Fixing VLC Movie Crashes (again)
In Open Source, what goes around, comes around; which is how I find myself fixing VLC movie crashes. Again.
My AMD A9 laptop with Radeon graphics took a software update three weeks ago. That's when VLC crashed whenever I loaded any MP4, MKV (Markov) or WMV video files. The other video and audio files I tried including MP3 files played fine.
Forcing more software updates, re-installing codecs and libraries achieved nothing. Exactly as they did waaay back at Ubuntu 16.04 and 18.04. This is not a new problem. Back then you could get a core dump after VLC crashed and find the problem with the Radeon drivers. Doh!
This happens when there is a problem with the video card driver. While you can try switching to open source or closed source drivers when you are using the other version, you can spend a lot of effort getting your display right and get the same problem playing media in VLC.
Ubuntu 16.04 came out in October, 2004. Fast forward to 2021, new Ubuntu, same old problem.
Short of a Radeon driver release, the short-term solution is to tweak the settings in VLC; just as it was in 2004. Fifteen years ago.
Open the VLC player and go to Tools, Preferences. From the top icon menu, select Input/Codecs. From the drop-down list for hardware-accelerated decoding choose, Disable. Then click save. As most videos don't need hardware acceleration, this is a small sacrifice.
This, on it's own, may solve the issue depending on your graphics card and driver version. If not, go to step two.
Under Tools, Preferences, choose Video and from the Output drop-list, select to OpenGL. Save again to update preferences and try playing videos again. You can try the other Output options if OpenGL doesn't work.
What is frustrating is that an old Radeon graphics problem has resurfaced after fifteen years. That's about a century in software years. It's doubtful any one is still around who remembers the cause or solution of the original seg-fault. Or, AMD has reintroduced a failure point in the Radeon architecture. Our everyday tech has in fact, a very short memory. RC