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America Online Mozilla The Internet Technology

AOL Open Sourcing Audio & Video Technology 224

daria24 writes "BetaNews says that AOL is open sourcing Winamp AVS and Milkdrop, two popular Winamp plug-ins, and its Ultravox streaming media platform (the successor to Shoutcast). 'Despite helping to launch the Mozilla Foundation and releasing the code to its AOL Server software, America Online has never been synonymous with open source. But a number of new initiatives could change AOL's proprietary image, as the company strives to reach a broader audience on the open Web.' The next-generation AIM release will also be an open platform, which AOL says 'could rival even Mozilla due to its scale and the massive AIM user base.'"
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AOL Open Sourcing Audio & Video Technology

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  • by nagora ( 177841 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#12715218)
    What have you done with the real AOL?


    • I know this is off-topic, but... Does anybody else see significant numbers of posts that appear to belong to other topics sprinkled throughout Slashdot today?

      The other replies to "You BASTARDS" seem to belong to the article regarding IE memory leaks.

      Maybe it's just my browser.
      • Yes... This story's comments are a trainwreck. Half are regarding AOL, the other half are regarding IE vs. Firefox memory leaks. Something's b0rk3d.
      • Nope. It's definitely happening to me, too. A couple other things are acting up on the site as well.

        It must be acting up again.

      • by Anonymous Coward
        I haven't been reading /. too heavily these last few days, but before that I had started noticing that -- totally unrelated replies, that seemed to belong to other topics. I believe they are always from ACs, so that leads me to believe it's someone's script trying to create havoc in /. (if it weren't for the AC factor, I could see it as being a server error and the replies were being sent to the wrong article).

      • And in the past 24 hours, I've gotten notifications of moderations not reflected in the report in the moderated post itself (click the post's ID, no moderation shows).
      • This happened a week or so ago with a massive amount of posts, then slashdot required ACs and low karma users to put in an authentication code for every post and they stopped for a while, I don't know if the authentication codes are still required or not (never had to use them), but I just started seeing them around yesterday again.
    • I think AOL is going through a slow death. I was a member for over 5 years until I moved to an area that had no local access. I have since moved on to broadband(verizon dsl) and would never even consider going back to AOL even if they did have a local number. I live in an area where 7 miles from where I live they have SBC and they offer broadband for $14.95 a month which AOL charges for access with another carrier. I see no use for AOL unless they get their own means of access(wi-max or stratolite) and o
    • It is about time AOL became just another portal pushing their name recognition to get advertising sales. Its fucking ridiculous to think they could maintain all these overpriced dial up users for any long stretch of time with Broadband becoming so cheap and mainstream. Then again it is probably too late, they should have done this 2 years ago or more. []
    • Re:You BASTARDS! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by darkain ( 749283 )
      AOL layed off most of the Nullsoft team, and the ones that didnt, quit. Why is AOL opening all of their software now? So they can get development for free. A few of the developers actually asked to open-source various of the Nullsoft products under the condition that they would continue to work on the projects out-of-pocket. So, is this a good thing, or a bad thing? I really cant say, because it does pain me to live in IRC with these guys for the past several years and to hear all about the internal wo
  • Pixie-dust projects (Score:4, Informative)

    by Scorillo47 ( 752445 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:50PM (#12715232)
    Yet another example of pixie-dust projects []...
    • I'm no open source fanatic (I actually think most of it is crap), but I think the fact that the blog is on MSDN is funny as hell. =P
    • by hey! ( 33014 )
      quote the linked blog

      Pixie-dust projects. Here I put big, commercial projects that were morphed in an open source variation, as in an attempt to sprinkle the open source pixie dust to help them to remain competitive. Examples: Netscape....

      Not like anything could come of that kind of airy fairy pixie dust project, eh?

      Taking this guy seriously, it's not hard to see that all of the classes of projects he describes do indeed exist. However, if you go the other way, from the important projects to the c

  • Huh? (Score:4, Funny)

    by TheSpoom ( 715771 ) * <> on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:51PM (#12715240) Homepage Journal
    Wait, does this mean that we're supposed to... like... AOL?

