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Keeping Open Formats Alive

I've blogged about this many a time, and yet, the same chime rings. How many of you are Open Source advocates, yet use proprietary protocols, formats, files, and software? It's one thing to be anal about Free Software, it's another to preach the Good Word, and not follow it yourself.

Anyway, I'm not putting the post up to step up on a soap box, but rather, bring to your attention some Open Formats that deserve attention. So, I'm going to start with From their website:

The Xiph.Org Foundation is a non-profit corporation dedicated to protecting the foundations of Internet multimedia from control by private interests. Our purpose is to support and develop free, open protocols and software to serve the public, developer and business markets.

By visiting their site, you will notice "the xiph open source community" bar located on the top of your screen. Across the bar are the following links:

  • Vorbis. Ogg Vorbis is a completely open, patent-free, professional audio encoding and streaming technology with all the benefits of Open Source.
  • Theora. Theora is an open video codec being developed by the Foundation as part of their Ogg project (It is a project that aims to integrate On2's VP3 video codec, Ogg Vorbis audio codec and Ogg multimedia container formats into a multimedia solution that can compete with MPEG-4 format).
  • Icecast. Icecast, the project, is a collection of programs and libraries for streaming audio over the Internet. This includes: icecast, a program that streams audio data to listeners, libshout, a library for communicating with Icecast servers & IceS, a program that sends audio data to Icecast servers
  • Speex. Speex is an Open Source/Free Software patent-free audio compression format designed for speech.
  • FLAC. FLAC stands for Free Lossless Audio Codec, an audio format similar to MP3, but lossless, meaning that audio is compressed in FLAC without any loss in quality.
  • XSPF. XSPF is the XML format for sharing playlists. It is open- No proprietary lock-in. It is portable- You should be able to send a playlist to your friend and have it work. It is well-engineered- Most playlist formats get the easy things wrong.

Now that you are familiar with these codecs, how often are you going to continue using MP3, WMA, MPG, MOV and other proprietary formats? For me, it's all about fighting the good fight, and refusing to use those codecs, even if it means making a sacrifice on my part.

This may not be for everyone, but you should definitely give it a try. I think you'll be surprised.

{ 3 } Comments

  1. Steve Dibb | January 18, 2007 at 4:13 pm | Permalink

    Good rally cry, but education is still key. Xiph, while very benevolent and gracious for doing all that hard work, is still not the sole supplier of free, open source container formats and codecs. 🙂

    Xvid, Matroska, NUT for example are other projects that are making promising changes.

    I do agree with you on the proprietary stuff, though, their licesnes are atrocious -- go look through the one for RealPlayer for Linux. Craziness! Let freedom bring. 🙂

  2. phoenyx | January 19, 2007 at 3:16 pm | Permalink

    Amongst my friends who do audio streaming, GnuMP3d ( and Zina ( are the top choices. Both do OGG vorbis files and both are GPL.

  3. Aaron | January 21, 2007 at 8:39 am | Permalink

    I've used GnuMP3d, but, it is used for streaming MP3s, although OGGs are supported. The big thing that keeps me from using it, though, is it's lack of security features. I don't want some Joe Blow on the inter-Tubes discovering my collection, just because the devs don't know how to write a secure application.

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