I’ve been meaning to write about the Linux codec problem for a while now but didn’t have a good enough reason, but I recently listened to the (not-podcast) The Linux Link Tech Show, episode 233 where one of the guys (apparently Dann, but for the life of me I can’t distinguish between them on the broadcast) discusses his new Eee PC (the tiny Linux laptop that has taken over the world or at least the blogosphere), and how it handles video playing.
To sum the Linux codec issue for people who haven’t been listening – it is one of the major hurdles for “Linux on the desktop” (the effort to have Linux operating systems be a viable Desktop operating system for everyday users). One of the key parts for providing a good desktop experience is being able to play multimedia files that users get regularly through email and the web. To be able to play a video or audio file you need a good player (and that Linux has plenty) and the software codec (“enCOder/DECoder”) that understand the file format and can play it. Different file formats – such as MP3, AVI or WMV – require different codecs from different manufacturers, and for legal reasons these are not always available out of the box with your choice of Linux operating system.