New video features! MPEG-2 and VC-1 decode, H.264 encode, CEC support

If you’ve been following this website since we launched it last summer, you’ll probably be aware that we had to make some hard decisions about exactly what we could include on the Raspberry Pi if we were to meet our extremely low target price. One of the things that we had to regretfully dismiss as an option was an MPEG-2 decode licence for every unit. Providing that licence would have raised the price of every Raspberry Pi by roughly 10%, and we simply weren’t able to justify that when we held it up against the educational goals of the Foundation. Our initial expectation was that most of you would buy the Raspberry Pi for educational purposes, and that you wouldn’t mind that MPEG-2 wasn’t available. Our bad.

MPEG-2 and VC-1 decode

Thing is, a bunch of you went and bought the Raspberry Pi in February and immediately started using it as your primary media centre. And many, many of you have existing media libraries which are encoded using MPEG-2, and don’t fancy transcoding gigabites of stuff to H.264. You’ve been complaining about that. Vociferously.

We’ve spent some months working out how on earth to square this particular circle. A blanket licence for everybody would cost the Foundation money it simply doesn’t have, and not everybody with a Raspberry Pi would use that licence; an individual licence for an individual user to download and use with an individual machine is a surprisingly finickity thing to engineer. (This is why we’re very grateful to have Dom on board our engineering team, because he’s clever.) But that’s what we’ve done – so from today, you’ll be able to purchase an MPEG-2 decode licence which will be tied to your Raspberry Pi’s unique serial number. This will allow you to play MPEG-2 material from XBMC and omxplayer, which hasn’t been an available feature before now.

To purchase an MPEG-2 licence visit our (relaunched) store. And before you mention it in the comments, yes, stickers, t-shirts and other merchandise will be available, but not until we’ve built up a staff to handle it, which will take up a few months. Eben and I quickly realised earlier this year that if we keep gumming the envelopes and sticking on labels for this stuff ourselves, we will die from papercuts and boredom in very short order – and nothing else will get done because we’ll be very gluey.

We have also made a VC-1 licence available for purchase in the store. This is Microsoft’s video codec, and we don’t expect as many of you to require it as require MPEG-2, but there is a significant volume of material out there in this format which we thought it’d be nice to have the option to view on the Raspberry Pi.

You will receive your key by email within 72 hours of ordering. We haven’t been able to integrate key generation with the store website, so we will be generating them offline and sending them out automatically.

H.264 encode

Alongside MPEG-2 support (which you’ll have to pay for), we’re making H.264 encode available for free. The hardware has always been capable of supporting H.264 encode, but we were under the misapprehension that encode required an additional licence fee, so were waiting until the camera board release (which is still coming later in the year) before spending the money to enable it.

During the course of talking to the MPEG LA about the MPEG-2 licence, we discovered that the existing licence fee that is already baked into the cost of the Raspberry Pi actually covers both encode and decode – I tell you, this stuff is arcane – so we’ve enabled the relevant OpenMAX components by default in the latest firmware. It may take a while for someone to produce an encoder application which uses these components, but once they do you should be able to use the Pi as a standalone transcoder.

CEC support

Recent versions of Raspbmc, XBian and OpenELEC (the OpenELEC site was down as of the time of writing, but should be back soon) now include CEC support. Before I go any further, here’s a video explaining what that’s all about.

This video’s both a demonstration and a tutorial; for the home user, the thing you’re going to find the most useful is the ability to use your remote control to control both your TV and your Raspberry Pi and any other connected devices, without having to do any fiddling with software or hardware or having to buy anything extra like adapters or dongles.

The video’s subtitled with very helpful tips which will get you set up within minutes. The Pulse-Eight guys (whose blog you should read if you want more details) and Patrick Loo at Broadcom have done a huge amount of work on this, and it really shows; it’s a lovely smooth, easy user experience which I think you’ll really like.



cowfodder avatar

This news coupled with the HDHomerun I have on the way is awesome. I’ve been considering for some time redoing my HTPC setup, and this will make it complete. Thank you to everyone that made this happen.

Cybertimber2009 avatar

Well now… MPEG-2 support was unexpected but I’m happy to hear that we can buy a license!
…this will surely distract me from programing though.

Yoda avatar

Wow! That’s great!!!

To bad i just started a process that will take about 7 and a half hours to complete, otherwise I would go straight to my TV and try the CEC function :(

Arthur Amarra avatar

You have just made the Raspberry Pi 31,337% more capable! :D You’re distracting me from writing up my tutorial for creating Xaver Mk.2 (The Dark Pi Rises) by adding more cool stuff to the Pi! But seriously, amazing work. Thanks!

liz avatar

We should be thanking the engineering team, and especially Dom, for the work that’s gone into this in particular. Thanks guys!

Paul Webster avatar

Great news. Bye-bye XBMX on noisy XBox1 and hello to XBMC on silent Raspberry Pi.

Daniel Orum avatar

Ill be waving goodbye to my original xbox aswell, when my raspberry pi arrives… In 14 weeks!!

Sam Nazarko avatar

To those wondering, this does work out of the box in Raspbmc.

Andrey avatar

Question: Once the license key is received for MPEG2 or VC-1, how do you let the RaspberryPI know that it is now authorized to decode this content? Is it distribution dependent? So if I switch between different SD cards and different distributions, do I need to get a separate license for every distribution I use? Or does it require a firmware upgrade to the PI?

liz avatar

You’ll see when you get the key; it’s associated with the unique identifying serial number that’s baked into your Pi. You won’t need to get different licences for different distros.

Neil MacLeod avatar

Would it be easier to keep the licence keys in a separate “licence.txt” file that is read at boot, rather than keep having to modify config.txt (which is often supplied as standard with various distributions)?

liz avatar

No – well, I mean, it’d be *easier*, but it’d be less secure. We have to make it hard to circumvent so we don’t get sued by the MPEG LA!

SorenF avatar

But if the key is unique to my particular pi, then why the need to make it more difficult to apply to different distros for security reasons?

Great news btw.

Bradley Ruiz avatar

Awesome work, first thing ill do when i get home is purchase the MPEG2 one , now i need an external dvd player to play my dvd collection :D

Lars Op den Kamp avatar

Hey, that’s my living room on :)

liz avatar

It’s a lovely *tidy* living room. :) Fantastic video, by the way; said it all in a much simpler way than I could have done in writing. Thank you very much.

ejamie avatar

Thank you Lars for the informative post!

The libCEC functionality sounds great–I did not realize I could control the pi via HDMI in the same way as my other devices.

Two questions:
– I notice you have an AV Receiver between the pi and the HDTV. I have the same setup (Onkyo). Any particular configuration needed on the AVR to allow the CEC commands to reach the pi?
– you are powering your pi via your TV’s USB. I had understood powering the pi directly from the host device was an issue. Do you have feedback on this setup or have you encountered any power issues?

*runs off to try CEC on XBMC*

Lars Op den Kamp avatar

1) this shouldn’t need any special setup. should work right away
2) depends on how much power the tv provides, whether it won’t power off the bus, etc. it works for my setup

Lars van den Noort avatar

Hi Lars, it is Lars :)

Looking at your video demonstrating the CEC functionality I hear you mention that playback on the Raspberry Pi is paused when you switch the TV to a different input. And that playback is resumed when switching back to the Raspberry Pi…cool! I tried it and that part is not working for me, everything else seems to be fine. I’m using a different TV brand and my Pi is connected straight into the TV, no amplifier in between. I am using the latest OpenElec git source for my builds. How can I help troubleshoot this and get this part going for me as well?

