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Bluecherry Releases GPL'd MPEG-4 Driver

timothy posted more than 4 years ago | from the radical-thinking dept.

Open Source 45

azop writes "Today Bluecherry released a GPL'd driver for its multiple-input MPEG-4 hardware compression cards. The driver supports audio and video capture from 4-, 8-, and 16-channel single-card encoders using the Video4Linux and ALSA APIs. More information about the driver and its features can be found on Bluecherry's development blog and on Ben Collins' personal blog. Bluecherry is the first Linux software company to release a complete driver based on Linux kernel APIs (Video4Linux and ALSA) for multiple-input hardware-compressed MPEG-4 capture cards under the GPL. The cards are designed for security applications (digital video recording), but other applications could potentially make use of the compressed streams and Video4Linux API integration. An H.264 version is 'in the works.'"

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Patent pools! (2, Insightful)

ronocdh (906309) | more than 4 years ago | (#32605946)

Next up, a headline on MPEG-LA decrying this as an ignominious infringement on scads of their intellectual property. Hopefully projects like this stand a reasonable change at exposing the ludicrousness of the software patent system.

Re:Patent pools! (5, Informative)

bieber (998013) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606024)

The actual decoding is being done on the card, and the company (at least according to their blog posts) licenses the relevant patents for the card. Since all you're doing in software is sending the card encoded data and getting back processed data, you don't have to worry about patent claims. Not that it isn't BS that the manufacturer has to pay royalties to implement an algorithm on their hardware, but at least it isn't an issue for the users.

Re:Patent pools! (4, Interesting)

Animaether (411575) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606156)

you don't have to worry about patent claims [...] but at least it isn't an issue for the users.

I thought this Slashdot story...
http://yro.slashdot.org/story/10/05/02/1114235/The-MPEG-LAs-Lock-On-Culture [slashdot.org] ...led us to believe otherwise - at least if the stream you encode ends up being used commercially; and some interest groups tend to believe that having an ad on your site where the video is played back = commercial exploitation.

Re:Patent pools! (1)

westlake (615356) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608390)

I thought this Slashdot story...led us to believe otherwise - at least if the stream you encode ends up being used commercially; and some interest groups tend to believe that having an ad on your site where the video is played back = commercial exploitation

MPEG LA has no interest in you until you are raking in the big green.

There are no royalties on videos twelve minutes or less.

The TV broadcaster's license for H.264 video is a) a flat one-time charge of $2500 per AVC encoder or b) scaled to the size of his market - starting at 100,000 households.

This is the proposed model for Internet distribution.

The key words here are "renumeration from other sources."

If videos are drawing advertisers to your site and adds are generating significant revenue for your site - revenues on the scale of your home town Eyewitness News station, then, yes, you probably will have to cough up some dough.

The H.264 "enterprise cap" for Apple, Disney, Microsoft, Google, et. al, would currently be $5 million a year.

For all their video distribution channels.

Self-hosting freely distributed feature length video is lunatic without deep-pocket sponsorship - which is what MPEG LA is really looking for.

Re:Patent pools! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642448)

Self-hosting freely distributed feature length video is lunatic without deep-pocket sponsorship

Why, with bittorrent available?

Re:Patent pools! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32606722)

Actually, imagine if there were no protection for IPs on a chip. All of the sudden, a small firm, let's say sandforce, has a great idea, and implements it. Imagine a larger company with lower production costs, and not having to do any R&D let's call it intel, says: we want that tech and xray the chip then replicate it. I am not trying to troll by giving this example. I just feel that some patent trolls gave intellectual property a very dirty name. That being said, I work on FOSS and love it. :)

Re:Patent pools! (0, Troll)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607962)

You are talking about a DEVICE. No one here has a problem with patents for THINGS, but we do have a problem with patents on IDEAS. Software patents are just that, patenting an idea, an algorithm. Math. Kind of like when Microsoft patented zeros and ones [theonion.com] .

Re:Patent pools! (3, Insightful)

N Monkey (313423) | more than 4 years ago | (#32610384)

You are talking about a DEVICE. No one here has a problem with patents for THINGS, but we do have a problem with patents on IDEAS. Software patents are just that, patenting an idea, an algorithm. Math. .

