I'm developing an application that runs and controls the omxplayer. I very much prefer to develop on my desktop machine, though. So I wonder if it is possible to install omxplayer for a regular desktop Debian (i386)? Are there any builds (I'm on Jessie).
I don't think it would work.
You still can develop on your i386 desktop and compile/deploy remotely via SSH. That would be the easiest way I can think of. If you really want it, you can setup a cross-compiling environment. But you'd get much overhead in the beginning.
I personally use a set of Makefiles that copy the changes to my Raspberry Pi via
rsync (only copying deltas) and running
make on the Pi to compile the code (that changed). It works pretty fast and is convenient.
But for why you should not try to compile
omxplayer directly on your i386:
omxplayer works by utilizing hardware capabilities of the VideoCore IV part of the CPU which has an embedded media encoder and decoder. OMX refers to OpenMAX which is an interface to that hardware. I am not aware of any device compatible with OpenMAX except in the mobile/embedded space. But as modern intel/AMD CPUs and also nVidia/AMD GPUs also include hardware media encoder and decoder, they might provide OpenMAX compatible driver. Only then you might have a chance. But still I am not aware of such drivers.