Lars Op den Kamp avatar

Please enable debug logging in XBMC, replay the situation, and send us a debug log on github, or via email. thanks

Lars Goldschlager avatar

Hi Lars and Lars, it is Lars and just wanted to say hi. This might be cliche for you Larses but I’m in (and a) south america(n) so it’s entirely new and fun for me.

Damian avatar

This is fantastic news – thanks

ghans avatar

Great News ! Thanks to Dom and everyone else !
*happy dance*


Dave H avatar

If you’re looking for local volunteers to help with packing and shipping then I’m happy to donate some hours. However, I suspect you’d need a lot of volunteers to cope with demand.

liz avatar

Thank you; that’s very much appreciated. I’ve made a note. :)

Mark Pearson avatar

Another local bod here that would be willing to donate a few hours stuffing envelopes or whatever if it would help.

Andre avatar

Best RasPi news in a long time! Thank you for all the hard work! Now I can reconsider the raspi as a xbmc box, AND it will be possible to transcode MPEG2 TV broadcasts on-the-fly to h264 for playback on a smartphone or streaming over the internet (I only have 1mbit upload so transcoding is a must). I can finally watch german live TV on the toilet … of a hotelroom on the other side of the planet. Geeky!

trouch avatar

Just to be sure as it’s not clearly explained : do you mean the license allows hardware decoding of those codecs ?

liz avatar


mike avatar

H.264 encode. ZOMGreatnoodliness!

My mind shudders at how arcane the fact you’d already paid for H.264 encoding must be that it took you guys this long to notice it.

Jerry avatar

How do I updated my firmware for the new h.264 stuff?

John Sanderson avatar

Ten year ago I was involved in a licence negotiation and saw the contract which was for what I would expect to be a comparatively very simple licence, it was very difficult to actually see what ‘it’ was we were licencing. There was frequent mention of ‘deliverables’ details of which were listed in an attached Schedule.

Davespice avatar

Wow, the Pi continues to give and give. This is going to make so many people want one! Good work folks.

markit avatar

I’m shocked, why pay and license? Are software patents in Europe valid on your opinion? If so, better quit raspberry project immediately, because means that only big firm can develop software, other people simply will be sued (in US there are about 300,000 sw patents, almost trivial).
If you think that we fight not in vain in 2005 against UE to approve “software implemented inventions” as patentable, a way to introduce sw patents with the trick of the “hardware part”, don’t license anything, provide Free(dom) software that can decode mpeg2 without any license.
What is the message that you want to send to children? That ideas can be exclusive property of someone? That “standards” is a mean to have power on users forcing them to use it (like h264 that all consumer products seem to be adopting) and then forbid them to create content / retrieve their content without a license? Without having the permission of an abusive power?
Do you want to confirm with your behaviour that sw patents are good and something we have to live with, and not try to fight back?
Do you want to change the world for a better place, or help to ruin it?

Bryan Crotaz avatar

Oh don’t be ridiculous. MPEG 2 took decades to get right by hundreds of engineers at tens of companies. Just look at the list of companies that benefit on the MPEGLA site. 10 engineers costs about $1.5 million a year. And you want someone to spend hundreds of millions of dollars to create something incredibly clever and then just give it to you? When you’re back in the real world, let us know?

markit avatar

I’ve the feeling that you don’t know what patents are about, and why they are not applicable to software like to mathematics, no matter how “hard work” has been to “discover” an equation, or a computational method. Do you know how much work has been necessary to do algebra right? Or calculate integrals? Or whatever? And do you think that someone can “patent” and have exlusive right about that? Be serious

Fred James avatar

Since I was an academic logician at one time I know that everything
I did which was published was given away for free. You must
understand that here in the U.K. we don’t have software patents so
you are free to write your own mpeg2 decoder and you are even free
to embed it into the hardware and get it to use hardware gpu

What you are not free to do is to demand that the mpeg2 code already
in the hardware should be unlocked for you for free. That code was
written by other people and if they want to sell it that is up to them.
You don’t have to buy it. Nor are you entitled to demand that Broadcom
tell you how to embed your mpeg2 decoder into the hardware. It is their hardware and they can do what they like with it. You didn’t have to buy it
in the first place.

You will know that for most versions of Linux free mpeg2 decoders are
available, that is because people have taken to trouble to write them.

Nobody has a patent on the idea of a mpeg2 decoder.
Now let’s see you write a free mpeg2 decoder for the pi instead of waffling on about what you think you are entitled to.

What have you contributed to algebra or computer programming for

Matt Hawkins avatar

I think he is pointing out software patents will allow big companies with lots of money and lawyers to take open source code and claim it as their own. They get protection because they can afford it. The patents only protect the hard work of others if they have a rich legal department.

Apple will patent “return true” and you will have to pay up to use it or get sued. (Luckily the Pi hasn’t got rounded corners).

But this isn’t the right place to fight this battle. Markit needs to avoid annoying the very people who might otherwise be supporters. Stick to politicians. They are the ones who need educating about a whole range of technology issues.

Andy avatar

Don’t worry, if apple patent ‘return true’ then switch to the presumably unpatented ‘return !false’ ;)

gngl avatar

“MPEG 2 took decades to get right by hundreds of engineers at tens of companies.”

You’re exaggerating. The relevant research is mostly done in universities and in research institutions. What engineers do in standards bodies is to squabble about implementation minutiae and encoding formats. The reason why companies use MPEG standards is simply because MPEG is here, not because something similar and comparable wouldn’t be here without the Fraunhofer people.

JamesH avatar

Again, somewhat wrong. Hundreds of engineers at many companies have worked on MPEG2/4 implementations. The spec defines the bitstream. How you generate that bitsream at high speed and low power is where a lot of very real research was done, both in HW and software.

Free avatar

The Canadian who invented the digital camera ” gave away ” that technology. That tech would have made him more money then Bill Gates or Steve Jobs some of us aren’t so greedy

liz avatar

Hardware patents (which is what you’re paying for) certainly are! What a nasty attitude…

markit avatar

What do you mean? Hardware patents are if you want to build some hardware with some patented hardware technology, that is not the case. Or do you mean, different case, that mpeg2 hw acceleration is embedded in hardware but locked so can’t be used by any software, and you need to pay to unlock it? So is not mpeg2 license, is hardware unlock license for a feature present but disabled. Sooner or later you will have to pay to unlock second core, floating math and so on, so bad trend.

ColinD avatar

Liz, may I take this one…

@markit – copyright is a beautiful thing. The MPEG2 license is required to respect copyright. This is wonderful (truly, I am not being sarcastic here… I literally mean it is wonderful).

@markit – If you disagree then simple, quite simply, you do not understand copyright and the wonderful power it gives you as an individual and society as a whole.

The Raspberry Pi Foundation peeps are superb, law abiding, copyright respecting individuals who have gone to the hard work of responding to a request from the community.

They are wonderful.
Copyright is wonderful
nuff said.

Cade Roux avatar

It turns out that the MPEG-2 is specifically a patent license and has nothing to do with copyright. A patent covers the technique, not the implementation. Implementing something independently and without prior knowledge can still result in a patent infringement.

I don’t think this is the place for an argument about IP law, either the rights and wrongs of it for software or the technicalities of which aspects of the various laws or whatever (it varies by country) apply.

Andre avatar

I totaly agree with you about patents in general and SW patents in particular. But the foundation is not the right playground for this war. You’re barking up the wrong tree.

