[vlc-devel] Use of VLC in a mediacenter project

Christophe Massiot massiot at via.ecp.fr
Tue Jun 21 17:33:25 CEST 2005

Dear friends,

My employer, the French ISP Free S.A.S. (http://adsl.free.fr/) is about
to launch a new service around our "Freebox", making intensive use of
VLC. Since this will probably draw many of our clients to VLC support
channels (lists, IRC, forum), I would like to explain you firsthand what
this is all about.

The "Freebox" is a set-top-box including an ADSL modem and an MPEG-2
decoder chip from ST Micro with a SCART interface. The set-top-box can
subscribe to multicast addresses and display 200+ television channels
on a TV. The selection and information viewing (EPG, services...) is done
with a home-made web browser running on the ST Micro chip, connecting to
our farm of private webservers via the DSL link.

The new service consists in allowing the "Freebox" :
1/ to receive MPEG-2 streams from the client's home computer, either via
Ethernet, WIFI, or USB, on a special IP (mafreebox.freebox.fr port 1234)
and display them on the television screen "as is"
2/ to connect to a webserver running on the client's home computer,
in order to control the server.

The most logicial choice is of course to install VLC on the client's
computer. I have recently added to the svn trunk repository a few new
options we needed, and I have built binary packages for Mac OS X and
Windows. We will also provide a .tar.bz2 source package, according to
the GPL. VLC sources are absolutely identical to the svn trunk
repository as of today 14:30:00 +0200 (for the currently used dev
package), and we have no uncommitted change whatsoever, nor any plan to
branch or fork or anything. In the future we hope to be able to
distribute an official package of VLC instead, and avoid building it

The package includes this stock VLC, a directory containing HTML pages
we provide for a nice display on the web browser of the Freebox, and two
scripts to launch VLC with the appropriate options. Currently these are
(for Mac OS X for instance) :
./VLC.app/Contents/MacOS/VLC --extraintf=http --http-src=./freebox-http --no-playlist-autostart --sout="#std" --sout-standard-access=udp --sout-standard-mux=ts --sout-standard-url= --sout-ts-pid-video=68 --sout-ts-pid-audio=69 --sout-ts-pcr=80 --sout-ts-dts-delay=400 --play-and-stop --open="$2"

It also includes a home-made application built with Qt (and its various
ports) and released under the GPL, which allows to build an .m3u file
suitable for streaming. When adding a file into the playlist, this
application checks its extension, and if needed adds #EXTVLCOPT: entries
to trigger the video and/or audio transcoding. Just adding the file in
VLC won't work because it wouldn't know then if transcoding to MPEG-2
video/MPEG-1 layer II audio needs to be done, that's why we built an
external app. Maybe this sort of features could be merged into VLC but
there is a lot more work.

I should insist again that the VLC application is running on the
client's PC, and we will provide sources for what we ship for the PC.
There is no VLC or part of a VLC running on the Freebox itself (it
wouldn't need to, it already has an MPEG-2 chip).

I can't give you a definite date as to when we will start being flooded
by our customers' requests, but it should be RSN. And BTW I will be on
vacation for a few days so don't yell at me :).

Christophe Massiot
Free S.A.S.

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