You may not patent math per se, but you can patent a novel and non obvious application of it. RSA is a good example. [wikipedia.org]

Re:Patent pools! (4, Informative)

canajin56 (660655) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606768)

Patents forbid the use of any patented device, not just the sale or manufacture. There's fortunately something called the Exhaustion Doctrine, that says as soon as a patent holder has sold a device in an unrestricted manner on the open market, their patent rights have been exhausted. So, if you buy a MPEG-4 encoder card without any restrictions on that purchase, all patent rights to it are supposed to be done. However, you'll have to go to court to prove that.

Additionally, it's not very surefire of a defense at all, due to the fact that the courts are at best a crapshoot, and at worst a popularity contest. LG licensed some patents to Intel, with the condition that Intel inform all buyers of Intel chips that the LG patents are only licensed on the condition that you only use the chip with Intel hardware. In defiance of this notification, a computer reseller violated patent law by selling systems built with Intel chips, but containing non-Intel brand peripherals. Though the computer retailer lost, it eventually reached the Supreme Court, where it was ruled unanimously against LG. This is contrary to all previous lower court rulings, that held that just a note on the box constitutes a "restriction" and so the patents remain in full force. The Supreme Court said that since the reseller didn't need a patent, the note from Intel that they don't get one doesn't really matter, and doesn't constitute an implicit contract.

Re:Patent pools! (1)

sznupi (719324) | more than 4 years ago | (#32642378)

What would be the cosnequences of what you mention to the recent fuss about cameras using H.264 with "for personal use only" disclaimer?

Not likely (3, Insightful)

iYk6 (1425255) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606110)

To everyone who knows about software patents, they are already exposed as ludicrous. To everybody else, they wouldn't learn anything from a small company being sued. Few people learned anything about patents from Microsoft vs. TomTom, and those are companies that most people have heard of.

Re:Not likely (1)

blair1q (305137) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606422)

What have you learned about .jpg vs. .gif?

Re:Not likely (1)

jgagnon (1663075) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606456)

Or Neptune versus Uranus?

Re:Not likely (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607240)

hello.jpg vs. meatspin.gif?

Re:Not likely (1)

b4dc0d3r (1268512) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608804)

.jpg is used when lossy compression is ok, while .gif is better for lossless stuff?

Re:Not likely (0)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607428)

To everybody else, they wouldn't learn anything from a small company being sued.

Why would MPEG-LA sue them if they already licensed the patent pool?

NOT FREE! (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32605952)

These guys are evil!

MPEG is owned by a bunch of fascists who charge money for their patents! This should be a WebM driver!

Mods are fucktards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32608566)

I posted this as a troll. You dumbfucks actually modded it up as insightful.

Seriously, you goddamn morons - get your heads out of your asses. WebM isn't actually the savior of patent free open source video - it's just as encumbered as any number of other formats. Youtube ain't gonna go all WebM, and it's not going to become a widely adopted standard. Google probably open sourced it as a way of trying to shift the MPEG-LA's attitude towards licensing.

Re:Mods are fucktards (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32609486)

Can you repeat that...all I hear is waaaaaaaaa

First? No. (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32606112)

It wasn't a "multiple input" device, but many years ago Plextor released a GPL driver for their go7007 based video capture devices, which captured directly to MPEG-4. Unfortunately few people bought them, so Plextor stopped working on the driver and it has since disappeared from the kernel, even though it was in the staging branch for a while.

Re:First? No. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32606244)

The go7007 driver is still in staging in the v4l-dvb tree. It still needs quite a bit of work to get out of staging however.

Re:First? No. (2, Interesting)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606524)

The Hauppauge 1212 is a similar sort of device. It had a community built driver pretty much when the device was released. It was quickly supported by MythTV.

The only thing missing is a firmware update utility. Dealing with this device in Windows (for firmware) gives me a great appreciation for the Linux driver.

The community is quite up to the task if they are given the opportunity.

Re:First? No. (2, Informative)

the_crowbar (149535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606688)

I don't think the Hauppauge 1212 (the HD-PVR) is a comparable product. The 1212 takes in a single analog video up to component 1080i and produces a x264 stream from it. This card has multiple inputs (4,8, or 16) that are D1 (720x480) max. Utilizing 16 inputs it does not support 30 frames/sec that NTSC video uses (7.5 fps max @ 16 inputs). This is aimed at the digital security market. The 1212 is aimed at the HTPC market.

