So far I haven’t commented on the debacle that is the BBC iPlayer and it’s ridiculous Windows-only DRM system but I saw something today that got me thinking. As you probably know from the numerous rants on blogs everywhere the BBC have released their new iPlayer application which allows you to watch programs for up to a week after they are broadcast over the web. Sounds great but it doesn’t work on Mac or Linux and the truth is that it doesn’t even work on a lot of Windows machines either. You have to have Windows XP and Internet Explorer 6 installed to use it, both of which have been superceeded so it means reverting to old software if you don’t already have it. So what do you do if you’re on Linux then? Sit an twiddle your thumbs? No!! The answer as usual seems to be you fix the problem yourself. I saw something today which warmed my heart a little as the open source community once again seeks to overcome problems together and make it work for us because nobody else gives a fuck. Sorry, I don’t often use strong language on here but it is warrented in this case, so expect more as you read on.
There’s a new project at SourceForge.net called BBC iPlayer For Linux and it seems from the Wiki that the basic plan is to make the software work with WINE, the Windows compatibility layer for Linux. You have to install Internet Explorer 6 and Windows Media Player 10 in WINE which has already been tested and seems to work. At the time of writing nobody has managed to install the iPlayer application in WINE yet or at least not publicly so, however things are progressing and I am confident this will be achieved in time. This is all great news but the fact remains it shouldn’t even be needed, the BBC is a publicly funded organisation and they are pushing us all to use Microsoft products. Why?! Do they get some sort of kick back for iPlayer related sales of Windows, it’s fucking crazy!! No I am not seriously suggesting for a second that the BBC is actually in bed with MS on this, I am not wearing a tin foil hat as I write this I promise, it just aggravates me.
So here is what I suspect will happen in the future. All those trendy Mac kids will manage to force the BBC to make their player compatible because as we all know “creative people only use Macs” which is pure bullshit. Anyway, I digress, so I doubt anything else will happen with the Linux version at least not on the BBC end and we will be left to sort it out for ourselves as usual. The only way I can see the BBC actually producing a Linux version of the iPlayer is if it’s a natural offshoot of a Unix version they produce for Mac OS. We’ll see but I’m very disappointed in the BBC, they’re traditionally such a place of ingenuity and excellence in all forms of technology that this just seems like an afterthought to me. Why couldn’t they just have put the videos onto some sort of Flash player platform as is done with YouTube? One solution that works on any device and takes about 10 minutes to set up, bam!! Problem solved, it’s not that fucking hard now is it?
Anyway, rant over… I think… yeah I’m done. So if you would like to get the iPlayer working on your Linux machine please checkout the project above by all means and help them out. Keep up the good work guys 🙂
Save a little vitriol for the BBC though and let them know how you feel, hopefully this will be sorted out. As I said they have set standards in so many areas of technology that I’m sure somebody there can fix this, if they are allowed to by the management.