If you have a pirate party in your country, vote for them! And help them spread flyers etc. That will help a lot more than complaining to the raspi foundation about something they can’t do shit about. …Except boycotting anything that is patented. In which case there would be no raspi AT ALL. A Stallman’esque attitude is admirable but doesn’t get the job done. Now choose between a patent-polluted raspi that does exist, or a 100% patent-free raspi that doesn’t exist. I know that situation sucks! But that doesn’t make it go away. If something sucks, it’s still part of reality. And reality has the last word on ANYTHING!

“provide Free(dom) software that can decode mpeg2 without any license.”

That means a software codec. Which runs on the CPU. Which is just too slow to decode MPEG2 (at the usual bitrates and resolution).
There is no way to decode MPEG2 on the GPU without having a license and not breaking the law (and face the consequences) at the same time.

peace out

markit avatar

I can’t believe that there is a law that prevents me to program a computer, since a computer (and GPU) are all about be programmed.
And one thing is “bad news boy, if you want to enable mpeg2 you have to surrender to this injustice”, other is “happy news, we can help patent’s pool enslave us even more with our money!”. And yes, I did fight a lot in 2005 with FFII, and I’ve decided to ever try to make people aware of the problem wherever I could, and this is one case ;P

liz avatar

So what you’re saying is that we should jeopardise this charitable foundation (which is doing a lot of good already) that we’ve spent 7 years and several of our own mortgages building, and make it liable to be sued by a giant licensing authority, just to support *your* philosophical goals?

Sorry. Not buying it.

Billy Ebullient avatar

markit: ” And yes, I did fight a lot in 2005 with FFII, and I’ve decided to ever try to make people aware of the problem wherever I could…”

Good man! I too thought it was a disgrace the way they abandoned the English localization and just released a renamed FFIV to the American market instead. I’ve not been able to make head nor tail of the numbering since!

Silviu avatar

@markit, you ate bad mushrooms??
Dude, the black box (CPU/GPU) can decode your favourite mpeg2 clip in two ways:
– using a software codec, that need an X amount of processing power, (where X > RasPi has onboard)
– using a hardware codec,that offloads the task to a specialised device, the GPU
My friend you have all the liberty in the world to write your free mpeg2 software codec if you want to, but we both know this is beyond the laws of physics, because you need the specialised cip (GPU) to do it. Designing such a cip costs, and we all have bills to pay.
I live in the Eastern Europe, so I am very familiar with ideas like yours… it’s called communism and we fought 50 years to get rid of it.
It’s simply an utopia to give everything to everyone for free. The only thing that leads to progres is competition, where you invest money, build something fancy, get your money back and some extra, then, the next day, somebody else invents something facier, gets his money back, and some extra, and so on.
Why would I want to improve something, if all I get is a smile and a “good job”? Here, in the real life, we work for money, cause we need them to get food, and drinks, an to play for abstract stuff… like internet connection, that helps us read your mumbo jumbo, from half way around the world.

gngl avatar

“- using a hardware codec,that offloads the task to a specialised device, the GPU”

A modern GPU, by definition, is *not* a specialized device. It’s virtually a general CPU, only with some optimistic assumptions about spatially coherent data flow (a.k.a. “designed for stream processing” as opposed to “designed for random access algorithms”)

The best thing to do would be to liberate the specification of the Raspberry Pi GPU. Why? Because you could then use it for more general applications than just for games and video playback. The VPRI people could run Nile and Gezira on top of it. Robotics people could run complicated cybernetics and AI algorithms on top of it. This trend of locking specs of perfectly general computational units is getting beyond ridiculous.

JamesH avatar

Wrong. The GPU on the Raspi is a specialised device. It has dedicated HW blocks to do H264 encoding for example. It also has a vector CPU for sending data to and from the HW blocks, as well as providing some vector operations where specialised HW is not available. Desktop GPU’s that are more general suffer from high power consumption since they are not optimised to any particular task, which is fine on the desktop, but not appropriate on a mobile device.

It’s not ridiculous. It’s business. Which you may think is ridiculous, but that’s because you don’t know enough about business.

Abishur avatar

Sometimes I wish people would keep an idea as the exclusive property of themselves. ;-)

Seriously though, I think that copyright law / patents have gotten out of control (I.E Windows 3.1 still being copyright protected), but the general premiss of a copyright is a good thing. History has proven that when a person has reason to believe that the product they create won’t be cribbed by some large company that will in turn price it low, drive the small guy out of business and then hike the price back up, then it creates an environment conducive to bigger and better ideas / products. That’s what copyright is *supposed* to do, but like I said, it has gotten out of control and needs some productive reforming.

jojopi avatar

MPEG2 has been around since at least 1994 and any patents in it should be coming up for expiry in the next few years. It is ridiculous that such an outdated codec still costs so much to license. Evidently that has nothing to do with recouping original costs and everything to do with the fact that it became a standard and the monopoly can charge what they like.

But that is exactly why the Foundation’s decision is the right one. The minority who want MPEG2 can have it, and those of us who object to paying do not have to. Transcoding gigabytes of video to H264 becomes more attractive when you think of the disk space you will save in the process.

gz avatar

To quote Jay from Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back: “Dude, I think I just filled the cup.”

Nathan Caldwell avatar

Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! This is awesome awesome news. Now, to get this integrated into MythTV..

Jac Goudsmit avatar

I can’t believe I’m the first to think of this but… wouldn’t it be possible to set up e.g. a Kickstarter project to collect money for blanket licenses? I for one would be perfectly willing to pay more than the GBP 2.40 that you charge for one license, and if many others agree, everyone in the world can benefit from all the hardware that the Pi has to offer. Also, if every Pi includes a license to the codecs, there won’t be any hassle with serial-number bound licenses, specific versions of kernels with and without the necessary software, piracy, etc…


Matthew Parris avatar

I don’t know the level of effort for a kickstart campaign, but if it’s trivial then that may be a good way to gauge the interest? The idea was brought up before: and jamesh seems to think it would be very difficult to cover the cost of all the current PIs plus ALL future PIs as well (estimated to be $400k).

John Sanderson avatar

I think you think that rights to use the CODEC on all Raspberry Pis could be bought for a lump sum! Well it can’t. All the big boys have to pay a per unit shipped licence fee. When I say big I’m not just meaning 10 times the number of Pis I’m meaning much bigger than that. The Pi in global terms is tiny.

greg avatar

The MPEG-LA doesn’t offer such a thing.

Corbin Davenport avatar

Funny, all my ripped stuff is in H.264 so I never even noticed MPEG-2 support missing.

justin smith avatar

lets play spot the pirate? its less than £3 just get it laws and patents are their for a reason I’m sure you would feel much more different if you had worked for 100 + hours on MPEG 2 and got nothing back from it. but this really isn’t the place for a war and while the internet is for free speech and opinions sharing negative thoughts on something you cant change isn’t helping anyone/making anyone feel good this is a great step for the pi which everyone understands and is proud of so i for one want to thank liz eben and the team for making it possible to do all this.

liz avatar

Thank you! We really do appreciate the sentiment. :)

adas avatar

There are actually people that work 100+ hours on many useful things and don’t get millions, some even do it for fun or for the benefit of society. In fact, most artists and developers don’t get most of the licensing money, so moral reasons to support patent/copyright law don’t even stand in practice.

