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Real to Offer Open Source Windows Media for Linux 228

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the open-source-the-drm-too dept.
cpugeniusmv writes to tell us News.com is reporting that RealNetworks plans to release an open source method to allow Linux users to play Windows Media files. Currently Linux users are able to play the two main Windows Media formats (wmv and wma) but only if they install closed-source modules. The ability to launch this initiative comes from a recent licensing deal between RealNetworks and Microsoft and the antitrust settlement against Microsoft.
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Real to Offer Open Source Windows Media for Linux

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  • already there? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by 955301 (209856) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:47PM (#15920579) Journal
    Can't mplayer already do this?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:51PM (#15920613)
    You still suck Real. I don't give a damn if you support Linux. Your spyware past will never be forgotten.
  • False Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by brunes69 (86786) <<gro.daetsriek> <ta> <todhsals>> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:51PM (#15920617) Homepage

    Currently Linux users are able to play the two main Windows Media formats (wmv and wma) but only if they install closed-source modules...

    Totally false. ffmpeg / mplayer / vlc etc. can all decode WMV files *natively* using the ffmpeg libavcoded libraries.

    The problem is not decoding the files, that is trivial. The problem is dealing with the copy protection. Another open source library is not going to help this, because it will still never be allowed to decrypt the copy-protected files.

  • Re:already there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by freshman_a (136603) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:53PM (#15920635) Homepage Journal
    Yes, but I think the legality of the way mplayer does it is questionable since it uses Windows DLLs directly. It sounds like this is going to be completely separate code written by Real.

    I do love mplayer though.
  • by ledow (319597) * on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @12:59PM (#15920672) Homepage
    Possibly. I just wish that they wouldn't do everything possible to make their primary piece of software (at least by downloads) so obnoxious.

    1) Try to instruct a novice user to find and download the free version on their website. Not an easy task but doable.

    2) Try to install it without it inserting stuff into Windows startup - I use Startup Control Panel but not everyone is so lucky.

    3) Try to remove the messages/popups etc. from a standard installation - again, not for the novice.

    I applaud any attempt at open-sourcing software but I would worry about the quality of the code if their primary app is in this much of a mess.
  • Re:...err (Score:2, Insightful)

    by WilliamSChips (793741) <full.infinity@gmail. c o m> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:11PM (#15920776) Journal
    Unless we use Real's compiler I doubt that a Trusting Trust problem will happen. If there's a deliberate problem it would be obfuscatory.
  • Re:False Summary (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:17PM (#15920829)
    Totally false. ffmpeg / mplayer / vlc etc. can all decode WMV files *natively* using the ffmpeg libavcoded libraries.

    Well, mostly. ffmpeg can decode WMV 7/8/9 and WMA 7/8. There is no decoder for WMA Pro, WMA voice, or WMA lossless. WMV8 decoding has bugs and may drop certain keyframes.
  • Dear RealPlayer, (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:21PM (#15920867)
    Please open up your own format first before going and opening up other peoples' formats. Windows Media is already easy enough to play most anywhere. Streaming (or even non-streaming) RM is a pain to convert to another format - and most of the downloadable converters require you to have RealPlayer itself already installed (so it can use the DLLs). This is as much a "solution" as Captive NTFS, and it doesn't work on platforms other than x86/Windows.

    (My underlying complaint is that you don't have a half-recent version for Windows Mobile. I've tried to convert these to WMV but it doesn't work well. Releasing a WM5 player - or even a J2ME player - would shut me up for now, but your real problem is you have the obscurest, proprietariest file format ever.)
  • by deviceb (958415) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:26PM (#15920900) Homepage
    *skip unless u want to hear my negative opinions on Real.

    I have no time to read an article about Real networks, but i will take the time to state how much i dislike it.
    Real media has been one of the most annoying web technologies since it came out. For instance: trying to sneak in lame apps and silly toolbars during the install. Trying to hi-jack file permissions.. Winamp has always delivered better quality, free and less annoying content.
    It is just about worthless as a media player when compared to VLC [videolan.org] or any number of other players.
    The only thing Real had going was content protection,.. but now streaming with flash (youtube, pornotube, google.video, ect.) is cake so they do not even have that. I can see why they would be trying to give the app to anybody who will take it.

    the last place i want to see it is in a linux distro.

    hrm... what else.. it's ugly & stinks too! /end rant
  • Re:already there? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kidgenius (704962) on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @01:39PM (#15921003)
    When Redhat or Suse ship their distro, they are not allowed to include the DLLs. The location you downloaded them from is not allowed to distribute the DLLs. You are not allowed to download the DLLs. It has not stopped me from doing it for xine, mplayer, etc., doing this is in violation of copyright. What Real is doing is providing a LEGAL way of acquiring these codecs.
  • by SanityInAnarchy (655584) <ninja@slaphack.com> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:05PM (#15921253) Journal
    Mod parent up. I won't be shut up, by the way -- every single RealPlayer I've ever had the misfortune to play with has been nothing but pain. Windows version I'd heard described as "behaves like a virus" by my most MS-loving, proprietary-loving technology whores -- and this was before we had a word for "spyware". Difficult to uninstall, a pain to live with. Linux users had to deal with truly ancient versions, so while there were players and plugins which used the RealPlayer DLLs (.so's), and while RealPlayer itself was distributed under package management (so not much chance of spyware if I don't run it), it was compiled with a truly ancient version of gcc, and thus wouldn't work with any of those things. So I ended up having to run it anyway...

    And while most players let you have a fairly big buffer, RealPlayer sounded staticy, like bad radio reception. I suspect it had some clever way for dropping quality, but I shouldn't have needed that with my connection -- and yet, it still spent half the time buffering.

    CarTalk is a humorous radio show which answers automotive questions, half-seriously, you never know if they're giving you good advice or just messing with you. They switched from RealPlayer several years ago, because as amazing as it seemed (even to them!), RealPlayer managed to be significantly worse than Windows Media Player -- Microsoft did far, far better than them by being almost mediocre.

    If Real wants to gain respect, then yes, they should open their own format. We don't need all the source code, just the codecs, thanks.

    If Real wants to survive as a business, they should drop the farce and just start selling their spyware directly to botnet controllers and peddlers of animated cursors.

    By the way, whoever suggested that Flash has replaced Real as the format that does copy protection... Flash may not be as open as we'd like for playing, but it's easy enough to rip the video out of it. Or at least, I've done that with audio -- pulled an ordinary mp3 file out of a Flash presentation. With Real, you have to use the Analog Hole, not that it's that bad -- the sound quality sucks so much that encoding it as a 56-bit mp3 wouldn't hurt.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:20PM (#15921382)
    I too want to chime in here. Besides the fact that this pile of a company is still steaming, another problem is the various incompatible formats with different versions of their own player, that required(s) you to download their adware ridden crap anew every six months, and prevents you from playing the old files with the new player (for whatever reason).

    Mention the magic words "open source" and it's like everyone here is turning into a Real fanboi. I still standby the words of another slashdotter a couple of years ago. The quicker Real goes down the quicker we can stop having to deal with their crap.

    Some criminals never reform even though they are let out of prison. I bet that's the case with Real.
  • by Wesley Felter (138342) <wesley@felter.org> on Wednesday August 16, 2006 @02:38PM (#15921514) Homepage
    How is Real going to legally give away an open-source decoder for a format that is patented by Microsoft? Is MS giving away free patent licenses to Linux users, while charging others per copy? This doesn't make a lot of sense.

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