OpenBSD Journal

[Ask OBSDJ] Multimedia on OpenBSD?

Contributed by Dengue on from the av dept.

Tim Barber writes : "I am a recent defector from Be (yes I really thought they were going to make a go of it). Currently I am using OpenBSD for my firewall box, but now I am looking for a replacement OS on my workstation, and OpenBSD came to mind. Now my question as an OpenBSD newbie is: where can I go for information on the multimedia aspects of OpenBSD? I am looking for information about playing/ripping MP3's, playing CD's and such. I installed KDE, but the multimedia programs do not appear to be ported. Sorry, that it is a long and drawn-out question, but I am still in mourning about Be :-( "

(Comments are closed)

  1. By BSDGeek () on

    OpenBSD is unusable on Desktop, period. though being a good choice for firewalls, DNS, or the like.

  2. By Aasmund () on

    If you use a computer for multimedia capabilities then OpenBSD might not be the OS of your choice, however, if you care about security and having control of your computer, whilst still enjoying most software available, it is excellent here is a short list of what works and what doesn't.

    * Most soundcards are detected automatically, AC3 (Dolby Digital) however, does not work.
    * Sound playback, if your soundcard is detected installing and playing mp3's etc. is no problem. However you may have some problems on weak pc's if there is not enough resources given to the app. on good pc's however, no prob.
    * Ripping and creating CD's works very well.
    * You can play a lot of games, but I haven't seen any 3d games yet.
    * _Open source graphics programs such as gimp works fine.
    * DVD playback and ripping is not yet available, and may be available in the not too distant future.
    * Video playback works, but is not very good.

  3. By Sunny Dubey () on

    tar xzvf ports.tar.gz -C /usr
    cd /usr/ports
    *user takes a nice long look around

    There are plenty of multimedia applications for OpenBSD.  Don't listen to the FUD spread around.  If all you wish to do is basic stuff like watch movies, listen to mp3's and whatnot, OpenBSD will do you fine.  Heck, if you even tried a little, you *just* might be able to get some of the Loki games to work (or at least in software rendering mode, without using DRI, etc).  While OpenBSD may not support some of the exotic hardware out there, it does support most major hardware variants.

    List of hardware OpenBSD supports

    List of video cards supported by XFree86 4.1.0

    List of sound cards supported by 4Front Technologies on OpenBSD (most if not all of them)
    Note:  Some people have sound cards that have yet to be supported by OpenBSD, and may be forced to use the commercial binary only drivers from 4Front Technologies.

    Hope that helps, and good luck with switching off of BeOS.

    Sunny Dubey

    PS:  what would be nice if someone Ported SBemu to OpenBSD.  Amazingly this application actually works.  From what I've heard, there is a NetBSD port of it.

  4. By Sacha () on

    OpenBSD makes a mighty fine desktop OS

    Browsing, mp3'in, games, what ever!

    I'm using it like mad and it works! Whats the fuzz about?

  5. By mike () on

    Here's a list of programs in the categories you mention that I use, your mileage may vary:

    1) mp3 playing: mpg123 (command line)
    xmms (gui)
    2) cd playing: grip
    3) cd ripping: grip (& cdparanoia)
    4) mp3 encoding: grip (& cdparanoia & lame or
    gogo or bladeenc)
    5) mixer: aumix (commandline)

    I'm running a stock install of openbsd 2.9 and
    all of these are in the ports tree save grip.
    Searching yeilds a freebsd port.
    (grip is very nice as it handles all the mechanics of ripping and encoding for you, it is a gtk+ program so you'd need the gtk+/gdk/glib/pthreads libs installed (all in ports)) A google search hints that grip may become an obsd port soon.

    Not to try to disuade you from openbsd for a workstation, but IMHO if you want a more client-centric freenix you'd be better served by installing FreeBSD or Slackware (which feels much like a BSD and has the advantage of the larger native sw base).

    Anyhow, good luck and welcome to the freenix community!

  6. By Anonymous Coward () on

    I don't know much about the other multimedia
    apps, but I do know this:

    a) XMMS is da bomb
    b) Grip + LAME 3.89b (with the sole '--r3mix'
    argument) makes great CD-transparent

    Have fun.

