Tag Archives: Linux Sites

Movie Backup on Linux

This will take you through the steps to making backup copies of purchased movies on Linux.  Windows has several commercial options available but Linux is of course, all free and open source.  There are several options on Linux but today I’m looking at two:  HandBrake and Shrinkta.

HandBrake (v 0.9.2) is handy for converting the movie into different file formats (MP4, MKV, AVI, OGM).  This allows you to take the movie along on an iPod or just keep them all your laptop while you travel.  The downside to HandBrake is copying to another disc.  HandBrake’s default setting is for DVD and will create a “video_TS” folder when ripping.  I just wish it would be also burn the disc.  You can download HandBrake direct from their website www.handbrake.fr but it is a tarball for Linux.  Mac and Windows installers available too.   I will soon have a DEB file available for download.  Keep in mind you need to also install Mono to meet the dependencies.  In the short time, Linux Crypt has the how to for installing HandBrake.  The easier way:  download the two deb files and open them once they’re downloaded on your system.  Skip the terminal business that’s mentioned.

HandBrake

HandBrake

The other option is Shrinkta.  This app is vastly simpler than HandBrake. Shrinkta never did work for me though.  It had trouble recognizing my DVD drive.  When it finally did, it locked up and I was done with it.  If it works for someone, it looks promising.  A DEB file is availlable at GetDeb.  Oddly, this program is also called DVD Movie Backup at some sites and it shows up that way once its installed.

Shrinkta

Shrinkta

Note!  All my work was done on Ubuntu 8.04 Hary Heron.  I cannot say what will happen on an older system.


Review: Mint 5 Elyssa

Mint 5 actually works for me now…just not on the machine I wanted it to.  I had posted before about installing and using Mint 5 on my laptop test machine.  Shall we just say that failed?  This time around though, it is fantastic.

What I Liked

I’m a fan of Ubuntu to start with and being that Mint 5 is Hardy Heron underneath and minty goodness on top, its getting a slightly biased boost.  The minty goodness is definitely aesthestics.  There are several wallpapers included for standard and wide screen displays.  I went for the steampunk style.  The themes included weren’t anything special but a dark one called peppermint somewhat complimented the steampunk wallpaper.

EnvyNG is included to take care of installing ATI and Nvidia drivers.  Before running this, absolutely nothing was readable.  Installing the proper Nvidia driver did the trick and is now functional.  So I opened EnvyNG, chose Nvida (which includes automatic hardware detection), and let it work magic.  That said, EnvyNG is not unique to Mint and I could install it in Mint.  However, I wouldn’t do that.  Its a nice touch to include it and make it easier on the user (and I love easy).

Compiz works fantastic.  Given that I have an integrated Nvidia 6150, it works well.  On top of that, I was still able to play Urban Terror better than Vista handled it.  The FPS was higher and the settings were better in Mint.

Like Ubuntu, I plugged in my Canon Pixma iP4300 and it worked.  It just worked.  Plug and Play.  Eat that Microsoft.

My wifi worked.  Once again, plug and play.  (I’ll get the full wifi card specs in the machine spec page later)

Software selection in Mint is as standard as they come…Firefox, GIMP, et cetera.  I do like Transmission for quick and simply bit torrent.  A lot of proprietary codecs are included as well.  Installing software is a bit odd though.  Synaptic is available though I don’t suggest it for first time users adding applications.  MintInstaller, aka the Software Portal, allows users to add software as they please but it opens up the browser in order to actually do it.  Adding software from Mint’s site causes you to download a .mint file which starts the process.  I do like that GetDeb.net and Apt are included in the Software Portal menu.

What I Abhorred

I can’t say there’s much.  Mint just works.  I still don’t know about the application menu layout.  I’ve found several distros using this and its just odd at first.  I like that once its set, I can quickly open my regular apps from the Favorites menu.

The Software Portal needs work.  I understand the need for it.  It allows for screenshots and user reviews.  Now I would like to see some.  The selection of software is still minimalistic compared to Ubuntu.  I realize I can still install all that same software but why isn’t it listed in the Software Portal?

MintUpdate is still a bit contentious with me.  There can be newer kernels available but on a break-your-system basis.

Finale

I like Mint better straight out than Ubuntu.  The setup was easier and it just seems more polished.  I don’t understand somethings Mint does.  However, I would have no problem handing Mint 5 over to a new user and expect them to figure it relatively quick.

