To illustrate my point here are the "software" requirements prior to installing mplayer:
* binutils - suggested version is 2.11.x . This program is responsible for generating MMX/3DNow!/etc instructions, thus very important.
* gcc - suggested versions are: 2.95.3, 2.95.4 and 3.1. NEVER use 2.96 or 3.0.x! They generate faulty code for MPlayer. If you decide to change gcc from 2.96, then don't decide in favor of 3.0.x just because it's newer! Early releases of 3.0.x were even more buggy than 2.96. So downgrade to 2.95.x (downgrade libstdc++ too, other programs may need it) or don't up/downgrade at all (but in this case, be prepared for runtime problems). If you vote for 3.x.x, try to use the latest version, early releases had various bugs, so be sure you use at least 3.1, it's tested and working. For detailed information about gcc 2.96's bugs (that are still NOT fixed, they have been WORKED AROUND in MPlayer!), see the gcc 2.96 section and the FAQ.
* XFree86 - suggested version is always the newest (4.2.1). Normally, everyone wants this, as starting with XFree86 4.0.2, it contains the XVideo extension (somewhere referred to as Xv) which is needed to enable the hardware YUV acceleration (fast image display) on cards that support it.
Make sure its development package is installed, too, otherwise it won't work.
For some video cards you don't need XFree86. See list below.
* make - suggested version is always the newest (at least 3.79.x). This usually isn't important.
* SDL - it's not mandatory, but can help in some cases (bad audio, video cards that lag strangely with the xv driver). Always use the newest (beginning from 1.2.x).
* libjpeg - optional JPEG decoder, used by -mf and some QT MOV files. Useful for both MPlayer and MEncoder if you plan to work with jpeg files.
* libpng - recommended and default (M)PNG decoder. Required for GUI. Useful for both MPlayer and MEncoder.
* lame - recommended, needed for encoding MP3 audio with MEncoder, suggested version is always the newest (at least 3.90).
* libogg - optional, needed for playing OGG file format.
* libvorbis - optional, needed for playing OGG Vorbis audio.
* LIVE.COM Streaming Media - optional, needed for playing RTSP/RTP streams.
* directfb - optional, from http://www.directfb.org
* cdparanoia - optional, for CDDA support
* libfreetype - optional, for TTF fonts support. At least 2.0.9 is required.
Now, how do I know what versions I am currently running with RH 8.0? Where do I find all these different pieces of "software"? I wish they just had a simple installation program like must MS apps have, and you wouldn't have to worry about all this other stuff.