Postcards From Linux Part 4:
Can You Hear Me Now?

By Shamus Posted Sunday Dec 30, 2012

Filed under: Personal 125 comments


The Linux-ing continues. Unfortunately, I don’t think it’s going to continue much longer. At the very least, we’re going to have to go into some kind of dual-boot scenario. Aside from gaming, there are a few tools that I need and can’t get in Linux. For example…



This is the big one. I use Vent to hang out with my various internet friends, and we also use it to record Spoiler Warning. So I’ve been trying to run the Vent client under Wine.

Ventrilo has several problems under Wine. Its hotkey doesn’t work unless the window has the focus, which means if I’m trying to do anything else (surf the web, play a game, watch the Spoiler Warning stream) then I can’t talk without bringing Vent to the forefront. There are workarounds for this, but it’s not worth exploring them because the Vent audio output is completely borked. It’s compressed so bad that I can’t understand anything that anyone is saying. I can speak just fine, but I can’t hear properly. Also, various settings are getting lost from one session to the next, which means that I have to re-set the sound devices and audio levels each and every time I run the program. And it crashes.

Shamus, if you paid attention you would know that there’s Mangler, an open-source version of the client, made for Linux. It works great and you should use it!

Mangler is just flat-out broken. It locks up / goes unresponsive every fifteen minutes and must be killed and restarted. Again, this is pretty much useless if you’re trying to play a game. I’ve found several threads where people mention this problem. None of them ever got an answer. These threads date all the way back to 2009. I don’t think I’ll hold my breath for a fix, here.

This has been driving Josh crazy, since every time we get together we have to play five minutes of “Does this work? Can you hear me? Let me try Vent? Okay, are you hearing me in Vent? No? Let me go back to Mangler. Uh, nevermind. Mangler has crashed again.”

Pfft. The Vent protocol sucks anyway. You guys should just use Mumble.

We’ve talked about using Mumble for our voice communications in the past. But Josh is the audio and video editing guy, and multi-channel Vent recordings are part of his video-editing workflow. He can adjust our audio levels individually, and he can remove specific messages to clean up cross-talk. He already puts more time into Spoiler Warning than anyone else. It would be ridiculous for me to ask him (and the rest of the cast) to switch to Mumble because I switched to Linux. That’s not solving the problem, that’s just dumping the problem on someone else.

MP3 player

I’ve tried a few, and I haven’t really found anything that worked for me. Linux Mint comes with Banshee media player, and I can’t stand it. The interface is sprawling and cluttered, and the very small number of features that interest me are hidden deep. GNOME MPlayer has a bad habit of putting these huge gaps between items in the playlist, so I can only see a couple of items at a time. It also doesn’t respond to the built-in play / pause buttons on my keyboard.

I’ve been using the Movie Player*, which has decent playlist management and responds to the specialized play buttons, but when it changes tracks it makes my machine stutter for several seconds. I mention this because I’ve almost blundered over cliffs or into lava while playing Minecraft when one of these lurches hit.

* Really? “Movie Player”? That’s what we’re calling this application? This is the best we can do? Someone was smart enough to design an entire application but couldn’t come up with a name that didn’t sound like a tooltip for the play button? Requisite car analogy: Like a model of car named “The Automobile”.

So, I guess I’m looking for advice here. I like MP3 players which contain:

  1. Playlist management.
  2. Awareness of the extended keyboard keys for stopping and starting.
  3. As little else as possible.

Some media players aim pretty high with their feature lists. I don’t need recording or re-encoding. No “music management” system that obfuscates my filesystem behind labels, artists, music genres, or other things that I don’t care about. No album art. No real-time visualizer. No equalizer. No links to buy the album on iTunes or Amazon. No rating system, social networking, or heuristic music suggestions. No splash screen, no fancy animated icons in the system tray, no interface skins, no exotic non-rectangular windows. No synchronization with external MP3 players. Sure, the program can have this stuff, but at some point the sheer preponderance of features moves the application away from what I need.

So… simple, lightweight, playslists, and system-wide keyboard shortcuts. Any suggestions?



