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CrossOver Brings QuickTime Movies to Linux: Part 2

by Derrick Story

Author's note: In part one of this two-part series on CrossOver, a plug-in designed to bring native QuickTime functionality to the Linux platform, I described how the technology was enabled, its licensing, and how to get it.

In this article, I'll show you how CrossOver performs compared to the native Windows version of QuickTime, and I'll provide some background information about QuickTime so you can have the best multimedia experience possible with it on the Linux platform.

After extensive testing on a Linux box I can tell you this: CrossOver works. And it works well.

As you might expect from a first release of technology with this level of sophistication, however, there are a few quirks to contend with. I'm going to show you both the strengths and weaknesses of the plug-in, and show you how far you can push its capabilities. If you're not familiar with CrossOver and how it works, take a look at my first article that provides all of the background information you need.

CrossOver performance

When we first looked at the technology, we had some concerns about how it would perform under real-life conditions. After all, users have to install the Wine libraries that enable the Windows version of QuickTime, which is a demanding architecture even on native platforms.

I managed to commandeer an Acer Tower with a Pentium III processor running at 450 MHz. The Acer has 256 MB of RAM installed. The operating system is Red Hat 6.1, and the browser is version 4.76 of Netscape. If you're wondering why I chose a machine with these specs, it's because of my experience with multimedia on other platforms. Video playback requires a certain degree of horsepower, and I wouldn't consider less than 350 MHz on any platform for decent QuickTime performance.

Comment on this articleNow, we're not only talking about QuickTime playback on Linux, but the possibility of QT authoring on this platform. What are your thoughts?
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Part 1 of this series:

CrossOver Brings QuickTime Movies to Linux: Part 1 -- Until recently, QuickTime movie playback was limited to Windows PCs and Macs. But the CrossOver plug-in attempts to bring native QT functionality to the Linux platform. Here's an introduction to CrossOver and a look at what QuickTime can bring to open-source computing.

If you're running Linux on a 166-MHz Pentium I, you're not going to have a satisfying QuickTime experience. It's not CrossOver's fault in that case because you'd have a lousy experience on Macs and PCs too.

For comparison purposes, I used a ThinkPad with a 500-MHz Pentium III processor and containing 128 MB of RAM. The operating system is Windows 98, Rev.2, with IE 5.5 for the browser.

The CrossOver disc installs QuickTime version 5.0.2 -- state of the art in multimedia. So Linux users are running the best Apple has to offer in this arena.

I ran a number of download tests with the two machines, and they all went more or less like this:

  • File: American Pie 2, the 320 x 180 pixel version.
  • File size: 8.1 MB.
  • Internet connection: T1 line.
  • Linux download time: 2 minutes 32 seconds with Fast Start initiating playback just after a few seconds.
  • Windows download time: 2 minutes 38 seconds with Fast Start initiating playback just after a few seconds.

As you can see, QuickTime movies on Linux performed virtually the same as they did on Windows under similar conditions. The 24-frame-per-second playback was smooth on both computers, and the video quality was very high. Impressive.

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