    But... it just feels wrong somehow... :^(
    • I think we're just supposed to hate the ISP aspect of AOL, even though that is getting better too. Their software has never been half bad. I have been a big fan of AIM (up until 5.2 or so when they included the WildTangent crap), and even the original design of the AOL client was quite interesting. AOL Server proved itself, but it wasn't free. Now that AVS is open, we can see some more interesting projects spawned off of it (xmms/noatun plugins anyone?). I think they're trying to show the world that w
    • Re:Huh? (Score:2, Funny)

      by doombob ( 717921 )
      Yeah, that's ok... it's just their customers we're not supposed to like.
    • I am convinced more people on slashdot know what to do with AOL than the AOL-management team. Therefore, no... you shouldn't like the company.

    • It makes sense when you think about it. Open source as a business model is basically about embracing service-based revenue streams rather than product-based ones. AOL has always been a service-based company - the two fit perfectly. This is why MS is so anti-OSS, all they do is sell you a product :)
    • Wait, does this mean that we're supposed to... like... AOL?

      But we can still hate AOL users right?

    • Re:Huh? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Queer Boy ( 451309 ) * <> on Friday June 03, 2005 @02:43PM (#12716518)
      Just so you young whippersnappers remember, AOL was the reason there's a consumer internet AT ALL! The existence of AOL and its massive userbase was the impetus for improving the usability of things like WWW, Usenet and e-mail.

      Did you think you could always point and click your way across the internet?

    • The headline should have read "Nullsoft open sourcing audio & video technology" Of course we're supposed to like AOL, because they own things like Netscape and Nullsoft.
  • Props to them (Score:3, Interesting)

    by m50d ( 797211 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:53PM (#12715269) Homepage Journal
    Anyone know how portable the code is? Any chance we could see milkdrop for xmms (yes I know there are clones around, none of them are as good as the original).
    • It would truly depend what they used to write it. It seems difficult to say at this stage of the game.... I would guess some kind of C, but the question of what they use to render the visualization is suspect. Do they use Direct X? OpenGL?

      Unless they truly use some concoted scheme for the other logic, only the way in which the vis is rendered is an issue.... I never used the winamp plugins, but writing software all day, if my boss plunked that on my desk that would be my first thought..
      • Milkdrop uses DirectX AFAIK, projectM uses OpenGL (written in C).
      • Re:Props to them (Score:3, Interesting)

        by m50d ( 797211 )
        It's been around for a while, so it's probably not depending on new directx, so even if it is directx perhaps it could be compiled against winelib? I'm more concerned about the code assuming everything is windows (\ for directory separator, etc)
        • Yes but that is typical conversion in code that is not multi-platform. I assume the question was directed at matters aside from syntactical adjustment.
          • Code can be written to be cross platform from the start, and not need such adjustments. That was a very trivial example, there can be deeper things. But anyway, what I'm asking is was the code written to be multi-platform.
    • projectM is a Milkdrop clone which has ports for WinAmp, iTunes, and XMMS. It does a pretty good job replicating Milkdrop's functionality, been using it for awhile now on X... although there are many features it is lacking. It's great to hear Milkdrop is finally being open-sourced, let's hope projectM can work better as a result.
      • It already is (Score:3, Informative)

        "It's great to hear Milkdrop is finally being open-sourced, let's hope projectM can work better as a result."

        It already is. From the projectM home page:

        5/6/05 - projectM 0.97 Released!

        Nullsoft released the Milkdrop source code so I have fixed the behavior of waveforms 2, 3, & 5, zoom, and custom shapes (tex_ang and tex_zoom). I also added the Darken, Brighten, and Solarize filters. Things look much better with these added features. We also have some stability patches for xmms-projectM in th
    • XBMC already ported the open sourced milkdrop in early may. It runs well, but theres a few bugs (player skips) at random with a complex visualization like this.

