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 Andrea Mennucci directly with package questions. The latest
version of this FAQ (or a pointer to it) should be at
Is mplayer in debian?
There were problems with copyright and patents (according to
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 libdvdread3
3. libfaad2 code: this is almost identical to libfaad code in
xine-lib (from Apr 2005)
4. remaining questionable-licence code in the upstream tarball
is removed to make the debian orig tarball by debian/rules
(from 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 Matthew Garrett's description of ftpmastering. 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
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 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
debian-devel-announce or 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 his sarge download area.
Where should I send comments and questions about the package?
Ask the packager first, or debian-legal for licensing
questions if you prefer.
Where should I send improvements for this page?
Email me with patches to the bare html, please.
20 Apr 2005, MJR