These corporations are just abusing the law to exploit society and extending patents and copyright for far longer than anticipated by it’s original reasons.
The real hard-working people were already compensated (probably not as much as we think), and after that the money just goes to hard-exploiting money-suckers.

poupoune avatar

Let’s play spot the white knight?

MPEG LA are notorious patent trolls, I don’t know how you can defend them. I can assure you that the people who get money from the patents are not the one who “worked for 100+ hours”.

Of course, the Pi foundation are doing a great job and shouldn’t be blamed for all these shenanigans, but that doesn’t mean you also have to defend the bad guys.

Len avatar

Lets play spot the MPEG LA apologist? The Raspberry Pi foundation is arguably doing the right thing here in staying out of trouble, but that doesn’t excuse the patent trolls.

Hopefully someone outside the foundation can find enough time to crack open the HW spec and ship encoding/decoding of whatever it supports with normal dists.

liz avatar

I bloody well hope not; that’s a sure-fire way to get the Foundation into all kinds of legal trouble. Which we really can’t afford; I remind you we’re a charity staffed by volunteers.

Guido avatar

What if the Raspi breaks? Do you have to purchase the license again?

John Sanderson avatar

Probably :-( The admin to offer a transfer would be prohibitive. Even the hassle to the end user is probably not worth £2.40.

Matthew Parris avatar

Thanks for the great work…very excited!

Nerd Uno avatar

So kids can finally get back to being couch potatoes. Nice.

liz avatar

This isn’t something we’re doing for kids; that’s why you don’t see this codec package included as standard; we don’t think it’s something that’s important for the Foundation’s educational goals. But lots of adults with existing media libraries have asked for this. So we’ve made it an available option.

BillyBag2 avatar

Given two candidates with simerlar degrees, the one who built a media player when he was 14 would get hired. Make useful things for fun, get good grades, when you grow you can make useful things and get paid, much more fun than a real job.

Eric P. Scott avatar

The road ahead is paved with good intentions. On the one hand, this is wonderful news (particularly for those of us in ATSC A/53 land). On the other, it’s an affront to the established Raspberry Pi ecosystem.

Previously, all units were interchangeable. Any SD card could be plugged into any RasPi, with a reasonable expectation of equivalent behaviour. (This is the typical “classroom” situation.) That’s no longer the case. Cards and boards now need to travel together (which reminds me of stories I’d heard about television broadcasting some fifty years ago … where 2-inch Quad videotapes had to be bicycled along with the same set of heads used to record them, or they wouldn’t be playable).

Ideally, there would be a way to “bless” the RasPi at a low level (like the “you overvolted me” bit, but with positive consequences). There’s still the issue of what happens if a RasPi fails: your licence presumably isn’t transferable to a replacement device. However, if it’s irrevokable, all of the purchased licence keys could be made public. (Which, I think, solves many more problems than it creates.)

I’m curious how many people would be interested in a [higher-priced] Model B+, identical to the Model B, but permanently MPEG-2 enabled. (Consider this analogous to Music CD-R blank media and their Data CD-R counterparts.) The current mechanism could stay in place for people who choose to “upgrade” the original product.

Abishur avatar

Actually, it’s not quite as dire as you make it out to be :-) The SD cards can still be fully interchanged with no issue whatsoever. Just because you put an SD card that had MPEG-2 enabled on it into a PI that does not mean MPEG-2 enabled does not mean that the pi will cease working all together! Yes, you’ll loose MPEG-2 functionality but odds are if you needed MPEG-2 for that pi you would have also activated MPEG-2 for it. And it’s an easy thing to add MPEG-2 functionality on an additional SD card. So I promise it’s not nearly as bad as you’re imagining ;-)

(side note, it’s also possible to add multiple pi licenses to the same SD card, so you can add all your licenses to all your cards and still be able to swap things around with no muss, no fuss!)

Maarten Baert avatar

If the licenses are tied to the serial number, you could as well make them all public, right? So the foundation could set up an online database, and add a program to the Pi that can download and install the required license(s) automatically.

Abishur avatar

Make them public? No, that would seem like a bad idea on the security side of thing ;-)

On online database would be *technically* feasible, but that would create a large overhead for the RPF. And it’s *really* not hard to activate an SD card for MPEG-2 :-)

elwing avatar

there would be no risk at all for the final user… I wonder how much time we would need to wait for a keygen if all the key were published along their S/N through…

Michael avatar

How so? If they are tied to the hardware serial number than there is no risk at all to throw the numbers around all willy nilly as long as you still have your pi

Sander avatar

A Raspberry Pi has a unique serial number? How can I see that? Somewhere in dmesg? Or in /proc/ … ?

It can be handy to track the different Raspi’s I have.

Abishur avatar

While I’m sure instructions will pop up sooner or later for all to see on the forums, the answer for now is that instructions are provided when you go to purchase it ;-)

John Sanderson avatar

From order page:
“You will need to provide your device’s 16-digit serial number as part of your order. To find your serial number, type cat /proc/cpuinfo at the command line as shown below:”

Sander avatar

pi@raspi-wheezy-armel ~ $ cat /proc/cpuinfo | grep Serial
Serial : 000000002587a0a2
pi@raspi-wheezy-armel ~ $

Sander avatar

He, is this the serial? Four bytes, so about 4 billion different IDs…

pi@rpi-frank-armel ~ $ dmesg | grep -i serial= | awk ‘{ print $10 }’
pi@rpi-frank-armel ~ $

pi@raspi-wheezy-armel ~ $ dmesg | grep -i serial= | awk ‘{ print $10 }’
pi@raspi-wheezy-armel ~ $

Sander avatar


pi@raspi-wheezy-armel ~ $ awk ‘{ print $5 “\n” $6 }’ /proc/cmdline

andy avatar

Will we see a similar codec release for dts to enable hardware support? There are a load of LG Tv owners like me who would be happy to pay for them..

liz avatar

Potentially. We haven’t done a licensing deal there yet.

Steve avatar

DTS is the one major thing I’m missing to make the Pi (with XBMC) the best media centre ever. Would happily slap down a £5 and buy a t-shirt for that.

PXF avatar

I vote for DTS licence buying too!

torsti76 avatar

Vote +1 for DTS Licence.

jože avatar

+1 for DTS

Cami avatar

+1 for DTS.. Pretty please

Flo avatar

i would pay more than a few pennies for DTS …. That would be the absolute killer-feature.

eben avatar

Watch this space.

Sean avatar

Vote +1 for DTS please please do it

xardas1977 avatar

DTS pls

aTTila avatar

Agreed, DTS please

MarkWinston avatar

I would gladly pay a little extra of DTS as well. Most of my movie collection is in DTS. :-)

Gabriel avatar

Great ! Does it mean that if I could plug a dvd reader to the r-pi I could use vlc or mplayer to play it ?

Sander avatar

You will also need libdvdcss to be able to read the encrypted DVD stuff.

Phil Crump avatar

Great news on the licensing!

Is there anywhere that I can find specs on the H.264 HW encoding? I’m particularly interested in finding out the minimum bit-rate, and whether it will do Constant Bit-Rate for Amateur Radio applications!

liz avatar

Eben is pulling goldfish faces, and I have no idea. I think this is a question for Dom!

We definitely have done pretty tightly constrained CBR before for videoconference-type apps, but I’m not sure to what extent that gets brought out by the OpenMAX components. If you guys can demonstrate to us that there’s significant demand for it, we’ll put extra work into making sure it works well.

Barry avatar

Definitely interests me!. I have worked on hardware encoders before so i can give it a shot. Please point me to hardware docs or how to contact ppl working on this so i can collaborate.

