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iPlayer unusable on Atom N270/NVIDIA Ion 1/Linux (Ubuntu 10.04)/VDPAU


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Old 05-11-2011, 10:27
alcockell
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Hi folks,

I've filed the following complaint with the Beeb..

Main iPlayer EMC Player version 3 programmes encoded with Stage Video/Stage 3D completely unusable on Intel Atom-based netbooks with the spec Intel Atom N270, NVIDIA ION 1, Ubuntu 10.04LTS, VDPAU, Flash 11 release.

EMC Player version 2 runs happily.

Referred to on this Open Post - http://www.bbc.co.uk/blogs/bbcintern..._autumn_2.html

My info...

Just to give you a headsup - and also to complain a little... I've already filed a complaint for this.. but the new Embedded Media Client v3 is interacting with live bugs in Flash 11 on Linux - visible when you're using NVIDIA ION chipsets.. Trying to access transport controls can and does cause the video to freeze, often making it impossible to recover.

Please could you consider moving the transport controls to below the video playback window - as before? As this will then reduce the interaction with Stage Video bugs, but still allow hardware accel to run - as the latter is critical when using netbooks.
Further to my comments about Stage Video and the hiding of the transport controls - please be aware that Adobe saw fit to completely disable accelerated rendering on Flash 11 for Linux; they'll use an NVIDIA GPU for accelerated H264 *decoding*, but the overlaying of the transport controls on top of the video frame will cause video to freeze and lock at that point in the programme, while audio continues. Reason for this - the video rendering is being done by the CPU.. which on Intel Atom-based netbooks will max out the thing completely.

My Ideapad S12 is only about 2 years old - everything ran happily under the old iPlayer (I think I even tested after I downloaded the new Flash update).. eg - EMC 2.

Adobe hope to get Stage 3D running in the future... but the performance is hopeless on lightweight kit. May I suggest that use of Stage 3D is held back until Adobe has got its act together?
I tried playing out a few programmes on my netbook today (spec is Lenovo Ideapad S12, Intel Atom N270, NVIDIA ION 1 GPU, Ubuntu 10.04LTS) - owing to Adobe's changes (ripping out Stage 3D from Linux versions of Flash 11), iPlayer is now completely unusable on NVIDIA-based kit running Linux on Atom CPUs.

This is completely unacceptable.

This thread describes issues Ubuntu and Mint users are having - http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.p...hlight=iplayer

Flash 10.3 behaved - as there is not a packaged version in the repositories, I have asked Canonical to package it up... but the changes to iPlayer really need to be reverted..

Please consider at least offering a fallback to iPlayer playout on EMC version 2 until such time as Adobe get their act together?

iPlayer behaves on Linux kit based on Intel X3100 graphicvs though - as all work is on the CPU. Atom kit HAS to use the GPU acceleration.

I just cross-checked, and clips presented through the EMC 2 (like the Autumnwatch clip on the Internet blog, or the BBC Heritage content play comfortably on the spec listed above.

What galls everyone is that Youtube's players behave satisfactorily - although it could be better... but hardware video rendering is still hamstrung by Adobe's decision - but iPlayer EMC3 doesn't seem to handle a graceful fallback to software rendering - this is probably exacerbated by the heavy use of overlays (which was avoided by Google).

If it's impossible - maybe syndicate iPlayer output through Youtube so lower-power kit can handle it as well?

Another user complained about the removal of fine-tuning capability over resolution - easiest way would be to back out to the older player.

Please could you fix this ASAP... you have a very annoyed userbase out there. Including me. (the better amplifier is on my netbook)

Other people experiencing similar?
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Old 05-11-2011, 10:49
alcockell
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1084738 case number with BBC.
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Old 05-11-2011, 15:38
alcockell
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Further info...

Related to incident 1084738 -
Various programmes failed on netbook as listed below; worked happily on laptop.

Suspect interaction between EMC3, no Stage Video in Flash 11, and overlay logic...

Related to incident 1084738 -
Tested kit -
netbook - Lenovo Ideapad S12 Hardware - Intel Atom N270, NVIDIA ION 1 GPU
Software - Ubuntu 10.04, Flash 11, Firefox 3.6.23, VDPAU

Laptop - Thinkpad R61i - Intel Core Duo 5580, Intel X3100 GPU
Software - Ubuntu 10.04, Flash 11, Firefox 3.6.23

Programmes tested...
Eastenders (Friday's episode) - on netbook, picture froze on first attempt after 4 minutes. Attempted reinstall of Flash via apt-get install -reinstall - failed. Did full apt-get purge and apt-get install, 2nd test resulted in squashed image, then expanded, then froze. Audio continued.

On laptop - played with no difficulty.

