> how do I get the duration in a shell script?
> The following code does not always compute the correct value

According to the record-length-patch you can use the size of index.vdr. 
Divide the size of index.vdr by 200 and you get the run time in seconds.
Each entry in index.vdr is 8 bytes long (at least on my pc) and there is
AFAICS one entry per frame. With 25 frames per seconds you got that

So sth like
  echo "$(stat -c %s index.vdr) / 200.0" | bc
would help you on a bash.

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