Update

Mint 5 is still handling nice on the desktop outside of a graphics issue with Urban Terror.  I did reinstall it on my laptop with success so yay!


Warning: Do Not Use Windows CDs

Messages

Linux DVD Conversion with HandBrake

HandBrake is a handy open source free application for converting video from DVD to MPEG.  Part of what makes this program great is that it will handle so called encrypted movies (provided they are utilizing CSS).  Plus, it works on Linux, Mac, and Windows.  I won’t go into great detail about this project, but its worth a try.

HandBrake Encoding

If someone has some free time, please convert this into a DEB and get it into Ubuntu/Debian repos.  Its promising but useless for a lot of users if its stuck as a Tarball.


Ubuntu Linux: Hardy Heron Alpha 4

While I’ve been running through the Ubuntu 8.04 alphas for a while now (yes, I’m quite the brave –or foolish– one, aren’t I).  Aside from a hickup with CPU usage, its actually been quite smooth.  Its pretty sad when my days in alpha testing Linux are smoother than most people’s days in Windows.  I’m very much a bleeding edge geek.  I want to experience the latest in software and see how it works and has changed.  Fortunately for me, Ubuntu Linux is preparing Hardy Heron which will include a very nice set of new features.

Alas, I’m not going to list everything that’s coming and changing but Techthrob.com does a splendid job of it.  Just for a gimplse:  bittorrent changes, remote desktop, in kernel virtualization…

I’ve been really happy with the changes under way.  Hardy Heron has been quite kind to me.  Even the Firefox 3 Beta upgrade was a little painful but the gains were worth it.  The most important thing I see happening is inclusion of new users.  A lot more is being done to invite them into the community and help them adapt to a different environment.  This is made great by keeping the flexibility of Linux there for the old pros.  Just because some changes are made for new users doesn’t mean there isn’t still hardcore Linux under the surface.

What would I like to see?  A better bit torrent client.  Transmission is okay.  KTorrent 4 (built for KDE 4) actually works nicely.  Azureus has a cousin called Zuve which gives bit torrent a needed market.  Plus I think the torrent clients need more optimization.  My system is reasonably fast for Linux and my connection is amongst the fastest residential connections available in my area but I am lucky to take up a quarter of that.

I would also like to see better Wine support or some sort of Windows game integration.  I know too many gamers that claim they’d switch if Linux ran Windows games without issue.  I’d like to see Linux run the games better than Windows does within a year, at most.

Finally, Linux needs support for two very common consumer devices:  scanners and webcams.  First, I know that a driver project exists for webcams.  Now they need to be treated like printers.  It should be so simple that you can plug in the cam and it works, no config needed.  Secondly, some scanner support, especially for AIOs, is needed.  My poor Canon is still sitting, the scanner in mint condition, save a few desperate Windows moments, waiting for Tux to unleash its digitizing power.

I don’t want this to be all critical though.  I just felt that if we’re going to rave about the great things that have happened and are coming, throwing a few more ideas out there couldn’t hurt.  So good job to the Ubuntu team and all the Linux developers, I appreciate your work sincerely.


Under Microsoft’s Grip Again

Since I’ve decided to go back to school for computer programming, I’ve had to switch back to Microsoft Windows most of the time. I’ve opted to take my classes online this semester and much to my surprise, a couple of classes actually require me to use Windows for specific software.

I’m taking a basic math class for starters. It’d be fine except I must use Course Compass which relies on an interesting combination of Internet Explorer, ActiveX controls (which I had to specifically ease up my security on), Adobe Acrobat Reader, and Adobe Flash player. Then to make it worse I had to install a program specifically from Course Compass to use it. Finally, I had to use Apple’s Quicktime Media Player (which makes no sense to me).  While I can understand the security aspect of this class to prevent cheating, let us type out of our answers or even the whole problem/solution set in a word processor. For that matter, I should be able to use Firefox instead of IE. Argh.

My other issue is C++ programming. While I am given the option to use any compiler I see fit, the book suggests that there are special settings involved and that everything is designed around Microsoft Visual C++ Studio Express. Of course it only works under Windows.

So while I still dual boot and keep my Ubuntu install going, I’ve become an incidental Windows boy again. And I don’t mind. I’ve added as much open source as I can. I use Clamwin Antivirus. I use Firefox for all my regular browsing. I turn in all my assignments using OpenOffice Writer saved as Word Documents. Still I can’t help but feel that I’m betraying my open source views by resorting to a mostly dysfunctional operating system.


