back to article iPlayer finally makes friendly with Mac and Linux

The BBC has finally released a desktop version of iPlayer that works with both Mac and Linux computers. Auntie said yesterday that fanboys, who could previously only stream BBC programmes, can now download iPlayer Desktop as well. iPlayer Desktop, the Corporation’s seven day TV catch-up service, was developed in conjunction …


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  1. Thomas Jolliffe


    I gotta say, I'm getting bored of this anti-Apple stance which seems to be so very popular at El Reg Towers these days. I primarily use OS X at home, though still use Windows and a variety of Linux distros on a daily basis - but, because among the various machines I happen to use, there's a Mac, I'm a fanboy?

    Wake me up when this place employs some (more) journos whose heads aren't stuck up their own rear end.

  2. Andy
    Black Helicopters

    AIR? Eww.

    So now they're not just in bed with Microsoft: it's a threesome, with Adobe too.

    At the risk of extending the metaphor into unpleasant territory, it feels like they're doing something else to the licence payers. Using my money to further the business of private corporations? I'm not a fan.

    Still, I guess this is progress, of a kind. I'll be sticking with the more-horrible-but-more-convenient Flash version, till they drop the DRM (it's no use pretending that those much higher quality 720p recordings on torrent sites don't exist anyway – dropping DRM can't make the problem any worse!).

  3. Anonymous Coward

    Just what we need -

    another media player. I think every web site should have its own.

    Mine's the one with its pockets full of single-site media players.

  4. fluffy


    Uh, you realize that Flash is an Adobe product too, right?

  5. Antidisestablishmentarianist

    AIR? Ewww

    So now they're not just in bed with Microsoft: it's a threesome, with Adobe too.

    I mean that's not very open or free is it. Everything should be free, open, and free. Don't forget open. Very important.

    You know, until everything is free, open and free, I will boycott everything.

    It is very important you know.

  6. Bill Cumming
    IT Angle

    Who cares? this is a fun 3some!

    Well i got BBC app that uses an Adobe App for DRM issues and downloaded a MP4 file which plays fine on my old laptop.

    What other TV channel lets Linux users Download a program in the UK Legally?

    answers on the back of a stamp.....

  7. Anonymous Coward

    BBC and XP Pro?

    I think that the problems were not so much about shutting Mac users out but more along lines of snagging it into a single proprietary OS when one of the Beebs employees had left the organisation that supplied the chosen OS.

    Probably perceived as a conflict of interest?

  8. Joe

    Come on whingers!

    It's not that bad. They had to use someone's technology, after all! Even the BBC Micro was bought in from Acorn, remember?

    I've tried the iPlayer downloads and found it rather nice, so far. A few things need fixing here and there, but it is only a beta at the moment, after all.

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Thomas Jolliffe

    You are right Thomas, they are wrong to call you a fanboi.

    You are a unique special flower, not conforming to the designs of the man by buying the beautifully designed, never-has-an-instability-or-bug smugly superior, not to mention cool {iPod/iPhone/iBook/iMac/iDon'tEffinCare} from apple.

    Just like everyone else.

    Conforming is the new rebellion! (Oh but wait, you did it because it's a superior product, and it was a well researched and thought trough descision etc. etc. etc.)

    Carry on then.

  10. Nick L

    just what exactly

    does this new downloader give me that iplayer-dl doesn't ?

  11. Rob Crawford

    In the current economic climate

    It's good to see that the victims of ritual self abuse can still manage to make their bleating herd (sic)

    Really children stop whinging, it's there for Linux and the other one

    If you don't like it then go back to your crayons or combing you teeth (or whatever you do when you army broadcasting nulls)

  12. Thomas Jolliffe
    Dead Vulture


    @Anonymous Coward: "You are a unique special flower"

    Stopped reading after this bit, so apologies (well, not really apologies, but whatever) if you actually had something constructive to say.

    I think I made it quite clear that I am not in fact anything resembling a fanboy. I don't go around having a go at people who use other platforms, so why am I subjected to this pre-judgement just because I have a Mac (as well, as I said above, as a bunch of other machines running different platforms)? Presumably it's because there's a hardcore of fucking irritating Mac users who bang on and on about how great Apple is and would quite happily be Steve's sex slave for a year in exchange for a shiny new MBP - believe me, I understand the irritation with these people, but it doesn't mean that we're all like that.

