Fixing ffmpeg (was: people talking...)

Greg Dekoenigsberg gdk at
Mon Jun 23 15:06:48 UTC 2008

Wow.  Some really interesting traffic all of a sudden.  Seems like the 
f-mktg-list is turning into the f-video-list.  :)

Comments inline.

On Thu, 19 Jun 2008, Jeff Spaleta wrote:

> On Thu, Jun 19, 2008 at 7:14 PM, Ricardo Garcia <rick.g777 at> wrote:
>> Personally, I think stopping ffmpeg development for 2, 3 or even 6
>> months to do a code restructuring is indeed worth it (the mozilla guys
>> did it, and now we have Firefox thanks to them). Perhaps it would be
>> nice to ask the ffmpeg devs again, who knows? It might just work -
>> specially coming from the Fedora marketing team ;-)

Oh, Rick, if only we had those magical powers.  :)

We may be able to use our name to open a legitimate discussion, though. 
The absolute key is to be able to bring resources to the table who can 
actually do the work.  In the world of Free Video, this seems to be the 
hardest challenge.

> If you want to step up and help them change to be more compatible with 
> our policy, you are welcome to do that.  But you sure as hell better not 
> walk into their process telling them what they do sucks.  You MUST 
> approach the conversation without judgment or blame and you must do what 
> you can to show that you are serious about doing the hard work necessary 
> to help them restructure in a way that is compatible with our policy so 
> that our users can benefit from their work.


> We can not blame them for not caring about what we care about. Everyone 
> works on projects for their own reasons. If they don't care about the 
> issues of patent encumbrance or API stability, that does not devalue the 
> work they do. They simply have different interests.  What matters is if 
> that their project structure is open enough to include new people with 
> new interests who are willing to work in good faith to make ffmpeg 
> easier to use and distribute.  And we aren't going to find that out if 
> people want into their process telling them what they are doing is 
> wrong.  It's not wrong, its just not what we need. So we need people in 
> our community who have the development skills, and a civil tongue, to 
> offer to help them make ffmpeg a better fit for our needs in a way, for 
> the greater benefit of all.

Yep again.  This is why Jef is on the Fedora board.  ;)

Still, in a code project, nothing talks like code.  Sometimes the best 
thing to do is just write some code.

When the project maintainers say "we don't have time to do this work," 
frequently the most useful question to ask next is, "do you have time to 
describe the work so I can do it for you?"  Because that really is the key 
part of the task: actually understanding what work needs to be done, and 

The ffmpeg guys likely have thought about the problem space, and have some 
idea about how to solve it, but don't have the motivation.  Maybe we can 
help them find that motivation.  Maybe you can locate "the right guy" and 
pick his brain.  Maybe offer him beer.  Maybe, if he's *really* "the right 
guy", and Rick, you are *really* "the other right guy", Red Hat could 
figure out how to get you in the same place, at the same time, to work on 
the project together for a weekend.

As far as "forking" goes, sometimes it's necessary to carry a temporary 
fork.  I don't know what the project velocity of ffmpeg looks like, but 
it's my guess that a lot of the key bits don't change much, and a "fork" 
that conclusively proves its value can usually be merged without too much 
trouble.  Especially if everyone shares that goal up front.

Anyway, thanks for showing up to the party, Rick.  You may be the guy 
we've been looking for.

(Oh, and Lucas: maybe you're the guy we've been looking for also. 
Basically, whoever Shows Us The Code, wins.)


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