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Perian is shutting down (perian.org)
212 points by BenSS on May 14, 2012 | hide | past | favorite | 63 comments

I will be really sad to see it go. Perian is one of the first five things I download when I'm on a clean install of OS X. Support has sadly been lagging when it comes to MKV, and for that I still keep VideoLan around; but otherwise I love having full system-wide QuickTime support for all common video formats (AVI).

What are the other four things?

Adium. Quicksilver. Homebrew. Dropbox.

Also: Chrome, Xcode, Skitch, Divvy and the basic CLI tools.

It's funny. I used to use Psi, but then I switched to iChat. I used to use Quicksilver, then I switched to Launchbar, and now I just use Spotlight. I have Homebrew, because MacPorts can't install 3.2 of GNU Smalltalk and for no other reason. I haven't installed Dropbox ever, or Skitch (never heard of it, will check it out) or Divvy (I think I downloaded a demo of it once, thought it would be cool, and never went back to buy it).

I don't know what my problem is, but I guess my need for new features keeps diminishing. Maybe in forty years I'll finally be able to use Plan 9.

I went from LaunchBar to Quicksilver to Spotlight to LaunchBar. Can't live without that clipboard history! I don't use many of its other features anymore though.

Preview annotates things well enough that I never use Skitch, although Skitch is cool if you want to use the sharing features.

You might be missing out on Dropbox. I wouldn't want to go without it these days as I use more than one computer regularly and don't have to remember to commit 'WIP' on a branch before I head home, I just drop the mic and get the fuck out. YMMV.

Divvy is great. I use it w/ SizeUp every day and wouldn't want to go without them. I don't miss xmonad at all anymore.

Other than that I install 1Password, The Unarchiver, Growl, CrashPlan, Flux, TextMate, iTerm, and GitX and I am good to go.

I seem to shed tools as OS X improves as well, but I hope that nobody is using plan9 in 40 years! ;-)

Agree on TextMate. Haven't heard of most of the other stuff. I used Xmonad for about six months, then I basically copied the keybindings into an fvwm config, then I switched to KDE, brought over a handful of the keybindings and I seem to be alright.

I would probably use Dropbox if I didn't have a VM. A friend has been trying to get me to use one of their competitors for a while.

Plan 9 is great, just a bit too much ideology to actually get anything done. I hope it's still maintained in 40 years in case I do go that way. :)

I feel exactly the same way. Suddenly I feel like a curmudgeon.

"Maybe in forty years I'll finally be able to use Plan 9." - LOL!!

I prefer Alfred over Quicksilver, and Window Magnet instead of Divvy. Just in case someone is interested in alternatives.

The one more thing that I really, really recommend for anyone to try is Flux. I really wish the iPad had it.

And then there are lots of "default writes" that I do on every new computer… :(

It is available on Cydia for jailbroken iPads/iPhones, if you're into that sort of thing. You probably knew that, but just in case…

Whoops, I totally forgot to mention 1Password. Another top 5 essential. Without it, I can't login anywhere :).

Also: Growl.

Wait, I'll come in again ;)

You just made me realize I don't even have a 'top 5' anymore, a basic linux installation contains everything that I need to get through my working day. Email, browser, vi, c-compiler.


> Without it, I can't login anywhere

Here is the problem with 1Password and other similar tools: if you are in a place where you don't have access to 1Password, you can't login at all (i.e. you are screwed). This is why I force myself to remember all my passwords even if they are complex and numerous.

As asmala said, you can sync to Dropbox, plus it has a web based version that works great directly from the Dropbox web interface. So you can access your passwords anywhere you can log into Dropbox.

I've had 1Password for a few months now, and didn't know this. Colour me impressed. Thanks for pointing it out.

That's true, but as long as either of those is true, I'm fine:

1) I have internet access to get to dropbox.com. 2) I have my iPhone handy.

1Password syncs to both of these over the air. So, bare a catastrophe, I should be fine.

You're right, but if it's critical I'll just request a new password. A bit tedious, but I'm not often in that situation.

