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When I installed VLC on 12.04 beta 2 I accidentally picked the .xml file as the skin from the skins2 folder. I have purged Vlc and reinstalled but still when I start to play a video file I hear only the sound and see the screen which is a black oblong (no image) of 2cm x 4cm with which I can do nothing.

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Open vlc from a terminal with vlc -Iqt4, then open Tools > Preferences & set back to Native or pick a skin that actually works

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This problem occurs because VLC still has files in your ~/.config folder. Remove the file ~/.config/vlc/vlcrc and run vlc again and you should be free of issues.

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