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Filed under: General — Thomas @ 10:19 am

2007-3-19
10:19 am

Pete, if memory serves me right I actually came up to you and asked if you were a happy person in real life, because you seem to be rather negative in your blog (that’s a slightly different wording than your spin on it). Obviously I mentioned the entries about the project I work on, and offered my assistance in figuring out the particular details of your troubles with GStreamer. Your blog entries about them were low on actual content that would help me figure out what you are actually complaining about, and as far as I know you have never actually filed a bug, even though you assert you have good hacker instincts.

Livejournal doesn’t let me search your blog entries so I can find the non-anime posts where you complain about GStreamer. I have sent one or two mails to you directly in the past but haven’t received a reply to those. So I thought LCA would be a good opportunity to figure out if you are actually interested in getting GStreamer to work for you, or if you just like to complain :) Sometimes it’s just a lot easier to figure out a problem in real life than in blogs or failed email exchanges.

So, given that both in real life as well as on the internet I have been unable to get you to point out specific problems that I can actually address, I thought I’d let our good friends at Google help me.

Let’s start with your number-one complaint: why does DVD playback not work in Totem ? I get asked this a lot so I will explain it here, allowing me to refer to it for other people as well. 1) The GStreamer hackers who work at Fluendo cannot hack on the free-software-but-ignoring-patents stack. As a company, we want to provide a fully legal DVD playback solution, and this forces us to stay away from libdvd* hacking. Due to the licensing of CSS, we will not be able to provide a plugin to Totem as-is. Do we like this situation ? Of course not – but this is how the DVD world is. 2) However, GStreamer does support DVD playback with the libdvd stack – check out the command-line Seamless DVD player. Improving support for other applications like Totem should be done by the wider community around GStreamer, but something as complex as DVD takes time. 3) As far as I know, Totem does do basic playback of DVD’s, it just doesn’t allow you to go through the menus (which of course is an important feature).

I’ve repeated this explanation to anyone who asks. Yes, it is a sore point, and yes, it needs fixing, but there is nothing I personally can do about it except motivate people like Martin Soto who hacks on Seamless.

You complain about names: “How about a discoverability of the package name of the month? Gstreamer (sic) people seem to receive sadistic pleasure from renaming packages.” The source tarball of gst-plugins has been split up once in its lifetime (since 2003); this happened almost two years ago. If you are talking about the packages available on our project site, there has been a “gstreamer-universe” umbrella package around since a long time (at least since RH9), and our installation instructions mention you should install this. Or maybe your complaint is targeted at the official Fedora packages – I think your employer has ties with Fedora, so you could direct your anger at the packagers. Personally, my pleasure in renaming is anything but sadistic. Usage of that word may uncover a certain bias on your part.
Let me know if “yum install gstreamer-universe” is giving you any trouble.
On debuggability of Totem: I agree that dialogs like that are not helpful as such to the user. The GStreamer library actually provides additional debug info that gives more programmer-oriented information and the exact code line that triggered the message, but Bastien prefers not to show a “Additional Debug” info button to show this information. For the record, you can get this information on the console for any GStreamer application by running it with GST_DEBUG=*:2 set in your environment. If you really want to know every little detail going on (or provide us with a bug report !), GST_DEBUG=*:5 is even better.

No working video output: bugs like this are obviously hard to fix without getting more info. It’s the equivalent of getting a usb timeout – I don’t think I ever blamed you personally for any of the ones I keep getting. You mention that aalib works but nothing else. I could have given you a few pipelines to try, to narrow down the issue. Same bug fixing methodology applies as for any other kind of bug: is it reproducable with other GStreamer applications ? Is it reproducable with gst-launch ? What are the differences with different elements ? Stuff like this is not that hard, but it takes a little bit of interaction between reporter (starting with the reporter first) and the developers.

Rhythmbox gets cut and paste right: not surprising that GNOME-associated apps are a little more usable than their counterparts. In a previous blog post you mentioned that it was nice that errors from Totem could be cut-and-pasted. In a this post you make a screenshot of VLC to show that you can configure where to put snapshots. You don’t find that configuration dialog a little cluttered ? (That post of yours is interesting for other reasons – the guy you attack was complaining about a problem in VLC, but he complained in a way that actually allowed you to reply, because he complained about a specific feature. Your rants usually do not contain any actionable information.)
Anyway, to fix your particular problem – wanting to eradicate GStreamer: someone with good hacker instincts like you should find it very easy to patch up your favourite media player to make URL’s copyable, so you can finally remove that last GStreamer-using package.

I hope I cleared up at least a little of your confusion. I hope we can get you to report specific bugs or problems in the future, but I’m not holding my breath. I don’t plan to have blog conversations about this in the future because they escalate quickly, but you are free to take up the email correspondence about this I tried to initiate. At the end of the day, though, I still wonder why you seem unhappy in your blogs ? USB doesn’t work very well for me, but somehow I manage to restrain myself from posting unproductive complaints about it all the time. I’m sure you could manage too.
PS1: Grabbing my lapels would not have worked well, I don’t wear clothes with lapels.

PS2: I wouldn’t buy you launch just because you manage to restrain yourself and not complain about GStreamer more. In fact, I would be more inclined to buy you lunch if you did complain more, on the condition that one of those extra complaints had resulted in a useful bug report or actionable item.

Update: Hm, it seems you are even more bileful in your comments.  “Broken since 0.10” is over-general and also implies it worked before 0.8 – surely that’s not what you meant to say :) I did not express displeasure about how much love we receive in your blog, I expressed displeasure at the fact that we were not fulfilling your needs and were unable to do anything about them.  And I’m pretty sure I gave you the standard reply on DVD (as I give up above in this post as well) because I give that reply to everyone who asks about it – simply because it is the truth.

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