H264 in Fedora Workstation

So after a lot of work to put the policies and pieces in place we are now giving Fedora users access to the OpenH264 plugin from <a href="http://www.cisco.comCisco.
Dennis Gilmore posted a nice blog entry explaining how you can install OpenH264 in Fedora 24.

That said the plugin is of limited use today for a variety of reasons. The first being that the plugin only supports the Baseline profile. For those not intimately familiar with what H264 profiles are they are
basically a way to define subsets of the codec. So as you might guess from the name Baseline, the Baseline profile is pretty much at the bottom of the H264 profile list and thus any file encoded with another profile of H264 will not work with it. The profile you need for most online videos is the High profile. If you encode a file using OpenH264 though it will work with any decoder that can do Baseline or higher, which is basically every one of them.
And there are some things using H264 Baseline, like WebRTC.

But we realize that to make this a truly useful addition for our users we need to improve the profile support in OpenH264 and luckily we have Wim Taymans looking at the issue and he will work with Cisco engineers to widen the range of profiles supported.

Of course just adding H264 doesn’t solve the codec issue, and we are looking at ways to bring even more codecs to Fedora Workstation. Of course there is a limit to what we can do there, but I do think we will have some announcements this year that will bring us a lot closer and long term I am confident that efforts like Alliance for Open Media will provide us a path for a future dominated by royalty free media formats.

But for now thanks to everyone involved from Cisco, Fedora Release Engineering and the Workstation Working Group for helping to make this happen.

8 comments ↓

#1 Mattias on 05.12.16 at 15:47

Unfortunately this doesn’t fix the major usecase with h264 in firefox, since that still uses ffmpeg-libs and hence require rpmfusion. Or are you aiming at fixing that also?

https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Common_F24_bugs#firefox-ffmpeg

#2 uraeus on 05.12.16 at 15:50

I think once we get the full H264 profiles support into Firefox that will resolve it, but I will make sure we double check so that Youtube works fine again.

#3 Michael Catanzaro on 05.12.16 at 23:27

What, are we having troubles with YouTube? YouTube works flawlessly for me in both Epiphany and Firefox.

#4 uraeus on 05.13.16 at 00:01

Youtube works with WebM, but I think there is some resolution sizes only available as H264 currently.

#5 190n on 05.13.16 at 03:04

YouTube actually only uses WebM for 4K (and maybe 1440p – I’m not sure) because the files are so much smaller than H.264.

#6 Mattias on 05.13.16 at 09:02

Youtube works with webm as you say. However, as I understand it, the current openh264 plugin is only used for WebRTC. When playing normal video on a webpage, I got the impression that the mpeg-libs are used for h264. When I tested I was not able to play any h264 content on any webpage using this plugin, and there are quite a lot.
So it might be a great step forward, but most of that is behind the scenes for us regular users at the moment.

#7 Rincewind on 05.13.16 at 09:52

All resolutions are available as vp9+opus or vp8+vorbis; but sometimes very old or very new videos haven’t caught up and are not encoded yet. For new videos, they will be in few hours, for old videos, nobody knows.

#8 Michael Catanzaro on 05.12.16 at 23:31

I’m mildly excited about this is it’s useful for WebRTC.

But on the topic of Internet video: unless we have some solution for AAC, having H.264 high baseline support doesn’t get us very far. :(