Shop FAQ

So I thought I answer a few of the questions that have popped up accross the web after the shop launch and yesterdays blog entry.

  • Are the EULA’s available online?
  • Yes, they are available under the terms link just before you finalize your order to go to the payment system. I realize a lot of people want to be able to read over the EULA before getting that far so I will put them up somewhere more easily reachable today.

  • What happens when new codecs are added?
  • Often the bundles will grow and people who bought the bundle as it is will be able to download the new bigger bundle for free. However there will also be new bundles made as things progress.

  • What about encoders?
  • We will soon start to offer some encoders too. Our windows media audio encoder is already in the beta program and the windows media video encoder is in final stages of development before hitting the beta program. To begin with these will be just separate download or maybe part of an windows media encoding bundle. As more encoders gets created we probably will offer bigger encoding bundles to, similar to the playback ones.

  • What about supporting other media frameworks/applications?
  • This will not happen. We are still a small company and the cost of supporting even more frameworks in a good way is daunting.

  • Why is only a subset of the plugins available on Linux PPC and Solaris?
  • Because we don’t have them ported yet. To be honest the popularity of the Windows media plugins on Linux PPC and Solaris will determine if we ever do port them in fact. Unless the plugin available for these platforms sell well enough to validate the cost of porting more codecs there will be no further codecs supported on these platforms. That said we are not going to pass judgement on either platform very quickly. For Linux PPC we will let PS3 be out on the market a while before start making assumptions about the viability of that market and for Solaris we will let Sun ship something else than just development versions of Solaris bundled with GStreamer 0.10.

  • Will you ever support Real Media, Quicktime, Flash Video etc.
  • The answer is Yes, to some degree, and maybe. We have a working Real Media decoder plugin, but we will not be able to release that before we have a full Real Media networking stack to use it with, but this is being worked on and shouldn’t be to far away. As for Quicktime we will be able to support AAC and H264 which seems to be the most used Quicktime codecs today and the Quicktime container format is just a tweaked version of the MPEG4 ISO format. So we will be able to offer something that plays most Quicktime trailers, but we might not be able to call it Quicktime support though due to trademark issues and of course not supporting Apple specific codecs such as Sorenson. As for Flash video or VP6 as its also called. Well we are trying to work something out there, but its still quite up in the air what will happen.

    Shop open for business!

    Ok, so as promised the is now live with all our codecs!. You guys have no idea all the practical issues delaying this, the last that hit us today being the credit card system suddenly refusing payments in dollars so we had to switch the shop over to Euro.

    Anyway the press release is out and hopefully we get some good coverage. This release should also be a response to Eric Raymonds request
    for someone to save him from the lack of codecs

    As you will see if you go to the shop we support Windows Media codecs on Linux x86_32, Linux x86_64, Linux PPC, Solaris Intel and Solaris SPARC, just as we do with our MP3 plugin. Depending on interest other platforms could follow.

    For Linux x86_32 and Linux x86_64 we also have MPEG2, AC3 and MPEG4 Part available. AAC is underway.

    People will also notice that we rebate heavily if you buy the codecs in bundles, this is because we really prefer to stear people away from the single codecs purchases as they cost us as much as a bundle per transaction, which means more money to the bank and less to us :)

    The codecs are distributed inside tarballs together with instructions. We realize this is not as painless an install as one could wish for. But doing packages for a million and one distro’s was not a plausible solution either. That said we are working on a codec installer/updater which will automatically download and install any codec bought in the shop. It will also upgrade those codecs as updates becomes available. The idea is that a purchase of the codecs gives you a year of updates, after which you can buy an discounted update to continue getting updated codecs and bundles.

    So I hope people like the shop and also for anyone reading this wanting a site license, we do offer that, but that will be handled outside the shop. The shop is targeted at people looking for 20 or less licenses.

    State of vector graphics support

    Decided to look into the current state of vector graphics support
    today. My original testcase was whether would be able to load a graphics into Inkscape then load then save and load the image into OpenOffice. As I tested I increased my target by doing various other tests testing interoperability. The origin for my testing was the hope that SVG support would be so commonplace and good now that we had achieved full interoperability beetween large parts of the desktop. Ended up testing a lot of random file formats and viewers.

    I put together a page with my test results and the result was not exactly what I had hoped :)

    Be aware that I don’t consider any of the results here as proof of anything except that as a normal user spending 2-3 hours on the problem this was as far as I got.

    Watching Steve Jobs Keynote

    So Wim discovered that he was unable to view the keynote that Steve Jobs did at MacWorld. The reason was that it was using some weird Quicktime RTSP format which none of the open players seemed to support (could be that they do in their CVS versions). So he hacked up support for it in GStreamer building on the RTSP work which I mentioned a few days ago.
    The result looks like this:

    The RTSP uri in question is this (needs CVS GStreamer of almost every module)


    The link from the browser doesn’t work yet, but I think thats probably some player detection or playlist parsing issue.

    Fluendo webshop updates

    So for a *long* time we have promised to provide a wide set of plugins
    for GStreamer through the Fluendo webshop. We have had a series of plugins in beta testing for a long time now while at the same time sorting out the final legal and other practical issues. Anyway things are now ready I have been working a lot on getting everything ready this week.

    As a final grand test I have updated the mp3 plugin we have offered for free on the shop for a while now. Due to this I would like to ask that anyone reading this blog entry please try downloading the new mp3 plugin and testing it on their systems. Currently the shop contains an GStreamer MP3 plugin for X86_32, x86_64, Solaris Intel and Solaris SPARC. Also trying to get a Linux PPC version online today. People who have gotten our plugin earlier from the webshop should also get this new version as the code has many bugfixes and improvements over the first version we offered.

