Why is ffmpeg obsolete?

Asked by Tomas Maly on 2013-03-10

I have been using ffmpeg to convert audio files to MP3 format for my commercial web service and have found out that ffmpeg is no longer available in my version (12.04), and in fact everything is moving toward "avconv", claiming that ffmpeg has been deprecated and is no longer developed (which isn't true).

This becomes a problem when I do something as basic as convert a FLAC file to MP3, and come to find out that the ID3 'duration' tag is broken. A 2 minute song says it's 20 minutes long, when I play it in QMMP. It's a serious bug that I can't present to my paying customers.

With some research I've come to find out that Debian/Ubuntu has migrated to avconv and will not include ffmpeg in the standard repos. This would not be so much of an issue if it weren't for avconv behaving as if it WERE ffmpeg, when it's clearly not the case. Just in 5 minutes I've felt like ffmpeg is higher quality and my personal preference. Keep avconv, but don't have an 'ffmpeg' binary that points to it. Especially with the deprecation message. That's misleading. And even if it's being deprecated, why not make room (with the soon-to-be-non-existent "ffmpeg" binary) for the "original" (base) ffmpeg, and let the two co-exist?

With some guidance from the folk on #ffmpeg on irc.freenode.net, I've been told that this all underlies from a serious political battle over the project's management. At this point since FFMPEG is being actively developed, I would argue that it's a bug for "avconv" to impersonate ffmpeg and then say ffmpeg is obsolete. In just 5 minutes I've come across a bug that shows how buggy (and IMO inferior) avconv is to the ffmpeg it claims to be.

If "ffmpeg" is deprecated in the sense that avconv should be used directly, then why not let people really use ffmpeg if they want? Or is it about politics and the avconv developers not wanting to promote their own (separate/distinct) project? It's political decisions that make me really dislike a distribution,, something very much not in the spirit of open source.

I would like to just see that avconv not claim to be ffmpeg anymore, and allow the real ffmpeg from ffmpeg.org to be back into the repo, without anybody having their political bias distort an open source community project that's supposed to benefit people everywhere. It's clear that this is a highly charged issue and I would suggest ffmpeg and avconv could co-exist in the core repos, especially if the 'ffmpeg' binary right now urges people to use avconv. If there is any chance that the 'real' ffmpeg is not allowed to co-exist with avconv because that would mean nobody would use avconv or even know what it is (with that somewhat deceptive "deprecated" message), then I would suggest that's a political bias that doesn't belong in the open source community. That along with other decisions I don't agree with (ie Unity) is enough to get me to switch to Fedora or the like.

Please, why not let ffmpeg and avconv co-exist?

Question information

English Edit question
Ubuntu Edit question
No assignee Edit question
Last query:
Last reply:


Not obsolete at all. It's even in Raring which is yet to be released:

Tomas Maly (tmaly1024) said : #2

That is NOT ffmpeg, that is avconv/libav . I have that package installed and it has a warning saying that the command 'ffmpeg' is deprecated.

This is a part of a much bigger issue:


LibAV is a FORK of ffmpeg, but it's quickly diverging into a separate project entirely, and there still is an ffmpeg from ffmpeg.org . The packages you point to are not from ffmpeg.org .

Doug McMahon (mc3man) said : #3

The orig. message was worse, I got it changed with much hemming & hawing thru this bug -
Though the bug title & description was changed to placate some... orig. -

As far as having both Libav & FFmpeg available in official repos - not going to happen. There is too much of an overlap in same name shared & devel packages.
Statically linked ffmpeg/ffplay ect. binary only packages would be possible but again that's not done & won't happen.

As a user you're free to provide (build) your own FFmpeg or there is a ppa or 2 that provide various FFmpeg options.
(excellent guide to build a static current source FFmpeg in Ubuntu

Tomas Maly (tmaly1024) said : #4

That's lame. I would suggest that libav has no right to use the same naming as ffmpeg. Just because it's a fork doesn't mean it should keep everything else the same. Political nonsense to think that ffmpeg was obsolete and so the naming could stay the same. I would imagine the libav team with their "opinion" over ffmpeg and it's maintainer(s) that they would have no intention of properly renaming their libraries. Political nonsense.

Every other linux distribution that I know of has decided to package the 'original' ffmpeg instead of libav, but I suppose Debian/Ubuntu isn't going to bother. Next time I need to ugprade I'm probably going to switch. For other reasons as well (I don't even use Unity).

Like I said ffmpeg is in the repos...... You don't have to use Unity. Are you going to list the other packages you don't use as well....?

Tomas Maly (tmaly1024) said : #6


That's not ffmpeg, that's libav. Like I said, several times. There's a difference when I can't get avconv to do simple things that ffmpeg can do (specifically report proper song lengths for mp3's). It doesn't really matter at this point, I just wanted this documented.

Tong Sun (suntong001) said : #7

Tomas, I'm totally with you. This not the first time that the Debian DD is trying to impose their political influences. cdrecord/cdrdao is another bad example that Debian had setup. Anyway,

I found in Ubuntu Vivid, Doug McMahon (mc3man) has provided a ffmpeg using shared lib.

@Doug, however, I'm having problem installation it. Details posted at


Can you help with this problem?

Provide an answer of your own, or ask Tomas Maly for more information if necessary.

To post a message you must log in.