Phil Crump avatar

Thanks for the quick reply!

I’ve just seen Dom’s reply with a link to the documentation, time to start reading. Thanks again for the great work!

dom avatar

Some info here:
OMX_IndexParamVideoBitrate allows a fixed bitrate to be set
OMX_IndexParamVideoQuantization allows a fix quantiser to be set

makomk avatar

Interesting. The documentation suggests that the hardware encoder might potentially support intra refresh, which is kinda handy for videoconferencing applications.

m0ntala avatar

This really is great news… the Raspberry Pi is just getting better and better!

Rob Thomas avatar

This is great news and shows the foundation is listening to people and also adding functions that aren’t necessarily focussed on their main goal. Thanks for the effort you guys have put into this and also for keeping the license less than a pint of beer ;-)

One slight disappointment is that Liz, you’ve locked one of the most interesting threads on the forum, the mpeg2 thread! Granted it would have probably died anyway given this release but from a technical discussion it was very interesting and I think the guys were just about getting there for SD mpeg2. Any chance you could unlock it and let it take its natural course?


liz avatar

Done. ;) The one in Feedback & Requests stays closed though – that really *has* outlived its usefulness.

Rob Thomas avatar

Thank you Liz! I promise to buy you a pint if I ever get to meet you :-)

Darren avatar

Thank you! Order and excited, just what I’ve been waiting for. Will continue to use the Pie for educational purposes. ;)

Darren avatar

Pi not Pie I’ll definitely be continuing my education

jose avatar

That’s very good news.

But, I would like to know if there is any list about which codecs supports the hardware, I mean, free or restricted.

jb1963 avatar

whew — methinks i am a bit excited about this. no, really, it made my pi suddenly way more useful, as i was thinking/planning of using it as a media appliance for my hdhomerun setup (*)… before realizing i had been careless in buying a device that did not support mpeg2 hardware decoding. mea culpa!

again, thanks for listening and acting on this.

(*) two long-range antennas on the roof, each connected to a different hdhomerun device.

Cami avatar

How does HDHomerun interface with the RaspberryPI?

ged avatar

1. start with XBian
2. apt-get install libhomerun1
3. download the HDHomerun XBMC plugin from:
4. Install add-on zip in XBMC
5. Tune SD signals no problem… (40% cpu), HD seems to max the CPU and it can’t keep up, don’t know if MPEG-2 HW decoder is working…

brad avatar

I can play SD video from my HDHomerun Prime, but it chokes on HD. I’ve tried fiddling with the monitor resolution but so far to no avail.

Squiggleh avatar

I seriously love you guys so much … You are simply the best!!!

rikardo1979 avatar

Awesome news! this made my day and to everyone from our or :)
Happy Days
Raspberry Pi is an little (BIG) project worth every penny
I cant wait to testi it

anon avatar

Could this be done the other way round. Would it be possible to get a Pi for less without any video codecs installed. This might benefit those using it for non-video applications such as education, running servers, automation/robotics etc by lowering the price a bit.

Rademenes avatar

i’m interested in stripped down version of GPU too (if Broadcom has such a version, without all those patented stuff)

btw. i’m curious what else is disabled in RPi (if it is not a secret)

Bryan avatar

Very nice!

Any chance of VP8 hardware decode/encode?

AC avatar


Justin avatar

Very awesome! Thanks so much for the extra effort and time that you guys put in to things like this – especially considering that it’s not your focus. How could someone even have the nerve to come on here and criticize?!

JamesH avatar

Welcome to the internet, where everyone’s a critic.

nullstring avatar

This is absolutely awesome.

Daniel Orum avatar

The support of mpeg-2 license was the last excuse i needed, to order a pi. Nice job guys…glad you made it happen.. :)

Thomas avatar

Exactly what several people were asking for! Thanks for making this possible :-). Especially nice to have the encoder on board.

spock avatar

Does this mean that we will be able to use webcams (like Logitech C270) to record quality video with satisfactory frame rates?

vasava avatar

I have the same question.

mike32 avatar

Is it not already possible?

reiuyi avatar

I doubt the ARM CPU is fast enough to handle the amount of data.

USB data always goes through the CPU before it’s sent anywhere else. That’s why manufacturers of phones quickly moved to CSI ribbon connectors to interface directly with the GPU without any data limit constraints of the slow cpus. I always wondered how they manage to get raw RGB data across a USB cable to begin with. Or do these new kinds of high-def webcams have some DSP inside them that converts the frames into mJPEG for making USB transfer more realistic? I’ve honestly never found a commercial USB cable with sufficient shielding and AWG thickness to carry the full 480mbits.

rafi avatar

I think the logitech C920 has its own hardware h264 encoding. I don’t know the details, but if it really does stream h264 through the usb, then the 1080p 30fps it claims should be no trouble.

I have the older version (c910), and its been great for video meetings.

papablo avatar

It’s a very interesting thing. I have done tests with various webcams and have found problems in rendering performance because the slow ARM but a very good transfer rate wen this slow ARM only have to pick a file on a USB disk and send it over the net so I think its not about usbs or cables rather than procesor powerage when managing more than a few frames per second or anythink larger than a 320×240 pixels.
But, there is the question: Can I send mjpeg or wath i obtain from /dev/video0 directly to the GPU and obtain an h264 or mpeg2 (if license is buyed) in order to save it, broadcast or replay newly thtru the GPU? and How? (I know how to play an h264, not how to code mpeg or mpeg2 to mpeg2 or h264 using the GPU).
Our homemade robots with webcams and webpages would apreciate it (also batteries would).
Thanks to the raspberry foundation and all of you that makes this fruit grow.

Tony avatar

Thank you so much for this possibility and for listening to your customers.
I’m sure we all know that running as a media center wasn’t exactly the foundation’s main purpose for the Pi, but who can resist it with these hardware specs.
Making the licenses available for those who need them is very much appreciated!
Archos offers similar licenses to their G9 tablets for £10 (MPG2+DTS) so I wonder in which pub the negotiations took place and what did you have? :P

I hope we, the community, in return can offer a range of interesting media related hardware and software projects to give more educational value to this application.


(Silent thought… why are people so angry on the internet….)

liz avatar

That’s a thought I find myself expressing out loud surprisingly frequently these days. Silent thoughts be damned. ;)

Bryan Crotaz avatar

I’m not angry :) I’m grateful!
The non angry part of the internet just parked up outside. On its tandem…
Thanks to the Foundation and its lovely people for diverting themselves briefly from their real goal for the likes of us undeserving souls.

matty avatar

Hmm, I thought I had paid for a raspberry pi and could use it for everything it could do.

Now I find that parts of it are disabled until I pay more.

What is next then? What else is unavailable to us?

liz avatar

Wheels and a sandwich.

Reggie avatar

Nice comeback Liz!! Seriously though, it would be genuinely nice to know what other codecs are on the gpu, you never know, you might find other licenses that people want to pay for, xvid, divx maybe?

@matty, you got the pi for that price entirely because the rest of the codecs were locked, it’s always been this way and not been hidden from people, we knew right from the start that h264 decoding was the only unlocked hardware decoding on the pi, the extra licenses that you can purchase now are a bonus.

jose avatar

I agree, a list of them would be great.

And after knowing which ones are available, people could ask for more to be enabled.

