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1.1. What is the VideoLAN project ?

1.1.1. Overview

VideoLAN is a complete software solution for video streaming, developed by students of the Ecole Centrale Paris and developers from all over the world, under the GNU General Public License (GPL). VideoLAN is designed to stream MPEG videos on high bandwidth networks.

The VideoLAN solution includes :

  • VLS (VideoLAN Server), which can stream MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 files, DVDs, digital satellite channels, digital terrestial television channels and live videos on the network in unicast or multicast,

  • VLC (initially VideoLAN Client), which can be used as a server to stream MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 files, DVDs and live videos on the network in unicast or multicast ; or used as a client to receive, decode and display MPEG streams under multiple operating systems.

Here is an illustration of the complete VideoLAN solution :

Figure 1-1. Global VideoLAN solution La solution VideoLAN globale

More details about the project can be found on the VideoLAN Web site.

1.1.2. VideoLAN software

1.1.2.1. VLC

VLC works on many platforms : Linux, Windows, Mac OS X, BeOS, *BSD, Solaris, Familiar Linux, Yopy/Linupy and QNX. It can read :

  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 / DivX files from a hard disk, a CD-ROM drive, ...

  • DVDs and VCDs,

  • from a satellite card (DVB-S),

  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 streams from the network sent by VLS or VLC's stream output.

VLC can also be used as a server to stream :

  • MPEG-1, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 / DivX files,

  • DVDs,

  • from an MPEG encoding card,

to :

  • one machine (i.e. to one IP address) : this is called unicast,

  • a dynamic group of machines that the clients can join or leave (i.e. to a multicast IP address) : this is called multicast,

in IPv4 or IPv6 .

To get the complete list of VLC's possibilities on each plateform supported, see the VLC features page.

Note

VLC doesn't work on Mac OS 9, and will probably never do.

1.1.2.2. VLS

VLS can stream :

  • an MPEG-1, MPEG-2 or MPEG-4 files stored on a hard drive or on a CD,

  • a DVD located in a local DVD drive or copied on a hard disk,

  • a satellite card (DVB-S) or a digital terrestial television card (DVB-T) ,

  • an MPEG encoding card ;

to:

  • one machine (i.e. to one IP address) : this is called unicast,

  • a dynamic group of machines that the clients can join or leave (i.e. to a multicast IP address) : this is called multicast,

in IPv4 or IPv6 .

A Pentium 100 MHz with 32 MB of memory should be enough to send one stream on the network. When streaming a lot of videos stored on a hard drive, the actual limitation is not the processor but the hard drive and the network connection.

VLS works under Linux and Windows. To get the complete list of VLS's possibilities on each plateform supported, see the streaming features page.

1.1.2.3. Mini-SAP-server

You can add a channel information service based on the SAP/SDP standard to the VideoLAN solution. The mini-SAP-server sends announces about the multicast programs on the network in IPv4 or IPv6, and VLCs receive these annouces and automatically add the programs announced to their playlist.

The mini-SAP-server works under Linux and Mac OS X.