CategoryGNU/Linux

Lossless Audio Splitter and Converter for Ubuntu – Flacon

Multimedia conversion can be divided into two main categories, ‘Lossy’ and ‘Lossless’. Although Lossy is the widely used format as it compresses data better and reduces the output file size when comparing with the Lossless format.

But Lossy has its own big drawback too because you cannot regain the lost data after the conversion is done. For instance, let’s say that you ripped a DVD movie (about 4GB) into a smaller AVI file. Then afterward you can’t use that AVI file to re-create a DVD with the same quality as the original DVD movie.

But with Lossless compression no data is lost when the encoding is done so you can always re-create the source file without any issues. Lossless on the other hand cannot reduce the file sizes that much when compared to Lossy and that is its main drawback.

Anyway, sorry to drag you long this far but I just thought a bit of an introduction to lossy & lossless might do some good since not everyone is a tech geek ;-)… So let me come back to the topic.

As an Ubuntu user if you’re looking for a utility that splits and converts audio files into both Lossy and Lossless formats then try ‘Flacon’.

Main features…

*. Simple and easy to use UI.

*. Supports both splitting and converting lossless to lossy & lossless formats.

*. Lossless input formats supported: WAV, FLAC, APE, WavPack, True Audio (TTA).

*. Output formats supported: FLAC, WAV, WavPack, AAC, OGG or MP3.

*. Change output audio quality (bitrate).

*. Audio gain support.

*. Edit audio meta-data (album, year, track number, artist etc).

*. Multi-threaded conversion.

*. Convert audio CDs into single or multiple files.

*. Automatic audio data fetching from CDDB (online database).

You can install Flacon in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by simply typing the below commands in your Terminal window (other GNU/Linux users, please get the source code from this Flacon home page).

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:flacon/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install flacon

Well, that should do it.

Mandriva’s new Multimedia Player – “ROSA”

Mandriva is among the first few (2nd or third actually) GNU/Linux distributions that I came across when I started to “play” with GNU/Linux few years ago. Although I haven’t used it in years but back then it was “known” for its speed, awesome multimedia support (meaning the proprietary codecs mainly) and ease of use (excellent “control center”).

The distro is oriented around Qt (like many other Europe based distros) UI framework rather than GTK and by default it comes pre-installed quite a few multimedia players which was awesome as at that time I was a bit frustrated by the previous daunting RedHat GNU/Linux experience where I had manually install them by compiling.

I don’t know if this is a reason but to me they always seemed to have conservative ideas (?) about supporting proprietary software so perhaps it’s that which has led them to understand the importance of having a multimedia player of their own, that plays both free and proprietary codecs by default.

Yesterday Denis Koryavov announced (the developer) the release of this all new default multimedia player for Mandriva distribution called “ROSA” (still at beta stage). It’s actually a front-end that uses the awesome MPLayer as the playback engine and the UI is based on the SMPlayer.

But if you’ve been using SMPlayer then after seeing its screenshots, they’ve done a lot of changes too.

This seems like a pretty powerful player because other than playing your naughty multimedia files ;-), it can also be used as a desktop screen recorder and can even record/edit streaming video content (supports both Firefox and Chromium via a plugin) as well.

I think if Ubuntu want to go big then they too might need to consider of having some sort of a dedicated/unique multimedia player of their own because in my experience, Totem is not a “versatile” multimedia player, it sucks!. Wouldn’t you like Ubuntu to have an all purpose multimedia player?? Although not everyone is a power user but rather than simplifying too much you can always come up with something that fits in-between (if you know what I meant).

Anyhow, for all you lucky Mandriva fans, Denis is asking for your feedback and suggestions. So if you feel like you have few suggestions of your own for “ROSA” then make sure to throw some comments at him (use the above link). Good luck.

Free Slideshow Creator for Ubuntu Linux & Windows – PhotoFilmStrip!

If have a big image collection then one of the best ways to enjoy them is to create a slideshow. And every slideshow is sort of a “movie” (since videos are nothing but fast moving pictures) but unlike with a usual video file, a slideshow lets us enjoy each picture individually as plays them very slowly.

Now, almost all the modern image managers that comes with major OS platforms do have the ability to let us view pictures as slidshows but most of them cannot let us create one that plays without the need of a special software (like putting them into a CD and playing it on in any multimedia player).

So if you’re looking for a features rich slideshow creator that can be used in Ubuntu and MS Windows then PhotoFilmStrip might fit your needs.

Main features…

*. Simple UI design which is really user friendly.

*. Add/delete pictures and support categorizing them using projects.

*. Add a background audio track.

*. Manual or automatic slideshow duration (depending on the images and the audio file).

