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20 January 2011, 16:56

Development of FFmpeg under new management

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With over 100 audio and video formats, FFmpeg is at the heart of countless multimedia programs, and it is one of the show-piece projects on the open source scene. Originally founded by Fabrice Bellard, Michael Niedermayer started maintaining the project in 2004. However, a team of 18 developers has now ousted him and appointed seven new project maintainers, among them the main x264 developer, Jason Garrett-Glaser ("Dark Shikari"), and Ronald S. Bultje. Some of the most active FFmpeg developers had been dissatisfied with Niedermayer's project management and had accused him of slowing down the development of the codec library, which is licensed under the GPL / LGPL, by focussing on unnecessary details and causing superfluous discussions.

The developers felt compelled to act, created a new GIT source code management repository at and copied all sources from Only a few maintainers at have now been given write access. In the documentation, Jason Garret-Glaser, one of the renegade developers, subsequently also modified the URL for downloading sources to the new GIT server and removed information which identified Michael Niedermayer as the project maintainer. These changes were also integrated into the original VideoLAN GIT repository – by accident, say the renegades.

The developers' announcement states that FFmpeg development will from now on take a similar approach to that of the Linux kernel. In kernel development, only project maintainers have write access to the source code management system; changes are submitted as patches.

Niedermayer has expressed his complete surprise about recent events. "Of course it's their full right to fork if they see the need for that", he said, but added that the team of 18 developers had taken de facto control of the project, and that he didn't know the reasons behind their actions.

Opinions about the move also differ among the FFmpeg developers. For instance, some developers think that criticisms of Niedermayer were exaggerated, while others have complained that there was no prior public discussion.


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