    When the fanboys come crashing through the wall, imposing their opinions on all in sight, I'm the first to complain. But when I'm attacked purely for using a specific platform, I'm going to have the same reaction.

    @Michael: "Protip : if you aren't a fanboy, don't answer to his name."

    Maybe you have a point, but I'm sick of this assumption that everyone who's ever used a Mac has horns growing out of the side of their head and will defend their beloved Apple to the death. My post wasn't about defending Apple, it was about not standing for this apparently-fashionable hatred of all things Apple (justified or otherwise).

  13. Gareth Irwin

    Its all unimportant

    When you have a hack of XBMC on your apple tv with iplayer on but I did download it and it said click here to watch tv which I did and it took me straight back to Safari.

    I hate that, Whats the bloody point of that.

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not Kontiki.

    "The downloadable media player, which is based on Verisign's Kontiki peer-to-peer distribution platform". Some fact-checking required here. It's HTTP download.


  15. Ari
    Jobs Horns


    I do agree with the first poster. Although I am a former windows professional I still prefer mac for most my daily work. It's just less hassle for many things. In other stuff it may be better to use win or linux. Use the correct tool for the job.

    I am a music hobbyist and the mac just works nicer in that domain.

    If I was a hardcore gamer, or a CAD professional I would be running Windows. Simple.

    Not a fanboi (the companies and it's founders ethics are possibly worse than Gates') but the hardware/OS combo is pretty good. If you're willing to a bit extra for just that.

    Jobs as the devil 'cause I couldn't get tux, gates and jobs into one icon..

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Dead Vulture

    RE: bad research

    It took two days to get this article out and it talks about the player using Kontiki, which it doesn't any more.

    Yeesh Reg, that's not very good.

  17. Anonymous Coward

    RE: Cluebat

    "does this new downloader give me that iplayer-dl doesn't ?"

    The being legal part, and hence the lack of prison ass-rape scenarios.

  18. Geoff Johnson

    @Nick L

    It gives you DRM. Surely you want your videos to be unplayable don't you?

  19. Gerry

    @Antidisestablishmentarianist @Nick L


    In a market economy the BBC has got to work with other people.

    There are many reasons intrinsic to the BBC why they would be better off running FLOSS. But even if the BBC were running iPlayer on FLOSS, the technical people have to earn a living. The BBC would have to be in bed with someone.

    @Nick L

    Well, now, a non-technical person can choose a computer by price (and by sheer chance gain extra benefits, e.g., freedom from viruses) and watch or download programmes from BBC iPlayer, probably oblivious to the fact they are running GNU/Linux, but the good news is, that even if GNU/Linux brings you out in hives, the increasing use of it with drive down the price of other software and so benefit users of that software. This will be caused by organisations such as the BBC enabling "it just works" platform neutrality (as they should have done from the start, but at least it's happening now)

    More generally, on the same topic a broadsheet website contained this gem "...though 85% of iPlayer users are on Windows-based machines, there has been pressure on the BBC to open up the full service to users of all operating systems..."

    1) as if there's a threshold below which it's OK to discriminate

    2) failing to acknowledge that were it not for that 15% (and growing) then the 85% (and falling) would be paying even more for their software than they are now

  20. Tom

    ta for nowt

    On two of my Ubuntu machines the flash player was updated yesterday from 9 - 10 and now all flash is black and doesnt work!

  21. This post has been deleted by its author

  22. A J Stiles
    Thumb Down

    If it's proprietary, it's bad

    If it's proprietary, it's bad.

    If it's Open, it's good.

    It used to be the case that anyone could build a radio or TV receiver using standard parts that were available anywhere. The use of proprietary, Caged software is comparable to requiring anybody wishing to build a radio receiver to have to buy a particular part which only one company is allowed to make. That company end up being in a position effectively to dictate who can and who cannot build their own radio set; if you aren't using a platform for which Adobe have deigned to make available their software, then you are locked out. That company are also in a position to hold the BBC, and hence the licence-paying public, to ransom: if they ever decide they want more money, then all they need do is threaten to stop people's sets from receiving any new programmes.

