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Helix DNA is a project to produce computer software that can play audio and video media in various formats and aid in producing such media. It is intended as a largely free and open-source digital media framework that runs on numerous operating systems and processors (including mobile phones) and was started by RealNetworks which contributed much of the code.[1][2] The Helix Community is an open collaborative effort to develop and extend the Helix DNA platform.[3]

Helix DNA Client is a software package for multi-platform multi-format media playback. Helix Player is a media player that runs on Linux, Solaris, Symbian and FreeBSD and uses the Helix DNA Client. The Helix DNA Producer application aids in the production of media files, and Helix DNA Server can stream media files over a network.


The code is released in binary and source code form under various licenses, notably the proprietary RealNetworks Community Source License and the free and open source software RealNetworks Public Source License. Additionally, the Helix DNA Client and the Helix Player are licensed under the popular GNU General Public License (GPL) free and open source license.

Use of the RDT, the default proprietary Real data transport, and of the RealVideo and RealAudio codecs requires binary components distributed under the Helix DNA Technology Binary Research Use License.

Helix DNA Client

Helix DNA Client
Original author(s)RealNetworks
TypeMedia playback engine
LicenseGNU General Public License Edit this on Wikidata

Helix DNA Client powers many digital media applications, including RealPlayer for MS Windows, Mac OS and Linux (since version 10), RealPlayer Mobile, and Helix Player. It is used on Nokia, Motorola, Samsung and Sony Ericsson mobile phones. According to, 800 million mobile phones with the Helix client have been shipped since 2004. It is also being used in embedded devices like the Internet Tablet OS from Nokia, which is found on the Nokia 770, N800 and N810 Internet Tablets. Cingular Video is also based on the framework. Other projects that use the Helix framework include RealNetwork's Rhapsody online music service, the Banshee and Amarok music players, and MediaReady 4000. Helix DNA also manifests itself as the RealPlayer on Mobile Internet Devices (MID) and on Netbooks.

Developers from the Open Source Lab announced in 2007 they would use Helix technologies for content creation applications and collaboration in the One Laptop Per Child project.[4][5]

Helix DNA client contains support for the following media formats:[6]

Helix DNA Client for Android

Helix DNA Client for Android
Original author(s)RealNetworks
Stable release
1.1.2 / November 8, 2012; 10 years ago (2012-11-08)
Written inJava
Operating systemAndroid 2.2, 2.3.x, 3.x, 4.x
TypeMedia playback engine
LicenseCommercial proprietary software Edit this on Wikidata

Helix DNA Client for Android provides an HLS, MPEG-DASH, Verimatrix DRM and Microsoft PlayReady DRM media player for Android 2.2 to latest devices. Supporting H.264 and AAC codecs with Adaptive Bit Rate support (H.264 / AAC) including audio only. Armv7 and Armv6 supported using Stagefright media platform. Helix SDK is supplied as a library which is included within Android Java applications for over the air installation.

Helix DNA client contains support for the following media formats:

Helix DNA Server

Helix DNA Server
Original author(s)RealNetworks
Initial releaseJanuary 22, 2003; 19 years ago (2003-01-22)
TypeMedia streaming
LicenseRealNetworks Public Source License, RealNetworks Community Source License[citation needed] Edit this on Wikidata

The Helix DNA Server, first released on 22 January 2003,[7] supports streaming of following formats:

It supports streaming to any device or application that supports HTTP, RTSP/RTP, TCP, UDP unicast and UDP multicast streaming protocols.[8]

There is also a commercial version called Helix Server, which has more features and supports more media formats.[9] It was originally called the Helix Universal Server when it was announced in or before 2002.[10]

Helix Player

Helix Player
Original author(s)RealNetworks
Stable release
Operating systemLinux, Solaris, Symbian, FreeBSD
TypeMedia player
LicenseGNU General Public License Edit this on Wikidata

It is based on the Helix DNA Client. It is available for Linux, Solaris, Symbian and FreeBSD. Users of Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X can use RealPlayer, which has similar capabilities.[11][12]

Helix DNA Producer

Helix DNA Producer
Original author(s)RealNetworks
Stable release
Operating systemWindows, Linux, Mac OS X
TypeMedia encoder
LicenseRealNetworks Community Source License[citation needed]
RealNetworks Public Source License[citation needed] Edit this on Wikidata

It is a media encoding engine for creating streaming broadcasts, on-demand streaming content, and downloadable audio video files. The Helix DNA Producer runs on MS Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.[13]

The Helix DNA Producer contains output support for the following data types:[13][14]

Developers who want MP3 encoding can license the code from RealNetworks for a fee.[13] There is also an add-on package for Helix DNA Producer SDK with AAC or aacPlus encoding support.[15]

Helix DNA Producer is also available in a commercial, closed-source version - RealProducer Plus for MS Windows and Linux.[16][17]

See also


  1. ^ ZDNet UK (5 December 2002) RealNetworks opens more Helix DNA, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  2. ^ ZDNet UK (6 August 2003) RealNetworks releases player code for Linux, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  3. ^ Helix Community About Helix Community Archived 2012-12-20 at, Retrieved on 2009-08-05
  4. ^ Milko Boic (May 4, 2007). "Helix DNA Client" (PDF). RealNetworks. Archived from the original (PDF) on September 16, 2008. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  5. ^ One Laptop Per Child - Helix media activity, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  6. ^ Helix Community, Codecs & Formats, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  7. ^ "Press release". Archived from the original on 2007-07-06. Retrieved 2007-07-12.
  8. ^ Helix Community, The Helix DNA Server, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  9. ^ Helix Community, Helix v11 Server Technology & Product Feature Comparison Chart Archived 2012-12-20 at, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  10. ^ "RealNetworks Announces Helix Universal Server and RealOne Player Now Support Windows Media 9". Press release. September 9, 2002. Archived from the original on December 2, 2013. Retrieved August 1, 2013.
  11. ^ Helix Community, Helix Player Archived 2009-01-17 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  12. ^ Helix Player 11, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  13. ^ a b c Helix Community, Helix Producer Category FAQ, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  14. ^ Helix Community, Helix DNA Producer SDK Overview, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  15. ^ Helix Community, Helix DNA Producer SDK, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  16. ^ RealProducer - Product resources Archived 2009-08-08 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 2009-08-02
  17. ^ RealProducer Plus Specifications Archived 2009-08-05 at the Wayback Machine, Retrieved on 2009-08-02