Well, this problem pretty much fits in the description "it works, not perfect but it works and I don't feel like investing time to make it perfect". Since it happened to me a second time now and I invested time, I just paste the forum answer here, that solved the problem.
First a short version:
Cause of problem: the dcopserver isn't runnig, which has something to do with reporting the x- or gnome-screensaver existance and state I guess since mplayer delays it's startup at "disabling gnome screensaver". The strange thing still is, both of the times this problem started to appear, mplayer started fine after a fresh install (last time 8.04 this time 9.04) for quite a while and than started delaying at startup.
how to solve: start dcopserver ;) best simplay add "dcopserver" in System/Preferences/Startup Applications (in 8.04 this was the menu link Session if I remember right).
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Re: mplayer slow to launch
So its waiting for another program. Quickly run ps faux in another window and you'll see that the program it is waiting for is
sh -c dcop kdesktop KScreensaverIface isEnabled 2>/dev/null | sed 's/1/true/g' | grep true 2>/dev/null >/dev/null
So mplayer tries to disable the KDE screensaver. When you run dcop kdesktop KScreensaverIface isEnabled in the console you get the error message
DCOPClient::attachInternal. Attach failed Could not open network socket
A quick google for this message and you will find that the socket problem is because dcopserver is not running (it does not matter if kdesktop is installed)
So long story short, start dcopserver and the problem goes away
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Source: user "sunitram" at ubuntuforums