  7. By Dial_tone () on

    First off, welcome to the BSD family! Two years ago I was running around saying we'll all be using BeOS in 5 yrs. Hell, I even bought stock! Anyway, I also use OpenBSD for my firewall and FreeBSD for a workstation. 95% of your knowledge of any BSD will carry over to the others. I would also suggest you use FreeBSD for a workstation. Due to the higher numbers of developers/committers for FreeBSD, you will find a much wider choice of applications to use. FreeBSD has over 5,000 apps in the ports tree, OpenBSD has a fraction of that and much of what is there tends to be security/server oriented, imo. New features - USB, multimedia, productivity apps - tend to arrive in FreeBSD much sooner than OpenBSD. Just my two cents before inflation.

  8. By Anonymous Coward () on

    If you want an Open source Be clone try

  9. By Ryan Cooley () on

    First off I should say I'm using OpenBSD on my system right now, so I decided that the added hassle was worth the security, but there is a lot of added hassle...

    First off, there is no desktop software installed at all... No libraries, no window managers, so you must attempt to compile everything, one piece at a time, which ends up being thousands of libraries and programs. Very often software will not compile and you need to be a fairly good programer with some time to spare editing code just to get it to compile and hope it doesn't core-dump when you run it. Some apps (vorbis-tools) don't support the BSD audio system so you must hope that there is a kind OBSDer out there that made a patch that you can use... Often software is just so far different that it would take nothing short of a rewrite to get it to compile on OpenBSD. As bad as that sounds, it gets worse...

    My Ensoniq AudioPCI card is in perfect working condition (third exchange) but the OpenBSD audio drivers obviously don't handle them correctly as after playing audio for 5-30 minutes (it varies, but it usually quite soon after audio starts) the speakers will make a high-pitched buzzing sound and the system locks up; it locks hard too. So immediate that there is nothing wirtten to the system log to indicate a problem.

    When a hard drive is spun-down using the typical ATACTL command, it spins right back up. After submitting a bug report, Theo dumped the bug report, admiting the action, and using the old 'it's a feature not a bug' routine.

    Above all that in difficulty, is the constant movement of libraries. If I install GTK+1.2.10, it goes into /usr/include/gtk1.2 where some apps look for it. Other apps look for it directly in /usr/include and I end up either making duplicates of each library, or else getting extremely creative with sym-links.

    While I'm still an OpenBSD user, I suggest most people only user OpenBSD as a server. X is responsible for most system lock-ups, OpenBSD doesn't handle desktop-ish hardware well (adding and removing PCMCIA cards often dumps you into a debugger), sound cards are barely supported, and there are no web browsers that run natively on OpenBSD (either you run Netscape/Opera under Linux/BSDi/FreeBSD emulation, or you use a text-only web browser like lynx).

    OpenBSD is hardened from the outside for security, but local users can llock up systems easially, and with X, unintentionally.

    Until it's situation has been improved, Linux is the desktop of choice for most people because most software is written for it, and binary packages are widely available if you want to do things the easy way. Only choose OpenBSD if security is paramount, or you happen to enjoy spending large ammounts of time tweaking all the software written for Linux to work on OpenBSD.

  10. By Mattman () on

    OpenBSD has some Multimedia stuff, but for a *nix beginner, or someone whose *focus* is multimedia, it's a bit difficult to get multimedia apps running at first, and not really worth the effort. Especially if you're from BeOS, and are used to *massively great* multimedia performance, I'd have to advise against OpenBSD. The OpenBSDers aren't really interested in multimedia as much as security and code quality (god bless 'em).

    I'd never recommend Windows to my worst enemy, but there are good rumors about Demudi, the Debian Multimedia Distribution, at, or just stick with BeOS as long as you can. Get the right setup, burn a backup, and your PC is an "appliance" that does the job it's intended to do. No need to leave just because Be, Inc. is horrifically doomed. I didn't throw away my toaster when the toaster company went under; it still made good toast...

    And the Debian guys are interested in some kind of joint distro with the BSD guys, you may get great multimedia on a BSD kernel yet.

  11. By Chris Cappuccio () on

    Check out the smpeg port, it uses SDL,
    it plays mpegs with sound, and low cpu usage
    (compared to mtv or mpeg_play)the screen size
    is also scalable.

  12. By zsnark () on

    I have it on good word that the manufacturer of certain very high end audio hardware may be designing a new product line to work with editing software running on *BSD. A little evangelism doesn't hurt.


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