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Native Sorenson Playback Comes to Linux 341

Pivot writes: "With the release of Xine v0.9.11a, it is now possible to play back Quicktime movies encoded with the Sorenson SVQ1 encoding natively. There are still some minor issues with sound, and still no support for SVQ3 encoding, but overall this is a major achievement. Downloads are at I wonder what apple will do about this." Note: you may have to cut and paste that "movies" link into a new tab or browser.
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Native Sorenson Playback Comes to Linux

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  • You can use crossover plugin from which comes with Apple's Quicktime player. Not native, but codeweaver's products kick arse.
  • Licensing? Patents? (Score:5, Interesting)

    by JoshuaDFranklin ( 147726 ) <> on Thursday June 20, 2002 @08:37PM (#3740919) Homepage
    Licensing? Patents?

    Someone care to explain what the team did about
    these little problems?
    • by prockcore ( 543967 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @08:47PM (#3740972)
      Yes please tell.. I have a fully working SVQ3 codec that I reverse engineered sitting on my harddrive (note, only video, the audio is QDM1 which I haven't done yet) I haven't released it due to blatent patent infringement :) but if Sorenson isn't going do to anything about it.. I may release it after all.
      • by G-funk ( 22712 ) <> on Thursday June 20, 2002 @09:23PM (#3741132) Homepage Journal
        Stuff them, release it AC somewhere, post it here, then by the time somebody starts to "cease and desist" it'll be too late.
      • by moyix ( 412254 )
        Definitely agree with some of the above posters--release it anonymously and securely. This sounds like a job for... Freenet!
      • please contact me (Score:3, Informative)

        by jbridge21 ( 90597 )
        Please contact me at your earliest convenience at jeffrey AT firehead DOT org. I run the site listed in my .sig and am used to dealing with all sorts of legal BS. I would very much like to see this code out there, and could definitely help with a proper release of it.
      • by citizenkeller ( 584425 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @04:19AM (#3742285) Homepage
        I have a fully working SVQ3 codec that I reverse engineered sitting on my harddrive

        Man, that must have been uncomfortable!

      • I have a fully working SVQ3 codec that I reverse engineered sitting on my harddrive ... I haven't released it due to blatent patent infringement :)

        As I understand it, patents don't just prevent you from distributing competeting products that do the same thing the patented product does, but also prevent you from making and using them yourself. So if I create a Widget and patent it, you can't make or use a widget even for personal use without my approval.

        Of course, I don't have any idea what protects the Sorenson stuff (copyright or patent), but if it is a patent, you may have already infringed just by having your player.

        Then again, IANAL, so it's probably all wrong :)
    • by HeUnique ( 187 ) <> on Thursday June 20, 2002 @11:05PM (#3741583) Homepage
      Here's a snippet from an email which was posted on FFMPEG's mailing list:

      From: Arpi

      Date: Yesterday 23:02:26


      I've just examined xine's fresh working SVQ1 decoder. It's implemented in a ~60k .c file, and uses a 90k .h containing the tables.

      Looking at the source, it looks like SVQ1 is a tricky h263 variant - as gerard also noticed some time ago. They crypted (don't worry, just order
      change and some xor) the first 4 bytes of the header, to hide it's a h263 one. Ah, and they replaced the patented DCT by recursive VQ.
      And, they use YVU9 (chrominance 4x4 subsampled) instead of YV12 (2x2 subsampling).

      So, as you can see, the SVQ1 guy who wrote the native decoder, replaced the sorenson patented stuff with something free..
    • Lived in Europe?
  • but articles like this really do point out the weakest points of it. If your strong into multimedia (graphic design, sound mixing, 3D modeling, etc). You're still better off in most cases to be using a Win/Mac machine with a much more mature and complete software solutions. This isn't a knock against linux or other *nix's just points out what the weakest links are.
    • This has absolutely nothing to do with Linux. The reason why "You're still better off in most cases to be using a Win/Mac machine" for multimedia, is the fact that application developers DONT WANT to target Linux. It's certainly not Linux's fault that, since Apple refuses to either port Quicktime to Linux or provide info so somebody else can implement compatibility, we have to go around hacking stuff like this.

      Lack of (certain niche) applications certainly hurts Linux, but it's NOT the Linux community's fault. And I guess if the companies don't want to target their products for us Linux users, then too bad for them, it's lost business for them, not for me.
      • by 1010011010 ( 53039 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @09:20PM (#3741116) Homepage
        application developers DONT WANT to target Linux

        That's a problem, but the crappy sound support (OSS, Alsa will be better), non-existant color management (X says: what's that?), poor font support (-including-a-strange-30-year-old-craptacular-nami ng-convention),
        "window managers" making window placement a quirky and non-standard thing, etc. -- are all much more serious problems.

