New release of gnome-themes-extras

I had basically given up maintaining gnome-themes-extras, but yesterday, having a public holiday here in Spain, I sat down, merged the latest changes from David Vignoni, went through the bugzilla reports and put together a new release. gnome-themes-extras 0.9.0 is out!. Special thanks to the translators and Josselin Mouette (who contributed the cool new mixer icons). Even ended up doing some more work in CVS after the release, so expect a new release soon. Just going to give Thos a few days to do some long promised Gorilla work.

GStreamer and DRM

Thought I should use the chance to clear up some questions about GStreamer and DRM that has popped up over the last few days since my last DRM blog entry.

How will the DRM stuff be implemented? Will it take over my system and not allow me to do the stuff I do today with GStreamer?

The DRM additions are being done as a separate helper library and using special plugins. This means the core of GStreamer and the current plugins will remain untouched by this change. The DRM enabled plugins will be able to playback both DRM’ed content and normal non-DRM’ed content in the formats they support. You can have both your current free software plugins and any drm enabled plugins installed even if they support the same formats.(Just like GStreamer 0.8 could play back mp3′s using both the libmad plugin or the ffmpeg plugin). This DRM implementation is not something that tries to hide itself on your system like the Sony CD stuff, it will be there in plain view with clearly marked packages if you choose to install it.
So no, it will not in any way ‘take over your system’.

Why would I want to install the DRM additions?

Because they give you access to playback things you wouldn’t otherwise. Many music stores only offers DRM’ed WMA files for download, and without a system supporting Windows DRM these files are useless on your Linux system. DRM also includes stuff such as the protection mechanism on the upcoming high-definition DVD’s.
That said, what DRM systems actually get supported depends on more than just having the technical infrastructure in place, like being allowed to ship support for the various DRM systems etc. Some of the DRM system vendors disallow desktop Linux support by default for instance due to fears that the open nature of GNU/Linux will make it to easy to circumvent..

Still couldn’t I just wait for JLJ and friends to reverse-engineer these DRM systems? Like what happened with DVD CSS?

Sure. But that means you have to wait for quite a bit after each such system is released and no distribution will probably dare to actually ship it. But I am sure that such things will be done also in the future and I am also sure there will be GStreamer plugins using them, like there is a GStreamer plugin doing DVD CSS.

Is it really possible to do DRM as Free Software?

Sun claims they have a system that does so (and has released code to prove it).
I haven’t looked in detail to how it works, but I would say that saying in general that open source DRM is impossible is like saying that GPG can’t be secure since its free software. There might be some ramifications of being free software which will make the resulting system have conditions for use that makes it painful, like a requirement for being online when playing back as an example, but its definetly not impossible.

What DRM systems will you support?

The DRM system is being developed in such a way that anyone who wants can implement a DRM module for their DRM system of choice. Fluendo will probably support a couple of DRM systems ourselves, but it is not sure at this point in time that we will provide them for use outside the embedded market. Customer interest and what kind of contracts we are able to negotiate will decide that.

GStreamer 0.10.0 is out!

Noticed on freshmeat today that GStreamer is about 6 years old now. And we celebrate that by doing the first release the new 0.10 stable series.
The amount of work gone into this release is staggering, but it feels mighty good. Sure there are still things missing, like decoders and demuxers for some formats, but all in all the framework is ready now. Worked on a release announcement which turned out pretty sweet, next step world domination!

DRM and GStreamer

Sun finally released the Opera DRM sourcecode the other day which is part of their Open Media Commons effort launched some time ago. It is interesting in the sense that its a major DRM effort with a complete implementation available.

In that regard I think its prudent to mention that we are currently working on DRM support for GStreamer at Fluendo currently. The goal is to have a framework for using various DRM systems with the GStreamer framework without interfering with the way GStreamer currently works. Opera DRM is one system we are looking into implementing support for as a proof of concept. Since its free software it fits well with our goal of releasing our DRM integration stuff as free software too (although it will allow for closed source modules to be made for things like Windows Media DRM and Fairplay for instance).

The DRM work has included a lot of thinking on our part about the implications and I think its safe to say that we love DRM as little as everyone else. On the other hand we have also seen that a lot of doors get closed on us, GStreamer and GNU/Linux due to lack of DRM support, which means people in those cases go with a Windows based solution instead. Which of course is no win for free software.

On the other side there is the question on how far you should go in trying to accomodate people too and I am sure many in the community feels that any sort of DRM support is going too far.

For me personally it comes down to a evaluation of what we can achieve and what position we are operating from. Personally I doubt technology providers will be able to dictate this, or rather if we say no then someone else will say yes (ie. Microsoft). The only group out there with the power to shut down DRM are the consumers, they need to revolt at the idea and stop buying music and movies which are using DRM. What we as a technology provider can do is try to move DRM usage in favour of the more userfriendly and fair systems.

In some ways I hope we will be able to do with DRM what we hope to accomplish with our streaming hosting platform. People come to us and ask for WMA or MP3 streaming, and we are able to give them that, but we also give them Ogg streaming as part of the package. In that way we help make sure more and more content is available as Ogg streams and through that help solve part of the chicken-egg problem that is there in regards to widespread adoption of Ogg.

Of course all that said, we are running a business at Fluendo and making money is of course one of our main objectives (companies who don’t have that objective tend not to be around for long for some reason), so I am not claiming we are altruism incorporated. But we do try to do morally ‘the right thing’ in the way we operate and do right by the community we sprung from. So I hope we do not anger the community to much by our current work.

It also have to be said that there are some technology landscape level changing agreements being part of this. I am not able to say anything more about that at this point, but we should be able to make some announcements about it during the first half of next year. Hopefully when its announced people will agree that we did the right cost/benefit calculation.