.Net, GitHub, OpenBSD and wider long term Jellyfin vision and strategy

I deeply supported the fork from Emby as I’m not a big supporter of these attempts from Emby and Plex to ring fence people’s liberties. Unfortunately, in the media world, DRM, etc. this is all a big challenge but as long as you’re not doing anything illegal, your liberties should not be restricted.

Given the reasons that led the Jellyfin community to move away from Emby, I would like to ask the Jellyfin community the following:

a) I’m oblivious to the reasons for using the .Net framework (not a programmers), but is the .Net framework fully open source and free? If that is the case, why are the OpenBSD people not porting it to their system?

b) I note that Jellyfin is on GitHub. Knowing that GitHub is now property of Microsoft, are the Jellyfin community not concerned that Microsoft will eventually add restriction on the Jellyfin codebase which then restricts users? Let’s face it. Microsoft has to produce dividends for its shareholder and I don’t believe they are in the “let’s do good for the community” unless there is a benefit for them somewhere which eventually translates into money? Would it not be more sensible to move the development to GitLab or similar truly open/free solutions?

c) Finally, any plans to make binaries of Jellyfin available for OpenBSD? GIven the mission statement of OpenBSD, I can see this being a bit complicated but ultimately, Linux is doomed on the long run. Its become such a bloated system over the last 20 years that I don’ t see an open/free future for Linux anymore. Its attracted too much interest from corporations.

Apologies if this may seem beyond the scope of Jellyfin but after migrating from Plex to Emby to Jellyfin over the years, i think that the Jellyfin community has an opportunity to think about its long term vision and strategy around freedom and openness.

I look forward to an interesting debate on this.


a) There’s a bit of confusing nuance with Microsoft’s product naming (as usual, it is Microsoft). The .Net framework is Windows only and is required for a lot of applications to function properly there. Jellyfin is using Dotnet Core, which is Open Source and licensed under the MIT license. As for why OpenBSD aren’t porting it, the short answer is that they kinda can’t right now. The dotnet folks are still working to get builds capable of running on BSD. Most of what I see them working towards is FreeBSD based, but I imagine once that’s sorted it’s trivial to include OpenBSD for the community. In my experience, the OpenBSD folks are also shall we say more strongly opinionated, so technical limitations aside there might be some personal objections there as well. That will be for them to decide.

b) The project is licensed under the GPL. Microsoft can’t legally do anything to us without violating that license. Several of us are obviously leery given their history, but at this moment there’s not a compelling reason to move the project. The fact of the matter is that Github still has the largest community of active users. There’s no technical reasons to keep us tied to Github, but it does give us the largest pool of potential contributors. The project survives on volunteer time and outside contributors are a large part of that. We could move to hosted Gitlab, or even host our own instance/use Gitea, but if doing that cuts out 20% of our community contributions it would hurt.

c) Depends entirely on the dotnet folks. Once there’s a stable dotnet build available we can investigate it. A while back I was doing testing with FreeBSD and it wasn’t in a good state for us. https://github.com/mcarlton00/jellyfin-bsd-testing

Thank mcarlton00 for taking the time to clarify my concerns. I understand now the reasoning. I think its really important that the Jellyfin project keeps faith to its open and free spirit now and in the future.

I really hope to see a Jellyfin port to OpenBSD at some point in the future as I can see it becoming my future daily OS. Linux has let me down, but that was inevitable. The economic interest around it are so huge …

Also, something I somehow forgot to mention about the why dotnet is (pretty obviously) that we’re a fork. Emby was using Mono for a bunch of stuff and we transitioned away from that to Dotnet Core proper. Lost BSD support in the process, but gained other nicer features of the language and now we’re not locked to older versions. Discussions pop up from time to time about changing languages, but there’s just so much code and functionality that if we tried a full rewrite in another language we wouldn’t see feature parity for years.

The project has committed to staying Open Source and free forever here. We do accept donations, but these primarily go to hosting costs, api access to outside services, and occasionally licenses/hardware for devs if something is needed (for example, to publish to the Roku store, you must have a Roku device). We personally don’t ever see that money, and it’s all tracked through OpenCollective.