Bryan Crotaz avatar

And then they could all spam the forums too and get angry and frustrated because the Foundation is doing exactly what it promised to do

John Styles avatar

Why should I pay for sandwiches? We at the Free Sandwich Foundation believe sandwiches should be free. And don’t get me started about how long ago the patent on the wheel expired…

reiuyi avatar

What you bought isn’t yours at all!

Where ever did you get such a strange idea?

papablo avatar

yea, of course is yours like when you buy a car or a cake but you will have to pay if you want the formula or a driver and want to sit in the back seat and sleep all the trip.

Ryan avatar

Just tried this with my Philips 58PFL9955 and it works blindingly well! I’m actually really impressed i was able to stream a 10mbit/s HD video seemingly flawlessly. Going to have to order more Pi’s for the rest of the house!

The only negative point i can find is that when a video is playing i cant exit from it. I can only get out my pressing ‘Next’ which pop’s up to say there is nothing in the playlist and stops the current video.

Now, if i could just run my TiVo box through this aswell so it all works seamlessly it would be fantastic!

Daff avatar

I tried to buy both licences but there is an ugly thing – my shopping basket says “Grand Total: €2.88” but when I’m on paypal page it says “Item total £3.60” which is almost twice in price :(

Gert van Loo avatar

The page says that MPEG 2 = £2.40 and VC1 = £1.20. So the total is £3.60. On my page I do not see a Euro price. Where did you get that Euro price from. (Any way it must be an error. )

Pierre-Yves Kerembellec avatar

Great news, thanks for the hard work getting those BC proprietary bits available for us mere mortals! ;-)
I guess this thread: finally paid off and I’m going to look at OpenMAX H264 encode on the Pi right away!


Erwin Junge avatar

As I’m not interested in an MPEG-2 licence I didn’t go throug the complete order form (so don’t know if it corrects itself when ordering), but currently the cost of a license in euro’s is -1.92 (i.e. a negative amount). I’m pretty sure that’s a mistake, but you might want to correct it :)

Robby avatar

Love you all for this. I started re-encoding my DVD rips with Handbrake (great open source program btw), but this would take forever.
A small heads-up: the conversion to euro in the store isn’t correct. In the store the MPEG2 license costs € 1.92 where it should be € 3….
On the paypal site it is correct. Maybe a wrong conversion rate in the shopping system ?

Martin avatar

How is the price calculated?

Roger Jönsson avatar

Fantastic. -And to be able to add this upgrade for an “old” Rasperry Pi, was more than I had expected. Thank you!

I think this was the perfect way to go. -To let us, who wanted the extra codecs, buy them at an extra (very reasonable) cost, without affecting the price of Raspberry Pi for those who have no need for it. -Plain SUPER!

Matthew Parris avatar

Hey Liz,

Are you planning on releasing some sales numbers after they settle down in a week or so? I’d be curious to know how many people really wanted additional licenses (of which I am one!) Also, I hope the foundation is making money on this, seeing that the purpose of the extra licenses are mainly for entertainment and not education. It would be nice to know that I’m supporting the foundation with every license purchase. If not, I’ll certainly be making a donation!

liz avatar

Definitely – we like graphs! And yes, we’re making a little money on each one. Not much, because we don’t think that’s reasonable; it *is* a very old codec.

Humberto avatar

…so I paid for my MPEG-2 license yesterday and got an e-mail saying that my order is now completed …then went to the download link and it says the key will be generated within 72 hrs?

Abishur avatar

When the key is generated (which may take up to 72 hours) it will be sent to your e-mail address. I know it can seem weird with the e-mail / store saying the order is complete, but that’s a limitation caused by the store’s software. As far as it is aware, you’ve paid for the codec and it’s finished with it’s part of the process so the order is seen as “complete”. Don’t worry though, you’ll get the license automatically sent to you ;-)

liz avatar

That’s right – usually these will be automated, but the first batch will require us to be standing over a machine, and we’re travelling over the weekend. Should be back tomorrow at about 10am, so you’ll have it by the end of the day.

Humberto avatar

oh cool! …thanks for the replies guys :)

m0ntala avatar

I think you might be in for a bit of a shock Liz, when you get back in tomorrow morning and discover just how many orders are sitting there waiting for you!

Let’s just hope that the machine in question behaves itself, or else you will both have very sore fingers by the end of the day.

Many thanks for making these available to us though. :)

m0ntala avatar

Since my last post, I have realised that Liz replied yesterday, so ‘tomorrow’ is in fact ‘today’… and my keys have just been delivered!

Good work all… and Thank You again!

David Kasper avatar

In regard to libCEC. I have looked around a few weeks ago but did not come up with much. Is there a way for me to control the TV at all (IE the reverse idea of this video?) I work from my pi remotely quite a bit while it is connected to my tv. I have on occasion had to reboot or because of a bad power supply(seems to be fixed, 14 days uptime now!) But when it does reboot, it powers on my TV and changes input to my pi..

This is a waste of power, I would like to be able to tell if my pi was powered on, or if that is not possible, at least have a cli tool to tell my tv to power back off if it happens to be on. I would hate to waste power resources just because I am not local to the machine, its not about money but the environment. I tend to work on it remotely due to work demands.

Jesse Jaara avatar
check the hdmi_ignore_cec_init part

Alexander Heinz avatar

Thank you so much for the additional codecs!

Let us assume that I buy an MPEG2 license.

If you enable H.264 encoding later this year, will it be possible to do MPEG2 to H.264 transcoding with hardware support (no major CPU load on the pi)?

eben avatar

Correct. Hopefully someone will come up with a transcoder app for us.

frank avatar

I didn’t really understand this post.
I installed RaspBMC and I can watch avi and mpg movies just fine without that license…
Why would I need that so-waited license and what benefits does it have if I can still watch movies with XBMC?

eben avatar

If all your videos already work fine, you don’t need a license. The licenses allow you to decode additional formats.

Rademenes avatar

i’ve made some calculations:
VIA APC costs $49 and supports MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4, VC.1 and H.264 video codecs

Raspberry Pi costs $35 and support only H.264, and rest codecs when user buy licences for them: $3.80×3 (for MPEG-1, MPEG-2, MPEG-4 – took the same price for all codecs) plus $1.90 so it gives: $35 + $11.4 + $1.9 = $48.3 – RPi is still cheaper

i will still choose RPi (especially for GPIO ports), but when VIA ads GPIO pins to their new board (and/or open all firmware) some/plenty users could switch to APC

eben avatar

I’m guessing you’ve not played with (or benchmarked) an APC yet. I have, and I’m not too worried :)

rikardo1979 avatar

+1 for this comment m8 ;)

Rademenes avatar

i was talking about future boards not that one currently available, it seems that RPi with all codecs enabled has almost the same price like VIA, i someone will present similar/better soloution it will be good for customers, i like RPi but i hope that there will be someday better product (it could be RPi C for example)

btw it is possible to get from Broadcom a SoC without all those licenced codecs but with more RAM? i have tv that plays most video formats so i wish to have Pi with more RAM instead of those codecs

Rademenes avatar

btw. u were cooking RPi for 6 years so it should be better than VIA (don’t know how long they were thinking about their board), but from other side VIA is in this business a long time so should prepare better board

and agree that with this range of price RPi is unbeatable so far

JamesH avatar

Well, the idea has been cooking for 6 years, but the Raspi in its current form is much newer than that.

rikardo1979 avatar

got my MPEG-2 & VC-1 licence keys today and it works like a charm ;) Thx Raspberry Pi and @Koenkk from, Happy Days