*. Change aspect ration 16:9, 4:3 and 3:2.

*. Few effects such as: Black & White, Sepia tone, Rotate, Fade and Roll for animations.

*. Change individual picture display time and effect transition times.

*. Set random motion starting points or change it manually.

*. Add subtitles.

*. Supports few output container and audio/video codecs such as: AVI, FLV, Single pictures, Motion JPEG, etc with VCD, SVCD, DVD up to FULL-HD compatibility.

You can install PhotoFilmStrip in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by first going into this official PhotoFilmStrip download page (which also includes package for MS Windows) and scroll down “Linux (Debian” section and get the “.deb” package. When the downloading completes, just double click on it to install it.

For picture rendering it uses the MPLayer’s awesome “Mencoder” command-line encoding utility. And for the Windows users, it also has a separate portable version as well. That’s it.

Linux Mint 12 (“Lisa”) is available for Download!

Few months ago Gnome hell (oops my mistake, it’s “shell” 😉 ) was released and they’ve done some radical changes to the desktop. Then Unity from the Ubuntu came along and it also had a lot of changes so a lot of people disliked it too. There could be many reasons for that but I personally don’t like the implementation of the “Application launcher” that much because switching between minimized windows and accessing installed programs is pretty much a hassle.

Linux Mint on the other hand was also a pretty interesting distribution from the beginning (based on Ubuntu actually). But sometime ago after the Unity desktop launch, Linux Mint decided to go back to the mother-ship, the Debian GNU/Linux distribution. And now they have few versions (meaning different desktops) that are based on Debian rather than Ubuntu.

Now as said, Gnome Shell had (still do!) some changes that a lot of people didn’t like and Linux Mint decided to write a Shell extension of their own which literally converts the Gnome Shell into a Gnome Classic looking desktop.

It adds a bottom panel where we could just minimize our windows and a MS Windows style start menu which makes finding and launching apps pretty much easier (another feature both Unity and Gnome Shell refuse to add). Few weeks ago they released an alpha version and the results from their prospective has been amazing.

“You’ve always been a thorn in their side -- But to me you’re a shining light… ” ;-)

Now according to Distrowatch Linux Mint is at the top of GNU/Linux distribution list with ever growing popularity … despite all the arguments we have now … it seems that many actually still like to have a bottom panel to minimize your windows and a decent start menu.

Few days ago they released the eagerly waited official Linux Mint 12 but then suddenly they rolled back the images like nothing had happened. I honestly don’t know that happened.

Nonetheless, few hours ago they’ve official released Linux Mint 12! (based on both Gnome Shell and Ubuntu 11.10), code named “Lisa”.

Main changes…

*. Linux Mint 12 features the Gnome Shell with their extension (called “MGSE) that “converts” the Gnome3 desktop to a traditional Gnome desktop.

*. If you love Gnome Shell, you can completely disable the MGSE extension and get the original Gnome Shell.

*. They also ship the Gnome “Mate” desktop (a desktop that’s based on Gnome classic) in the DVD version. But if you use the CD version then you can install it using their repositories afterward.

*. I’ve always loved the themes in both Linux Mint and Fedora … and Mint 12 has two new themes, one a dark looking one (a bit like Gnome Shell) and another Green one which resembles the original Linux Mint ‘Branding’.

*. If you’re not much of a Blue and Green color lover then you’d wanna changes those themes (any ladies out there? ;-)) and the default wallpapers also look quite beautiful.

*. Features the GNU/Linux Kernel 3.0.

*. It’s also uses some of the Ubuntu 11.10 functions but the overlay scroll-bars are removed (again, you can install them later).

*. Other than the DVD the CD won’t install those proprietary codes (not a good thing to do if you ask me) but we can easily install them at the installation process nonetheless.

Nothing fancy… and it works (for some :))

You can get more details from this official release notes page.

Here are the System Requirements…

*. x86 processor (Linux Mint 64-bit requires a 64-bit processor. Linux Mint 32-bit works on both 32-bit and 64-bit processors).

*. 512 MB RAM (1GB recommended for a comfortable usage).

*. 5 GB of disk space.

*. Graphics card capable of 800×600 resolution.

*. CD/DVD drive or USB port.

If you wanna install it then get it from this official Linux Mint 12 download mirrors page. Good luck.

Gnome OS updates: Introducing “Boxes” (Virtualization Management)

Gnome developers are quite busy these days because they’re creating an operating system of their own. The name could change but these days we call it “Gnome OS” (obviously). Few days ago, Jon McCann (a core Gnome contributor) in his blog shared some of the updates concerning the upcoming Gnome OS.