      The XBMC team came up with a port in about a week, so assuming the xmms core visualization code is solid, porting this wont be hard.
  • by Elecore ( 784561 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:53PM (#12715278) Homepage
    'The next-generation AIM release will also be an open platform, which AOL says 'could rival even Mozilla due to its scale and the massive AIM user base.' It could rival in pure numbers, but I'd bet that MOST AOL users don't really understand or care what open source is. Most people who do stay clear of AOL to begin with.
    • "It could rival in pure numbers, but I'd bet that MOST AOL users don't really understand or care what open source is. Most people who do stay clear of AOL to begin with."

      AIM has an obscenely diverse user base. It's available on all platforms, and virtually everyone (except for Jabber guys who refuse to friend anyone not on Jabber) uses it.

      Granted, there will be some people who don't care about open source, but there's definitely quite a few people who would be willing to switch to something less RAM hungr
      • they released a beta of this new aim product... it's got ads. do you really think the official client from aol won't have ads? come on now...

        i use gaim. it's alright, although it does use a lot of ram (but so does the official aim client). i don't have a lot of hope for what they're going to release... the're really just opening the protocol, probably meaning they're not gonna harass 3rd party clients.
    • by dcclark ( 846336 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:04PM (#12715459) Homepage
      Not to mention that the "open platform" actually consists of letting some outside developers license certain aspects of AIM and its protocols. In particular, there will be some sort of plug-in architecture -- so no chance of getting better access to the protocols for 3rd party use. They aren't actually doing much "opening up," so much as making more business opportunities for themselves.
    • I wonder if 'open platform' means AOL will let me use Miranda to connect to their service without suspending my account every week.

    • I'm not an AOL user. I hate AOL the service. I'm an AIM user, primarily because of network effects []. All my friends use AIM, and because the purpose of instant messaging is to talk to your friends, not open-source evangelism, I use AIM too.

      I'd love to use an open-source IM client, because there are some extra features I'd want to implement. I've tried to mod AIM, but at best it's not easy -- you have to use obscure hacks -- and at worst it violates the ToS. I would use Gaim, but a) my friends aren't, so pat
    • AOL users don't have to understand what open source is in order to benefit from the wider range of clients available for AOL services that will be available as a result.
  • by conner_bw ( 120497 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:53PM (#12715280) Journal
    Faced with extending its core business strategy beyond its walled garden and rapidly falling subscriber numbers, AOL is looking outward -- rather than inward -- to bolster its arsenal of content and services.

    LOOK OUTWARDS! Why didn't we think of this before?!
  • More competition is a good thing (and by competition I mean releasing source, and striving to compete with the likes of mozilla, as opposed to being just a rotting corporation that no geek would bother with).
  • by fitsy ( 22336 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @12:55PM (#12715306)
    AOL does contribute to useful open source software. AOL developers contribute to SQLite [] and have helped produce numerous useful additions to SQLite.

    Quote: The primary purpose for version 3.2.0 is to add support for ALTER TABLE ADD COLUMN. The new ADD COLUMN capability is made possible by AOL developers supporting and embracing great open-source software. Thanks, AOL!
    • AOL also released AOLserver []. A Free WebServer under MPL License.

      From the project's page:

      "AOLserver is America Online's Open-Source web server. AOLserver is the backbone of the largest and busiest production environments in the world. AOLserver is a multithreaded, Tcl-enabled web server used for large scale, dynamic web sites."
      • I wrote that description when I created the AOLserver project on Source Forge. AOLserver really hasn't caught on and despite releasing 4.0 there isn't really much reason to use it. All of its cutting-edge benefits, like integrated database handling and in-process scripting, are now done better in Apache.

        As for being the backbone of the "largest and busiest production environments" that is rapidly changing. They re-released the webmail system using some other software (definitely not AOLserver) and most
  • The next-generation AIM release will also be an open platform, which AOL says 'could rival even Mozilla due to its scale and the massive AIM user base.'

    Just use XMPP you retards.
    • NIH.

      Jabber is "Not Invented Here". So that makes it worthless and crappy.

      Just because they are open sourcing some of their tech does not mean that they are willing to give up on something they have invested *years* developing.
      • That's not the problem. AOL's problem isn't three letters, but two words.

        Network Effect.

        The only way AOL manages to keep their AIM software popular is because that's the only program people can talk to their friends with, and they dont want to bother switching networks, as they'd lose all of their friends.

