Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Christmas Software Shenannigans

Is that how you spell "shenannigans?" Oh well.

Received a nifty lil iPod nano this Christmas. An obvious conundrum hit right away... my entire music library is formatted & encoded using Ogg Vorbis. iPods use AAC or MP3's.

Amarok - KDE's killer app - has great iPod support. Of course, the gold standard for iPod support on Linux remains gtkpod - an app that allows your little fingers to get into every facet of your iPod's filesystem layout. But Amarok makes me so tingly inside it's hard to express.

For example, Amarok can transcode your files on-the-fly. Are all your files in Speex but need them in MP3 format for your digital player? Just queue your files in Amarok's media device browser and it will automagically convert your files. Everything in Vorbis but you need AAC? TransKode will take care of it for you.

Not to mention Amarok now has an in-browser music store: Magnatune. I freakin' love Magnatune. The fact that it's now tightly integrated with Amarok makes me giddy.

But there are a few problems. I was up until 1:30 AM this morning trying to get transKode and Amarok to play nicely... there were so many uninstalled dependencies it wasn't even funny. And were there error messages? Nooooooooooooooooo.... I had to go and track down faac, vorbis-tools, gdkpixbuf, blah blah blah. After I made sure every possible package was installed, I was finally able to get Amarok to convert files automagically. I can't blame SuSE for not installing those dependencies... transKode is a plug-in to Amarok after all, and installing every possible dependency for Amarok would suddenly make it heftier than GnuCash.

Even with these limitations, Amarok is suiting my needs much, much better than iTunes. I don't think I'd be able to do jack nor squat with iTunes, considering it can't transcode my library. Next stop is trying to get contacts, calendar, to-do lists and notes to sync. But I've only filled up 10% of my 4GB so far. w00t!

Speaking of software, I'll stop my openSUSE 10.2 after this post. Several may have noticed Hubert Mantel is coming back to SuSE, which I hope is a good omen of things to come. The distribution has slipped since he left, so I'm hoping he can bring things back on course. I must say however - the bug reports I've filed so far have been resolved promptly. They're triaging bugs well. There are some pretty stale ones, like Evolution not running correctly in KDE. But by comparison Ubuntu has had an outstanding bug for what seems like an eternity that's stopping me from switching over: not mounting encrypted partitions at boot time.

openSUSE is going well now... dual-monitor support is working flawlessly now, SCPM is helping me effortlessly switch between home and office, and Amarok is allowing my expansive music collection to survive on my iPod. Hard to complain at this moment.


  1. Congrats on the new nano. I have truly enjoyed mine. Glad to hear you got it working nicely on Linux. Might be the route that many will have to take with Vista's nice helpful DRM for "premium" content.

  2. So, what color did you get? Also, I noticed that you got Contact recently and are playing it on the DS. How is it? I'm thinking about getting it when I get my DS.

  3. Got the silver, 4GB. w00t.

    Contact is an interesting take on the RPG genre. It doesn't take itself too seriously, and has a pretty good sense of humor. Think more "Goonies" than "Final Fantasy" and it gives you an idea of what its like. Any title where the pet dog is trying to become a cat is worth checking out.

  4. Looked like a spiritual successor to Earthbound (on the SNES). And since Nintendo seems unwilling to continue that series in the US, looks to be the only way of getting something like it.