Support For E-Learning


One of the most regular complaints we receive is the inability to execute certain content formats required for multimedia E-Learning. Movies is one such media.

I have installed NHS ubunto onto a laptop but it will not play standard movies.

Are there any plans to add support to the build?


Hi Phill, and glad you are experimenting with NHSbuntu!

When you say movies, what format are they in? In general Ubuntu supports open movie formats quite well, although some multimedia content requires non-free non-open source plugins (MP3 being an example), which is why these are not distributed with the base Ubuntu image. For common video formats like AVI, MP4, etc you need only install VLC Media Player, which is a very capable cross-platform media player, and includes codecs and plugins for the formats you are likely to need.

We can’t include non-free code in an official Ubuntu variant however, hence the omission of VLC from NHSbuntu. Linux Mint (a non-official Ubuntu variant which I personally love) includes VLC out of the box, which they can do because they are not constrained by Ubuntu policy.

Some e-learning content I’ve seen has been in Adobe Flash format, which is so riddled with security issues that most browsers no longer fully support it. Apple’s iOS doesn’t support Flash at all for this reason, and we’re with them on that! Ubuntu has only sketchy support for Flash - it will run, but more often than not it crashes for some other (non-Ubuntu-related) reason. Flash code is semi-deprecated across the industry so is often not well maintained.

[ As an aside, there’s nothing (well nothing secure that is) that you can do with Flash that you can’t now do with HTML5 and JS. So let’s all stop buying Flash-based eLearning dross :slight_smile: ]

Are there any other formats you are likely to need? Let me know and I’ll see if we can help guide you.

Have used VLC media player on Ubuntu and it works out of the box. Would vote +1 to have to installed by default on NHSBuntu, along with Davmail to allow Thunderbird to connect to NHS Mail.

1 Like

Thanks for investigating NHSbuntu Phil. I’m sure we’ll get you going with your e-learning materials in no time.

When installing NHSbuntu you should see an option to install multimedia software. If you tick the box the installer will include all sorts of packages to support proprietary media formats.

1 Like

Hi Grant,

NHSmail is supported Out Of The Box in NHSbuntu. We currently ship with Evolution and Exchange Web Services as we’ve found that these are easier to setup and configure to access NHSmail by sysadmins & staffers alike.


1 Like

Movie file types like AVI are just containers. The actual movie contained within is encoded in one of many possible encoding formats (“codecs”). This is why sometimes your device will play AVIs from one source but not from another.

Many of these codecs are proprietary and therefore cannot be packaged in other software without a licence from the owners. For example DivX is a proprietary MPEG-4 codec and Xvid is a free open source equivalent of DivX. Both implement the same MPEG-4 compression format and so should be cross-compatible.

It would be helpful for ease of access for NHSBuntu to bundle as many open codecs as possible.

Hi Rob - I’ve had a few discussions with Marcus et al regarding Evolution and EWS. I used it for a while to access NHS Mail and it was okay, a bit flaky at times but as you say, easy to install and configure. I switched to using Davmail some time ago and that works pretty seamlessly with Thunderbird which is (IMHO) a much superior mail client to Evolution. Davmail is a bit trickier to set up though - you need to specify the correct ports in TB and also (don’t quote me) it isn’t available in any repo that I know of, so it’s a manual update. I do think we should look at it as a credible alternative to Evolution - perhaps offer both ?
[We should probably bump this to the other thread]

Thankyou all for your replies.

Just back off leave so apologies for not responding.

Its great to see such responsiveness, a strong understanding of the build and support for making the out of the box experience all encompassing.

I will take the comments back to my teams who themselves haven’t experimented with the build. I aim to get a demonstration unit built and in the hands of some power users, especially Learning and Development, where rooms of kit are more akin to a university environment.

We’ll look at installing a player option during this work.

I’ll feedback.