        I like Linux, it runs on my home computers 24/7. But, as Linus recently noted, "all the interesting stuff is on the desktop" -- it's where the most work is needed at the current time.

        How many things in X will we need to fix?
        * font support

        * color management

        * alpha blending support

        * usable configuration (Think Mac, Windows, even BeOS)

        * changing resolutions on the fly

        * vnc (or other RFB) server support, so I can view my desktop -- the one shown on the monitor -- from another computer.

        • Umm.. Changing resolutions on the fly: Crtl-Alt-NumPadMinus/Crtl-Alt-NumPadPlus

          VNC: DOn't they already have a VNC client/server for X? If not, why not just use X itself? (Doah!)
          • ctrl-alt[+-] changes the size of the viewport, not the resolution of the display -- it's still whatever x whatever, but you can see only a small window of it at a time. To actually change the resolution, you need to reconfigure and then restart X.

            The Unix VNC server is actually a modified version of Xfree86 3.x, using a memory framebuffer instead of video hardware.

            However, it would be nice to have a version of VNC that plugged into Xfree 4.x and exported the existing display. X has hooks for this, so it should be possible w/o modifying X or producing a special version of it (like with the current Xvnc server). This would allow the viewing of the current desktop from another machine. Yes, X is a networked display, and can display apps running on another machine. But that's not the same as what VNC does for a Windows machine (for instance), or what VNC exporting an existing X session would do.
            • Here is what you are looking for
              x0rfbserver []
            • What I don't understand is why real "changing resolution on the fly" is not added to XFree86. It should be easy, they already do the hard part which is to change the hardware so the memory is drawn on the screen differently.

              The only other thing X keeps track of is the size of the root window. I propose that the server send a ConfigureNotify event to whoever is listening to the root window (probably the window manager) indicating the new size. The window manager can then respond to this by moving and resizing windows (using whatever rules it wants) to get the resized display. Of course the window managers will need to be rewritten but I expect this would happen very quickly.

              The only other thing is the screen size macros on the Display object. It would also help if xlib was changed so requesting the screen size either did a round trip or a signal was added to indicate that the local copies need to be updated. However I don't think this is vital and it can be ignored as most applications don't use the screen size for anything except to figure out the resolution.

        • by po8 ( 187055 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @02:21AM (#3742110)

          Oh man. Yet another "X sucks" troll. I have no idea why I waste my time with these, but here goes... (and in HTML, no less :-)

          • Font support: Been out for a year. See Xft. Easier to use now with Xft2 and fontconfig.
          • Color management: Been in Xlib for 15 freaking years. See XCMS in the documentation. Application developers never use it, because users never cal their monitors on PC hardware. But it works fine.
          • Alpha blending support: Documentation on the Render extension has been out for a year. Implementation got done two weeks ago. Will be mainstream in a couple of months.
          • Usable configuration: Working on it. "XFree86 -configure" is a step in the right direction. This is probably the most valid complaint on the list, but note that PC graphics and input hardware is notoriously hard to configure, even with Windows.
          • Changing resolutions on the fly: part of the ResizeAndRotate extension. A working implementation of this part is done. Will be released shortly, when the rest of R&R is stable. Note that the ability to change resolutions on the fly has been around for as long as XFree86 via <ctrl><alt><keypad-+>, although the viewport property and the fact that existing apps don't rescale has made it less useful for some needs. It is fairly useful for accessability, though.
          • VNC (or other RFB) server support: This wants to be done via client-side replication, not by bitmap-copying, which is wrong on so many levels. This work is starting now: I would guess about a year to completion. In the meantime, there are plenty of solutions for replicating the server side to another X display: do a web search if you are serious about this.

          I could really stand folks spending 15 minutes doing research before writing these critiques. OTOH, I guess I was successfully trolled, so what do I know?

          • Font support: NOT fixed yet.

            Does Xft give me access to ligatures and kerning pairs? Does it give me access to outlines for my drawing app? Does it give me access to full fonts I can embed in my PS/PDF output?

            There are a bunch more features that would be nice, but the mere ability to do AA fonts on screen does not equal real font support.
            • > Does Xft give me access to ligatures and
              > kerning pairs?

              Not sure, but I think so.

              > Does it give me access to outlines for my
              > drawing app?


              > Does it give me access to full fonts I can
              > embed in my PS/PDF output?


