Sometimes Linux Impresses Me

I have been at least playing with computers for over 40 years and earning my living from them for over 35. Yeah, that statement scared me as much as it probably scared you but my point is that I have seen a lot of computing and a lot of changes over the years.

As for the *ix/*ux world, I have been using Unix-like systems for 25 years and Linux for half of that. So I guess I have a bit of Linux-specific experience. But, for most of my Linux life, Linux has been a programming environment, a tool to send and receive email, run applications used in my business or just generally do, pardon the four letter word, work.

Yesterday I actually played with Linux a bit. That is, like a casual user might. And my experience was probably like what a casual user would have. You see, I had just build a speaker cabinet and tossed a couple of speakers in it. The PA amplifier was what was going to drive them but I needed an audio source other than my niece screaming into a microphone.

My real stereo was abandoned a couple of moves ago and my portable CD player seemed to have vanished about the same time our ex-maid left. I had previously converted my CDs into Ogg Vorbis files stored on a hard disk so there was some music available. Thus, it seemed my computer could be the input source for the PA amplifier.

Finding some cables to kludge the connection was easy. I then copied the Ogg Vorbis files over to the computer near the system. (Yeah, I know that step seems unnecessary but the system with the music on it is just usually turned off so it was more a matter of putting the files onto an always-on system.)

Trying not to think too much (I guess that is normal after a bit of work sawing and glueing plywood, drilling some holes, connecting wires and such) I pointed my Konqueror at the directory with the music, a subdirectory and finally a song. I expected music. Instead, I got amaroK (and music). Sure, I had run amaroK ages ago and at the time had thought, "yeah, it plays music". But, this time things were different.

While amaroK has grown up a bit, I think the biggest difference was what I was doing. That is, I wasn't working on software, an editorial deadline or some business management. I was just playing and Linux came into that play.

In any case, I got hooked. I told amaroK to scan my music collection. It did and a few thousand tracks later I had a way to find things. A way that was a lot better than trying to find the CD after someone "organized" them for me. It was like a major breakthrough for my non-computer life. With virtually no work, my computer could organize something for me.

Well, I kept playing around. In the Tools menu I found Cover Manager. Selecting it showed me my album list and a bunch of squares but no covers. In addition it showed me a button labeled "Fetch Missing Covers". I clicked. Cover photos started appearing. Finally they were all there. Well, almost. I didn't recognize one. It claimed it was the cover from Heidi Muller's Matters of the Heart. Tilt!

As Heidi is an ex-girlfriend from long ago I was very sure that even if there was a new cover for this CD, the woman on the cover was not her. Clicking gave me a larger view. The cover says "The Best of Charlotte Church". Ok, one error and clearly not amaroK's in over 100 covers can be tolerated.

I moved on to Kristina Olsen. I discovered whenever I was thinking of something I wanted to do--such as add songs to the playlist--right-clicking would give me the options I wanted.

I guess that is the end of me playing with Linux as I decided to write this article instead. But, yeah, I was impressed with what happened. You really don't have to think anymore to use it. Now, if I could just do this with my books ...

fyl - Tue, 2006-11-21 07:14.

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Agreed and had the same *moment* ..

I too, have been using Linux and really, never got past the point of , did it install? Does X run? Can I ssh to another box and move files over? Finally, I stopped when I had an extra machine and decided to load Debian. I know it's not the latest and greatest of the distro's but I thought, heck, in the Windows world, everyone does not run the 'latest buid' of that OS either, so why should it matter to a user that I had stable Debian and not Etch? So I loaded that, got the desktop up and discovered Amarok. man! That alone got me to where I now have over 1 year on that box and other than regular security updates, have not had the urge to burn and reload it.

I thought the same as you did, this cool! And it's free and I know how to use it!

Good article, and thanks!

NickBurn329 (not verified) - Tue, 2006-12-05 08:50.

Linux does rock....

I have used SuSE in some form for my 3 years as a Linux fan. Kubuntu has proved to be a serious competitor for the last 6 months. I am also downloading Debian as I type and will be giving it a good run begining today. To say which is my favorite is a much harder choice. I could write volumnes concerning the Good's and the Bad's about everyone I have tried. SuSE doesn't like to play well with formats other than .mpg straight out of the box. But I love Yast. Kubuntu can't seem to keep thier Apt Installer up and running without an annoying equivalent Blue Screen Momma just about the time for the update to happen. I use synaptic instead. Finally the Windows question. I do use Windows, and have a fine dual boot machine. Actually I use it for movie viewing when my linux side doesn't like something very well. There would be one program I haven't found on the linux side yet. MSProject. While their are very nice replacements, I can have need of the propriatary junk at times. I am still testing Crossover, but that seems to be very nice also. I use older versions, to avoid some of the hassel of trial software. And I may sound weird here, but I will be paying for Crossover should it prove out, Like we all should be.

Philip Waterhouse (not verified) - Sat, 2006-12-02 11:29.

Another book organizer

your sister pub, linuxjournal's resident chef pointed out another application for managing collections. It's called Tellico and can be found at -

http://periapsis.org/tellico/

I haven't used it, but it looks cool.

JT

Chachee (not verified) - M - , 2006-11-27 06:38.

amarok for books

Nice piece. If you're serious about looking for something to manage your books as easily as Amarok manages your music, check out www.librarything.com. It's web based, but allows you to manage your library online.

James LaRue (not verified) - Thu, 2006-11-23 22:45.