[LAU] ffmpeg or libav

Rob Kudla lau at kudla.org
Sun Jan 13 15:24:54 UTC 2013

On 01/13/2013 04:54 AM, Fritz Meissner wrote:
> I cannot speak about technical matters, but the change is extremely
> inconvenient because of all the outside packages which are set up to call
> ffmpeg and now need to be hand-configured for libav (I'm talking about
> setting up subsonic to run on an Ubuntu 12.10 server here). And why the

While I'm still on 12.04 for our media server, I've been getting my ffmpeg
from here since I discovered the change (when the fake ffmpeg from the
libav package crashed on my vacation video... known bug with lots of
reports... worked fine in the real ffmpeg, of course):


This is not a solution. It's just a workaround until the stupid political
situation resolves itself. But it does work, as long as you're able to use
PPAs and the backports repository (for home use, that shouldn't be a big deal).

I love the claims by the libav developer/fake-ffmpeg Debian maintainer that
packages of the real ffmpeg "subtly break" other Debian packages. Well,
buddy, your fake ffmpeg is more than subtly broken. Which wouldn't matter
if you weren't claiming it were ffmpeg.

The same thing happened to annoying effect when Debian switched from
"gqview" to "geeqie". Yes, gqview is an unmaintained app. But after 3
years, geeqie still has regressions, especially with regard to file
management (you don't get to see the image you're about to overwrite when
there's a name collision, there's no auto rename, etc.) Someone filed a bug
about it over a year ago, but while the developers of forks declare their
forks to be the real thing in announcements, when it comes to their bug
tracker, what would have been a regression stopping release of the real
thing is treated as a feature request in a fork.

It's not like there was some license issue with the original file replace
dialog; the fork developers just decided they could do better, ripped it
out and then never got around to rewriting it. Probably not a big deal for
people who use gqview purely as a fast image viewer, but a significant
portion of the userbase used it as an image management tool as well.

The biggest issue is these "transitional packages", which are nothing but a
symbolic link to the fork with the real program's name. If the developers
themselves are renaming the package and it's otherwise just a minor update,
fine, use a transitional package. But if you're choosing a fork over the
original one for political reasons -- and anything other than "the original
program has an unpatched remote exploit and we don't have commit access" is
a political reason -- and that fork is missing features or is unstable,
putting a broken package out there under a different name to stop
dependencies from breaking creates more problems than just saying "We don't
support the original package anymore because someone on the internet made
us mad" would have.

In the case of ffmpeg, they get bonus points for claiming to be ffmpeg
while also claiming that ffmpeg is deprecated. It's literally fraudulent,
simultaneously trying to benefit from ffmpeg's name while smearing it as

I'd like to see a solution where maintainers are dismissed for making
policy decisions for emotional reasons, But the thing about unpaid
volunteers, on or offline, is that you have to put up with prima donnas now
and then. These are two such cases. At least we Ubuntu users have PPAs and
the ability to freeze package versions.


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