Opencast 2.1: Release Notes

A feature rich, flexible Opencast

In the spirit of moving forward from 2.0, Opencast 2.1 provides, amongst other features, a more stable and flexible backend infrastructure courtesy of Karaf - “the next generation OSGI framework”.

The new version provides a lot of User Interface (UI) improvements and fixes some Admin UI issues. It also provides additional internationalization support, as well as a Dashboard that provides a quick overview of processing states.

Opencast 2.1 also introduces a way to access the REST-endpoint documentation from within the Admin UI, which paves the way to allowing us to remove the legacy (1.x-style) Admin UI in upcoming versions. Although the legacy UI is still usable for some tasks, some areas feel broken and should be removed as the underlying logic has changed (in the transition from Opencast 1.x to 2.x).

New Features and Improvements

  • Switch from Apache Felix to Apache Karaf - 2.1 sees the move from an OSGI runtime (Felix) to a flexible OSGI Environment (Karaf). This is the most prominent feature in 2.1. It ensures that going forward Opencast will have a solid, flexible backend infrastructure.

  • Addition of a new "Assets" tab - The Event details has a new tab, “Assets”, that gives additional information about all the media, meta-data catalogues and publications.

  • New service health endpoint - Monitoring tools like Nagios or New Relic can mostly be configured to check the health status of the software. This service health endpoint provides the information to indicate to Monitoring tools that Opencast works as it is supposed to.

  • Rewritten workspace - This is the first step to addressing NFS latency issues. In the past the following scenario was observed: “A file has been written to the workspace. The write call returns, then another service tries to access the previously written file but gets a "not found" error. Then, some time later the file appears.” This rewrite ensures that all workspaces on all nodes are able to see a file after it is written.

  • A dashboard for the new Admin UI - The dashboard shows the number of jobs for different filter sets. This only works with the events module for now.

  • i18n : Introduction of Chinese Translation to Opencast - The introduction of Chinese Traditional as a new Translation brings Opencast to the position of being fully translated into 5 languages (English, French, German, Spanish and Chinese). The Translation has also been moved to Crowdin which allows a greater Community to help with the translation efforts, also enabling people who do not write source-code to contribute to the internationalization of Opencast.

Important Administrative Notes

  • Apache Karaf : The move from Apache Felix to Apache Karaf resulted in some changes in the way Opencast is built and run. The build infrastructure has changed, and the result is a simpler build. When you build opencast you now just run maven with much fewer parameters i.e.

    `mvn clean install`

    This creates all the files necessary to run Opencast either in an all-in-one or distributed setup. The outputs of the build are now stored in the build folder.

    There you will find .tar.gz packages for:

    filename installation
    opencast-dist-admin-2.1.2.tar.gz admin node
    opencast-dist-ingest-2.1.2.tar.gz ingest node
    opencast-dist-presentation-2.1.2.tar.gz presentation node
    opencast-dist-worker-2.1.2.tar.gz worker node
    opencast-dist-allinone-2.1.2.tar.gz all-in-one installation

    For your convenience the all-in-one installation is automatically extracted to the build folder.

  • New Configuration File Structure :

    • Main config is now this contains all the configuration keys that have previously been in There is still a file which is automatically generated during the build process and should not be changed.
    • Remember to adjust the bind address for public installations.
  • New start scripts :

    • start-opencast now runs an interactive shell by default.
    • Use log:tail to tail the logs.

How to Upgrade

Note that backing up your Opencast instance before doing a major update is strongly recommended.

  1. Check out/download Opencast 2.1
  2. Stop your current Opencast instance
  3. Back up Opencast files and database (optional)
  4. Run the appropriate database upgrade script(s)
    • docs/upgrade/1.6_2.0.0 -> docs/upgrade/2.0.1_2.0.2
  5. Review the configuration changes and adjust your configuration accordingly
  6. Update the third party tools as documented
  7. Build Opencast 2.1
  8. Start Opencast

Additional Notes About 2.1.2

Opencast 2.1.2 is a bug fix release that fixes some security issues of Opencast 2.1.2 and a couple of minor issues. It provides a resolution of the issue of Opencast hanging if ActiveMQ is not available and an additional assembly that creates an ingest-only server for the Opencast Cluster.

