RealNetworks Brings Player to Linux Distros

RealNetworks Brings Player to Linux Distros

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols

The Linux desktop is about to get a lot more musical thanks to deals RealNetworks has made with Red Hat and Novell, which will lead to the Linux bundling of RealNetworks’ Helix Player with their Linux distributions.

But open-source developers will probably be more interested in the fact that RealNetworks Inc. also announced that its semi-open-source Helix media player will also be released in the next 30 days under the GPL (GNU General Public License).

In addition, Helix developers can use the RPSL (RealNetworks Public Source License), which is an OSI-certified open-source license like the GPL; or the RCSL (RealNetworks Community Source License), which enables developers to build proprietary applications.

The announcement may sound like it’s opening a can of licensing worms, but no less a figure than Eben Moglen, general counsel and director of the Free Software Foundation, said he thinks it’s fine.

“Real’s understanding of the power of the free software development paradigm and adoption of the complementary commercial license and the GPL license allows both Real and the free software community to benefit from the GPL’s ‘share and share alike’ approach,” Moglen said.

“As the leading provider of open-source solutions for the world’s enterprise market, we’re excited that users of our upcoming Red Hat Desktop will also have a commercial-grade media player with the Helix Player,” said Mike Evans, vice president of partner development at Red Hat Inc.

In separate deals, Real also announced that Apple Computer Inc., Sun Microsystems Inc. and Turbolinux Inc. will ship RealNetworks’ RealPlayer 10 as a principal part of their respective operating systems. The new player will play RealAudio 10, MP3 and Ogg Vorbis for music and MPEG-4, SMIL, RealVideo 10 and Theora for audio/video files. The Apple version also will play QuickTime and support Rendezvous.

Helix has been developed by the Helix Community, a nonprofit group that has Real’s support. The Helix Player contains the foundation for the forthcoming RealPlayer 10 for Linux, which will include both open-source and proprietary components.

RealPlayer 10 is currently available only in beta for all of the Unix-related operating systems. RealNetworks says full versions of the players will be available in August.

Beta versions of RealPlayer 10 for Linux, as well as the free and open-source Helix Player, are available now for free download.

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Copyright © 2004 Ziff Davis Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. Originally appearing in eWEEK.