Mongrels (ep 1 as presented on DVD - opens with Marion attempting resus on previous owner)...
On netbook, only audio plays.
On laptop, plays correctly.

ROyal Marines trainee documentary (part of BBC4 Army collection)..
On netbook, started playing correctly, and didn't seem to have an issue with transport collection -but cannot confirm that.
On laptop - didn't test - but assume it would play correctly.

TOTP 1976 - most recent instalment..
On netbook - froze, audio ran.
On laptop - played correctly... but then looped back to start underneath the Play Again? display.

Suspect Stage Video logic/encoding and interaction with Flash 11 for Linux....
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Old 25-11-2011, 13:47
Daveoc64
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I've found this thread from a link on the BBC Blog.

I'm a little confused when you say that they're using Stage3D.

Stage3D and Stage Video are very different and there's absolutely nothing in the iPlayer that could possibly use Stage3D.

Stage Video on the other hand should yield performance improvements even when using the CPU to decode and render the video. Even if your computer doesn't support GPU acceleration for Stage Video, the way it is designed should make it work MUCH better than with a non-Stage Video site - Stage Video should result in better performance all round.

Stage Video was introduced in Flash Player 10.2 and Stage3D was introduced in Flash Player 11

The new BBC iPlayer works with Flash 10.1 and above because the Stage Video feature is designed to be backwards compatible with it - Stage3D is not backwards compatible with any version of Flash Player.

As for the BBC iPlayer, it has ALWAYS had poor performance relative to other Flash video players. I'm not surprised that's still the case even when they use contemporary technologies.

YouTube's player is much better. It works very well in both GPU and CPU rendered playback using Stage Video.
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Old 25-11-2011, 14:29
alcockell
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I've found this thread from a link on the BBC Blog.

I'm a little confused when you say that they're using Stage3D.

Stage3D and Stage Video are very different and there's absolutely nothing in the iPlayer that could possibly use Stage3D.

Stage Video on the other hand should yield performance improvements even when using the CPU to decode and render the video. Even if your computer doesn't support GPU acceleration for Stage Video, the way it is designed should make it work MUCH better than with a non-Stage Video site - Stage Video should result in better performance all round.

Stage Video was introduced in Flash Player 10.2 and Stage3D was introduced in Flash Player 11

The new BBC iPlayer works with Flash 10.1 and above because the Stage Video feature is designed to be backwards compatible with it - Stage3D is not backwards compatible with any version of Flash Player.

As for the BBC iPlayer, it has ALWAYS had poor performance relative to other Flash video players. I'm not surprised that's still the case even when they use contemporary technologies.

YouTube's player is much better. It works very well in both GPU and CPU rendered playback using Stage Video.
... within Windows.

Adobe killed accelerated rendering in the Linux version of the Flash Player client... means the GPU is only used for accelerated decoding - if the Youtube info is to believed.

NVIDIA ION can handle it - just that Flash for Linux doesn't. However, it was in there as experimental code in v10.2 to 10.3...

Just that Flash 10.3 isn't packaged at the mo...
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Old 25-11-2011, 14:54
Daveoc64
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... within Windows.
Stage Video for ALL platforms (Windows, Linux, Mac OS X, Android etc.) should be much more efficient.

Flash was never designed for video playback.

Stage Video corrects that by putting a well-designed video pipeline into Flash Player.

What sort of performance do you get from YouTube? Is it better than the iPlayer at the same resolution?

The amount of people that benefit from the use of Stage Video will far outweigh the number of people who are losing out because Adobe has dropped support for a particular GPU on Linux.
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Old 28-11-2011, 20:40
Hooloovoo
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Just use get_iplayer and then play the resulting .mp4 files with mplayer. Works a treat on my N455 Netbook. Can't say how well it will work with an N270 though.
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Old 28-11-2011, 21:38
alanwarwic
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With all the aggro Adobe has being getting one can now see why they were always a bit behind the times in regards to Linux support.

Maybe it is the same scenario for Nvidia and AMD too.
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Old 28-11-2011, 22:04
Fran Blakes
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Just use get_iplayer and then play the resulting .mp4 files with mplayer. Works a treat on my N455 Netbook. Can't say how well it will work with an N270 though.
I've downloaded an episode of "Life's Too Short" and plays fine on my netbook, with VLC player on Ubuntu 10.10.

With some programmes you can decide what quality you want to download using get_player and you can get subtitles if you want!
Life's To Short file sizes:
flashhd1=703MB,
flashhigh1=175MB,
flashstd1=105MB,
flashvhigh1=330MB,
n95_wifi1=40MB
don't forget to delete after watching (get_iplayer does prompt to delete them)
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Old 29-11-2011, 08:41
alcockell
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Yeah - except this has affected a lot of Nvidia cards under Linux, while the Windows and Mac code is more honed. Might improve with Wayland etc - but it felt like a betrayal to rip out experimental code that was actually doing the job...
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Old 29-11-2011, 08:45
alcockell
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With all the aggro Adobe has being getting one can now see why they were always a bit behind the times in regards to Linux support.

