A Hackfest To Improve Linux Video Playback
Written by Michael Larabel in X.Org on 26 October 2009 at 11:27 AM EDT. 22 Comments
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When it comes to video playback on Linux, the premiere choice for video acceleration is currently using VDPAU with its CPU-efficient, GPU-accelerated capabilities that even has no problems playing 1080p video files with extremely low-end hardware. However, VDPAU is not yet widespread in all Linux video drivers, and other free software developers have been working on improving other areas of the Linux video stack too. One of these developers is GNOME's Benjamin Otte who has been working on using Cairo/Pixman for raw video in GStreamer. Additionally, he has organized a Linux video "hackfest" that will take place next month in Barcelona, Spain to further this Linux video playback work.

Faced by high CPU usage with video decoding and just a poor experience overall when playing back video files with GStreamer, Benjamin has been hacking away at using Cairo/Pixman with GStreamer and providing better hardware acceleration for this open-source multimedia framework. His mailing list messages regarding the details of what exactly he is doing can be found here and here. Benjamin's work has come to fruition and has now vastly improved the desktop experience when watching videos in WebKit, after making changes to GStreamer, Cairo, Pixman, and the X Server. This work though hasn't yet hit the mainline trees nor is it complete, but this is the focus of the Barcelona video hackfest next month.

Developers from Cairo, GStreamer, Pixman, and Intel will be taking part in the video hackfest at Collabora's Barcelona offices. Also what will be discussed is using OpenGL or X Render for video handling, adding support for more image formats (YUV and un-multiplied RGBA) to Pixman/Cairo/X Render, improving SIMD acceleration in Pixman, integrating GStreamer threading better in OpenGL/X/Cairo, and discussing other hardware-accelerated video decoding such as what is offered by XvMC, VA-API, VDPAU, and XvBA.

More information on this work to improve Linux video playback can be found in this mailing list message, a blog post, and a Wiki page.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the web-site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience and being the largest web-site devoted to Linux hardware reviews, particularly for products relevant to Linux gamers and enthusiasts but also commonly reviewing servers/workstations and embedded Linux devices. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics hardware drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated testing software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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