openSUSE simplifies the installation of H.264 on the system


It is an operating system oriented to free software users and open to the development of new functions by its community.

The news recently broke that openSUSE developers have implementedor a scheme for simplify the installation of the H.264 video codec in distribution.

This is because a few months ago, the distribution package also included packages with the AAC audio codec (using the FDK AAC library), which is approved as an ISO standard, defined in the MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 specifications and used on many video services.

The openSUSE project was inspired by Fedora's efforts to make Cisco's OpenH264 and FDK AAC codecs available to its users. Members reached out to Cisco's open source team to do the same for their user base.

One hurdle to overcome is that the current limitation for free codec redistribution is 100 users, so board member Neal Gompa and openSUSE Leap release manager Lubos Kocman proposed a way to simplify installing the codec in openSUSE .

The reason for making a change in the process of installing the codec in the system, is because the distribution of video compression technology H.264 requires payment of royalties to the organization MPEG-LA, but if OpenH264 open libraries are used, the codec can be used in third party products without paying royalties, since Cisco, which develops the OpenH26 project, is a licensee of MPEG LA.

Cisco, whose openSUSE project is very grateful for their efforts, agreed to an approach on redistributing OpenH264 over a Cisco-owned infrastructure to openSUSE users.

The nuance is that the right to use technologies proprietary video compression transferred only for builds distributed by Cisco, for example, downloaded from the Cisco website, which does not allow you to put packages with OpenH264 in the openSUSE repository.

To resolve this issue, a separate repository has been added to the distribution kit, into which the binary build of the codec is downloaded from the Cisco website (

At the same time, the codec build is formed by openSUSE developers, certified by the official openSUSE digital signature and transferred to Cisco for distribution, i.e. the formation of all package stuffing remains the responsibility of openSUSE and Cisco does not You can make changes to or replace the package.

A release workflow for OpenH264 was envisioned and a three-step approach was handled through a set of scripts in the OpenSUSE Release Tools.

A workflow script triggers and sends an email to Cisco with a file containing OpenH264 rpm packages to Cisco; creates a snapshot of the data which is then sent or "POSTED" for manual extraction from a Cisco binary. The process ensures that the project always has a set of related binaries in the Open Build Service .

One of the maintainers of the multimedia:libs:cisco-openh264 project creates and sends a . The package is signed in OBS with the openSUSE key, so the source of the package can be verified. OBS publishes the repository metadata at .

The archive should contain only packages with Cisco OpenH264 and related OpenH264 GStreamer plugins. Adding any other non-agreement content, especially other codecs, under the Cisco agreement would result in violation.

Possible enhancements to improve the existing workflow have already been discussed, but initial efforts are intended to provide openSUSE with a more streamlined experience after installation.

The openh264 repository will be enabled by default for new openSUSE Tumbleweed installations in the next iso update, and will also be added to the initial beta of the openSUSE Leap 15.5 branch.

Before activating the default repository, to install H.264-enabled components, the user simply needs to run:

sudo zypper ar repo-openh264
sudo zypper en gstreamer-1.20-plugin-openh264

Finally, if you are interested in being able to learn more about it, you can consult the original announcement at the following link.

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