Linux: Live stream tv integrated in desktop

April 30th, 2012

One of the cool things of Linux is that you can pipe the output of any program into another program, and in this way combine various programs. With the combination rtmpdump and mplayer you can view live streaming tv, outside the flash applet of the web browser. Streams that can be viewed include Al Jazeera, Russia Today, and France 24 (see the topics on Crunchbanglinux and Reddit for more information). As an example, Al Jazeera English can be viewed with the following command:
rtmpdump -v -r "rtmp://aljazeeraflashlivefs.fplive.net/aljazeeraflashlive-live/aljazeera_eng_med" | mplayer -

From this starting point, I wanted to integrate the stream on the desktop. I couldn’t figure out how to do this initially, but with the help of the people on the Archlinux forums and after some tweaking with a program called shantz xwinwrap, I now have integrated live streams on the desktop. This can be done by issuing the following command:
rtmpdump -v -r "rtmp://aljazeeraflashlivefs.fplive.net/aljazeeraflashlive-live/aljazeera_eng_med" | xwinwrap -g 640x360+100+100 -ov -ni -s -st -sp -b -nf -- mplayer -wid WID -

For a screenshot, click here. You can see that the video is completely integrated, and that the fluxbox menu remains accessible too. Of course any other live stream can be viewed and integrated too. For this you need to sniff the rtmp stream with a program called wireshark. There’s a tutorial on Youtube how to do this.

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