    At least if the software were Open Source, anybody who could be bothered to would be able to compile it on any processor they wanted to (yes, probably even PIC).

  23. Anonymous Coward

    Conflicts of interest

    AC: "when one of the Beebs employees had left the organisation that supplied the chosen OS.

    Probably perceived as a conflict of interest?"

    You've got it the wrong way round. Erik Huggers, who left Microsoft to work for the BBC and has now taken over from Ashley Highfield as Director of Future Media and Technology Division, is perceived as being the one who has opened up the iPlayer.

    Ashley Highfield, however, paraded on stage with Bill Gates and a mock-up of the iPlayer pushing Vista six months before Vista came out, and, a suspiciously short time after leaving the BBC (contractural obligations?) is now working for Microsoft. That didn't surprise many people.

    The BBC is a better place than it used to be.

  24. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @Just what exactly

    Just what exactly it gives you is the ability to download on Linux and Mac devices, which was the whole point of the article. D'oh!

  25. Anonymous Coward

    Adobe AIR

    Only supports a few select Linux distributions anyway. I can't use it here so I'll carry on using the iPlayer in my Nokia N96.

  26. Chris iverson

    Macs better for music

    debatable at best. Cubase on XP with dual core Athlon and 2 GB RAM with M-Audio kit seems to work very nicely for all the recordings I have helped with. Not a fan of pro tools

  27. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    AC 20:14

    Perceived conflict of interest is often no conflict of interest at all just merely an awareness of what less informed people might allege or speculate?

  28. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Version?

    Can I get it for my BBC B?

  29. Antidisestablishmentarianist


    Oh dear. Someone took my pisstake seriously,

  30. Walker
    Thumb Up

    The guy who is devastated at Mac users being called fanbois is hilarious.

    Just sayin'.

  31. Peter Hewitt


    Actually, according to the BBC Internet Blog this new version won't use p2p at all and instead is now being based on a simple download from their servers.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Some random rants etc...

    @Chris iverson

    WTF has the iPlayer (surely copyright infringement Steve?) on the Mac and Linux got to do with Cubase?!

    It's about time BBC! It makes sense to use a framework like Air, although it is a shame there isn't an open source equivalent. Still, it could be worse, it could be silverlight. What more important is that the BBC have actively discriminated against license payers. they should never have released a Windows only version of anything. Channel 4 and Five can do what they want, I don't directly fund them (OK, I sort of do, they get a token amount from TV Licensing) in the way that I fund the Beeb.

  33. Anonymous Coward

    "Only supports a few select Linux distributions anyway."

    And there lies Linux's problem.

    Windows, write for one, will work for all current versions

    Write for Mac, will work for all current versions.

    Write for Linux, will work for some, then rewrite for a few more, then rewrite for some more, etc etc....Oh and then moan when it is supported.

    Anyone else see the reason Windows is still way out ahead?

    (PS yes I have an Unbuntu box, but I'm also not deluded)

    Flame on kiddies....

  34. Vincent
    Gates Horns

    The whole "Apple/Mac Fanboy" thing...

    Can we accept that it was most likely a tongue-in-cheek comment and move on? We all know that the occasional joke is put in to an article here every now and then. Besides, it doesn't really matter anyway. If you can't laugh at yourself then you might as well catch the fail express.

    The BBC iPlayer Downloader thingy-whatever-it's-called doesn't work on my computer, not the last time I tried it anyway. I just had to keep installing it over and over again, but it wouldn't work. Eventually I just gave up. I may give it another go some time.

    Evil Gates because the machine that it doesn't work on runs Vista/ D'oh!

  35. John Blagden
    Paris Hilton

    Re @Just what exactly

    I think the BBC iPlayer (Mac) can only work on Intel Macs. The iPlayer Downloader from Lawrence Dudley works on PowerPC Macs as well.

    Paris, because she probably knows more than one way..........

  36. Stef
    Thumb Up

    It works, and that's all that matters

    99% of my viewing is programs downloaded via P2P or via iPlayer.

    Whilst it may be fashionable amongst Daily Mailtards to bash the Beeb, it's way ahead of the other on content and delivery, no contest.

    Worth the licence fee? Every penny.