Maybe it is the same scenario for Nvidia and AMD too.
Not quite. NVIDIA do pretty well. What *doesn't* work very well is the "search" capability - being able to drag the playback point on the transport bar.

And re flopping the transport out over the video image - this just adds more CPU load - which isn't there on 1st gen netbooks...
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Old 29-11-2011, 09:57
Tadpole
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Just use get_iplayer and then play the resulting .mp4 files with mplayer. Works a treat on my N455 Netbook. Can't say how well it will work with an N270 though.
I do similar, I use get_iplayer.

I also have a N280-based netbook (MSI U100) with 10.04 and experience similar problems with the iPlayer website.
The N270 runs at 1.6GHz, the N280 runs at 1.67GHz (ie approx 4% faster)

Oh, worth adding that I find it better to use vlc player to play the MP4 files under Linux, mplayer seems to lose audio sync on some of the MP4's.

I think that the fundamental problem may be that flash/Air struggles with the Linux display driver architecture, and the CPU is overworked. Youtube worked around this by enabling HTML5 video, but HTML5 may cause DRM management issues for the beeb. This may be why Adobe have now ceased development on Air for Linux after version 2.6, which may force the BBC to either rethink the product or drop Linux support for the iPlayer themselves.

We can hope they can find a solution to these issues.
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Old 29-11-2011, 15:15
alcockell
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I do similar, I use get_iplayer.

I also have a N280-based netbook (MSI U100) with 10.04 and experience similar problems with the iPlayer website.
The N270 runs at 1.6GHz, the N280 runs at 1.67GHz (ie approx 4% faster)

Oh, worth adding that I find it better to use vlc player to play the MP4 files under Linux, mplayer seems to lose audio sync on some of the MP4's.

I think that the fundamental problem may be that flash/Air struggles with the Linux display driver architecture, and the CPU is overworked. Youtube worked around this by enabling HTML5 video, but HTML5 may cause DRM management issues for the beeb. This may be why Adobe have now ceased development on Air for Linux after version 2.6, which may force the BBC to either rethink the product or drop Linux support for the iPlayer themselves.

We can hope they can find a solution to these issues.
Possibly one way around it would be...

(1) Harden and publish the API as an open spec

(2) Allow self-build UI apps or plugins under revised syndication guidelines (the Trust are currently rethinking these - http://www.bbc.co.uk/bbctrust/our_wo..._revised.shtml - closing date for responses is 21 Dec 2011. XBMC, Totem, VLC etc could possibly then have plugins written... these could hand off to the Beeb for playout... means the Beeb can also manage what is presented through metadata queries.

(3) Maybe mandate the supply of a BBC ID when connecting from a 3rd-party native client - use it, requesting IP address and date/time as a hashed watermark?

(4) Maybe watermark the content as it is played out... this could then help mitigate pirated streams after the fact.

(5) Drop SWF Verification - so that open-source Flash implementations can run iPlayer...

Locking Linux users out of iPlayer content would REALLY piss a lot of people off... and does the Beeb really want even more bad press?
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Old 30-11-2011, 01:20
The Phazer
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(3) Maybe mandate the supply of a BBC ID when connecting from a 3rd-party native client - use it, requesting IP address and date/time as a hashed watermark?
So.... how would that stop people from capturing the streams to keep permanently then? Given that's the entire point of the DRM.

This is a rhetorical question.

Locking Linux users out of iPlayer content would REALLY piss a lot of people off... and does the Beeb really want even more bad press?
Given the choices between the bad press of nearly all content disappearing off iPlayer, a multi-billion pound rights bill or a tiny bit of bad press from dropping a minority platform, I imagine the BBC would love that sort of "more bad press".

iPlayer no longer supports PowerPC Macs, and I would wager there are an order of magnitude more of them in active use than Linux desktops.

Phazer
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Old 30-11-2011, 03:02
alcockell
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So.... how would that stop people from capturing the streams to keep permanently then? Given that's the entire point of the DRM.

This is a rhetorical question.



Given the choices between the bad press of nearly all content disappearing off iPlayer, a multi-billion pound rights bill or a tiny bit of bad press from dropping a minority platform, I imagine the BBC would love that sort of "more bad press".

iPlayer no longer supports PowerPC Macs, and I would wager there are an order of magnitude more of them in active use than Linux desktops.

Phazer
However, if the Beeb were to back the DRM off enough to let Gnash etc run the iPlayer SWF - those platforms could come back into the fray.

Why should people be locked into closed OSs and end up with more and more ladfill just to watch catchup services?
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