              Xft gives the client full access to Truetype font data via Freetype 2. With that, you can do pretty much whatever you want.
          • So what you're saying is that, at the moment, there is no alpha support, usable configuration, resolution and color depth changing, or VNC support, and that there is also no color management support in X applications -- is the XCMS broken? Why don't people use it? Color management gets used on Macs. Why not X, if it's been supported for 15 years?

            SO your post comes down to, "We can use freetype to render truetype fonts." Yeah, okay, what about the -ugly-and-wierd-font-descriptors-it-uses?
            • > Yeah, okay, what about the -ugly-and-wierd-font-descriptors-it-uses?

              What about them? Users usually don't see these, programmers do.

              The only reason you'd need to look at them (that I can think of offhand anyway) is if you're *trying* to find out what foundry made your font. ("Damn it, I want adobe times, not BSR times!") And in that case, I can't think of an equivalent way to find the same information under MacOS or Windows, so X's solution is clearly better.
            • And how do I query the X server for outlines, metrics, ligatures, etc?
        • font support

          The existing stuff is powerful. You may not like the UI, but the foundation is not bad.

          color management

          Fair enough

          Alpha blending support

          This is in already

          Usable configuration

          There are plenty easy-to-use front ends for this. Try installing a random distro...Mandrake or RH.

          Changing resolutions on the fly

          You can change resolutions even more easily than in Windows, via ctl-alt-kp+ and ctl-alt-kp-. Also, apps in DGA mode can change resolution and (IIRC) color depth, though only for the DGA mode. The color depth thing isn't really an issue any more -- no one runs in anything but 24/32 bit color.

          vnc server support

          If not already done, this is really easy to do -- you can dump an X desktop image easily, and feeding it into VNC isn't rocket science.
      • The lack of the middleware media layer that applications rely on is certainly a substantial issue with doing a lot of authoring on Linux. QuickTime is a great example of this, and DirectShow does similar but more limited things under Windows.

        While QuickTime is mainly discussed as a compression technology, it is important in a lot of other ways in the authoring industry. Many major video applications use QuickTime as an API for video capture, editing, compositing, etcetera. Avid, Media 100, After Effects, Premiere, CineStream, Cleaner, Squeeze, HipFlics, and many others all use QuickTime. Probably 80% of everything you see on TV was a QuickTime file at at least one point in the authoring processs. And QuickTime's depth is hugely underestimated for those who look at it merely as a player technology.

        One great example of QuickTime is the reference movie. This is a movie that is made up of references to media in other files, potentially with transforms attached to it. Think of it like a frameserver, but with all the information needed to serve living in a media file itself, without any requirement for another application.

        Describing Apple's attitude as "refuses to port" is erroneous. Apple's response to a number of UNIX vendors over the years has been "We're happy to port QuickTime to UNIX, but you'll have to pay for it." It'd be at least $20M for Apple to do, and probably many times that. And then there is the ongoing testing. Apple does regression

        There is a huge amount of low-level things that QuickTime relies on, like low latency access to sound cards, Y'CrCb native blitting to video cards, etcetera. Even if they did port it, it would probably only work on distributions it specifically targeted which had the stuff in the kernel it needed. And there is a TON of machine-specific optimization in there - this isn't a GCC and Go kind of thing.

    • This isn't a knock against linux or other *nix's just points out what the weakest links are.

      And a working Sorenson codec available for Linux is a good step toward closing some of those gaps.
  • Although the majority of experienced UNIX gurus run Linux on their desktops, a surprising number of us (myself included) prefer the Berkeley-inspired eccentricities of BSD. The good news here is that FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and NetBSD all have Linux compatibility kernel modules that have all been verified to work with the new Linux release of the Sorenson codec. As a graphics designer, Apple's anti-freedom, closed-source licensing policy on QuickTime was the only reason why I have had to keep a Windows machine around until now, but this development will make it possible for me to de-Microsoft my office and install Gentoo on my spare machine. Bravo for the Xine team!

    freebsd guy

  • I hope Apple realizes the errors of their ways and gives the free software community a free, unlimited license to all their trademarks, copyrights and patents, and rewards (with money) people who use this license to take business away from Apple.
  • June 20, Mountain View, California

    Codeweavers CEO Jeremy White announced that it was considering filing for bankruptcy. "Our main source of income was the large body of Linux users who needed a way of viewing all the movie trailers released by Apple, and the large body of work from the adult entertainment industry, only in Sorenson encoded Quicktime", said White. Later he explained, "That drove the sales of our Crossover Plugin product. We anticipate that the release of Xine's native Linux Sorenson Quicktime player will effectively destroy our market. It is therefore prudent for us to protect what assets we currently have by filing for bankruptcy".
  • GPL questions (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bons ( 119581 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @08:50PM (#3740994) Homepage Journal
    I'm extremely confused.