Cheers,
the_crowbar

Re:First? No. (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607186)

> I don't think the Hauppauge 1212 (the HD-PVR) is a comparable product.

Neither is the ConvertX that I was actually commenting about.

Linux device drivers don't have to be vendor supplied and an "interesting" product won't necessarily fade away for lack of interest.

Re:First? No. (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607308)

an "interesting" product won't necessarily fade away for lack of interest

That's not necessarily true, unfortunately. While I was 100% happy with my Plextor m402u (which used the go7007 driver) on an older kernel, I eventually had to upgrade my mythtv backend and the newer "staging" kernel driver is a P.O.S. So now I have switched to the Hauppauge HDPVR in order to get back to having actively maintained well written drivers. In other words, even though the driver exists and my hardware still works perfectly, the lack of maintenance on the driver means the device itself has become useless under Linux.

Compares with the Hauppage unit? (3, Interesting)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606372)

Anybody know how this differs from the Hauppage USB<->mpeg4 encoder's driver?

This is primarily aimed at the security market (4, Interesting)

the_crowbar (149535) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606516)

I actually have one of their cards and I must say it works quite well. For full D1(720x480) you only get 7.5 frames/sec from 16 cameras, but for security that is plenty. I think the 4 port cards may be able to do 30 fps per camera. Version 1 of their software is a bit kludgy. It works, but needs help. Version 2, supposed to be a complete rewrite, is due out next month. If you are interested in good quality security hardware take a look at their stuff. bluecherrydvr.com [bluecherrydvr.com] I don't work for them, just am a happy customer.

Cheers,

the_crowbar

Re:This is primarily aimed at the security market (1)

freaker_TuC (7632) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609826)

According the specs through Bluecherry;

Realtime recording (120FPS @ 720x480)

Too bad their recording doesn't support HD resolution; it could be a killer for the DVR market.

Re:This is primarily aimed at the security market (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611694)

They wont. all the HD security cameras are Ip based so a analog recording car is not needed.

Their card is to support legacy analog security cameras. when mans higher video quality right now. All the Ip cameras are utter garbage. Until I can buy a high quality security camera in a IP format (no Axis cameras are not high quality, just expensive) that uses real lesnes (c mount not the crap mini lenses) then analog security cameras will stay the top of the line.

As for HD security, those are IP simply because it's easier to transport HD content as data because the cameras record it as data to begin with. Plus places that can afford them are security freaks and want the video encrypted.

Re:This is primarily aimed at the security market (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611722)

good enough for home or store security.

Casinos want to record full 30fps all the time.
In fact some of the new card table cameras are 120fps to allow them to capture cheating in slow motion. but then those are not your el-cheap $350.00 each security cameras.... those suckers cost upwards of $6000.00 each and are near broadcast quality in HD.

Re:This is primarily aimed at the security market (1)

ncc74656 (45571) | more than 4 years ago | (#32613874)

For full D1(720x480) you only get 7.5 frames/sec from 16 cameras, but for security that is plenty. I think the 4 port cards may be able to do 30 fps per camera.

I checked their website; the 4-input card is capable of full-framerate (30000/1001 fps) video at 720x480. The company for which I previously worked (and still do some work on the side) built a DVR system around cards that used four CX23416 [conexant.com] s to encode four inputs to MPEG-2 at the same resolution and framerate. We've been having trouble getting someone to build more cards for us. It also doesn't help that this chip is no longer in production; we're sitting on maybe a few hundred of them, but those won't last forever. I might end up taking a look at this card as a replacement, especially if it'll work with Linux as well as Windows.

Kernel update breaking drivers? (0, Flamebait)

VGPowerlord (621254) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606556)

Bluecherry is the first Linux software company to release a complete driver based on Linux kernel APIs (Video4Linux and ALSA)

Are these some sort of stable APIs, or are they the driver APIs that are randomly changed every few kernel versions to break binary compatibility?

