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January 29, 2003: FLAC Joins Xiph.Org

The Beginning

Many moons ago, the Ogg project started with a codec called ‘Squish.’ Squish was an attempt to build a royalty-free lossless audio codec. Someone had a trademark on the word ‘Squish,’ so the name was changed to ‘Ogg Squish.’ This was an extremely minor setback, but there was another obstacle to the project on the horizon.

In September of 1998, Fraunhofer IIS sent out ‘letters of infringement’ to several MPEG audio layer 3 development projects, and focus quickly changed to develop an alternative to mp3. The Ogg Vorbis project was born.

Back To The Future

While we were busy working on our own stuff, several projects popped up to embrace different aspects of open and free multimedia. One of the most impressive was FLAC, or Free Lossless Audio Codec. FLAC does what Squish was supposed to do. More importantly, with version 1.1.0 now released to the universe, it’s a more-than-capable full-featured codec that’s ready for prime-time.

Here at Xiph.Org, it’s our job to support open and free multimedia, even if it wasn’t created here. A couple months ago, I approached the head of the FLAC project, Josh Coalson, with a proposition: Why not join forces for global domination? FLAC will get access to Xiph’s resources and a laissez-faire approach to their codebase, and we get to put a working project in place to fill the gap left by a focus change that happened five years ago.

Josh sent out a missive to the FLAC development team. Open Source and Free Software projects are more often collaborative efforts than strictly the brainchild of one person. It was important to us that the FLAC team be cool with the idea. Happily, response was positive.

Today, Tomorrow and Beyond

Today, The FLAC project joins the Xiph.Org Foundation. FLAC’s mailing lists and website will be moved over to Xiph’s servers in the next few days, and our collaboration will be celebrated throughout the land.

What’s next? After the housewarming party, FLAC will continue to progress, and all the current Xiph projects (like Ogg Vorbis, Speex, Theora and Icecast) will keep going, as well. 2003 has already been an exciting year for Xiph, and we’re only twenty-nine days into it.

How Can You Help?

If you’re a software developer, please consider donating some time and effort to our projects by grabbing some source code and hacking away from the comfort of your chosen location.

If you’ve got fairly deep pockets and you want to help make sure that we can continue to kick ass and take names, please consider making a donation to our fine organization.

If you can’t afford to donate time or money, that’s okay, too. Just let your friends know that we’re here, so that they’re aware that patent and royalty-free alternatives to proprietary multimedia formats exist. We don’t have the resources available to evangelize and promote our work, so we need to rely on good word-of-mouth from kind folks like you.