Interview with Pontscho
This is an as-is extraction of the
posted on the
Hungarian Unix Portal
on 2002.03.04 and copied here with the permission of the original
author, trey. It was translated
to English by Gabucino.
A few months ago I talked with A'rpi - the author of
MPlayer - about how he began MPlayer, and what made him make the best
Media Player. Now I talked with Pontscho (Ponekker Zoltán, .so =)),
the creator of MPlayer's graphical interface.
In the meantime there have been changes around MPlayer, for which I
tried to seek answers.
- Could you tell us a bit about yourself (school, programming past, etc.)?
- Hm. I'm a 24 years old "old fox" ;). I graduated as medical
mechanical technician and maintainer. My first computer was a Commodore VIC-20.
For two weeks, because - although it's impossible to kill the machine from
keyboard - I did. Then came a C64, and the usual XT, etc. Since a few years
I'm member of fresh!mindworkz, as coder.
- How did you start using Linux? Why did you choose Linux?
- I loved hacking things at that time. Nowadays I'm bored with the
continuous messing to make for example an ISDN modem working. I've stayed
with it for the stability (although the strangest things occur sometims ...).
And because I can work on cross-platforms.
- You've mentioned you are member of a coder team. Is this still the
"who can code better 4K asm demo" thing from the old times? I though the
scene era is over.
- No :) Many people say the scene is dead, but it's not. Anyway
you're talking about the 4k intro category ;)
- The demos are still written under DOS?
- Only mazochists code under DOS now :) But rather nobody.
- I've heard that demos can't really be written under Linux. What is
- That's stupid. Everything is present for a good demo. However, those
"compatible" window managers really gives us a hard time. There are bunch
of JPEG loaders, sound systems are available, and also hell-a-lot of HW
accelerated OpenGL is available. It's just that Linux desktop isn't really
frequent on the scene. Maybe I could count on one hand how many teams
publish Linux demo/intros. We'd like to change this, theoretically the new
Fresh3D engine will have Linux support.
BTW A'rpi is a member of the Astral team, they code their demos primarily under
Linux, and port to win32 later.
- Are there any demos that we know from before, and are connected to you?
- Hm. Yes, but they don't run under Linux, The FPC's X compatibility is
nil, the gcc compiled objects' linkability is beneath all criticism. Not
under Linux. Under Win32. So it's very hard to work under crossplatform
with it. Under Win32, there's the 54 series in which I've participated.
(Konplex54, Synbolik54, Konputer 54, 54). And I had a party winner 4k
some years ago. (Written in dosemu :) I'd like to port Konplex54 to Linux,
amongst all Fresh stuff I like that one the most.
- When and how did you join the MPlayer development?
- As I recall, in 2000, on the Conference7007 (a party), A'rpi told
me he wrote an mpeg1 decoder in 5k with hardware acceleration. I asked him
to send it to me, then we argued it's fscking slow. And it segfaults, etc.
Then I realized I was at fault because I didn't RTFM, and the binary was
optimized to i686, and I had a k6/2. And they don't like each other. So
the first version on the configure script was written...
- What is your exact role in the MPlayer project?
- Good question. Are there roles? :)
- What tools do you use when you work? I mean hardware and software
- I have a 450@500 AMD K6/2 with a Matrox G400, for years. Tuner card,
Vortex2, GUS PnP (does anyone remember what is it?:) 384 MB RAM, DVD, stuff
like that. This is what I usually use, and it performs very well. For
example I can watch any DVD movie I'd like to. Apropo... If someone has a
DVD that he grew bored of, please send, because I don't have such, thus
the GUI's DVD support proceeds slowly. :))) Software? DosNavigator, Gimp, gcc
- Do you use other operating systems, Linux aside?
- Yes. Since it's near impossible to make a living of Linux-only programming.
- What to do you when you're not developing MPlayer?
- I work into other projects. Sometimes I check out the high school.
Maybe I'll have to enter the military in some months. Unfortunately.
- In his interview A'rpi mentioned you are the GUI hacked, and the master
of the CVS. What does this mean?
- I code the graphical user interface for MPlayer. Except for some
small changed, the whole is my work. The title "master of CVS" is irony.
Some time ago we and Gabucino (at that time I didn't know anything about CVS)
messed up our CVS repository on SourceForge :)
- Few months ago A'rpi announced he'll just handle the patches and managing
the CVS from now, since he doesn't have as much free time as he'd want to.
How did this affect the project?
- Good question. He just can't stand answering users' stupid questions ;)
- Many think the development of MPlayer has slowed down. There has been
one release this year (MPlayer 0.60 2002. January 02). I heard there are
problems with the CVS version, compilation problems, etc. The homepage
doesn't change. How do you evaluate this?
- Gabu has just told he's going to commit right now. He was on strike
until now. Anyways the development hasn't slowed down, but the current changes
are unseen to the users. It's hard to see for the end user that A'rpi has
begun to rewrite the user interface, and also the GUI code was rewritten
some weeks ago.
- As far as I know binary distribution of MPlayer is forbidden (because of
speed problems). However I've heard MPlayer's going to be included in the UHU
Linux. How did you solve UHU inclusion? Do you distribute the source?
- No. Since the UHU team has helped us very much (server, hardware),
we've mostly overcame the inclusion problem (Don't start celebrating, there
won't be .deb, .rpm packages for a while). As we have daily contact with them,
they can solve the inclusion. But there have been numerous arguments about
- About UHU Linux... A'rpi mentioned you are working together with the
UHU developers. Why did you choose the UHU Linux?
- Because we sympathize with their efforts. And despite all the rumors,
it's going to be good. They've worked hard, and it became useful. It's a fact,
it's not for servers yet. However it's perfect for desktops.
- I know you're working on a secret project =) Especially as I already
tested the stuff. Could you fill us on the details? Or is this still a secret?
- :))))) I plan to release it on christmas, especially as it still
needs some development. Oh well. It is going to be an installer for MPlayer.
In theory it'll be capable of downloading and compiling the source with the
necessary fonts, skins. But I haven't been able to touch it lately, due to
short free time.
- Where is MPlayer development going? Do you work on new functions, or
you concentrate on speed optimizations, and cleaning the code?
- Code cleaning. The source is very strange in some places :)
- Have you been contacted by other distributions (SuSE, Red Hat, etc),
with offering to distribute MPlayer?
- The RedHat just flamed us, however we also had our opinions of them,
mostly due to gcc 2.96 ;) A hungarian guy contacted us from SuSE, but the
packability wasn't even as possible as today. (Wow the Godfather has just
stripped his wife:)
- How did the Joe Barr article occur to project members?
- I don't care. Others started flaming :) But nobody really cares about
articles like this. The stuff is still just hobby.
- There was a little mess with the OS2 MPlayer code. According to you the
russian guy "stole" the code. What was the outcome? Have you managed to
- Huh I really don't know much about this. I didn't care, and there
were others to flame 'em :)
- What's your opinion about the future? What are the goals?
- Hm. I think it has future. Taking a look at the Freshmeat.net
"stats". Goals? Good question. I'd like to finish the incomplete GUI
features (playlist, etc). Also release the Installer. After that, hell knows.
- Any comments?
- Yes. What's my password on portal.fsn.hu ? :) When will you fix the
Anyways, I think MPlayer became a very good software. The documentation is
also amongst the best ones. Far the best amongst average project documentations.
I've also learned much from the code, then used the knowledge in other
projects. (Many of our first placed demos has ideas from MPlayer code)