site that servers rpm files, ensure that it is serving RealNetworks rpm files as audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin, and RedHat rpm files as application/x-redhat-package-manager.

Q. The player crashed! What can I do?

You can log a bug via the issue tracker on Information that may be of interest includes:

  • Distribution
  • Desktop environment and version
  • Web browser version (embedded player bugs)
  • Presense of any sound servers
  • Sound driver type (pure OSS or OSS via ALSA emulation)
  • Video acceleration capabilities, as outputted by the xvinfo command

Please make sure to sign-in into the project before accessing the bugtracker. That way, the bug will be credited to you and when its status changes you will be notified.

Q. The player keeps opening up browser windows! How can I turn this off?

Many sites optimized for the RealPlayer 10 player for Windows make heavy use of HTML files, which appear in its embedded web browser.

Helix Player and RealPlayer 10 for linux do not currently support an embedded web browser, and instead open up any embedded url's in a separate browser window.

This can lead to a number of new browser windows.

This behavior can be turned off via the preferences dialog -> internet tab -> "Allow content to link automatically to web pages during playback".

Q. What other browsers does the mozilla plugin support?

Firefox and any other browsers that support the mozilla plugin API should work. Non-gecko based browsers such as Opera or Netscape 4.x will work, but with reduced JavaScript functionality.

The current version of Konqueror does not support the Helix Player. This appears to be an issue with Konqueror. See bug 64610 in the kde bugs database.

Q. What sound systems are supported by the player?

The Player currently only supports OSS sound drivers on install.

Matt Campbell has contributed fully functional support for the usound server (see

Some support is available for ALSA and ESounD via CVS for developers interested in improving the Helix framework.

No support for arts, jack, mas, etc. is available or planned for the immediate future. Community contributions are welcome.

Q. How can I troubleshoot the mozilla plugin?

  1. Confirm that you are using a supported browser (Mozilla 1.0 or later, or Firebird). Other browsers may work, but will not have complete JavaScript functionality.
  2. Confirm that the mozilla plugin that comes with the player has been built with the same major version of gcc as the browser (about:buildconfig will show this information for mozilla, about:plugins will show this information for the Helix Player mozilla plugin).
  3. Check the about:plugins page, and ensure that:
  1. The Helix DNA Plugin appears, and has registered audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin
  2. It is the only plugin registered for audio/x-pn-realaudio-plugin. RealPlayer 8, plugger, and mozplugger are things that may try to claim this mime type.

Make sure that "realplay" is in your system path, and that it points to RealPlayer 10. hxplay will also work, but note that most embedded websites require capabilities that are only present in RealPlayer. Remove ~/.mozilla/pluginreg.dat to force an update of plugin registry info. Run mozilla from the commandline -- the plugin may log useful information to the console.

Q. I clicked on a url in mozilla / firefox and tried to add it to my favorites, but the favorites doesn't work after I close mozilla / firefox. How can I make this work?

To bookmark a media clip opened from firefox:

  1. Right click on the link in mozilla / firefox
  2. Select "Copy Link Location"
  3. Click File -> Open Location in the RealPlayer
  4. Paste the url into the text entry field
  5. Select Favorites -> Add to favorites from the RealPlayer

This will cause RealPlayer to bookmark a link to the http:// url instead of bookmarking a link to the local tempfile downloaded by mozilla.

See also: Mozilla bug 115041

Q. Can you list the components required to run the Helix Player or RealPlayer?

The players require:

  • gtk+-2.0 or greater and dependancies
  • gnome-vfs 2.0 or greater and dependancies (optional)

Q. Can you list the components required to build the Helix Player from source?

To fully build, Helix Player requires the following sdk's:

  • gtk+-2.0 or greater and dependancies
  • libogg 1.0 or greater and dependancies
  • libvorbis 1.0 or greater and dependancies
  • theora 1.0alpha3 or greater and dependancies
  • gnome-vfs 2.0 or greater and dependancies (optional)

Q. What are the minimum and recommended hardware requirements for the player?

RealPlayer Minimum System Requirements

  • 350MHz Intel Pentium II processor or equivalent
  • 64MB of RAM
  • 23MB available disk space
  • 28.8Kbps modem (audio only)
  • Sound card supported by OSS drivers
  • 65,000-color video display card set to display at 800x600 (video)

RealPlayer Recommended System Requirements

  • 500 MHz Intel Pentium III processor or greater
  • High-speed Internet connection (audio/video)
  • Full Duplex sound card and speakers
  • 65,000-color video display card set to display at 800x600 or higher (video)

The player hardware requirements are highly dependant on the type of content being played. Older content may playback successfully on less powerful machines.

Q. I'm a user, how can I help?

Check out the QA page of the player project for guidance on how to test the player. Also check out the player forums and mailing lists, and feel free to offer assistance to users who are having trouble using the player. If you find a bug in the player or have a feature request, consider filing a bug report via the helixcommunity issue tracker.

If you have expertise in translating you can head over to the localization project and help out getting a player in your language.

Q. I'm a developer, how can I help?

Check out the development sections of the website, particularly the player quickstart guide.

Source tarballs are also available on the nightly build page, for those who prefer to work offline.

When you're ready to get a build going, introduce yourself on, or on channel #helix.

Q. Are there any plans for localizing the players?

Yes! The localization project launched in June 2004, starting off with plans for localization in 9 languages.

Q. What is the Helix DNA Client and how is it related to these players?

The Helix DNA Client is the playback engine that powers a variety of players across multiple platforms. The Helix and Real Players use the Helix DNA Client for playing back multimedia. The same engine powers the RealPlayer products on other platforms like Windows, Macintosh, Symbian etc.

Q. Can I use Helix technology in my applications for Linux?

Yes! Information for developers is available on the The player and client projects are of particular interest.

Project mailing lists and irc chat will get you in touch with developers, who can assist you in getting your helix-based project up and running.