Isaac Norman avatar

Just got my MPEG and VC1 keys, they’re in negative hex format, i.e. key=-0x… Is that right, looks odd? What’s a good way to be sure they actually working, I’m using Raspbmc RC4. Thanks.

rikardo1979 avatar

try to download some test files for test;)
we have a thread open on our site

Try Xbian ;) you be surprised …

Humberto avatar

did your key work? …mine has a negative (=-0x) also and I’ve tried about 7 different samples and none of them play. :( …I even removed every other line from my config file and it still doesn’t work …I tested with Raspbmc RC4 and Xbian 0.6.2

rikardo1979 avatar

works fine for me, the test files plays fine with the keys and not play without so the keys works fine for me
How did you add the lines into your config ?
Should looks like
if it doesnt work for you and you have it like this in your config tha I suggest to contact raspberry

Humberto avatar

It works now …I just created a new config file copied and pasted the line from the email …I’m sure I did something wrong while editing my other config file…my mistake :/

Wolfram avatar

My VC1-password is negative, too. I wasn’t able to verify if the key works. Is there a way to display the licensed video codecs? BTW: Would be nice if the serial number would be added to the mail with the keys. Maybe someone has more than one pi.

clyang avatar

The VC-1 key can’t decode the WMV3 (which is a part of VC-1 codec.) It would be great if you can ask the engineer to take a look on this thread:

Colin avatar

Thank you! ……. no debate, no throwing a temper tantrum …… best £3.60 I have spent in a long time.


Rillea333 avatar

Works perfect. I now can stream TV from my Dreambox (Mpeg2). But i can not play DVD iso or img files. Hopefully after XBMC 12 fully releas. Thanks /Rillea333

jose avatar

I haven’t test this with the Raspberry, but works on my desktop and laptop.

If you want to play “iso” files, try mounting them with -o loop

On a console session:
mount -t “image-format” -o loop /route-to-your-iso-image.iso /route-to-your-mount-point

Where “image-format” is iso9660 or UDF. iso9660 should work fine, but maybe you have a udf file

Midnight Caller avatar

Thank you for making these available to us, I will be buying 1 or 2 of them.

Minz0r avatar

I really dont want to get involved with paypal. Is there an other Way to pay for this “licences”? How about Google Checkout?

m0ntala avatar

e earlier comment regarding some of the codes being negative hex numbers (which one of mine was), I have just received a second email with a new (positive) code.

Someone is obviously working late tonight, but thank you anyway! :)

m0ntala avatar

Sorry, the fist part of my last post got cut off… It did say:

Further to the earlier comment… etc.

Brian LaPolt avatar

HORAY!!! I will gladly pay the added few bucks for the MPEG-2 license. This is excellent news! The CEC support is also an added bonus. I am picking up my piece of the Pi from the post office tomorrow and will definitely be buying the license.

Thank you very much to all involved especially the engineering team that facilitated this. It is very much appreciated!

Mark avatar

TVheadend streaming both DVB-T and DVB-S2 to Xbian running on the Pi perfectly. The only minor issue is the lag when navigating menus.

I have a feeling one of my Pi’s will be replacing my HTPC!

Linuxhippy avatar

I don’t think ommiting those licenses from the standard distribution was a mistake – I guess there are many users using the Pi just as router or for autmation purpose.
The Pi is no smartphone.

Paying for licenses only 5% of your users will use, but everybody has to pay for, is no wise choice.

Gal Buki avatar


Matthew the frog avatar

Wow, this is a huge pleasant surprise. I’ll be getting the Serial Number from my Pi when I get home and you will have my purchase tonight!

I don’t know how this turned so quickly from a ‘this is possible’ to ‘this is Complete’, but I’m just amazed. My SiliconDust HDHomeRun Prime arrived last week and my FreeNAS SAN is busted right now, but I’m so excited I think I’ll be able to fix everything in short order.. and perhaps get housework done as well!

Ehren avatar

Is there some documentation somewhere on how to get the newest firmware to enable encoding?

Thank you for this. It has the possibility to help out a ton with some projects we are working on.

Oliver avatar

If you keep your Pi up-to-date, you already should have the proper FW. You’ll get instructions as soon as you paid for the license.

Ehren avatar

Yep, understood for the decode licenses. I was referring to the h.264 encoding.

Ozkan avatar


PS. Can we have license to unlock the USB bugs please???

Parker avatar

USB bugs?

Chris P avatar

Wow, great news! Just want to say a huge thank-you to all involved; judging by a few of the comments I’ve seen on forums, this may well have been difficult and stressful task. They went ahead anyway for the community. Thank you :) Now I can use this as a TV receiver at university!

P.S. Why are the prices at pretty much unit cost? Surely people wouldn’t complain if you’d added an extra £1 to each, and that must help with finances… not that I’m complaining ;)

kabamaru avatar

Isn’t the vast majority of movies out there mpeg-4 (codec, not container)?

JamesH avatar

Not necessarily – DVT is usually MPEG2 for example. And DVD’s are also MPEG-2. It’s only when ripped do you start to get mostly H264.

Gal Buki avatar

I like the fact that the licenses are not automatically included.
I won’t use the Pi as media center and thus will never need MPEG-2 and VC-1 hardware accelerated decoding.

Please keep it this way with future versions of the Raspberry Pi.
You might want to make the license available on the launch so that whoever is interested can buy it but don’t make the product more expensive because it is more convenient for some users.

JamesH avatar

What you want is *almost* exactly what we do – there is a small charge for H264 on the standard product, but that’s it. Anything extra you need to pay extra for. AFAIK, that won’t change.

SN avatar

I have (cough) four of the little beasties and tend to swap and change them around (as polyfuses pop etc which then need ‘drying out’), and its actually the SD Card image that really matters – I have one XBMC build which would benefit from this but this would tie that build to just one of my boards – don’t really want to spend £9.60 on four licenses… any other option open to me?

JamesH avatar

Sorry, nope!

owczi avatar

root@raspbmc:~# strings /boot/start.elf | grep decode_[A-Z]

HMMMM :))))

Barry Reeves avatar

Thanks for doing this guys. I want to put together a media player for the kids. Alot of the stuff they like is on DVD.
How much for these two?

Luis Díaz Más avatar

I’m really interested into test the new H.264 encoding feature. I work with UAVs and their embedded systems, and be able to encode fullHD video at the price of a Raspberry Pi is simply amazing :)

Aleksej avatar

It’d be better not to make more files in non-free lossy formats…

Arne Jonsson avatar

I had done all the steps necessary to buy a MPEG-2 license, then it appeared…
I will not use them as I have bad experience with them in the past, and they can’t even handle my address right at as it contains characters they never heard about (åäö).
Please add Google Checkout as an payment option.

Jess avatar

Great news, but given how cheap the license is, might I request that there be a future option to buy a pi with the licenses included? (Maybe a B+ model?)

It sounds like the code needs to be included on the SD Card, which is a bit nasty, because that would prevent swapping cards between systems.

It would be much nicer if you bought a new firmware, tied to the specific Pi with the extra paid for features working.

(really annoying that you need to have javascript to comment, odd given that what appears to be the best browser on the Pi doesn’t have it.)

liz avatar

Afraid not; as we said in the post, this doesn’t add anything at all to the Foundation’s goals, which are all about education. It’s just a nice-to-have. This is something we’re offering because the community has asked for it explicitly as an add-on; an add-on is what we’re giving you.