Now I don’t know whether it’s a common thing with GNU “believers” but I certainly don’t like the idea of the cloud computing. Because centralization of “power” of any kind is certainly not the most wisest thing to do. But then again, I’m just a PC user who’s rambling and as software developers, well, your choices are quite limited.

This as a result has kinda “forced” (or maybe not) Gnome hackers to integrate strong cloud computing features into their upcoming OS if it wants to survive the future. And it seems that they’ve decided to call this feature “Boxes”.

In Jon’s own words…

Boxes is designed to be the easiest way to use or connect to applications running on another Windows, Mac, or Linux system. Whether the system is virtual and local, a home computer you need to access from the road, or a centrally hosted corporate login — we’ll get you there…

They’ve designed a UI already using Vala (a programming that simplifies things) which looks pretty good. It’s a bit dark (Black and Blue colors) and that because to keep your focused on your virtual world they say.

Now I’m not gonna talk about it more than this because they already have set up a dedicated Gnome Boxes page which explains pretty much everything. However under “Goals” they say that currently “Boxes” aren’t designed for “Enterprises” and their needs so if you’re thinking about using it as a solution at your work place … then might be disappointed.

This is understandable from Gnome’s perspective. It’s always easy to deal with users rather than “Enterprises” because Gnome’s well known for sudden radical changes which are not always easy to “perform” under those type of environments because the responsibility is too high.

Remote access made easy!…

Now I’m not saying that hackers are irresponsible group but as the history has shown they need a little “space” of their own so it’s always easy to deal with the usual users (like you and me) rather than aiming at Enterprises where changes should occur according to the needs of the Enterprises rather than the designers.

But that being said, I do love Gnome (it was my first ever GNU/Linux desktop!) and have a lot of respect for what they’ve done in the past too :D.

How to Make “ffmpegthumbnailer” work in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot?

If you haven’t heard then “ffmpegthumbnailer” is an awesome little tool that uses the faster and more efficient FFmpeg multimedia library to help Nautilus file manager create video thumbnails faster than Totem does. Now Totem is based on Gstreamer framework and I don’t know whether it’s Totem or Gstreamer to blame here but you can make Nautilus create video thumbnails under GNU/Linux (Ubuntu in this case) a hell lot faster than Totem does!.

But here’s the thing. The method that was used in Ubuntu 11.04 to replace Totem’s entries with ffmpegthumbnailer don’t work in Ubuntu 11.10 since it’s based on the Nautilus 3.0. This is because Nautilus 3.0 is a part of Gnome Shell desktop and the new Gnome Shell uses a different “registry” database manager called “Dconf-editor” which replaced the previous “Gconf-editor” and was used in Ubuntu 11.04 and below versions.

But by using a simple trick (won’t take more than few seconds!) we can make it work under Ubuntu 11.10.

1. First install ffmpegthubmnailer in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot by using the below command.

sudo apt-get install ffmpegthumbnailer

2. Now just run Nautilus as the root user. For that use the below command in your Terminal window.

gksudo nautilus

3. Now using Nautilus, go to the below folder path…

/usr/share/thumbnailers

 

Copy the selected file to somewhere “safe”, just in case :)…

4. Copy the file called “totem.thumbnailer” to your “Home” folder as a safety precaution.

5. Now I’ve simply created (replaced the totem-thumbnailer with ffmpeg actually, no magic, just changed two lines of codes) a new file by the same name but makes sure to launch ffmpegthumbnailer instead of totem. First download it from here.

6. It’s compressed (otherwise I couldn’t upload it to this site). So extract the file inside it (named: “totem.thumbnailer”) and just copy and paste that file into to the above mentioned “/usr/share/thumbnailers” folder and when asked, simply replace the original one.

If you’ve closed the file manager then use the command in the Step 2 to re-open it. Otherwise you won’t be able to replace this file.

Now hit the magic button! = “Replace”

7. Now type the below command to restart nautilus and ffmpegthubmnailer should generate video thumbnails like crazy instead of Totem!.

nautilus -q

If however you want FFmpegthumbnailer to create all the thumbnails from scratch (including “failed” thumbnails, etc) then simply go to “.thumbnails” folder which is in your “Home” folder (hidden by default). Simply delete all the contents inside the folders named: “fail”, “normal” and “large”. That’s it.

Forgive my poor taste in music but hey!, it works ;-)…

Now whenever you enter a folder where previously you had Totem created video thumbnails… now ffmpegthumbnailer will start creating them all over again, with speed of course. Enjoy!.

A Beautiful Icon Theme for Ubuntu Unity – AwOken!

