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Are there any Linux media players that are self contained ?tar's? (Libraries, codecs (If this is even a Linux concept) linked to a relative location), to be used on a system without a package manager, or similar system installed?

I often use a customised Ubuntu LiveCD (that has a broken Rhythmbox install on, and I have lost the source to recreate) on different computers, and thought it would be easier to have the media player on a flash drive, instead of having to (presumably) install this other one on the TMPFS, or perform (after I figure out what is wrong) adjustments to the TMPFS to get the existing media player install running as expected, after each startup.

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What system would not have a package manager? Are you sure you are talking about Ubuntu here? – Takkat Oct 19 '13 at 19:53
Was just about to write a comment, but see another answer, so will edit my question instead. – user66001 Oct 19 '13 at 19:57
There is a way to modify what is on the live cd before you create it. Also, some distributions come with a media player already installed, and some even with the non-free codecs installed as well. Finally, a .deb file is an archive with some other data - why not download the .deb files you need and install when needed... it's just as easy as unzipping/untarring a file. – Drake Clarris Oct 19 '13 at 20:04
@Drake Clarris - Thanks for the info. However, see my clarifications to the question. Hope that someone knows of the ideal solution (Self contained media player), not a workaround. – user66001 Oct 19 '13 at 20:34

Well, there is this MoviX GNU/Linux distribution, which is a few megabyte big and you are supposed to burn it onta CD or DVD together with some media files. When booting it would simply play the media files from the live medium and spare you the hassle of making sure the buddys to which you hand a movie CD have appropriate media codecs installed.

Other than that... well in a distribution without a package manager you are normally supposed to compile mplayer or VLC or whatever you like on your own.

You can use a normal desktop system to compile any of those media players using the -static flag. This allows you to copy the resulting program to any system, where needed libraries are not installed.

I'm not aware of any project which offeres precompiled statical binaries of media players nor am I aware of any GNU/Linux media player with a windows-style binary installer.

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All Ubuntu desktop distributions come with a media player accessible from a live session. Even the leightweight Lubuntu distribution is able to play audio and video from a live session without the need of any other additional applications.

Some non-free codecs to allow playing media content encoded with these may not be included in the base installation system. If that is the case you will have the following options:

  • Boot a live system and then always download and install codecs needed from within the live session.
  • Make a bootable USB drive with persistence to put your codecs in.
  • Install Ubuntu to an USB drive with all customizations you need to carry with you.
  • Make your own customized live CD.

It may also be an option for you to keep the codecs (and their dependencies) needed on a removable drive to install from there on machines which do not have an internet connection. But note that you will not be able to use these packages on machines with another architecture or running a different distribution then.

All media players have dependencies not only on (optional) codecs but also on various other packages, including the sound architecture, the multi-media framework, or a sound server used. These dependencies are often far more data than the actual media player. This also true for so called light weight or command line media players. Therefore a self-containing media player package is a rather odd thing to have.

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Thanks for your answer Takkat. Not sure if you saw the paragraph in my answer, about the fact my question relates to a needed-to-be-used customised Ubuntu LiveCD, with broken Rhythym install on it, and lost sources to fix. But the final paragraph of your answer seems to suggest that, while possible, it would be unlikely such a media player exists that could actively navigate making use of different sound/multi-media framework/sound server systems, to allow for a self-contained media player that used relative links to codecs. – user66001 Oct 19 '13 at 21:33
Before I wrote the answer I actually tried with a live CD (13.10 Lubuntu) to see how a live session performs. Without installing anything I was able to play both, mp3 audio, and mp4 video by a double-click on the files from a live session. I did not test for all kinds of codecs but at least for mp3 and mp4 we can say that Lubuntu is "self-contained". Hope this helps. – Takkat Oct 20 '13 at 7:41

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