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Linux Multimedia Hacks
By Kyle Rankin
November 2005
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Get MP3 Libraries for Red Hat–Based Distributions
Enable MP3 support on Red Hat–based distributions with a simple addition to yum
[Discuss (2) | Link to this hack]

Software licenses, particularly licenses for multimedia libraries, have always been a touchy point for Linux. There are a number of proprietary media formats out there competing for our eye and ear. Many of these media formats have restrictions in their licensing that require either the user or, more often, the developer of multimedia software to pay a licensing fee to use their library. One such media format is MP3.

Many people consider MP3 to be a "free" format simply because it doesn't have DRM functionality built-in but, in fact, the company Fraunhofer Gesellschaft owns a number of patents on parts of the technology that creates MP3s and requires that MP3 encoders and possibly MP3 decoders pay licensing fees. Most Linux distributions manage the MP3 encoder licensing simply by not including MP3 encoding libraries directly into their distribution. Instead you must download the encoder from a third-party source to limit the distribution's liability ( will provide more information about MP3 encoders under Linux). For the most part, Linux distributions have historically ignored the liability for shipping MP3 decoding libraries—that is, until Red Hat 8. Starting with this version, Red Hat dstopped shipping MP3 libraries with the OS (http://www.redhat.com/advice/speaks_80mm.html). As a result, if you use Red Hat or a derivative such as Fedora or CentOS, you will need to go through an additional step to install MP3 support.

To install MP3 support on Red Hat–based systems, you will first need to add a third-party package repository to your package manager. Although there are several repositories that provide the package you need, for this example, I use the Dag software repository (http://dag.wieers.com/home-made/apt) for everything.

The first step is to add the Dag GPG key to RPM's list of keys. To do this, open a console, become root, and type the following:

# rpm --import http://dag.wieers.com/packages/RPM-GPG-KEY.dag.txt

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