I never liked the default color selection of Ubuntu but that’s just me and I’m pretty sure most like it. However the dark default theme in Ubuntu (Ambiance) doesn’t look that bad after all. They include some nice default wallpapers with each release (Fedora has one of the best wallpapers for my taste! :D) but I gotta admit that ones that come with 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot are pretty ugly.

Mark Shuttleworth himself said that they have plans for a new icon theme with the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support) … but if you want a beautiful looking icon theme that goes decently well with the default themes in Ubuntu, you certainly don’t have to wait until they release 12.04 because you can try either Faenza or the awesome AwOken! icon themes.

Few days ago Awoken developer released a new version (2.3) which adds the Ubuntu Unity desktop support and enhanced Gnome Shell integration, new icons for: LibreOffice , Team Viewer, better KDE support with new icon for Moun (software manager in Kubuntu) etc.

You can install Awoken icon theme in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by typing the below commands in your Terminal window (using its PPA).

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:alecive/antigone

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install awoken-icon-theme

When the installation finishes (about 49MB in size!) use the below command and follow the on-screen instructions to finish the installation.

awoken-icon-theme-customization

For other distributions please visit this Deviantart page for more information.

That’s it dudes.

Best Code Editor for Programmers – UltraEdit!

Programmers have specific needs so even the most powerful text editor might not meet their requirements (such as syntax highlighting and various computer language support). If you’re a programmer who’s looking for a free tool then Notepad++ is pretty darn good except that it only runs under MS Windows.

But as a solution you can try the open source, extremely powerful code editor that’s specially built for programmers called UltraEdit. However please remember that it’s not a free application.

You can use it as a text editor as well but when considering its features and complexity I honestly don’t think you’d wanna consider use it for your daily simple text editing tasks.

Main features…

*. Supports a lot of programming languages such as: Perl, PHP, HTML, XML, CSS, C/C++ etc with code folding, syntax highlighting and running Scripts.

*. Remote file editing support with FTP and Proxy servers.

*. Easily deal with different “projects” (create new ones, edit, delete, save in a different on etc).

*. Tabbed window support.

*. Other basic editing features such as: Change font, search and replace,undo/redo, cut/delete, send to printing etc are all there.

*. Spell checking support for over 80 languages! and auto word completion.

*. A built in Ruler, shows line numbers.

*. Supports editing larger files (4GB+).

*. Load/Save and Record macros.

*. Excellent column support: Add/Edit/Delete/Justify etc.

*. Bookmarking.

*. Quick fetch character properties.

*. Insert Date/Time, Characters, templates etc.

*. Enable/Disable word wrapping.

*. Output (log) window section at below.

*. A side-bar that makes opening and finding recently opened ones a breeze.

*. You can even search a highlighted text online by using the web-search tool bar feature.

*. Add remove comments, make read only + encryption/decryption support … are just a few of its features to mention.

You can install UltraEdit in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by first going to this download page (includes the packages for other distributions) and choose your appropriate “.deb” file version (supports both 32/64 bit) and download it.

Then once the download is complete double click on it to install it using the Ubuntu Software Center. Although they don’t have packages for 11.10 yet … but the 11.04 ones works just fine.

For other operating systems, please get it from this official UltraEdit home page. As said this is a commercial application, they give you 30 days of trial period and afterwards you’ll have to purchase it if you wanna keep using it.

The preferences window lets you easily configure a lot of individual “tweaks”…

 

Wanna hear the ‘5 Minutes Spent’: “Foss Yeaaaah!”?

Benjamin Kernsa, an Ubuntu contributor and Foss contributor has decided to express his feelings about Unity desktop, Gnome and Foss in general by singing about it!.

The song is called “Foss Yeaaaah!” which sounds pretty decent (specially considering he has spent like only 5 minutes to create it!) and is about 2.15 minutes long. Personally I’d like if the lyrics were a bit “aggressive” (’cause I’m a bit frustrated at the moment with Gnome/Unity!!!).

Here it is then… enjoy! (man this got be the most shortest post ever :) ).

FOSS Yeaaaah! by Benjamin Kerensa

How to Install Firefox 9.0 (beta) in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot?

It may not be the world’s fastest web browser but Mozilla Firefox is certainly getting better and better after its each new release. The current stable (means official release) version is 8.0 and Mozilla developers have already released the beta versions of the upcoming 9.0 version as usual.

Unlike in the past where it took a certain amount of time between each release cycle nowadays just like with Google Chrome and Chromium, Firefox too issues new versions quite quickly so most of the time there are no big changes. This seems to be the case with the 9.0 version too but it does bring few new changes such as:

*. Improved java script performance.

