Can someone describe the difference between the codecs in the Medibuntu Repository versus buying the Fluendo codecs?

Are they the same? Does one have better quality etc?

My Dell Mini originally came with Fluendo installed, but I have since upgraded several times and just used Medibuntu - but I am wondering if I am missing something.


Fluendo multimedia codecs exists as commercial products because of software patents (required for decoding mpeg, mp3, etc) and silly-DRM removal laws (ie parts of DMCA, Digital Economy and ACTA) that stop you removing the CSS DRM on DVDs. The Medibuntu variants are still free software as they're not infringing any copyright (to my knowledge anyway).

Whether you legally need it or not comes down to where you live honouring software patents or the DMCA-style DRM-cracking laws.

Regarding quality: the codebase for each implementation is different so there is scope for one implementation being better than another. The only test I've really seen is ffmpeg vs Google's own implementation, where ffmpeg trounces Google.

Dell plays it safe. They want top sell a product internationally that they can advertise as being able to play DVDs. That means they have to adhere to local laws and that undoubtedly means they'll need to license the software in some regions. I expect it is easier (and therefore cheaper) for them to just bulk-license from Fluendo.

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    I understand the legalities - but can you comment on the quality? Is there a reason to actually pay for it? – rifferte Sep 29 '10 at 15:48
  • @rifferte: Legal reasons. If you run a business or if you're going to be producing encoded audio or video, you need the Fluendo codecs for protection against legal liability. – greyfade Sep 29 '10 at 16:11
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    rifferte: I see what you're saying. I can only speak from personal experience with the open source versions. I've found the quality to be extremely good and there are a lot of very smart people out there making the codecs as good as they can possibly be. It's not unheard of for open codecs to outperform closed implementations (ffmpeg quite recently did this for Google's own VP8 encoder). – Oli Sep 29 '10 at 16:57
  • Things like DVD playing is illegal in many countries not because the of the mpeg format, but because it means breaking the encryption on the disc. If you are in doubt whether it is legal you should do some research! The quality is not different but the licenses is ;) – LassePoulsen Sep 29 '10 at 17:59
  • the w32codecs package in the Medibuntu repositories is not open source, and is violating the copyright of at least Microsoft, Apple and Real (I didn't check in detail if binaries from other companies are included too). – JanC Nov 21 '10 at 22:41

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