What's the difference between ffmpeg and gstreamer?

Aleve Sicofante asicofante at gmail.com
Fri Dec 27 07:02:23 PST 2013

Hi everyone. I'm new to this list. I'd like to ask a very simple question:

What's the difference between ffmpeg and gstreamer?

On mpv's discussion list, I was told the following:

[ME] You say "it's all FFmpeg anyway". One of the things I don't quite get
yet about Linux video is what's the roll of gstreamer. Isn't it an
alternative to FFmpeg?

[REPLY FROM LIST MEMBER] No. For the most common codecs, gstreamer just
uses FFmpeg.

Is that correct? I'm having a hard time understanding how video works on
Linux. Can anyone point me to good sources to read about it? For a while, I
thought gstreamer was indeed an alternative to ffmpeg, but I'm very
confused now.

I understand ffmpeg decodes the video stream and the different players
based on it present the video (they "render" it to the screen). But since
gstreamer can use ffmpeg through a plugin, but can also not use that
plugin, I'm confused about gstreamer's role.

So what are the conceptual differences between these two projects?

Thanks for your replies.

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