Re:Kernel update breaking drivers? (2, Informative)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607166)

>> Bluecherry is the first Linux software company to release a complete driver based on Linux kernel APIs (Video4Linux and ALSA)
>
> Are these some sort of stable APIs, or are they the driver APIs that are randomly changed every few kernel versions to break binary compatibility?

The only people that seem to complain about that are sandbagging companies that need to distract from the fact that the community is doing better.

V4L dates back to the original bt848 carts.

Re:Kernel update breaking drivers? (2, Informative)

droopycom (470921) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607430)

The point of the story is that they release their driver source code, under the GPL.

So you dont care about binary compatibility, you just recompile the driver for every version of the kernel you need....

And you can fix the source code incompatibilities yourself if they ever happen and they dont keep up.

Re:Kernel update breaking drivers? (1)

h4rr4r (612664) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608378)

It's GPLed so how does that matter?

The only folks that complain about that are closed source driver folks.

Good company (5, Informative)

AaronLS (1804210) | more than 4 years ago | (#32606650)

That's a funny coincidence. Bluecherry is the same people I bought my home surveillance equipment from. They actually have a neat little linux LiveCD that you can get for testing your hardware once you receive it. They also indicate which of their hardware is compatible with ZoneMinder, a open source linux app I use for surveillance. I really was happy with the service. I know this probably sounds like an advert, but if I have good experience I want others to know about it.

Oxymoron (0, Offtopic)

DaMattster (977781) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607276)

I am all for open source but isn't an open source mpeg4 codec kind of an oxymoron? I hate to be redundant but my purpose is in getting people to maybe look beyond MPEG4.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32607482)

I am all for open source but isn't an open source mpeg4 codec kind of an oxymoron?

Why would that be an oxymoron? If the source is available to see, modify and distribute what is the oxymoron? That your source code may be covered by patents in some regions of the world doesn't change the fact that your code is still open source.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608588)

If you can't distribute without licensing the patents, it's not freely distributable, hence not open source has defined by the OSI.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | more than 4 years ago | (#32608736)

If you can't distribute without licensing the patents, it's not freely distributable, hence not open source has defined by the OSI.

People distribute, for example, the ffmpeg, xvid, x264 source code all the time without having the license any patents.

Re:Oxymoron (1)

icebraining (1313345) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609182)

People distribute copies of Windows all the time on Bittorrent networks, doesn't mean it's legal.
Debian, for example, removed the x264 and compiles ffmpeg with some options disabled for that reason.

Re:Oxymoron (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 4 years ago | (#32607894)

Are you moron or someting? Did you RTFA? It's not an open source mpeg4 codec that runs on your pc, its a open source driver to a PCI card that encodes MPEG4 in hardware(as oposed to run the codec on your pc)

DVC170? (1)

Killeryugi (1073058) | more than 4 years ago | (#32609044)

Any info on whether this will finally allow Dazzle DVC170 cards to play nice with Linux?

Bluecherry+ zonealarm = best SPVR (1)

Lumpy (12016) | more than 4 years ago | (#32611664)

even the multi thousand dollar Security recorders look like horribly junk compared to zonealarm.

I was fixing a Axis system for a customer and he asked what I use... I told him zonealarm and logged into the interface for him to see. the fact that you can look at a graph of the day and see threshold levels instead of wading through useless video made him freak out.

Zonealarm kicks the utter crap out of ANY security DVR made. If used with real hardware. Most people try to use the crappy BTTV based cards. Those simply suck horribly in every single way.

Re:Bluecherry+ zonealarm = best SPVR (1)

doofusclam (528746) | more than 4 years ago | (#32612370)

Very true.

I was sorting out the network of a businessman friend of mine. He'd recently spent £4000 on 4 IP cameras and a PC to monitor it all.

I've never seen such suck. The interface only worked with IE7, nothing newer, and had to install an ActiveX control plus three other InstallShield installers to get any sort of picture. Most of the screen was overlaid with cheesy graphics, and some of the tooltips were in Chinese.

The suppliers didn't have a clue about it, all they do is buy this shite by the containerfull from China. The chance of a software fix is nil as the guy who wrote it probably committed suicide after seeing how bad it was.

Anyways I whipped up a Ubuntu Server install with Zoneminder, and it's like night and day.

DVR kit is in one of those vertical markets where appalling quality is the standard, it seems.

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