I use Fraps for taking screenshots. It’s awesome, but it’s Windows-only. It’s part of my workflow and there’s nothing on Linux that really compares with it.

There’s glc!

Actually, glc seems to have sort of vanished. I haven’t found binaries anywhere and I’m NOT going to download the source and compile it myself, particularly when I don’t even know if it’s any good. The source isn’t even available through the Synaptic package manager, which means I’d end up downloading source from the web and performing make-file hoodoo on it to get it working. No. Freaking. Way.

How about Yukon?

Erm. Looks like the project is abandoned? Anyway, no binaries available and it’s not listed in the Software Manager.

How about RecordMyDesktop?

Gah. That one is a rant all by itself. Laying aside all the bugs / interface issues I encountered, that’s not really what I need. It only takes video of your desktop. It doesn’t do screenshots and I doubt it can handle games.

I don’t see why you need a screen capture program. Just use the built-in screenshot feature. Most games have that these days.

Yes, most. But not all, which is the crucial thing we need here. More importantly, the built-in screencap feature of most games is terrible. Where does it save on your computer? What key is it bound to? You’ll have to go hunt for it. What format? Some are BMP, some JPG, and some PNG. Some strip interface from the screenshot. Some resize the image. Almost all of them bring the game to a complete halt for a second or two while they save. Most can’t handle screenshots in non-gameplay parts of the game. (Like, during a cutscene. And often the screenshot key will just skip the whole scene. Whoops! Hope you have a recent save available!) You also can’t usually take screenshots while looking at menus, which is something you’re going to want to do.

No. If you’re writing about videogames, then you need Fraps. You have a single universal key to grab a screenshot for any game, at any moment, regardless of what else might be going on, and will then save to a single file format in the directory of your choosing, using a consistent naming system that keeps shots in chronological order, which doesn’t impact performance in the slightest.

We do not have a good alternative on Linux. Then again, we don’t need one as much, since we hardly have any…



Yeah, we knew this already. It’s actually a gradually improving situation. Still, I know I’ve got Far Cry 3, Sleeping Dogs, and Dishonored waiting for me once I have Windows installed again.

Now, I’ve been told (but have not confirmed for myself) that it’s actually much better to install Windows first, then Linux. This is because Linux is better at sharing a machine than Windows is. Again, I’m just going by hearsay. But what I’m probably going to do is nuke the entire boot drive, put on Windows 7, and then put a fresh install of Linux alongside it.

My current install of Linux has gotten a bit… cluttered. I’ve been installing things, trying them, and moving on. I’ve been treating the thing like a big sandbox. The menus are packed with stuff I don’t use, there’s a ton of stuff spewed in the Home directory that doesn’t make sense, a lot of stuff isn’t configured the way I want it, and so on. I’ve installed more stuff in the last two weeks of using Linux than I did in the last year of using Windows, just because I was trying to get a sense of what worked for me and what didn’t. I could clean it manually, but right now it’s trivial to install clean and start over.

It took me a little while to get familiar with how the filesystem is organized. Now that I know what I need and where I should put my stuff, I can do it again with less mess.

I don’t want to give up Linux. I’m really enjoying this. The machine boots faster, is more responsive, and more stable. The operating system doesn’t pester me with stupid popups and notifications, and the OS is really good about making the operation of your data directory as transparent as possible. (Compare to “C:\Documents and Settings”.) In Windows, the line is between the operating system and everything else, and the line gets kind of blurry once you consider the dreaded Windows registry. In Linux the line is between “software” and “data”, which is much more meaningful to the end user.

Still, no matter how much I’m enjoying Linux, this Vent thing is a real concern. Dual-boot is fine for when you want to jump from working to gaming. In fact, it might even be a boost for my productivity. (If I have to re-boot to play a game, I’m less likely to stop for one of those “fifteen minute” gaming sessions that takes two hours.) But I can’t very well re-boot every time I need to talk to my friends.


From The Archives:

125 thoughts on “Postcards From Linux Part 4:
Can You Hear Me Now?

  1. McNutcase says:

    Dual booting does look like the best solution for you.

    As for using Vent, I’m sure you’ve considered the overkill solution of making a virtual machine running Windows that you could use for Spoiler Warning recording sessions.

