Free Software deficit rant and wishlist

There are some things that were nice to have as Free Software and some things that totally suck. Don’t get this wrong. I like Linux and Free Software in general, and prefer it to any other closed source piece of Software, because of this openness and because it is more written for geeks than for dumb noobs. Like this other OS which gets more and more tedious to work with. Which gets worse with every version. Now you have to literally dive through piles of much to verbose and mostly nonsensical description „essays“ and error „novels“ only to find out that this OS won’t tell you at all whats going on. Like „A problem has ocurred. Ask your Administrator.“  %$§$&% I AM the Administrator!!!!  „…want to… ask a friend?“ yeah.

Video conferencing

Needed: Skype equivalent.

Available Solutions: ekiga, empathy, kopete, pidgin, kphone, linphone.
Problems with existing solutions: none has the ability to encrypt video and/or audio which I consider essential for a modern communication tool. Skype’s encryption is at least good enough to frustrate the common network admin, which is way better than any open source has to offer out of the boy until now.
And no, additional vpn tunnels or zrtp proxies don’t cut it. They are a PITA to setup and maintain. Zfone has unclear licensing terms which seems to be the reason it isn’t packaged by distributions.
Ekiga seems to be the most usable at this time. Searching google for „ZRTP ekiga“ gives many results, it seams they attempt to include it since 2006, but it isn’t here until now. Additionally ekiga has a clumsy interface and is very hard to setup with things like sip-over-vpn or serverless sip. I guess it’s the typical gnome/windows thing: do some 50% standard things automatically and don’t care about the rest. They seem to be busy plumbing an instant messenger onto sip at the moment.
Empathy and the telepathy framework seems to be most promising now in my opinion because of their modular architecture.
I want: theora(x264) + speex,celt, builtin encryption, easy NAT traversal, easy installation. Everything is here: zrtp/srtp or dtls, stun, ICE, all codecs have open implementations, there are many open media frameworks.
Jingle seemed promising, doing away with the SIP cruft, I have seen many attempts to implement it into OS messaging clients, but none was usable. Don’t know why.

All in all it seems most of the developers are not at all interested in adding encryption to their program, some even seem to oppose it. Hey, lets create a new Conspiracy Theory (TM): „They“ prevent the development of free and open voice/video encryption software.

Video editing

Cinelerra was an utter failure regarding stability and usability. The Lumiera project by some people out of the cinelerra community sounds great, but will apparently not be usable in the foreseeable future. Pitivi and openshot are severely lacking in features until now but may have their userbase. Kdenlive has made large advancements and is the most usable at the time of writing, but it’s lacking basic features like keyframes for effects and stable effects. (ever tried to anonymize e.g. a video of a political demonstration?) Also there are only very few video format presets, and you cannot easily define custom ones.
Let’s hope Lightworks goes the Blender way and not the Xara way… The feature list looks really nice.

64bit runtimes for java, flash

Oh please Adobe and Sun/Oracle: Would you please finally make 64 bit versions of your runtimes that simply work as „well“ as in 32 bit?
As flash is mostly used for videos and advertisements, we can hope it will be replaced by html5 in near future, whereas the lack of a 64 bit java vm with a non-memory-eating client mode is really bitter. At least there is now an applet plugin. Now that memory and cpu time are so abundant that we write whole applications in Javascript, Java would have been a great technology for client apps and web, but of course Sun decided to totally botch it with their former stupid licensing policy and their neglegience for everything else than „Enterprise Business yaddahh“.

Java ME DevKit for Linux

Who in his right mind wants do cross-develop using Windows if he could use Linux, the developer’s platform?

Video recording/synchronization

Have you ever tried to record video directly from webcam to disk? Perhaps you even have an mjpeg camera and hoped it could simply dump frames beneath some audio? I tried ffmpeg, mencoder, vlc, gstreamer, transcode. I was lucky when they handled v4l2 at all, then some of them didn’t even have alsa input drivers (alsa is around since 1998…)

Main problem here is:
There a two completely separeate streams: Video as a somewhat irregular timed sequence of jpegs and audio as a normal alsa stream from an usb-audio-driver. One would expect that it should be possible to simply write both streams nicely timestamped into a container format and process (cut, recode, whatever) the whole thing afterwards in non-realtime. Nope.Vvlc doesn’t work with raw mjpeg, and doesn’t have alsa input. Mencoder does have raw mjpeg, but it segfaults immediately. And it can only write avi files which need a regular framerate.
With ffmpeg A/V-sync was a total mess, although it otherwise worked.
Gstreamers gst-launch is a great tool, but no matter how many buffers and timestamper plugins one inserts audio is not in sync with avi. Mkv works fine, but no other program can open mjpeg-in-mkv or at least convert it to a different mjpeg container format.

Video transcoding

What I want: Start with a DVB recording as one or more TS files and an edit decision list consisting of cut-in/cut-out times.
Goal: Get a properly a/v-synced mp4/mkv file in one single step:

magical-encode -edl blah.txt -o out.mp4 -crf 25 *.ts

At the moment you do this:

ts –cut+sync+demux (projectx)–> m2v+mp2+ac3 –encode video, copy/encode audio–> .avi,vorbis/aac/ac3 –multiplex–> mp4/mkv

This needs 2 – in theory – superfluous sets of temp files. Helped to kill my hd once…

Proper video drivers

Nvidia’s binary blob works as long as you have a new graphics card and as long you are lucky. I have to use an old „legacy“ version now with my old graphics card. At the moment it seems I have some settings wrong. It’s sluggish as hell. Switched to nouveau today. I can live without 3D and power management on this computer as I use it mostly for surfing and as a server. I’m confident nouveau will improve.
Ati’s binary driver was really bad some time ago, but has improved. You still can’t make screencasts with a decent framerate, the computer hangs completely when you start a second x-server, and so on. I’ll change to the open source driver the day they implement power management.
Yeah @Intel: H.264 acceleration in Q3

Decent Open Multi-VPN

Tinc has a great feature list, but what use is a Virtual Private Network that is not guaranteed to be private? I consider their security issues severe and find their reaction to it dubious at best.

Strange:  Most of these issues are related to video, encryption, or bytecode-runtime. Perhaps these are the most difficult and/or boring fields in software development.

If you happen to stumble over a solution to any of the aforementioned, feel free to comment.


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