    Apple has filed a lawsuit [] against Sorenson because of the license between them and Sorensen regarding Sorensen Video. Therefore I have to assume that the methods behind Quicktime are NOT available to just anyone to use.

    And this is released under the GNU General Public License [] which says:

    If you cannot distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

    Now while Quicktime is already available on Linux [] in that case there's a license agreement []. Where is that with Xine?

    • If a patent license would not permit roayalty-free redistribution

      This product uses an open-source free alternative to the Sorenson code to acheive the same outcome. Having implemented their own algorithm, they're not using any patented one, and the portion of the GPL you picked out doesn not pose a problem.
  • by bsartist ( 550317 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @08:51PM (#3740996) Homepage
    Sorry folks, but you're not going to be able to watch the latest movie trailers with this. This is an old version of the Sorenson codec, not the latest, which all the new trailers are using.

    But hey, if you *really* want to watch that those old "Phantom Menace" or "Braveheart" trailers again, this is just the ticket.
  • I wonder when the Nimo [] group will compile this codec for Windows and include it in their package? It'd be nice to dump Quicktime and their annoying "Upgrade Now/Later" banner.
    • Re:Back to Windows (Score:3, Informative)

      by willy_me ( 212994 )
      I believe the trick is to set the date of your computer to a couple of years in the future and then run Quicktime. Click "Update later". Then set the date back to the current date. You won't have to look at those adds for another couple of years.
  • Is that reverse-engineering or did Sorenson GPL their decoder and I wasn't aware about it?

    Anyways, now that we have the decoder, I suppose the *encoder* will come shortly so we can produce quicktime movies that can be used across all platforms!

    • Anyways, now that we have the decoder, I suppose the *encoder* will come shortly so we can produce quicktime movies that can be used across all platforms!

      You can, you just can't use the Sorenson codec without licensed software. Remember that QuickTime is an open multimedia platform, well documented and widely supported. Most QuickTime movies use the Sorenson codec because of its quality. You're free to use something else.
      • I don't mind paying licenses when I need to. Those guys have to pay their rent and put food on the table.

        I wouldn't mind buying Sorenson Broadcaster boxes at $199 each, and sticking the CD on the side of my server's cases. That way, I can prove I'm a licensed user, but I use Linux as the server instead.

        I wonder if that strategy would be legal?

    • by Papineau ( 527159 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @09:10PM (#3741086) Homepage
      This thread [] explains a bit how the codec was decoded (no pun intended).
      Seems like basic (well, not really basic) reverse-engineering, Jean-Michel.
  • In order to thwart reverse engineers? Patent a must-use method so that even after a clean-room reverse engineering you'll still have to infringe on it when you implement?

    MS has done it with streaming ASF or WMA (can't remember which)...obviously not a good trendsetter...
  • Apple. (Score:5, Interesting)

    by saintlupus ( 227599 ) on Thursday June 20, 2002 @08:58PM (#3741026) Homepage
    I wonder what apple will do about this.

    Probably heave a sigh of relief, as they realize that the open source programmers who've been pestering them for a codec they can't give away won't be back.

    I'm more concerned about what Sorenson will do about this, to be honest.

  • Naive Sorenson Playback Comes to Linux
    -- -- -- -- --

    Thru WineX. Needs just one more letter to make it a Native Sorenson Playback, but everybody knows, it's just a give or take ;)
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I just installed 0.9.10. So I will wait a bit on this one. :-)

    But here is one problem that I ran into which others who are out setting it up may see, along with the poorly documented solution. At full-screen at a high resolution I was dropping frames. If my Gv driver was working right, this shouldn't happen. But with other drivers it will. So drop the resolution.

    But if you change the resolution of X with Ctrl-Alt-- (the last - being the one on your number pad), fullscreen mode will take up the full original size of X. To alter this behaviour you can launch the preferences (second button on left of control bar) or edit ~/.xine.config to set gui.use_xvidext to true. NBow fullscreen will be the size that X is, and it is easier to avoid dropping frames. :-)


    PS Despite the legal issues, finding and installing DeCSS is not very hard, and lets you use Xine to handle regular DVDs as well.
  • I think it's great that we're seeing better video player support in linux. I'm glad to see Xine release this product and hope that Apple doesn't sue them into the ground.

