Radio France, a public service radio broadcaster and the country’s biggest Internet radio broadcaster, is actively contributing to free and open source software for Internet audio streaming. In addition to code contributions and bug fixes, the broadcaster contracts core contributors to key open source projects, and helps introduce the software to others.
Radio France shares nearly 30 of its own software solutions as open source, developing them publicly on the well-known code platforms Github and Gitlab. In addition, it contributes to other projects such as M3U8, a parser for Apple’s HLS audio streaming software, and SRT, an open source video streaming solution.
“All of us in the teams focusing on the network, web sites, or on our smartphone applications work with open source every day, and we can contribute our code to upstream projects whenever we want,” Maxime Bugeia, one of Radio France’s lead developers on the cloud and infrastructure team, told the European Commission’s Open Source Observatory.
One particular example is Liquidsoap, an audio streaming script language to create, combine and transform audio sources. Liquidsoap is a favourite at Radio France’s Direction du Numérique (IT department), the unit which develops, hosts, and manages Radio France's websites and audio streaming services.
“We test and debug Liquidsoap, and contract its developers to help us with projects. Code that is created as a result of those projects is available to us, and publicly shared with everybody else,” Mr Bugeia said.
Used by millions
Liquidsoap is now used by all the Radio France channels (France Inter, FranceInfo, FIP, France Culture, France Bleu, France Musique and Mouv). “This is how we do live radio broadcast online,” Mr Bugeia said. In total, Radio France’s streaming audio reaches 2 million listeners daily, with an average of 200,000 simultaneously.
The Radio France software developer talked about the broadcaster’s use of free and open source software at Fosdem, Europe’s largest open source conference, which took place in Brussels in February.
According to Mr Bugeia, the use of free and open source software is strongly encouraged by the technical teams, who take care to build a streaming architecture that will not lock them into a particular cloud platform. Radio France has no overall policy of using open source software, but when talking to management a good argument is the lack of licence costs, Mr Bugeia said.
The streaming platform is based on well-known open source solutions including Kubernetes for Linux containers, data centre configuration tool Terraform, event monitoring service Prometheus, event dashboard system Grafana, and web server Nginx.