1 1
dahni

Pinebook/pine64 - video playback - 2nd opinion please

Recommended Posts

Hello,

recently got a pinebook.

I have a strong Linux-on-PC-user background (running ArchLinux on my desktop & older netbook, and debian oldstable on my home server laptop), but not really a developer background and no experience with single board computers at all!

 

Ubuntu Mate is happily chugging along right now, but video playback (h264 packed in .mkv) is abysmal to non-existent.

 

I have tried these releases;

 

the stable 0.6.2 first:

AFAICS, it uses a frambuffer driver (fbturbo) under Xorg. video playback was more than choppy, and the UX drops to zero because the video window can't be resized and sticks to the screen, always on top across all desktops.

 

I upgraded to 0.7.8 and ran the scripts according to the rather sparse instructions (and I haven't found better instructions):

Now video playback is non-existent! But according to the glmark2-es2 benchmarking utility i get 100points. hm. i think i read on pine64 forums that the drivers responsible provide only a subset of opengl v2.0, and that subset has nothing to do with video playback. True?

 

Some additional info in this post.

 

My questions:

Is video playback possible at all?

The answers i see on pine64 forums range from "With these mplayer settings it works" or "It is OK; not perfect but usable." to "It is what it is because the driver is closed source and nothing to do" ...

I get the impression there's some self-delusion in this (who'd want to admit that getting a pinebook was a mistake)...

About the pinebook Linux releases:

Why a (the same?) 3.10 kernel in all pine64 releases?

Is an alternative OS available and will it bring improvement?

Can I install any pine64 OS, or does it have to be a binebook release (I am quite capable of setting up my own desktop, but I'm not sure how deep the differences between pine64 and pinebook run)?

 

About armbian for pine64:

A Xenial stable release is on offer. why xenial? the name "armbian" suggests debian, not ubuntu?

 

Thanks for reading.

 

PS:

I am aware that there's 2 stickies that relate to my questions; if the information I'm asking for is buried in them, I apologize and will accept any pointers given.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
2 hours ago, dahni said:

i think i read on pine64 forums that the drivers responsible provide only a subset of opengl v2.0, and that subset has nothing to do with video playback. True?

Yes. Mali is a memory-to-memory 3D rendering engine that provides OpenGL ES acceleration, and Mali400 is a rather old and relatively slow core anyway, so it is useful mostly in Android on with applications that can utilize OpenGL ES 2.0, assuming there are properly configured kernel and userspace drivers.

 

2 hours ago, dahni said:

Is video playback possible at all?

The answers i see on pine64 forums range from "With these mplayer settings it works" or "It is OK; not perfect but usable." to "It is what it is because the driver is closed source and nothing to do" ...

It depends on how do you define "video" and "playback". There is limited hardware video decoding support. On Linux images it is provided via a VDPAU backend and you can check the "libvdpau-sunxi" column in the status matrix for the currently supported formats and A64 column to note that H265 10bit video is not supported by hardware.

Unsing the VDPAU backend means that it easily integrates with video players like mpv, mplayer2 and VLC but you can forget about video in web browsers.

 

2 hours ago, dahni said:

Why a (the same?) 3.10 kernel in all pine64 releases?

Because mainline is a Work-In-Progress, especially for the Pinebook, and Allwinner (A64 SoC vendor) currently provides kernel 3.10 for 64-bit SoCs.

And even with experimental video output support on the mainline kernel you can forget about hardware video decoding.

 

2 hours ago, dahni said:

Is an alternative OS available and will it bring improvement?

Everything depends on the kernel (well, and hardware capabilities and limitations).

 

2 hours ago, dahni said:

Can I install any pine64 OS, or does it have to be a binebook release (I am quite capable of setting up my own desktop, but I'm not sure how deep the differences between pine64 and pinebook run)?

You will need to replace at least u-boot and Device Tree (if it is loaded separately) for the Pinebook, but "any Pine64 OS" most likely won't give you any improvements over releases optimized for the Pinebook.

 

2 hours ago, dahni said:

A Xenial stable release is on offer. why xenial? the name "armbian" suggests debian, not ubuntu?

Xenial is an LTS release, so it will be supported by Ubuntu for a longer period of time.

Usually we provide both Debian and Ubuntu based server images but only Ubuntu based desktop images.

 

 

To summarize - currently most of the ARM based devices will be far from perfect for multimedia use cases on Linux, best case scenario - you'll need custom patched FFmpeg/gstreamer that hopefully could be integrated into a selected OS release without breaking anything. And the Pinebook for its price is a very good lightweight desktop replacement, but don't expect it to be capable in all multimedia tasks that can be done on an x86/x64 desktop.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

thank you for your detailed answer.

I was meanwhile more succesful; it seems my issues were partly some sort of panic caused by the strange way video is rendered, and partly due to ubuntu mate's general not-very-lightweightness, and its VLC version being particularly incapable of dealing with the video overlay.

once one gets used to it (either watch videos or do something else), playback is ok.

 

i meanwhile installed Q4OS; the windows-likeness does not appeal to me, but it is definitely lighter than ubuntu mate and probably much better configured - i get perfect video playback for even hi-res (1920x800, 3000kb/s) x264 video with mplayer2, and even VLC performs MUCH better.

 

On 8/22/2017 at 0:33 PM, zador.blood.stained said:

There is limited hardware video decoding support. On Linux images it is provided via a VDPAU backend and you can check the "libvdpau-sunxi" column in the status matrix for the currently supported formats and A64 column to note that H265 10bit video is not supported by hardware.

Unsing the VDPAU backend means that it easily integrates with video players like mpv, mplayer2 and VLC but you can forget about video in web browsers.

This is precious information. I will play with vdpau & my favorite, mpv...

About HEVC/H265: What's the difference between 10bit and 8bit? will I be able to watch hevc video on this machine?

I actually have here a video, and mediainfo says it's 8bit, yet both mplayer2 and vlc perform very poorly, i suspect software rendering. the versions are from debian jessie mainline, maybe backporting will help?

 

On 8/22/2017 at 0:33 PM, zador.blood.stained said:

you'll need custom patched FFmpeg/gstreamer that hopefully could be integrated into a selected OS release without breaking anything.


ah, interesting. is there a project? the search "linux arm mali ffmpeg" only points to people trying to compile it themselves...

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
10 minutes ago, dahni said:

I actually have here a video, and mediainfo says it's 8bit, yet both mplayer2 and vlc perform very poorly, i suspect software rendering. the versions are from debian jessie mainline, maybe backporting will help?

If you run the player from a command line (passing a video file as an argument) it should output some debug info, including whether libvdpau-sunxi hardware decoding is used or not.

Don't know about Debian Jessie and mplayer/VLC. In Armbian we are using mpv by default, both Jessie and Xenial versions work but only Xenial one supports subtitles (without recompiling anything).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

oh, there's an armbian image for the pinebook!

i installed it last night and i'm delighted to see that a recent version of mpv is the default media player!!!

Unfortunately it sometimes crashes (*), leaving me with the last image plastered all over the screen (all screens, even when i switch to another vt) - forcing me to reboot, or is there a way to tell the framebuffer (i suppose) to drop that?

 

(*) it seems to crash with larger resolutions/throughput. Tested with a x264 encoded 1920x800@3000kb/s movie, the issue is reproducible.

HEVC otoh works beautifully now, yay!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
1 1