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gstreamer1.0-libav - necessary for browsers to play videos?




Apropos of nothing but wishing to supply an explanation to anyone else who might run into the same issue.

It is my habit to perform apt update followed by apt full-upgrade every day on my testing systems. I get the impression that this may not be a common practice, but I've been doing this (apt full-upgrade or, earlier on, apt-get dist-upgrade) on a daily basis for years with only rare resulting problems, all of which have been fixed easily.

I also routinely run apt --purge autoremove and debfoster to clear out packages that are no longer needed.

The recent firefox-esr upgrade resulted in the following output in /var/log/apt/history.log:

Start-Date: 2017-06-16  10:15:49
Commandline: apt full-upgrade
Install: libjsoncpp1:amd64 (1.7.4-3, automatic)
Upgrade: firefox-esr:amd64 (45.9.0esr-1, 52.2.0esr-1~deb9u1)
End-Date: 2017-06-16  10:15:54

I ran debfoster, and it asked me if I wanted to keep gstreamer1.0-libav. I ran aptitude why gstreamer1.0-libav and got this result:

# aptitude why gstreamer1.0-libav
i   task-xfce-desktop Recommends libreoffice
i A libreoffice       Suggests   gstreamer1.0-libav

Hmmm. Looks like there's no reason to keep gstreamer1.0-libav, so I let debfoster remove it.

Following this, no browser on the three testing systems I have (firefox, epiphany, or qupzilla) would play any kind of video at youtube.com or at any other location.

Following re-installation of gstreamer1.0-libav all browsers were once again able to play videos.

I would have thought that aptitude why might have given me a hint about the browsers requiring this package. I've looked to be sure the browsers do, indeed, have all of their depends and recommends installed, and they do. (I do not install suggests as a rule, and I don't use any kind of proprietary codecs or player software. So I am dependent upon the DFSG-compliant software available in the Debian repositories to play any video or audio I'm going to use on these systems.)

This is, obviously, not a very serious problem, but it's an interesting one that might bite others as unwary as I. Maybe it's implicated somehow in some of the odd reports we see from time-to-time of someone who can't get a browser to play videos.

Worthy of a bug report?

Thank you for your time.

JP