Everex Cloudbook Re-examined

So criticizing the famous and now delayed Everex Cloudbook has been an unpopular decision. Heh, I guess it was just unpopular to go public with my opinion and making it even a little on Digg didn’t help. So in all fairness I think I should review the Cloudbook again in light of what everyone has mentioned. Before reading any further though, my kind readers need to understand that the point of MuddyGeek is to examine technology, open source, and environmentalism individually as well as how they may interact. For example, I may look at why a new solar powered building is very interesting from a technical perspective such as how researchers have made it thinner or more efficient. Or else I can look at the same building for its aesthetics and very noticeable stance on the environment. Not everything here is about cool technology. Something can be awesome from a geek perspective but environmentally detrimental nonetheless.

All that said, clarified, and finished… I would like to cover the Cloudbook completely like no one else has yet…

Everex Cloudbook with gOS

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Dell Offering Ubuntu XPS M1330

Just caught this on Digg (ick, I really don’t care much for that site but that’s a whole different post).  On Direct2Dell, there’s a short story about the XPS notebook being offered in Europe.  Expect the notebook to be released in the US for sale sometime the last week of January 2008.

Dell XPS M1330

I have to really appreciate Dell here.  While they are being tremendously slow (or cautious) about opening up their product line as Linux offerings, they are obviously gradually doing it.  Next, I would love to see an XPS desktop system as well as offering Linux in many many more countries.  Currently, it looks like its offered in the US and Europe.

One last note, the pricing (though exchange rates makes it difficult to nail down) looks very competitive.  Staples offers a Dell XPS M1330 notebook with Windows Vista Home Premium.  It usually runs about $1100US but with only a basic Core 2 Duo and 2 GB RAM.  I souped up my system on the Dell UK site and go a decently priced mean machine.  An interesting option I noticed was the Solid State Drive.


Why the Cloudbook Doesn’t Matter

The Everex Cloudbook is $400 ultra portable-ultra mobile notebook running gOS Linux (gOS for Good OS but g can also be for green as these utilize low voltage processors and g for Google for their bundled apps). I am going to examine why the Cloudbook simply doesn’t matter and why it is a mistake for Everex to pursue.

This is Everex’s attack on the a couple markets. First, its going after the ultra portable niche market where the Asus Eee resides. These devices more commonly seen as the abbreviation UMPC are low appeal for most consumers. Why they are small and light, they also lack the functionality that a full size slightly more expensive notebook offers. The 7 inch screen is certainly going to sip power compared to the behemoth 17 inch notebooks many consumers flock after now. A 7 inch screen is also going to be harder on the eyes for many older folks thus losing its appeal to one group. My other big problem here is that the CPU and RAM combination. The processor is a nice Via C7-M which is about as easy on the battery as it’ll come for 1.2 GHz. Its still underpowered for most Linux distros today and gOS won’t be an exception for long. Maybe this would be okay with more RAM but the unit comes with 512 MB and it can only be upgraded to 1 GB. A basic Sempron or Celeron would have afforded better performance even if cutting down battery life slightly. Heck, throw in a ultra low voltage Core 2 Duo and see it fly.

Cloudbook

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Buying Linux Preloaded

Looking for a new system? Time to upgrade? Skip the Microsoft Tax and buy Linux preloaded. Often the most difficult part of buying a new computer is finding reputable companies that sell Linux based systems. Even then, some still buy Windows systems, wipe them, and load Linux (thereby still buying a Windows system and paying Microsoft).

Why does it matter? For starters, if you don’t want to use Windows then don’t you shouldn’t have to pay for it let alone buy it. Very very few computer manufacturers are going to refund you the famed Microsoft Tax now. Many have EULAs that state you are buying the computer and preloaded software together. They go on to say that if you refuse the software to return it the whole unit for a full refund and that the software is not specifically eligible for a refund.

Another good reason for buying Linux preloaded? It tells the computer companies that people want Linux. Big names Dell and Lenovo started offering Linux options only after enough people petitioned. Now it entirely lies upon enough people buying these computers for the manufacturers to keep offering them and eventually pushing/advertising them.

I think it is entirely critical for Linux to get it preloaded and out there for consumers. I don’t believe in the Year of Linux or any such nonsense. I do believe there can be a year when Linux dies and I don’t want to see that. I believe the future of Linux relies on taking over the desktop now with all the bad press that Vista has.

So finally, I present the preloaded Linux options. This isn’t a review per se, only a listing of the computer manufacturers selling Linux preloaded.

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