        Jabber, if implemented, will allow the users to select a client, and server that is not AOL with ease. Aside from that, there's AOL's bad experience with Microsoft using AOL's own TOC protocol to allow

  • Does this mean that AOL is about to go the way of Netscape? I wonder if someone will pick up the software pieces and make something decent of them. Winamp is ok, but AIM is a much larger piece of the AOL hegemony. AIM has quality issues that make Microsoft look sweet and refreshing.

    Personally, I'm very surprised that virus and worm makers haven't homed in on IM clients yet. I imagine AOL will be very hard hit when they do. Although, an open source AIM client that really was bigger than Mozilla might be ab

    • maybe it would look similar to GAIM...
    • The new AIM client is based on a framework called Boxley. Now that I would like to see open sourced. As it was described way back, it is somewhat like XUL + Javascript without some of the horrific bits like RDF.
    • Does this mean that AOL is about to go the way of Netscape?

      What, you mean, be bought by AOL, found to be expensive to maintain and impossible to make money from, then released as open source to die a slow death or be resurrected through the hard work of people unrelated to the original product creating entirely new code?

      It's possible, except with the bonus that they don't have to buy anything...

      And no, unless by "AOL" you mean the AIM client and a Winamp plugin or two. That's all this is about. There's p

  • Finally... (Score:5, Funny)

    by PenguinBoyDave ( 806137 ) <david@da v i d m e y e r . o rg> on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:00PM (#12715375)
    I can rush out now and subscribe to AOL. I was just waiting for them to support open source. I'll be the first guy in my lug to have an AOL address. I rock.
  • Ah AOL... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DrXym ( 126579 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:01PM (#12715389)
    AOL is run by a bunch of geniuses. I've never seen a company that can invest millions in technologies such as browsers, music & video players, only to shitcan their (superior) solutions in favour of (inferior) ones developed by their main competitors.

    I just look at WinAmp and shake my head. There's a programme that could have been iTMS before such a thing even existed. It could still be iTMS rival now, two years too late. And the integrated NSV means it could deliver TV and VOD too with a little work. So why the hell isn't it?

    Because AOL is run by a bunch of geniuses.

  • by Apreche ( 239272 )
    Maybe now AIM file transfers will work reliably in gaim.
  • Oh HELL YA! Milkdrop has got to be THE best plug-in developed. Geiss is genius. How he is able to program the AI to do the things Milkdrop does just blows me away. And now, it's open source! Sweet mother of holy bliss! []
  • I guess they're too busy with their RIAA and MPAA initiatives to worry about attacking open source.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So ok, AOL is all 'bout open source now. Then why is it there is no official aol client for linux?

    My mother uses aol, and I have to spend ages fixing security issues in windows and generally keeping it going. I'd far rather she used Linux for the web, she'd be safe from 99% of all web exploits, and it would make admin easier for me. Plus I wouldn't have to keep cleaning up all the garbage windows collects on her system.

    It took long enough to get her on the web, weaning her from aol is not something I can
  • I was disappointed that development of Milkdrop had died two years ago. At least now it will be able to be under development again, which is a good thing considering it's my favourite vis and the favourite vis of all of my friends nerdy enough to know what a vis is (and aware that Winamp actually has preferences to change it).
    I remember when I first started using it my computer was a Pentium 233 with 64MB of RAM, but since I had a 3D graphics card it ran at a reasonable framerate and I have been hooked sinc
  • Milkdrop? (Score:3, Funny)

    by coyotecult ( 647958 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:05PM (#12715468) Homepage
    Oh my god, I LOVED that. It was approximately my favoritest audio visualization ever.

