LJ Archive

Focus: Multimedia

Don Marti

Issue #81, January 2001

Multimedia and the Modern Web

Today, according to Raging Search (see http://ragingsearch.altavista.com/), there are only 50,665 web pages containing the words “my cat”, but 57,615 instances of “streaming media”. This is not the Web we thought we knew. As people put bigger, fancier media on the Net instead of just pictures of Mittens, you might think that we would have learned the lesson of the humble GIF file: don't make human communication depend on a patent license.

But people didn't learn it, and we're in for another patent mess with the patented MP3 format and several others. As I write this, I'm checking out the mp3licensing.com page about Broadcasting/Streaming (see www.mp3licensing.com/royalty/broadcast.html). Want to run an Internet radio station with MP3 compression? On January 1, 2001, you'd better get out your checkbook. And “Bob” help you if you want to say something their lawyers don't like.

So what happens now? Do we make some huge corporation in Europe the new Ministry of Information of Internet radio? Hell no. This is Linux Journal, and we love freedom. In this issue, we're going to give you a crash course in free, open-source multimedia tools. Remember, when speech depends on software, free speech depends on free software.

SoundTracker and Broadcast 2000: If content is king, low-fidelity content is a mad, drooling king whose nonsensical decrees go unheard while better-sounding invaders march into his country, and the people throw flowers before them. Get SoundTracker and learn how to create MOD audio tracks to keep your listeners happy. Broadcast 2000 lets you edit your own movies with cut-and-paste ease.

FIASCO: Fast, free streaming video depends on a patent-free compression algorithm. FIASCO, which Ullrich Hafner developed over the course of five years for his PhD thesis, is a replacement for MPEG video released under the GPL. Now you don't need to get a patent license to develop video applications.

In “Streaming Media” Frank LaMonica looks at what you need to do to roll out a streaming media site—from codecs to RAID drives to quality of service. And in “Running a Net Radio Station with Open-Source Software”, Andy Faulkner and the rest of the opensourceradio.com crew explain exactly how they did it. They're using the patented MP3 format, though, which brings us to “Ogg Vorbis—Open, Free Audio” by Jack Moffitt. Ogg Vorbis, the free replacement for MP3, is definitely ready for prime time, so vorbize a couple of tracks, clean the wax out of your ears and have a (patent-free) listening session.

Finally, we have some really high-tech articles about writing games that are 3-D both for the eyes and the ears. In “The Story of OpenAL” Bernd Kreimeier teaches us about the new standard API for 3-D audio. I wonder how far you can get in Heretic2 with headphones on and your eyes closed. And, last but not least, we have a sneak preview of the eagerly anticipated book, Linux Game Programming. Learn how to get started in SDL, a fast LGPLed library of game development tools.

—Don Marti, Technical Editor

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