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Draft Debian and mplayer FAQ

There have been some comments about mplayer, compared to ffmpeg
and other packages. The discussion here seems to have cooled,
so I have written a summary of the situation as I understand it.

Is it accurate? Please send me comments and/or improvements
(as plain text or patches, please).  I'd also like to hear what
next steps readers would suggest about the mplayer package,
even if I'm not going to take them myself.

                          The Debian and mplayer FAQ

   This is just my attempt to explain the current situation. Please
   contact [1]Andrea Mennucci directly with package questions. The latest
   version of this FAQ (or a pointer to it) should be at

   Is mplayer in debian?

   Why not?
          There were problems with copyright and patents (according to
          [3]this summary of the history).

   What were the problems and how have they been resolved?

         1. code without copyright notices: mplayer team did a licence
            audit and noted which files have what copyright
         2. DeCSS code: removed and mplayer-debian uses [4]libdvdread3
         3. libfaad2 code: this is almost identical to libfaad code in
            xine-lib (from [5]Apr 2005)
         4. remaining questionable-licence code in the upstream tarball
            is removed to make the debian orig tarball by debian/rules

          (from [6]debian-legal Feb 2005 threads unless marked)

   What is the current situation?
          A fresh copy has been uploaded and awaits ftpmaster review in
          the NEW queue.

   What is ftpmaster review and how long does it take?
          See [7]Matthew Garrett's description of ftpmastering. [8]The
          NEW queue summary suggests it could take up to 3 months.

   If mplayer is so free, so why is it sooooo darn difficult to have it
          in Debian???
          One theory: mplayer.deb seems to be a "tinderbox" - Anyone who
          has prolongued exposure to it gets frustrated by the legal grey
          areas and its history, so they start flaming innocent
          bystanders for being wary. This writes new chapters of bad
          history and "dries the tinder" more. Users and other developers
          are wary of mplayer because of this history, so probably treat
          it differently to other packages, increasing the frustration of
          the developer and thereby helping to start the flames.
          Sometimes they try to be kind while being wary, which makes the
          flames hurt more. (From [9]this list post)

   How can I help?
          For now, please wait, unless the packagers ask you for help.
          Please review the package if you have time, especially looking
          for problems like those which stopped it before. Please watch
          [10]debian-devel-announce or [11]debian-devel-changes for

          Of course, if you're an ftpmaster, please review and act or
          comment on the package in the NEW queue.

   Where can I download the current package for review?
          Direct from the packager at [12]his sarge download area.

   Where should I send comments and questions about the package?
          Ask the packager first, or [13]debian-legal for licensing
          questions if you prefer.

   Where should I send improvements for this page?
          [14]Email me with patches to the bare html, please.

   20 Apr 2005, [15]MJR


   1. http://tonelli.sns.it/pub/mennucc1/
   2. http://people.debian.org/~mjr/mplayer.html
   3. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/02/msg00175.html
   4. http://packages.debian.org/libdvdread3
   5. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/04/
   6. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/02/
   7. http://lists.debian.org/debian-project/2005/02/msg00184.html
   8. http://ftp-master.debian.org/new.html
   9. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/2005/02/msg00216.html
  10. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-announce
  11. http://lists.debian.org/debian-devel-changes
  12. http://tonelli.sns.it/pub/mplayer/sarge
  13. http://lists.debian.org/debian-legal/
  14. http://mjr.towers.org.uk/email.html
  15. http://people.debian.org/~mjr/

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