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I was installing some MP3 codecs when i noticed these two, why do we have two of these? what's different?

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up vote 5 down vote accepted

Raw package information:

Package: gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3-partner
Source: gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-partner
Priority: extra
Section: sound
Installed-Size: 256
Maintainer: Brian Thomason 
Architecture: i386
Version: 7.0.20100316-3
Replaces: gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins, 
gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-offline
Provides: gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3
Depends: libc6 (>= 2.4), libglib2.0-0 (>= 2.12.0), libgstreamer0.10-0 (>= 0.10.0), 
libxml2 (>= 2.6.27), zlib1g (>= 1:1.1.4), debconf (>= 0.5) | debconf-2.0, 
gstreamer0.10-plugins-base (>= 0.10.14)
Conflicts: gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins, 
gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3, gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-offline
Pre-Depends: debconf
Filename: pool/partner/g/gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-partner/gstreamer0.10-
Size: 92048
MD5sum: 478ec57fd9233c5400a8c9784a27659d
SHA1: 2282a621166a18b1565c306c961a8ada2346ad99
Description: MP3 codec support for GStreamer

The GStreamer multimedia framework is being used in more and more systems,
ranging from server media processing systems, end-user desktops and various
embedded and mobile devices. The Fluendo Plugins are a set of plugins for
GStreamer which implement support for various media formats and hardware.
These plugins give you an opportunity to quickly and easily add proprietary
support to their GStreamer-based products.

This package contains an enhanced mp3 codec.
  1. gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3-partner replaces gstreamer0.10-fluendo-mp3. Most likely the last one will someday disappear or be replaced by the 1st one.
  2. gstreamer0.10-fluendo-plugins-mp3-partner contains an enhanced mp3 codec.
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From what I could gather, the new -partner lib doesn't depend on liboil, which is GPL (or LGPL). The non suffixed lib does depend on that. Liboil is a library to handle optimizations (like using MMX, SSE or the like when it can).

Not depending on a (L)GPL library allows Fluendo to distribute their library more easily.

It is explained in better detail here:

I quote:

"The fully licensed binary GStreamer plug-in

Fluendo has paid the license of Fraunhofer and Thomson to be able to distribute a binary MP3 decoder. This means that people who want MP3 support for the desktop music players can get a fully licensed plug-in directly from this site. "

"Issues to be aware of

If you are living in a country where the MP3 patents don't apply, you are entitled to use the source code provided by Fluendo (or anyone else) to get legal MP3 support onto your Unix/GNU/Linux desktop.

In contrast, if you live in a country where patents do apply, or if you are a distribution maker working in countries where the patents apply, you need the licensed binary from Fluendo. If this is the case, please be aware that, even if our binary is made from MIT licensed source code, the resulting binary, combined with our license, is not free software, at least not GPL-compatible. This means that if you ship GStreamer with our binary MP3 plug-in, you need to be sure that you don't ship any GPL-licensed plug-ins that could end up being used together with the MP3 plug-in, as this would be a violation of the GPL. You also need to make sure you don't ship any GPL-licensed players which would use this plug-in. "

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