So, instead of syncing them to your phone, and having them encrypted on DropBox, or a USB stick or something, you force yourself to remember redundant staff that would only prove useful 1 in 100 times?

Well, two of them are probably VLC and The Unarchiver.

First thing I install is Little Snitch.

I find Radio Silence to be cleaner. http://radiosilenceapp.com/ Only 9 bucks.

Except, from what I can tell, there's no way to have it alert you when applications try to call out. So you have to know in advance which applications you want to block, and specify them manually.

Also, if the app you want to block calls out during installation, it's too late.

This is a shame. I absolutely love Perian and it has made it much easier to just play content without having to download VLC as well, and it just worked.

One thing I have noticed is that support for MKV/VP8/WebM has always been pretty bad. It uses a LOT of CPU time and in general was really slow. When YouTube put me in the HTML 5 beta it was unbeknownst to me sending me WebM content because I had Perian installed and it was causing HUGE spikes in CPU usage and overall lag because it was trying to decode and render WebM, whereas h264 requires almost no CPU power on my older MBP.

I hope that the community as a whole picks up the project and helps it succeed, it would be fantastic to still have it around.

Under the heading "Frequently Asked Questions" on the linked page, it says:

Why does it take so long for MKV to load?

QuickTime expects to know the location of every single frame in a movie in order to play it. This is easy with its native format, MOV/MP4, but more difficult for several others, including MKV. Perian has to read in the entire file in order for seeking and playback to work.

That's probably (part of) the reason MKV and WebM are slow for you (since WebM uses the MKV container format).

A symptom of this issue is that you have to wait before you can start playing the movie. So if you wanted to play a 1 GB mkv the player had to read the whole 1 GB from disc once, which took a fair amount of time back in the days.

Afaik playback performance is not affected by this. Poor playback performance is mainly related to the lack of hardware acceleration (and codec optimizations) people take for granted since h.264 matured on OS X.

No, it is extremely slow and laggy AFTER I've downloaded the full content from the web!

Performance and the youtube issues aside: afaik Perian is the only easy option to add WebM support to Safari.

Are there any alternatives?

Perian is even recommended by Google on their WebM page when you start looking for a way to get WebM content on Mac OS X.

Let's be clear: we're not killing Perian, we're just done actively developing it. For my part, I'll work to keep it functional as it breaks on versions of OS X I use, but I'm lagging by a full major version these days because I really only need OS X for the unix layer, and Apple isn't moving the platform in a direction that makes life easy for things like Perian (which we'll never be able to meaningfully codesign as an app, for example).

I did a little bit [just a little] research on this, and I believe the main reason those things are slow is because Apple refuses to provide an API to allow 3rd parties to use the GPU for decoding video. Apple itself provides a codec for h264 that uses your graphics card, so that one performs well.

Apple has provided the "Video Decode Acceleration Framework" for Mac OS X since 10.6.3: http://developer.apple.com/library/mac/#technotes/tn2267/_in...

what? no... Accelerate.framework is available to everyone.

Eh? AFAIK, Accelerate.framework doesn't do anything with the GPU -- its "just" a set of highly optimized functions for math/DSP/image processing operations.

It does. Specifically the vImage part.

vImage is not GPU accelerated and provides no useful operations for decoding video. You may be thinking of OpenCL, which also provides no useful operations for decoding video, or VideoDecodeAcceleration, which is already supported by QuickTime and needs no further 3rd party support.

Best of luck to the whole team there. It's such a great tool, and seamlessly pulled off. I'll be sad to see it go, and I'll be crossing my fingers in the hopes that it will work with future OS releases for a while.

>I'll be sad to see it go, and I'll be crossing my fingers in the hopes that it will work with future OS releases for a while.

Given that Apple has seemed to feel, for the last few OS releases, that it's acceptable for "deprecate" and "break" to happen in the same step, I wouldn't get my hopes up.

I optd opt of the beta due to this reason and mentally filed it under "WebM performs poorly"

Thank you for appropriately assigning the root cause. I would have never linked the two.

It's a shame, but I hope some other devs consider picking up development where the Perian guys left off. Perian is one of my favorite Mac utilities because I love using QuickTime for everything when possible.

