Ubuntu Is Finally Looking At Shipping Accelerated Video Playback Support
Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 20 June 2017 at 10:20 AM EDT. 23 Comments
UBUNTU --
It's 2017 and Ubuntu is finally looking at shipping GPU-accelerated video playback support out-of-the-box on the Ubuntu desktop.

Various forms of video acceleration have been available if installing them from the archive on Ubuntu, but nothing has been available by default... But it's looking like that may change, though their direction is a bit peculiar.

Canonical's Will Cooke shared in a desktop update, "We’re working through all the various links in the chain to get to a situation where we can playback video using hardware acceleration by default. At the moment our focus is getting it to work on Intel graphics hardware, but there are a few issues around using Intel’s SDK with open-source LibVA, but these are being worked on upstream."

So for their default video hardware acceleration they are wanting to use Intel's Media SDK, but that currently relies on a proprietary libVA fork.

It's not clear why Intel isn't just pursuing the open-source VA-API support that's been available for years and can be easily fetched by Ubuntu users. Additionally, why they aren't pursuing Radeon OpenMAX/VA-API/VDPAU support either via enabling those within their default Mesa build. Radeon users especially can get great open-source video encode/decode support right now using mainline driver components. Hopefully we'll see Ubuntu developers decide to enable those by default too, so there's one less package needed to be installed manually before getting a suitable out-of-the-box Linux desktop experience.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 10,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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