  37. Tom Chiverton Silver badge
    Thumb Up

    "Only supports a few select Linux distributions anyway."

    Although officially Adobe "only supports a few select Linux distributions", the AIR runtime should run on just about anything made in the last year or so, basically as long as it can find the libraries it needs, it'll be fine.

    See the last two questions on for instance.

  38. Geoff Mackenzie

    @Stu Reeves

    Write it for Windows, it works on one (monopoly controlled) platform.

    Write it for a POSIX OS, it works on every POSIX OS.

    Notice the Mac and Linux versions coincide? No coincidence.

    Get a real computer.

  39. Rob
    Thumb Down

    What's the point...

    When you can just view it in Flash on the iPlayer website. Their newer higher res videos actually look pretty good in full screen.

    I actually just tried the new AIR based downloader on Ubuntu, and the programme I downloaded had obviously lower picture quality (more blocky) when comapared to the web version. Good one beeb.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Personally if I used the BBC i-player I would rather just view the stuff online rather than having to install something additional onto my computer. I'm sure it runs some sort of additional services of some sort in the background like "4 OD" does.

    By using the flash player on the website you don't need to start up a program to watch, it works fine in the web browser. Now...if it gives you the option to save the video file for later use that could be quite good, but i'm pretty sure any videos are taken off the service after 7 days??

    I would rather see them getting the mobile phone version (S60 in particular) working over a 3.5g connection. At the moment if you try and view a video it says you must connect via Wi-Fi to view a video.

    That's pretty useless because if i'm at home I would just use my computer anyway, and theres not much in the way of free Wi-Fi in the North West either.

    Also just a small thought but doesn't making downloadable apps like this move us further away from the cloud computing melarky I keep hearing is the next big thing? I can see how cloud computing can be good in a business environment, but then I hear about how Windows 7 is supposed to be the last traditional windows operating system and it just sounds silly.

  41. TimM

    Hi-res flash

    "When you can just view it in Flash on the iPlayer website. Their newer higher res videos actually look pretty good in full screen."

    Have to admit, it's damn good using the High-res flash stream.

    So much so that I'm convinced that HD streaming is not that far fetched in Broadband Britain, considering it was streaming full resolution SD telly on my lowly ADSL quite happily.

    However, I did note it didn't offer the high res stream in all browsers (may even only be IE and could possibly be just Windows).

    Now if only the Wii would add an iPlayer channel with the High Res streams (rather than use the very poor quality stream via the Wii Browser).

    Can we expect the same from other TV channels? No, because the competition muppets would rather stamp out a single common platform and force them all to compete with their own players, so lots of different software for us and a right mess made of our PCs! :(

  42. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    @ Stu Reeves - versions

    "Windows, write for one, will work for all current versions"

    Sorry - wrong. The iPlayer at launch only supported ONE version of Windows - XP (with a paritcular Service Pack to boot). Vista was already out.

    As you said, "Flame on, kiddies...."

    (On a more serious note, the Linux Standards Base was formulated to address these sort of problems. If you look at your updates carefully, you'll see it mentioned from time to time as more and more things are made to conform with it.)

  43. lusuwzhgdfdk

    Source code?

    Is the source code available, so that I can compile it on my own POSIX-compliant system? Or have they supplied binaries for my NetBSD/alpha system?

  44. Daniel Harris


    Are you serious? I hope your being sarcastic. If not why on earth would you even think that would ever happen with something created for the BBC? That's just silly!

  45. James Prior

    @ TimM

    I get "Play High Quality" on Firefox (and on a Mac) so it's not dependant on browser or O/S.

    The one thing I did notice is that it's not available for all shows.

  46. druck Silver badge

    Flash elsewhere too

    I'm never going to use the download client even if it wasn't DRM infested p2p nonsense, for a start there's not enough storage on the EEE to download anything, and Flash works fine (well just a little bit jerky on this 701 unless I wind the clock speed up to 900MHz).

    What I want is the other channels to follow the BBC's lead on Flash not the download element. Channel 4 is still Windows only despite having a streaming capability - why?

    ITV use bloody Silverlight for god knows what reason, but then I haven't found anything worth watching on ITV since the last millennium in any case.

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