To the team, thanks for all your years of hard work and best of luck on future projects.

It's not so much an issue of picking up Perian in that the new Quicktime 10 API doesn't work anything like the old Quicktime API.

Perian just made open source codecs work with Quicktime's API. Quicktime X however demands much more that makes it impossible to do without rewriting all the codecs. Those same codecs are directly embedded in other players (like VLC) so it's not a big issue. Quicktime X is pushing towards hardware acceleration, better battery life (with a few tricks), and multicore processing that the old model just doesn't work with.

Right now when you run older codecs, Quicktime X actually runs a little host process in 32bit that actually does the decoding using a fork of the old Quicktime 7 code. Native codecs run in 64bit using multiple cores and hardware acceleration.

Indeed -- I actually meant developers interested in doing native 64-bit codecs, assuming there would be advantages. In truth, having hardware optimized support would be ideal, but the reality is that H.264 is quickly becoming the dominant codec, even in the HD space, that it might be a moot point.

Aha, thank you for that tidbit of information. That explains why converting with QT took two hours for a particular file format, and I re-did the same thing with Handbrake in 20 minutes.

The announcement mentions that the iPhone does not support QuickTime. Is this a sign that QuickTime is on its way out?

Eventually. There is too much legacy code that runs on QT for it to deprecate now, but QT 7 was really the last full version. QT X has drastically reduced dev access to tools and as more media handling becomes browser centric and H.264 based, it isn't likely to go much further.

Let's hope so.

I used this at one point, but long ago switched to MPlayerOSX, finding it a much more straightforward interface for playing random format movies than QT, with noticeably better performance. VLC is also... an option.

This is about how I feel also. I use MPlayer when I need to watch a movie, VLC when I need to play anything weird (like streams or anything).

MPlayer lacks a playlist though, which is annoying.

VLC's recent UI changes have been a step backward (specifically making it impossible to see the playlist and the video at the same time), but at least you can queue things up to play.

MPlayer OSX Extended[1] is your friend. It has playlist, it has nice interface and you could swap out MPlayer player binary with a newer one (e.g. mplayer2-git[2] or build your own via Homebrew[3]). I like MPlayer OSX Extended far more than MPlayerX or any other alternatives, shame that it didn't get the attention it deserves.

[1]: http://www.mplayerosx.ch/

[2]: http://code.google.com/p/mplayerosx-builds/downloads/list

[3]: https://github.com/pigoz/mplayerosx-builds/

Interesting. Thanks.

Actually, VLC can still display a separate playlist and playback window. You just need to uncheck "Show video within the main window" in the Preferences. http://feepk.net/customizing-vlc-for-mac has some other tips for making things look more like they do in 1.x.

Perian used to be me first download on every Mac, but 10.7 does not let me hide the file preview (top right) in column view anymore. If I scroll through a list of video files and hit something complicated (like MKV) the Finder just hangs. Has this bothered anyone else? Or is detail view more common in the wild?

I love the VLC redesign though, and it arrived just in time, so I'm happy.

It's really sad. I installed it because Quicktime and iPhoto can't play any video taken from my Canon digital camera. Perian provided system-wide Quicktime support for many video format and this is what VLC or MPlayer cannot compare.....

Interesting thread. I too am truly sad to see this go, while everyone is suggesting stand alone players, I personally loved that Perian actually extended the native tools to support all these other formats.

never used perian before. seems vlc (also built on ffmpeg of course) is the only major open source media player out there.

And in the OS X context the better form of it, MPlayerX: http://mplayerx.org/

Which has taken over Perian / VLC almost entirely, for me. Perian has been utterly fantastic, a near ideal passive improvement for everything, but MPlayer smokes everything in performance.

I find mplayerx extended better:


It might "seem" that way.

But as others have pointed out, there is indeed another major open source media player.

At what point did VLC start using the ffmpeg libraries?

If I'm not mistaken mplayer has used them since its inception.

Perian has been the first thing I install on every mac I own/use.

A sad day.

Perian team, great job guys and thanks for the many years of awesomeness.

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