George Farris alerted me to a change in the way CBC does radio streaming on the Internet. Previously, CBC supported QuickTime, Real Player and Windows Media player. As of August 30, 2004 they only support Windows Media player. CBC has an announcement about this change which they ironically call “Live CBC Radio streaming improvements”. You can find the link to it on this page.
From the perspective of a desktop Linux user this decision is bad. There is no easy way to listen to Windows Media streams from Linux. Real Player was not open source but at least it worked in Linux. Since the CBC audio streams were the only reason I had Real Player installed I guess I can remove it now. I always felt bad having it installed anyway.
From a free software perspective this decision doesn’t really change much. Both Real and Windows Media are proprietary formats. I wish there was some way to make the general computing audience understand that free does not equal standard. A standard way to stream audio or video over the Internet would allow anyone to do their own implementation. The free downloads offered by Microsoft and Real in the form of Windows Media player and Real Player are just a way to lock the user into their technology. Standards that allow others to innovate drive the world forward not proprietary lock-in.
There is hope for standards based Internet media. Xiph.Org is building a set of truly free audio and video codecs. Also, Fluendo is building a free software streaming media server that will use the free codecs from Xiph.Org.