    Reasons Why Milkdrop Kicks Ass:
    • Milkdrop is the reason I've never needed to take any hallucinogenic drugs.
    • Milkdrop's my daddy.
    • Milkdrop also fathered my superhuman genius baby.
    • Milkdrop isn't God like Dan Bukvitch, but is probably pretty high up there. Like the Holy Ghost or Jesus or something.
    • Milkdrop is that irresistable creature with an insatiable love for the dead.
    • If Milkdrop conferenced the Middle East, peace would be achieved.
    • Milkdrop is actually a gift from a mind-sucking alien race intent on sucking the awe right out of our skulls.
    • Few people know this, but Milkdrop is actually nature's suction cup. Watch this. See? It sticks

    It's time to learn how to port that sucker to the *Nixes (Linux, BSD, OS X)! I haven't been in Windows enough to enjoy it for a very long time.
    • Milkdrop is the reason I've never needed to take any hallucinogenic drugs.

      Same here. Now imagine when you have a few friends over for dinner, and a few of them happen to make a "special" mushroom omelette. Just for fun, I set my two Linux machines up running xscreensaver's and my windows machine running Milkdrop. There were some fairly ecstatic grins going around... :D

      On a more serious note, I cannot frickin' wait until a MilkDrop variant gets ported to XMMS (or, even better, Beep Media Player), even if
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:06PM (#12715493)
    My wish is for an experienced hacker to port Winamp to Linux the moment the code is open sourced. Will this happen? I do not see any Linux native application that can stand in place of Winamp.

    I know we have the likes of AmaroK, XMMS...but none of these does any video!

    • I'm not really interested in winamp in particular, however, AVS and Milkdrop are very nice indeed, it would be great to have these vis systems available on the linux players.
      As for video playback, XMMS certainly used to do it, I don't know the current status of the SMPEG plugin but it was good at the time. really though, who would want to play videos in a winamp style interface? if you need help finding alternatives head over to this page [], totem's nice.
    • My wish is for an experienced hacker to port Winamp to Linux the moment the code is open sourced. Will this happen? I do not see any Linux native application that can stand in place of Winamp.

      I may be wrong, but I think AOL is only open-sourcing Winamp's AVS and Milkdrop, not Winamp itself. Considering that one of the big draws to "upgrade" to the paid version of Winamp is a compiled-in limitation, AOL certainly seems to have a motive.

      As far as Winamp on Linux, you might be surprised to hear that it work
    • XMMS has a plugin to play videos using MPlayer [].
      But I miss AVS.
      There are some XMMS vis plugins that does something in the lines of AVS (a scriptable generic effect engine), but the real value of AVS is on the fantastic presets that comes with it.
  • by Animats ( 122034 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:06PM (#12715496) Homepage
    This sounds more like open sourcing of abandonware at its end of life. After all, that's what they did with Netscape.

    Does this mean Freeamp can start using its own name again? AOL made them change their name to Zinf [] or something like that, and they were never heard from again. Especially since one of those directory spammers took over their "freeamp" domains, and AOL did nothing about that.

    • This sounds more like open sourcing of abandonware at its end of life. After all, that's what they did with Netscape.

      Actually, the open sourcing of Netscape ocurred well before AOL bought them, and before they spun off the Mozilla Foundation into its own independent entity. I remember at the time of AOL's purchase of Netscape, there were some people in the community wondering what AOL's purchase of Netscape would mean for Mozilla.

      On the other hand, if you are talking about the Mozilla Foundation, that'
    • Yup; six months from now, AOL will announce its "New, improved" IM client, which will be nothing more than a re-skinned version of Microsoft Instant Messager. Six months after that, a new AOL Media Player will come out, which will be a re-skinned version of Microsoft Media Player.
    • AOL made them change their name to Zinf [] or something like that, and they were never heard from again.

      Well, the reason they were never heard from again is because it never got any better. The interface needs much improvement, it needs to support many more formats, and it crashes regularly when I try to use it...

      I would consider it one of the first adware open source projects... Several things in there they are getting paid to have in there, that you can't disable. I'll be sticking to XMMS.

  • by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:07PM (#12715507) Journal
    to OSS. But even more than offering OSS, they would be wise to do a Linux connection, even possibly a Linux disc. One idea would be to work with major distros geared towards the desktop such as Novell, Mandrake, and Linspire.
  • What does AOL have to do with the open sourcing of Milkdrop? Milkdrop was written by Ryan Geiss, the supergenius who wrote the old skool 'Geiss' screen saver. It totally rocks, and according to, he opened the code up almost a month ago now.

