I'm building a Linux embedded OS usingYocto in which I have to include SoX to perform downsampling of .wav files. SoX is under GPL or LGPL license (the downsampling function I use is under LGPL)

When I build my Linux, an error occurs as SoX depends on ffmpeg. When I add it, another error occurs :

ERROR: Nothing PROVIDES 'ffmpeg' (but /home/myHome/Yocto/poky/meta-openembedded/meta-multimedia/recipes-multimedia/sox/sox_14.4.2.bb DEPENDS on or otherwise requires it)
ffmpeg was skipped: because it has a restricted license 'commercial'. Which is not whitelisted in LICENSE_FLAGS_WHITELIST

If I set LICENSE_FLAGS_WHITELIST="commercial" in conf/local.conf, as suggested, it builds.

However, I have a question: why using ffmpeg does require "commercial" license, as it is licensed under the GNU Lesser General Public License (LGPL) version 2.1 or later (according to https://www.ffmpeg.org/legal.html)?

How can I avoid to set this flag?

  • Exactly which flags did you build ffmpeg with? Specifically, did you use --enable-nonfree to include the Fraunhofer AAC library? Commented Jan 30 at 15:12
  • well, actually I don't know, there is no information about it popping when I build my Yocto. And I'm far from being a Yocto expert ... I'll try to find it out from logs. But I did not set any flags on my own, I just add ffmpeg in my recipe
    – A.Joly
    Commented Jan 30 at 15:25
  • It looks like this flag is used in the ffmpeg_4.4.bb recipe. PACKAGECONFIG[fdk-aac] = "--enable-libfdk-aac --enable-nonfree,--disable-libfdk-aac,fdk-aac" => I suppose it concerns the library you're talking about
    – A.Joly
    Commented Jan 30 at 15:38
  • Yeah, that makes ffmpeg include a non-free library so it sounds like the correct behaviour - as the legal page makes clear, the ffmpeg code itself is under the LGPL but it can include/be linked with non-LGPL code. If this answers your question, let me know and I'll write it up as an answer. Commented Jan 30 at 16:01
  • 1
    From a brief search I believe questions about configuring Yocto are on-topic at Unix & Linux SE so consider asking there - but please review their on-topic guidelines first as I am not an active user there. Commented Jan 30 at 16:25

1 Answer 1


As discussed in comments, your build of FFmpeg was created with the --enable-nonfree option which means it links with the non-free Fraunhofer AAC library, so while you are correct that the FFmpeg code itself is free software, the the combined work is non-free.

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