Additional Notes About 2.1.1

Opencast 2.1.1 is a bug fix release that fixes some major issues of Opencast 2.1.0. In Opencast 2.1.0 the distributed setup had a problem with the worker-node not starting properly. This is now fixed.

Opencast 2.0: Release Notes

Opencast Matterhorn becomes simply Opencast

For a long time Matterhorn was the one project of the Opencast community and it was hard to distinguish between the two names. With the new major release and the move towards Apereo, the Board decided to harmonize the names and drop the former codename “Matterhorn”. Hence, Matterhorn is dead, long live Opencast!

New Features

  • New administrative user interface – One of the most obvious changes in the new release is the new administrative user interface. It has been completely rewritten from scratch, using up-to-date technologies and a cleaner design. For more details, have a look at the Opencast Users Guide.
  • New Engage player – Opencast 2.0 now offers a HTML5 video player. Its user-interface is accessible: you can control the player with keyboard-shortcuts, ARIA profiles support screen-readers and captions are supported. The architecture is very modular in design so that new plugins can easily be created. HLS is now supported as a streaming protocol but RTMP is still available through a Flash fallback.
  • New media module – The Media Module has been slightly updated. It offers a new tile design which adapts to different screen sizes, from mobile devices to regular desktop resolutions. Within the Media Module configuration an easy selection of various players has been implemented so that the administrator can define the default player to be used.
  • New FFmpeg-based video editor backend – This change allows us to get rid of the GStreamer dependency.
  • New video segmenter – Opencast 2.0 comes with a new video segmenter based on the FFmpeg select filter. It makes the process much faster and (if configured properly) will even allow detection of scene changes in presenter videos.
  • New silence detector – As with the video segmenter, the silence detector has been replaced with an FFmpeg-based implementation.
  • New documentation – Until now, the Opencast documentation was confusing because it was split-up into several wikis and people never knew where to look for a topic. All official documentation can now be found at The documentation is also included in the source code, so that it is connected with the current state of development. Apart from the official documentation, two wikis still exist. These are the Opencast Adopters Wiki (meant for users to share their guides) and the Opencast Development Wiki (meant for storing working drafts).

Important Administrative Notes

  • Apache ActiveMQ – Since Opencast 2, the Apache ActiveMQ message broker is used to enable an asynchronous, fast and reliable data exchange between back-end and user interface. It requires, however, to run ActiveMQ as external service, much like running a separate database (e.g. MariaDB).
  • No GStreamer 0.10 dependency – For a long time, Opencast has used GStreamer 0.10 and the Java bindings for that version. This GStreamer version has been deprecated for years and is slowly disappearing from all major operating systems. Upgrading GStreamer proved nearly impossible since there are no Java bindings for the newer versions. Therefore, we decided to get rid of GStreamer, mainly by replacing it with FFmpeg.
  • Hold State – The new admin UI does not support hold-states anymore.

Removed Components

  • Reference capture agent – For a long time, Opencast came with a reference capture agent, providing a free, open source software capture agent. In the last years, however, it was mainly replaced by other capture agents. One reason for that was the fact that the development of the reference capture agent itself has come to a halt due to lack of interest. That is why it was decided to separate the capture agent code from the Opencast core and move it into its own project.
  • GStreamer service – As outlined before, GStreamer 0.10 has been removed from Opencast 2.0. Many parts have been thus replaced. One module that has not been replaced, but simply removed instead, is the GStreamer service, which provided a backend for other modules to talk to the deprecated GStreamer version using the deprecated Java bindings.

How to Upgrade

Note that backing up your Opencast instance before doing a major update is strongly recommended.

  1. Check out/download Opencast 2.0
  2. Stop your current Opencast instance
  3. Back up Opencast files and database (optional)
  4. Run the appropriate database upgrade script (docs/upgrade/1.6_to_2.0)
  5. Review the configuration changes and adjust your configuration accordingly
  6. Update the third party tools as documented
  7. Rebuild the search indexes
    • Delete (or move) your search indices
      • ${}/searchindex
      • ${}/seriesindex
      • ${}/schedulerindex
    • The indexes will be rebuild automatically when re-starting Opencast. Rebuilding the indices can take quite a while depending on the number of recordings in your system.
  8. Build Opencast 2.0
  9. Start Opencast