    But...can they keep up with Apple and Sorenson when it comes to Quicktime evolution? Is their implementation a linux/windows bridge like codeweavers, or do they actually have a native implementation of Sorenson v1? If it is the latter, how will they keep up with Apple's and Sorenson's release of v3, 6, etc? It seems to me that unless we have some sort of productive partnership with these companies, we'll always be a day late.
    • The source is here []; take a look.

      I would say that open source hackers have no chance to keep up with Apple, but it looks like Apple's strategy has shifted to using open standards. Open source implementations of MPEG-4 were actually released before Apple's. (Too bad MPEG-4 is patented out the wazoo.)
  • After being a long-time Mplayer advocate, I decided to give Xine a try today when I saw this news. Everything works well, and it even sees my dxr3 support, but what's up with this awful skin that looks like the front of a DVD deck? It's completely unusable. The site claims it's skinnable, so where are the other skins?. They're not listed for seperate download anywhere, any ideas?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday June 20, 2002 @10:04PM (#3741337)
    If you read the thread you will see that the author looked at Apple's QT binaries for codebooks to decode some of the encodings. I'm sure there are EULAs that prohibit this. This patch is going to have a lot of legal problems. That's a shame because it is a big boost for QT and thus for Apple, but that's the way it is. I grabbed a copy of it so that when they get an injunction from Apple I'll still be able to post it somewhere in the Free World (ie, not in the US).
    • In civilized countries reverse engineering for the purposes of achieving interoperability (which this clearly is) is explicitly legal no matter what the EULA says. So it depends on where this was done and what local laws say.
  • MPEG 4 on Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by HalimCMe ( 528821 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @12:28AM (#3741837)
    What about MPEG-4 on Linux? I haven't really looked for it, but I was just wondering how well, if at all, it is supported, since the new QuickTime 6 preview supports it.

    MPEG-4 is really sweet stuff. Just as a test today, a friend and I encoded an entire full-length movie that was captured via FireWire DV and encoded it into a 653MB MP4 file using QuickTime 6 on OS X. I was amazed at the quality. It blew away MPEG-1/VCD, DivX, and even Sorenson in video quality, and the audio quality was quite good too, all while fitting on a single 700 MB CD-R.

    I would love to see DVD players support MP4 playback from burned CD-R's. The quality is actually good enough that you can sit back and watch a movie distributed on a single CD and just enjoy it without being annoyed by poor quality video and audio.

    MP4 will really revolutionize video... if the licensing issues don't kill it before it gets off the ground, but that is another story :)
  • Well it seems a lot of people has some missunderstanding regarding Sorensen and Apple. So let's get it right: Apple don't own Sorensen what Apple owns is the exclusive right to distribute Sorensen for use in video playback (wich is why they complained when it was going to be used in Flash also. They have to enforce contracts like these or they will be invalid).

    This isn't redistribution however. As far as I understand it's a standard QT for Windows that's running under Linux (that's what Wine does. Makes windows apps run under Linux - right?). So it don't change anything. On the other hand someone posted that they have reverse engineered some of the binaries from QT. Depending on if it's Apples binaries or Sorensens one of the two might not like that (Sorensen most of all perhaps. Since they have an interrest in protecting their technology).
  • by heroine ( 1220 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @07:21AM (#3742713) Homepage
    Is it really politically correct to write native software for Linux anymore? Isn't the main focus of Linux now an emulation platform for Win32?
  • by frankie ( 91710 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @08:19AM (#3742981) Journal
    It seems pretty likely that Apple is planning to end their exclusive Sorenson license soon, and switch to using MPEG-4 []:

    Apple developed its own ISO-compliant MPEG-4 video codec to provide the highest quality results across a wide spectrum of data rates - from narrowband to broadband and beyond. This revolutionary codec offers compression times and video quality that rival those of the best proprietary codecs available, yet it provides true interoperability with other MPEG-4 players and devices.

    That would be huge good news for consumers everywhere (assuming MPEG-LA gives up on the per-minute fee).
  • by AIXadmin ( 10544 ) on Friday June 21, 2002 @12:19PM (#3744550) Homepage
    The whole purpose of MPEG-4 is that it takes the player out of the game. All that matters is that you can decode/encode MPEG-4. In a year or two, Sorenson should be irrelevant, and XINE will just need MPEG-4 support.
    That being said, doesn't MPEG-4 have some pretty herendous licensing restrictions of its own?
    Slashdotter's, none the less, should be campaigning for sites to support MPEG-4 . If they want Linux, and *BSD to become fully supported across streaming sites.

It is now pitch dark. If you proceed, you will likely fall into a pit.