My fun starts now

Debian decided to move to the new FFmpeg, what does it mean to me? Why should I care? This post won’t be technical for once, if you think “Libav is evil” start reading from here.

Relationship between Libav and Debian

After split between what was FFmpeg in two projects, with Michael Niedermayer keeping the name due his ties with the legal owner of the trademark and “merging” everything the group of 18 people was doing under the new Libav name.

For Gentoo I, maybe naively, decided to just have both and let whoever want maintain the other package. Gentoo is about choice and whoever wants to shot himself on a foot has to be be free to do that in the safest possible way.

For Debian, being binary packaged, who was maintaining the package decided to stay with Libav. It wasn’t surprising given “lack of releases” was one of the sore points of the former FFmpeg and he started to get involved with upstream to try to fix it.

Perceived Leverage and Real Shackles

Libav started with the idea to fix everything that went wrong with the Former FFmpeg:
– Consensus instead of idolatry for THE Leader
– Paced releases instead of cvs is always a release
– Maintained releases branches for years
git instead of svn
– Cleaner code instead of quick hacks to solve the problem of the second
– Helping downstreams instead of giving them the finger.

Being in Debian, according to some people was undeserved because “Libav is evil” and since we wrongly though that people would look at actions and not at random blogpost by people with more bias than anything we just kept writing code. It was a huge mistake, this blogpost and this previous are my try to address this.

Being in Debian to me meant that I had to help fixing stale version of software, often even without upstream.

The people at Debian instead of helping, the amount of patches coming from people over the years amounted to 1 according to git, kept piling up work on us.

Fun requests such as “Do remove a standard test image because its origin according to them is unclear” or “Do maintain the ancient release branch that is 3 major releases behind” had been quite common.

For me Debian had been no help and additional bourden.

The leverage that being in a distribution theoretically gives according to those crying because the evil Libav was in Debian amounts to none to me: their user complain because the version provided is stale, their developers do not help even keeping the point releases up or updating the software using Libav because scared to be tainted, downstreams such as Kubi (that are so naive to praise FFmpeg for what happened in Libav, such as the HEVC multi-thread support Anton wrote) would keep picking the implementation they prefer and use ffmpeg-only API whenever they could (debian will ask us to fix that for them anyway).

Is important being in Debian?

Last time they were discussing moving to FFmpeg I had the unpleasant experience of reading lots of lovely email with passive-aggressive snide remarks such as “libav has just developers not users” or seeing the fruits of the smear campaign such as “is it true you stole the FFmpeg hardware” in their mailing list (btw during the past VDD the FFmpeg people there said at least that would be addressed, well, it had not been yet, thank you).

At that time I got asked to present Libav, this time after reading in the debian wiki the “case” presented with skewed git statistics (maybe purge the merge commits when you count them to compare a project activity?) and other number dressing I just got sick of it.

Personally I do not care. There is a better way to spend your own free time than do the distro maintenance work for people that not even thanks you (because you are evil).

The smear campaign pays

I’m sure that now that now that the new FFmpeg gets to replace Libav will get more contributions from people and maybe those that were crying for the “oh so unjust” treatment would be happy to do the maintenance churn.

Anyway that’s not my problem anymore and I guess I can spend more time writing about the “social issues” around the project trying to defuse at least a little the so effective “Libav is evil” narrative a post a time.

15 thoughts on “My fun starts now”

    1. Oink! (And I’m terrible for not having highlighted trocadero well enough)

      Surely the time not wasted in keeping ancient releases for non-grateful people can be spent in nihav now =)

  1. send patch for libav questions and answers page on using repo and i’ll commit it. this includes “Q: did libav steal any hardware” “A: no one stole any hardware.” etc.

    also patches or suggestions for giving libav project credit are welcome. you want s/qatar/ ? you want a news entry? what exactly kind of credit do you want? bonus if you just send a patch to ffmpeg-devel mailing list.


    1. Thanks a lot for the offer and thank for reminding me that the “merges” from libav are still hidden with the qatar moniker, surely would be nice to have proper credit indeed.

      1. The qatar thing has been gone for a while, my mistake.

        Does libav want credit on website, merges, wikipedia?
        Where exactly, I am curious.

        1. Oh, right, now there is no way to know which is the merge source. Brilliant.

          Personally I’d be happy to not have discredit (such as the theft narration and other).
          I’d also like not to be pestered by FFmpeg contributors asking me questions about my code and then not getting any help back from them.
          And, even if is impossible, I’d love if Carl and Michael stop pestering the new Libav contributors with not exactly great emails.

          1. First you ask not to be called thief, then you ask to stop actual thievery (of wetware, not hardware) from *you*. You must be a funny guy.

          2. I wouldn’t call it thievery and I’m not sure how productive pulling such stunts is regarding retention of contributors.

            Obviously I bet no excuses for such bad behavior will be ever published on their website nor they would stop calling the Libav code shoddy (just for merge it after, possibly by hiding even better the fact).

            If hadn’t been for the fact way too many people do not read and do not think but they just love rallying under a “Justice Flag” whichever it is probably they wouldn’t have such great success in piggybacking and claim to be the heroes.

          3. You know my solution, it works as great as new AVScale (i.e. great in theory, nobody does anything in practice).

      1. Surely would be nice if Carl starts behaving in a decent way in person (he _really_ ignored me when I met him at LinuxTag) and on internet (I got some reports from new Libav contributors about him contacting them in private and telling what I’d say over the boundary of lies), I doubt it would ever happen.

        1. IIRC newspapers that are caught publishing a lie should publish a debunking of it in the same way. Just imagine aforementioned people receiving another mail from CE saying “I’m sorry, what I’ve said previously isn’t true.” (and yes, I know some Libav developers who got a mail from certain FFAustrian too).

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