I've never used Debian, but on my Ubuntu box I have installed ffmpeg from the repositories (just as it is, without any tweak or hack) and I can easily use it to transcode amr audio to (e.g.) mp3 and to transcode 3gp video to MOV encoded with h264, and to flv. On my machine, I can see ffmpeg is using libopencore-amrnb to decode amr audio files, and it is using libx264 to encode H264 video.

Now, I want to do the same on a server machine (a virtual server) where I will use PHP to call ffmpeg. I have no problem calling ffmpeg from PHP with exec(), that's not an issue.

The server has Debian Linux and it has an older version of ffmpeg installed which:

  1. does not have libopencore-amrnb
  2. does not have libx264

The system administrators told me that

  1. they cannot install a version of ffmpeg with support for amr codec because of some incompatibility with Debian
  2. libx264 is not available on Debian (as you hear it).

Is that true? Can't the mostpopular audio/video transcoding software work with some of the most common codecs on the most widely used Linux distribution??

Is there any alternative that could allow me to: 1. transcode amr audio files to mp3 2. transcode 3gp (mpeg4) video files to mov h264 video files (I.e. mov format, h264 codec)?


The Debian version of ffmpeg is stripped of some encoding codecs because of legal issues. Debian has the aim to be totally free so that no company can sue you because you used software/code you didn't pay for.

There is the repository debian-multimedia.org which offers packages with an unstripped ffmpeg, the problem is that when you include this repository in your normal debian installation you have to be very carefull, for example some packages from debian-multimedia break the standard vlc in debian since the underlying packages are not fully compatible.

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