Frequently Asked Questions (RealPlayer 11, Helix Player 11)

Frequently Asked Questions (RealPlayer 11, Helix Player 11) Note: The new FAQ page is at:

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

A. The Helix Player is a completely dual licensed, both open source (RPSL) and commercial community source (RCSL), media player and contains no non-open source components. It plays open source formats, like Ogg Vorbis and Theora.

The RealPlayer for Linux builds on top of the Helix Player and will include RealAudio, RealVideo, Windows Media, MP3, Flash, MPEG-4 (fee-based) and other non-open source components.

Q. What distributions do RealPlayer and Helix Player run on?

      A. RealPlayer and HelixPlayer should install and run on most 32-bit Linux distributions.

Q. Can you list the components required to run the Helix Player or RealPlayer?
A.  The players require:
gtk+-2.0 or greater and dependencies   
gnome-vfs 2.0 or greater and dependencies (optional)

Q. What are the minimum and recommended hardware requirements for the player?
A.  RealPlayer Minimum System Requirements

  • 500MHz Intel Pentium III processor or equivalent
  • 256MB of RAM
  • 30MB available disk space
  • 28.8Kbps modem (audio only)
  • Sound card supported by ALSA or OSS drivers
  • 65,000-color video display card set to display at 800x600

RealPlayer Recommended System Requirements
  • 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium IV processor or greater
  • 512MB of RAM
  • 30MB available disk space
  • High-speed Internet connection (audio/video)
  • Full Duplex sound card and speakers
  • 16 bit color video display card set to display a resolution of 1024x768

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

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

To fully build, Helix Player requires the following SDKs:
  • gtk+-2.0 or greater and dependencies 
  • libogg 1.0 or greater and dependencies 
  • libvorbis 1.0 or greater and dependencies 
  • theora 1.0alpha3 or greater and dependencies 
  • gnome-vfs 2.0 or greater and dependencies (optional)

Q. What media types and protocols does the Helix Player support?
A. The following media types and protocols are supported
  • 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
  • Uncompressed audio (wav, au, aiff)

Q. What media types does RealPlayer support?

      A. All media types supported by the Helix Player plus:

  • RealAudio, RealVideo
  • MP3, Windows Media Audio[7-9], Windows Media Video 9
  • MP4 audio (AAC unprotected only)
  • Flash 4

Q. What additional media types are available? I am confused about MPEG-4 support.
A. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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 for future releases?
A. The following media types are planned:

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

Q. What media types are not supported?
A. The following media types are not supported:
  • RealAudio 3
  • Windows Media Audio 2-6 and Windows Media Video 7/8 
  • 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?
A. 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

Q. How can i install / execute the RealPlayer BIN file?
A. Before attempting to install RealPlayer from the RealPlayerGOLD.bin file, you need to modify the installer to be an executable and this is needed to launch the installer.

You can mark the file as executable using one of these two methods:

Method One:
* Browse to the directory containing the RealPlayer11GOLD.bin file (says from Places desktop menu).
* Right-click and select the last menu, Properties.
* Click on the Permissions tab.
* Click (check) the: Execute: Allow executing file as program.

Method Two':
From a terminal/xterm window, navigate to the directory where the installer is saved and run the following command:
  • chmod +x RealPlayerGOLD.bin

    This marks the file as an executable file and is needed before you can attempt to execute the file.

    - Open the Terminal from Applications desktop menu / Accessories / Terminal
    - Drag and drop RealPlayer11GOLD.bin that you found in Option #1 into the Terminal window.
    - Press Enter to run the program and continue to hit Enter whenever needed.

    This installs RealPlayer in user mode; RealPlayer 11 menu should now appear in Applications desktop menu / Sound & Video.

Q. Why does RealPlayer use RPM as an extension?

A. 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/Helix Player 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?
A. 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) 
  • Presence 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?
A. 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?
A. 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.

Q. What sound systems are supported by the player?
A. The Player currently both ALSA and OSS. PulseAudio support will be released very soon. Matt Campbell has contributed fully functional support for the usound server ( see )
Some support is available for ALSA and ESounD via CVS for devel opers 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. I cannot hear sound with Fedora 8 or Ubuntu 8.04 (or any distribution with PulseAudio).
A. There is an issue with PulseAudio currently that might result in the RealPlayer not playing any audio or even crashing. A fix for this issue will be released very soon. The workaround is as follows:

With root or sudo privileges, open up /etc/alsa/alsa.conf in your favorite editor and comment (prepend with a #) out the following line: /etc/alsa/pulse-default.conf

Q. How can I troubleshoot the mozilla plugin?
A.   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. Launch mozilla from the command line -- 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?
A.  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. 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?
A. Check out the development section of the website. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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?
A. 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.

Q.I am getting the error " cannot open shared object file" when trying to run RealPlayer in Linux. What do i do?
A. You might get the following error on certain Linux distributions when trying to launch RealPlayer 10.x

  • realplay.bin: error while loading shared libraries: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory

The easiest way to fix this error is to upgrade to the latest RealPlayer (version 11). If you have to use RealPlayer 10.x for some reason, read on.

If you get this error, you need to install the following library: compat-libstdc++-33.
For Fedora Core, you would need to run the following command in superuser mode:
  • yum install compat-libstdc++-33
For a Debian based system, run the following command in superuser mode:
  • apt-get install libstdc++5

For other distributions of Linux/Unix, please install the compat-libstdc++-33 library as recommended by your vendor.

Q. How do i create / use playlists for RealPlayer / Helix Player in Linux?
A. Upgrade to RealPlayer 11! RealPlayer versions 10.0.9 and versions prior to 10.0.9 do not have support for playlists. Playlist functionality can however be mimicked by using RAM files. The same is true for Helix Player versions 1.0.9 and versions prior to 1.0.9. Please visit the following location
RAM File Creationfor more information on how to create a ram file.

Q. Do either Helix Player or RealPlayer for Linux have device support (e.g., Ipod, Sansa, Dell DJ etc.) ?
A. Helix Player or RealPlayer for Linux do not currently have support for portable music devices.

Q. I am having problems with the video having high contrast or being too bright. How do i fix this?
A. possible fix for this problem is to disable Xvideo inside RealPlayer. To disable Xvideo, click on the Tools menu in RealPlayer, click on Preferences and in the resulting options pane, select the Hardware tab and uncheck "Use Xvideo". Click "Ok" and restart the player.
Q. How do i uninstall RealPlayer or HelixPlayer?
A. Uninstalling an RPM RealPlayer installation:
To uninstall, run the following command as root: rpm -e RealPlayer or rpm -e HelixPlayer

Uninstalling a BIN RealPlayer installation:
To uninstall, download and run the following script: Uninstaller
The uninstaller script is currently unsupported. Use it at your own risk.