Phonon Family 4.4.4

The Phonons are very proud to announce the immediate availability of a new minor release, bumping Phonon as well as the GStreamer, Xine and DirectShow backends to version 4.4.4. Also Phonon VLC is now available as 0.3.2.

by tarotastic@flickr

Everyone in the team put tremendous effort into this new release, focusing especially on improving reliability of the backends. But also a couple of new features entered GStreamer as I presented in my last blog post.

Even though these are only minor releases, they mark a new era, as from now on all Phonon backends can and will be released independently of the Phonon library itself. This enables us to bring bugfixes and new features quicker to distributors and user.

Last but not least we changed the default priorities of backends on Linux. To get the best experience you should now either use GStreamer or VLC. The former preferred choice Xine is as of now considered unmaintained and should not be used anymore.
Further more it is highly recommended to use Phonon in combination with PulseAudio as it improves user experience a lot and makes smarter choices about default output devices.

Get it while it is hot

I have been using 4.4.4 for quite some time now and I find it simply awesome 😀

34 thoughts on “Phonon Family 4.4.4

  1. It’s sad to see Xine considered unmantained :\

    Anyway, thanks for all the work in Phonon. Multimedia is a very important piece of the user experience 🙂

    • I can’t understand the “Xine is as of now considered unmaintained and should not be used anymore.” statement. I maintain multimedia for openSUSE and was in the process of updating xine-ui when I saw this alarming message on the suse kde list. This lead me to investigate and lo and behold a very active bunch of hg repositories at feeding the xine project. Xine don’t release quite as frequently as other younger projects but unmaintained it certainly isn’t.

        • Then your statement should have been :
          “Phonon-backend-xine is as of
          now considered unmaintained and should not be used anymore.”
          Will it still build from phonon?

          • I am sorry if that was not clear from me blogging about Phonon and how Backend priorities shifted to 2 backends from another previous default. Context sure is a horrible monster with razor sharp teeth that eats puppy dogs.

            Also I am afraid, but I do not quite understand your question.

          • At present the openSUSE package phonon-backend-xine builds from the phonon-4.4.3.tar.bz2 package and the phonon-backend-gstreamer-0_10 is produced from the same build. This is done in the kde4 projects but gstreamer and xine libs are built in multimedia:libs. This has to be so because of the three different versions of kde4 – the stable one, the development one. which I use and has just changed to the 4.6.0 release and the bleeding edge sc one. This is all combined with two qt versions. Vlc on the other hand resides in an outside repository due to patent fears and isn;t accessible from the openSUSE build service so if the vlc backend is able to be built inside the distribution, it will have to be able to use plugins to play patent restricted media.

            My question was – Is the source code used to build the xine backend going to be removed or does unmaintained just mean that bugs won’t be handled anymore?

            The person who wrote about this on the suse kde list mentioned a bug which neither xine nor phonon would fix.
            I’ve just visited :
            and I think that either the bug has gone away with an update or it was a build problem. I’ll investigate further after I’ve cleaned up the xine-lib build which due to the legal issues had been crippled a bit too much and a few dependencies with pkg-config hadn’t been built with pkg-config which xine uses for configuration.
            openSUSE 11.4 is only a few months away from release and soon to enter the feature freeze stage which means no more new packages.

          • It just lives on its own. All backends do now. The Phonon tarball only contains Phonon from now on.

            To that extent the xine backend will probably still see releases when absolutely necessary or possible (like 4.4.4 really only contains changes to maintain it buildable in this splitted environment of Phonon and its backends).

            However, without active maintenance it is exposed to bitrot and will eventually fall apart and become completely unusable in one or two years time. In fact we already see the first signs of rotting WRT HAL-free KDE 4.6 systems without PulseAudio.

          • Thanks for the info, we at openSUSE are just going to have to make sure that the gstreamer back end works well and that Packman has a good backup in the vlc backend if kde 4.6 which is what 11.4 will run on, has problems on some systems. There’s always a chance of xine taking over the maintenance of the phonon back end, that’s the beauty of open source, open and sharing in pursuit of better user experience and functionality. It’s so good that it’s actually creeping into windows and mac.

  2. Does this mean phonon VLC is ready for mainstream use, or is still considered too early in development?

    And what ever happened to the mplayer back-end?

  3. “Further more it is highly recommended to use Phonon in combination with PulseAudio as it improves user experience a lot”

    Care to explain that part a bit further? Thanks for all your work on phonon.

    • Primarily it has very smart default device selection, so that ultimately you do not need to fiddle with device order in the Phonon KCM. Should you still need to, with PA you usually get more useful names than with “raw” device listing (which is where the KDE part of Phonon will basically query the hardware devices itself and try to put them into sensible order and name them somewhat useful).
      In KDE 4.6 KMix nicely integrates with it and allows per-application volume control.
      Generally, if done right PulseAudio will give a more integrated multimedia behavior across applications in a cross desktop context.

  4. Are you sure about “PulseAudio… improves user experience”? 😉 I would rather have it off my machine as I always see sound issues on machines that have it installed.

    • Oh, I can see how you get the idea that MKV is not working givne my crappy bug triage there ^^

      The problem is not MKV, it was dragon player 4.6 pre-release which pretty much broke every backend. We have removed the offending part for 4.6.0 and are working on a solution.

    • I tested it here with a blueray ripped mkv and it played fine. Dragon Player not played fine the mkv with even the embedded subtitle enabled which somehow with xines backend and phonon 4.4.2 wasn’t possible.
      But still I have a bug (I guess in dragon player) as it cannot change or deactivate the subtitle.

  5. Ok, another question: It’s good to see VLC becoming the default now. The only thong that’s keeping me with xine, too is kaffeine and it’s DVB support. Is there a VLC-phonon alternative under development? I know VLC itself can handle DVB, but not in such a nice and comfortable way as kaffeine can.

  6. Not exactly related to article but what’s the status of Phonon HTML5 video tag? If I have understood right, Qt moved from Phonon to QtMultimedia which probably means that the Phonon version is unmaintained, however it definetly would be nice addition to KDE.

  7. I compiled phonon 4.4.4 and the backends manually on openSUSE 11.3 with KDE 4.5.5, Amarok 2.4.0. When using the VLC backend, a few tracks of one of my favorite soundtracks feature a quiet but certainly audible ringing that isn’t present with the Xine backend. PulseAudio on or off doesn’t matter. Could this be a configuration issue on my side? Where should I start looking? Can provide samples or full tracks if necessary.

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