    But I can't see how that anything to do with AOL, other than the fact that it was only a Winamp plugin before...
  • Does Midge Ure know about this?
  • The next-generation AIM release will also be an open platform, which AOL says 'could rival even Mozilla due to its scale and the massive AIM user base.'"

    Which could be the cleverest thing AOL have done for a long time, depending on whether the company can muster the will to see if through to the end. MS lost money for years trying to destroy AIM and AOL. For their part, AOL lost the top spot in the messenger wars, but kept a large userbase.

    By opening AIM, AOL stand to gain a lot of new users, and to

  • hi i am aol (Score:2, Insightful)

    by demon411 ( 827680 )
    aol head: "hey i don't think spamming people aol cds is working anymore what can we do?"

    "let's buy netscape"

    AOL buys them and now AOL has a deal with Microsoft for using IE.

    later ...

    aol head: "hmm that didn't work what should we do now?"

    "umm. how about buy winamp for 100 million dollars"

    Justin Frankel (winamp creator) resigns

    5 years later ...

    aol head: "we are still broke, whatever happened to that winamp stuff we bought?"

    "um we are working on some cool plugins! hey maybe we could make it

  • actually, milkdrop was opensourced by geiss himself in may this year.
    see [] for more details.

    I think it a rather poor show that AOL grabs the bragging rights. AFAIK, they had nothing to do with it!

  • Who friggin' cares about those? Open Winamp so I can use it on Linux!
  • by Skynet ( 37427 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:31PM (#12715760) Homepage
    AOL also open sourced the modified version of Midori/Mobile Linux it used on the Gateway appliance.

    Hence, []
  • Xbox Media Center (Score:3, Informative)

    by EvilMonkeySlayer ( 826044 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:34PM (#12715790) Journal
    The milkdrop source was added to the XBMC cvs a couple of weeks ago.

    It looks purty.

    See Here [].
  • Player Souce/API? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Friday June 03, 2005 @01:43PM (#12715905) Homepage Journal
    I wish they'd open the source to the base WinAmp5 player, at least Read-Only. I've been trying for months to figure out the API for a few essential functions to make an interactive playlist plugin that replaces, or at least can be used instead of, the default playlist GUI. Wasabi [] was a project forked off WinAmp3 that released its source years ago, but that's a dead end (no codebase shared with WinAmp5).

    If you've got insights, how would you implement my playlist, which lets you click Artist - Title - Album "columns" in the display of song rows, sorting the clicked column, and restyling (eg. italicizing, bolding, underlining) the font of all text only in that column? It has to 1> get the click, 2> know which row was clicked, 3> get the data from that row, 4> resort the rows in the display, 5> restyle some of the text in each row. If I can't get the coordinates of the click, I can just rotate the sort column after each click. And if I can't restyle some of the row text, I can insert "***" characters or something. And if I can't make a plugin override the default playlist (make it appear instead), I suppose I can make it a MediaLibrary plugin or something. And for real wizardry, I'd like the plugin to use WinAmp's builting HTTP client to periodically retrieve and install plugin updates from my Internet server.

    I don't need the algorithms to do those things, I need the API hooks to call the rest of WinAmp to do its part. I want to call them, but I also want to trace them for debugging, as the datapath "submerges" into the main app. If AOL won't open the source to WinAmp5 entirely, maybe some Slashdotter already knows how to do it "anyway".
  • Since July of 2003 -- []. The author of the plugin is Ryan Geiss []. His plugins are the best I have ever seen.
  • now we should wait for them to opensource winamp the app.
  • As if AOL didn't send out enough CDs already. Now they're moving towards FOSS, can "AOLoppix" be far behind?
  • I don't understand something. Milkdrop is from Geisswerks. Winamp AVS is from Nullsoft, which AOL owns. I get that. I wasn't aware of any relationship between Geiss and AOL. How does AOL get credit for open sourcing Geiss' software?
  • They will totally win the instant messaging wars if they open the AIM server, or at least a working copy of it.

"This is lemma 1.1. We start a new chapter so the numbers all go back to one." -- Prof. Seager, C&O 351