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mplayer vs debian


I guess most people dont know me, so please let me introduce first:
My name is Attila Kinali, i live in Switzerland and a free software addict
for some years. I guess i dont use debian as long as most of you, but
i guess 3.5y isnt bad either. I follow the mplayer development since
its first public release, send some patches here and there and also did
a lot of user support over the last 2 years.

>From this you can imagine, that i know both debian and mplayer very well
and i choose both of them because i wanted the best thing i can get.
2 years ago, mplayer was the best mpeg player i could find, just as debian
was the best distribution i could get my hands on.

I like both, but i also know that the ways things are done in both
projects are that different, that there will never be a real merge
(ie an inclusion of mplayer packages in debian) of both. This is not
because the mplayer developers like to be illegal and have to show
their rebellion against the world or because the debian developers
are to stubborn and bound too much to their legal stuff. No, it's
because their aims are different. 

While mplayer tries to make the best movie player ever for unix
platforms (assumed you have enough intelligence to read the
manual first) and thus first code is written and afterwards asked
whether it was legal or not. This lead to a player that is fast [1]
and pretty much stable [2] which is used by a lot of peopel all
around the world. Also the permanent requests for the inclusion
of different distributions is a sign of the success of this
"way of development".

On the other hand we have debian, with its huge quality control
system and legal concerns. debian has proved to be one of the
best distributions (imho _the_ best) in the world of linux.
It's way is mostly to get things right the first time, because
a mistake could be fatal for the whole project. This lead
to several decisions which made some developers or users unhapy,
but assured the high over all quality of debian.

Now this two different world views collide. The mplayer team
on one side wants, if there will be any packages, that they
are as good as possible. On the other side, the debian developers
cant include a full featured packages of mplayer as it is
either too difficult or has legal issues.

Marillat tried to provide such packages and succeded in getting
them spread and used. But he did a mistake, he never contacted
the developers about what he was doing nor was his name known
to anyone of the team before. This wouldnt be so bad, if there
werent problems with his packages. The problem descriptions
were most time strange at least and ever resolved by compiling
mplayer by hand. And noone of this could be ever reproduced by
either me or anyone else of the mplayer team.
So i contacted him and asked whether he we could try to get
his packages improved. At this time (iirc 2 months ago)
he didnt seem to know that there were problems with his packages,
but he accepted the cooporation. I had a look at his build
script but didnt like the way it did things, so i tried
to do it better and started to write a buildscript myself
before i wrote back. After a weekend of RTFM, coding and trying
i realized how much work it was to get mplayer packaged.
Only to get a simple selection on which libs had to be included
produced 10 different packages (multiply this by 10 if you want
to get most of the cpu's supported as well). Another around 10
packages had to be build for (half legal) stuff like different
dlls and libraries that gave additional functionality but
werent in debian (like all the win32 stuff, qt codecs, skins etc).
Unfortunately, due to lack of time i was never able to finish it
and i dont think i will in the next few months.

And now we are were there is war between debian and mplayer,
which reasons i cannot fully understand. There is a lot of
flaming, bleeching, lieing and ignoring.
Infact i havent read so much shit in a thread since the
gcc 2.96 incident.
Really, both sides should know better than that. You arent
children anymore, are you ?

MORE SENSEFULL. (sorry, for being loud)

If there is no chance of mplayer getting included in debian,
so it shall be. If anyone want to really try it, he should
contact the developers and work with them together, otherwise
it will never get to a state where it will be usable.

I hope, this is the last mail i have to write about this issue,
have a nice day

			Attila Kinali

[1] Fast in the sense of running fast on a low end machine.
Yes, it doesnt matter whether you run c code or hand optimized asm code
on a 2GHz Athlon, 9% or 10% cpu usage doesnt matter. But it is a difference
if you have just a K6-II 350 with its crappy chipset that is not fast enough.
There every promille counts and 1% cpu usage makes the difference between
a nice movie and absolutly unplayable. If anyone does not believe me, get
you a K6 machine (not a PII as they have a much faster chipset) and try
different mplayer, xine, avifile,...  versions on it.

[2] Stable as in "should not crash but it may happen in some circumstances
that are unforseen". I use now mplayer development versions for long enough
to know that they do a better job in terms of stability than a lot of other
projects (not limited to movie players).

Emacs ist für mich kein Editor. Für mich ist das genau das gleiche, als wenn
ich nach einem Fahrrad (für die Sonntagbrötchen) frage und einen pangalaktischen
Raumkreuzer mit 10 km Gesamtlänge bekomme. Ich weiß nicht, was ich damit soll.
		-- Frank Klemm, de.comp.os.unix.discussion

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