Finally! Finally found out the problem and solution. First a little background…
I’ve decided to try switching over to Linux by using the distribution Linux Mint 4.0 Daryna. Now, I kind of lean towards KDE maybe because of my Windows background and the Linux Mint 4.0 KDE version is still officially beta so there are some issues. Mostly it works great though. And it’s pretty.
One thing that makes it prettier is installing the Envy drivers for your video card (ATI or nVidia). After installing those, I installed Compiz Fusion which is a package that allows you to have all these crazy special effects for your desktop. I’m only using minimal effects because I want to have the balance of efficient and beautiful. After I had everything set up, I ran into a problem with video playback. I would start a video and I would get audio but the window of the video player would be blank or slightly blue. I tried all the players on my system: Kaffeine, Mplayer, and VLC. They all gave the same results. They would display the video full screen though! I searched in Google the first day and didn’t find much but then searched in Linux Mint forums and found another person that had the same issue with an Acer laptop like mine. Either this person never found a solution or they never updated the post to reflect the solution.
Later, I noticed something interesting. I opened a video in Mplayer because the video didn’t seem to play in Kaffeine. I then paused the video and didn’t close Mplayer. Then I opened a new video with Kaffeine and it displayed in the window! So I figured there must be a layer issue or something similar. The video was probably playing on a different layer by default and so was not being displayed. When Mplayer was using that layer already, then Kaffeine picked the next one and that happened to be the one visible without being full screen. It’s my deduction and may be totally wrong.
A little better searching on Google the following day and I found a page describing a fix for video in Compiz Fusion. The person didn’t necessarily have the exact symptoms I had but I decided to try the method and it worked! The solution is basically to choose explicitly the video output for the video player instead of letting it choose. When choosing the x window display as the output device, all my players will now play video in windowed mode and full screen.
Well, I know Compiz Fusion is still not totally stable and neither is Linux Mint 4.0 Daryna KDE so it can be frustrating at times. But for now I’m still trying to stick with it as when things work it’s a great operating system and the freedom to change just about anything you want is wonderful.