*. Concerning Mac OSX Lion users, this version of Firefox web browser should integrate quite well with the OS look-n-feel and better Swipe support.

*. Concerning web developers, added support for “font-stretch” as a CSS function (obviously).

*. Improved support for HTML5, CSS and MathML.

*. Few GCC (GNU Compiler collection) related fixes.

*. Although I’m not sure whether this is because of Ubuntu developers but this version of Firefox seems to come with new icons (with 3D looking ones) for “refresh/stop” for web page related functions.

I’m not sure but I don’t remember having icons like these before (or I could be simply mistaken)…

These are some of the new changes according to this official beta release notes page to mention. As usual, you can install Firefox 9.0 (beta) in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04, 10.10 and 10.04 by simply using the below commands in your Terminal window.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:mozillateam/firefox-next

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install firefox

However if you prefer to perform a clean installation, then first backup your current personal data (bookmarks etc) in Firefox and then use the below command before the above one to completely remove the currently installed version in Ubuntu.

sudo apt-get purge firefox

And then use the first command afterward to install the latest beta (3 as the time of writing this post).

But remember, it’s still at its beta stage thus these versions are aimed at beta testers and somewhat “advanced/experienced” users. So if you’re concerned about your Internet security then I humble advice you to stick with the current stable version of the Firefox.

Simple Note Taking App for Ubuntu – GNote

If you’re a bit hectic like me, then you’d better start taking some notes before things get out of control! :). Seriously though, taking notes is handy and when it comes to that in Ubuntu, Tomboy is without a doubt is one of the best software tools out there.

Since the upcoming Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin is somewhat extra important for Canonical, they’re making some changes such as removing older CPU support from the Kernel (which is totally reasonable if you ask me) and some other applications might also be removed (like the removal of GIMP, the video editor PiTiVi and GDM etc in the past for instance).

The latest “buzz” is that the above mentioned our little “Tomboy” might also be removed from the upcoming 12.04 because there is an alternative note taking rival (an official Gnome desktop app actually) called “GNote”.

Main features…

*. Gnote looks very much alike Tomboy because it’s built using Tomboy.

*. Easily add/delete notes.

*. Change Text font/highlight/underline, etc.

*. Add URL linking to other notes (Wiki-style).

*. Put notes inside a “Notebook” database.

*. Hot key support.

*. Comes with add-on support such as printing, HTML exporter, Tomboy note importer etc.

You can install Gnote in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 by adding its PPA channel (the latest builds -- which can also be a bit unstable). For that, as usual type in the below commands in your Terminal window.

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gnote/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install gnote

Or if you want the stable packages, then simply use the below commands instead of the above ones.

sudo apt-get install gnote

If the Unity “Dash” couldn’t locate the app then simply use the below command in your Terminal window to launch it.

gnote

Although GNote is not quite there yet because it lacks important features such as minimizing to desktop “notification area” (I used it in Ubuntu and perhaps this could be an issue with the Unity application indicator support at the moment) & spell checking etc.

Update: As you can see from the below comment by ‘Jonas’ you actually can enable the system tray icon by using the below command.

gsettings set com.canonical.Unity.Panel systray-whitelist “[‘all’]”

The Tomboy notification support…

For my personal needs I honestly don’t think I’ll be using it at the moment because it lacks one of the most important features for a Note taking software (ability to minimize to system tray) but it’s still at its early development stages thus too early to judge anyway.

Thanks goes to OMG Joey from OMGUbuntu! 😉 for the news.

Cinelerra (video editor) is now Available for Ubuntu 11.10 and 12.04!

For those of you who don’t know (which is highly unlikely), Cinelerra is a pretty powerful, non-liner video editor designed especially for the GNU/Linux platform. Some time ago I did write a review about it in my old blog and had few complaints of it not being able to work properly on Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric.

But the developer announced that now they’ve fixed those issues and have working packages for both Ubuntu 11.10 and the upcoming 12.04 Precise Pangolin!.

Although I won’t go into details since I’ve already wrote about it but Cinelerra is a pretty powerful tool that comes with a lot of visual effects (both audio and video), easily cut/paste video clips, overlay support, a big list of multimedia container support.

You can install Cinelerra in Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 10.10 and 10.04 by simply using its PPA channel. For that, open the Terminal window and type in the below commands.

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:cinelerra-ppa/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get install cinelerra

Update (12/07/2012): In the repository, ‘Cinelerra’ package is now called ‘cinelerra-cv’ So after entering the above two commands, please use the below one.

sudo apt-get install cinelerra-cv

Big thank goes to ‘Adrien’ for mentioning it!.

That should do it dudes. Enjoy!.

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