    The new bug system should be available on Monday, so anyone downloading and having problems during the weekend with the plugins please just send me an email on christian at fluendo dot com.

    So unless this final mini test should turn up something unexpected I will upload all the plugins on Monday and send out a press release.

    Be aware that the webshop offers you two payment systems so be sure to choose the ‘Free of Charge’ one for the mp3 plugin as the credit card system do not handle charges of 0 very well :) We will be working on getting rid of the credit card option as an option when people just get our free stuff.

    Last RTSP step taken

    Wim just commited some changes to gst-plugins-base which finally enables RTSP playback in playbin. That means that Totem etc., will be able to automatically play any RTSP stream we have RTP depayloaders for (and our list of RTP depayloaders is starting to get quite long). One of the one’s still not complete is Real support as can be seen in this bug report. So while we have good plugins for decoding Real format in GStreamer now the network support is still missing someone to take it the last mile (ie. replace the code of uncertain origin in the current patch). Hopefully Lutz will take this upon himself. Also a little work is needed to ensure we handle the Real RTSP extensions properly. Other formats like MPEG formats, Xiph formats and Microsoft formats should work with this commit although I am not sure if we have a RTP depayloader for Windows Media ready apart from Fluendo’s commercial one.

    Easy codec install

    Another set of changes comitted over the last few days was Tim’s work on enabling the easy codec install stuff that was decided upon during the UDS conference. With these API additions writing helper applications that integrate with vendor specific applications to ease codec installation will be much easier to do. Ubuntu already is well underway implementing it and I also noticed a ‘codec buddy’ being listed for Fedora Core 7. Tim will also write an application integrating with the Fluendo webshop using this system.

    Decided to beef up my involvement with a couple of days ago. Blogging has taken over some of the functions of a news site like gnomedesktop, but I still think it could provide a useful resource for GNOME users. So I will try to add more stories and keep the moderation empty again.

    Is releasing the code always important?

    Been briefly taking part in and watching a discussion about wether Launchpad should be released. The debate made me think about wether all code releasing is truly important or even a good thing.

    Once upon a time I was writing articles for a now defunct news site called For this site a special publishing system had been written. I know Jeremy considered releasing the code we used for the site a couple of times, but in the end I remember him concluding that the code wasn’t really in a release worthy state and that he didn’t have the time or the interest to clean it up in order to add yet another half-done publishing system the world.

    While we all where strong supporters of free software none of us had any problems with this decission. Part of the reason for that is that releasing the code of something doesn’t automatically make it useful for people. In fact it may only be a distraction as you get more useless crap showing up on google when you are trying to find something.

    For the release of sourcecode to be truly useful the code needs to be in a state where its been prepared for consumption by anyone else than the original creator. Getting hold of a source package that do not compile or run cause you don’t have access to the 7 post-it notes with manual instructions, the 19 steps only stored in the memory of the creator and is using some database tables you don’t have an sql script to create tend to be of abysmally little value.

    A lot of source code is written by one or two persons for their own private or professional use. Code written like that is often using a lot of shortcuts to achieve its tasks, like hardcoding values, no code comments, no documentation, no real build system, relying on a database structure thats been created manually and incrementally over a period of time and so on. Thus sending that code out there doesn’t make it instantly useful. So unless your application is truly special nobody will probably ever bothering spending the weeks or months it would take to make it useful to themselves or the even longer period it would take to make it useful to the world at large.

    That said there are of course cases where even such code could be useful, for instance if the code documents a certain piece of hardware or fileformat. But once again it would require the code to actually correctly document the hardware or fileformat in question, sending out a file called nvidia-driver.tar.gz which contains a driver you tried to make by trial and error, but which never did anything apart from cause 4 of your graphics card to stop working permanently is probably not doing anyone any favours. At least not without a lot of code comments and a big warning.

    Which brings me a back to trying to pressure someone to open source something. In many cases unless the person asked to release some code wants to release the code to the world and thus is willing to take the time and effort to make sure the world would truly be able to use the code then getting the code released would probably be of little or no value. In fact it might just be adding to the noise making googling for actually useful code a little harder.

    So in terms of Launchpad. I am sure it could be a useful tool for various people or groups if released, but release means more than doing ‘tar -cvf lp.tar /var/www/’. Thus unless one can convince Canonical that there is true value for them in spending the time and the money to prepare LP for a release and maintaining that release as a public project, then all achieved is probably getting a big tarball of useless crud put onto the net and at the same time have wasted developer time on an effort of little value.

    In the meantime maybe effort should instead be spent on improving existing projects already available which has a featureset similar or close to what Launchpad offers.

    Feelgood stuff

    I guess we all sometimes feel burned out by the goings of the free software community. Endless discussions about the technical superiority of one solution over another, a feeling of the community sometimes being overly narrow in its view of the world beyond or the amount of negative feedback tending to heavily outnumbering the good or dealing with licensing issues might all be things that steal energy. Yes, there are many reasons for sometimes wanting to throw in the towel and look for both work and entertainment a different sector of society.

    Yet many of us have stuck around for quite a long time now and I guess there are many reasons for it, like good friends, jobs, professional pride and so on. Another burst of energy comes from the times when you see free software having a positive impact on people’s life, like when Wingo showed me how they had deployed Linux at schools across Namibia. But it doesn’t need to be as big as that, today for instance it put a smile on my face seing a mail from someone who had been using the Flumotion streaming server to let family members living remotely take part in the Christmas festivities at their family home. Not exactly a use that changes the way of the world, but it did give me a sense of joy seing someone being able to use our technology in a way that enriched their lives. Thanks for sharing that.