Some Linux distros don't package ffmpeg due to licensing problems. At least the RHEL family (RHEL, CentOS, Fedora).
Compiling Blender without ffmpeg support makes it unable to import videos, which makes the Video Sequence Editor useless.
Current workaround is to download Blender directly from blender.org, but it would be desirable to be able to use the distro-packaged version.
Possible solutions that come to my mind:
- Enable another backend, such as GStreamer, where free codecs come by default everywhere, and additional codecs can be plugged-in (and you can even combine that with PackageKit to install required codecs on demand).
- Make Blender discover existence of ffmpeg at run time instead of build time (not sure if this is possible).
Maybe I'm saying something stupid here, sorry for that