Eddie01 avatar

Hello, i payed for the new codes on Sat 25 and have still not got them ( only email i have got is from paypal ) please could you tell me if they are coming or what could have happend.
Thank you.

Brian G avatar

If I want to use MPEG2 and VC-1 decode with do I just create a config.txt file with my codes in it? There doesn’t seem to be any existing config.txt that I can see anywhere.

Harry avatar

Right – don’t mind the $3 for the licence. But to change any config.txt on any SD card / modify any new OS is NOT what I want to do every time.

If there would be a way to activate the licence in the firmware / GPU itself would solve this.

Maybe there is a way Broadcom will make this possible in future codec packs or add-ons ….

Michele avatar

Is there a way to check via software if the key inserted is ok WITHOUT testing video files using vlc,xbmc and so on?

Dimme avatar

The following was found in start.elf:


I guess the Broadcom chip is capable of decoding all those formats. I might have missed some, but here we can clearly see that the foundation is not as open as it should be. We should be all made aware of the capabilities of the chip.

I really hope somebody successfully disassembles the firmware and starts a real open source firmware.

JamesH avatar

Yes, it’s a very capable device, and when you buy a Raspberry Pi (and codec licence) you get exactly what is advertised. This has nothing to do with Foundation openness. The fact the chip can do something doesn’t mean that its allowed (by licence and law) to do it. If you want to know the full capabilities of the chip, you need to approach Broadcom (and they are greater than just a bunch of codecs) and sign an NDA.

Fat chance on figuring out the firmware and writing something else in this lifetime btw.

rhubub avatar

I’ve entered both codec licenses but don’t seem to be able to watch anything more than I could before. WMV files are playing but audio only – no picture.

I’m using Raspbmc and first entered the keys via the Raspbmc Settings add-on. It didn’t work so then I followed the instructions precisely and added them to the config.txt file but that also didn’t work.

Any suggestions? Thanks.

halorty avatar

Great news, but key is sending by email (“You will receive your key by email within 72 hours of ordering. “), so why I have to fill “Billing Details” like Phone Number, Address, City etc. ? I think that email is enough.

Stuart Wearing avatar

I ordered the licences on 28th August and I’m still waiting for the email. Am I doing something wrong? I’ve emailed the Raspberry Pi store too a few days ago but had no response to that either. Do I need to request a refund via PayPal?

e.p. avatar

with raspbmc and mpeg2, I can watch my untouched recordings – it looks great! live t.v. has a stutter every now and then… but watching 1080i/720p recordings in the US is freaking sweet and this little thing. awesome job!!!!!!


charisto avatar

I love you for this!!!!
I dreamed of an media center with rapberry und when i realized the lack of mpeg2 codec support my dreams shattered.
Now you bring them back to life.
Thank you!

Martijn Goudkamp avatar

Nice. Bought both licenses and waited for the 72 hours. Then 2 days. Now 2 weeks; no email and no licenses. Mailed the store; no reply.


Taz avatar

Where do we send complaints regarding non receipt of MPEG2 licences. I’ve been waiting for weeks now, this is getting ridiculous, and the fact that the store doesn’t have any contact details makes it worse and more difficult to resolve than it should be.

liz avatar

You might like to send a request to find out why your keys haven’t arrived rather than a complaint to [email protected] – and have you checked your spam folder?

Jelle Janen avatar

Thanks, great feature!

Arby avatar

Did I hear correctly? TV USB can power the Raspberry PI? No separate power adapter needed. I had the impression Computer USB or TV USB does not have enough Voltage/Ampeearage, but now I seem to be hearing differently.

Can anyone please clarify?

Al avatar


I have no idea how I missed this announcement, but I can now use my Pi for the reason I originally bought it – playing dvds from XBMC. Awesome. And cheap too!

(I totally get the educational aims, but my daughter already has a Linux laptop and 3 other boxes to play with, so the Pi is a pure media centre indulgence for us lol)

Patrick L avatar

I purchased the license 2 seconds ago. Where is my license! Now it’s been 5 seconds.. it’s taking WAY TOOO LONGG! Now 20 seconds because I was undecided on which case to use.

A full minute and still no license. I will be demanding a refund soon. This is ridiculous!!!

Ok, deep breath. Re-read the email 72-hours, phew.. will wait.

Tushar avatar

I am planning to buy both of licenses for my Raspberry Pi MPEG-2 and VC-1 decode. Before buying I had below mention question so will anybody mind to reply those:
1. A license is active base on base on RPI hardware serial number?
2. If I have more than one SD card with different OS, so is licenses key is allowed to use in both SD card ?
3. Each re-installs and replace of SD card I need to re-activate licenses or I need to buy new licenses.
4. To verify licenses every boot internet connection is require?

JamesH avatar

1) Yes
2) Yes
3) No, you don’t need to buy another licence – use the same one.
4) No.

Emanuele avatar

Regarding a blanket licence for everybody… Have you considered crowdfunding that?
Maybe on kickstarter…

Linuxhippy avatar

I think its great the Pi didn’t include codecs by default.
Nobody I know uses the Pi for video decoding, and instead of paying $$ to those patent trolls, I prefer saving the money and donating it to the developers of patent-free open-source codecs.

If somebody needs those codecs, its great they can be now purchased seperatly however :)

Nabil Sayegh avatar

You did a great job with the pi, and you earn my respect for negotiating licenses with the MPEG. But then you fail on such a simple task as making the license available for download after purchase immediately?

Ray avatar

First, thank you for making it easy to get a mpeg2 decode license.

But my main reason for posting, I (and many others) have a difficult time hearing, I can, just not well.
Unfortunately that means technical video’s are very difficult to follow, add an English as a second language speaker, (while he can speak at least one more language than I), strong accents make it imposable for me to follow more than 1 in ten words, thus rendering technical videos useless!
To add text across the bottom (scrolling at a lowest common denominator speed) means I get to read tid bits at a third grades speed.(yea, ain’t happening)
Then we have the link, Isn’t that loaded with information (not)!

I take it it would have been too difficult to say
“Consumer Electronics Control (CEC) is an HDMI feature designed to allow the user to command and control up-to 15 CEC-enabled devices, that are connected through HDMI, by using only one of their remote controls (for example by controlling a television set, set-top box, and DVD player using only the remote control of the TV). CEC also allows for individual CEC-enabled devices to command and control each other without user intervention.”
If so a simple link like
would have taken you right to that quote

Text, besides being much lower bandwidth, is far more accessible, both by people with hearing, and visual difficulties, as well as those using alternate text only, or non standard browsers .

Mmy bad attitude had to do with how often I’m confronted with large videos (this one is 12meg), when simple text is not only all you need, but better than a video!
I want to stress, I’m not dogging on the video orator, my issue is that video is a poor choice for delivering dialogue!

bhaskar kotha avatar

HI All,
I am Working with Raspberry pi development for multimedia in raspbian.
I have ported gstreamer0-10 and gstreamer1.0 boath i have ported and all gst-plugins and gstreamer1-plugins i have ported and gst-omx also i have ported.
I have purchased Hardware decoders license.
How i can ensure my board is using hardware acceleration or decoders?

When i play with gst-launch playbin2 uri=file://hdfffsdf.mp4 file its playing but video is playing with very low speed.
before hardware decoders license apply also same speed and after enable hardware decoders license also same speed.
Then i searched for different forums i have found omxh264dec, omxmpeg4videodec are i=need to get in gst-inspect.
But i am not getting can any one tell me which plugin is having omxh264dec, mxmpeg4videodec ?

Please help me to get results

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