    I am kind of glad you’re likely to keep Linux around, even if you don’t wind up using it as much as you do Windows. Every install of Linux is another argument to game makers that hey, this bunch of weird-smelling hippies might want some games.

    1. Dude says:

      Triple boot! Shamus, while you’re making these decisions, triple boot! You’ll thank yourself later.

      Install Windows XP first. 32 bit. That way you’ll never find yourself out of luck when the itch to play System Shock 2 comes along (or other games/software that really ought to run on Windows 7 but sometimes, for some reason, won’t, like AutoCAD 2008). Then Windows 7, 32/64. Then your preferred Linux distro.

      It’s just one more boot screen at the cost of future disappointment.

      Prepare for the future. And happy new year!

      1. Trithne says:

        Oddly enough, I somehow have less trouble getting system shock 2 to work on Windows 7 machine than I ever did with Windows XP. But I’m willing to accept that it’s probably because by this point I have SS2 completely modded, patched, and ready to go in a zip file on a flash drive on a chain in a safe.

      2. Forumrabbit says:

        I hear the recently released (few months ago now) SS2 HD mod works on W7 though.

      3. Rick C says:

        Instead of dual or triple booting, consider using a VM, if your PC is powerful enough. If so, it’s for most purposes a superior solution–and if you have Linux in a Windows VM you would be able to take screenshots from Windows.

    2. Nyctef says:

      As for Vent, Mumble *does* support multichannel recording (on the recording dialog you can select whether to record each speaker to a separate file or downmix them into one file). Or does Josh need something more than that?

      1. Kylroy says:

        Mostly, I think what Josh needs is to not be handed a bunch of homework in the form of a new program to deal with when making Spoiler Warning.

        1. Winter says:

          I think that is basically the issue. I suppose if some nice person wanted to prepare a slot-in replacement it’d be an option, but there’s almost no way around some sort of pain.

          Shame, really, because Mumble is a far better solution.

      2. Mike C says:

        Having switched from Vent to Mumble, I came down to the comments to say the exact same thing. Each person can be saved to their own audio file for mixing later, and the audio quality is much, much better in Mumble (something I’m reminded of whenever I (rarely) switch back to Vent for a pug raid).

        1. Shamus says:

          In vent, each *message* is instanced. You can scroll down the list and see the message Bob began at 1:10:34 and mute it in isolation, as opposed to groping around for it in the WAV file and finding the endpoints visually.

          Josh claims that Vent has the better audio quality. I have no idea. I can’t tell the difference. At any rate, the point is moot. I’m not going to drag the entire cast to make the change because I moved to Linux. If they wanted to move on their own, that would be fine. But I’m not going to make our editor jump through hoops.

  2. James says:

    “Really? “Movie Player”? That's what we're calling this application?” No, it’s probably Totem. It’s called that so it’s easy for users to find.

    “I've tried a few, and I haven't really found anything that worked for me.” I’ve always used Rhythmbox. Works very well for me.

    “Now, I've been told (but have not confirmed for myself) that it's actually much better to install Windows first, then Linux.” True. Windows will likely just install itself and its own bootloader. Installing GNU/Linux after Windows will give you GRUB, which will list all operating systems you have installed.

    “Dual-boot is fine for when you want to jump from working to gaming. In fact, it might even be a boost for my productivity.” This is how I have it set up. Unfortunately, with more GNU/Linux games coming out it’s losing its effectiveness.

    1. Alexander The 1st says:

      I dunno if Totem’s “We call it Movie Player so users can find it” excuse really works – everyone my family knows what VLC is, if they don’t already know what iTunes/Quicktime/Windows media Player are. Sounds like they’re trying to lynch off the latter.

      Keep in mind (Car analogy ahead), we don’t say “We’re taking the automobile.”; we don’t even say “We’re taking the car.” Saying the latter will get a response of “Which one?” (Since my parents have two, used to have three to the family.), which is responded with the appropriate response normally used of “We’re taking the Corolla/Honda/Escort.”.

      You won’t confuse users with “Use Totem to play videos” – you will with “Use Media Player to play videos”.

    2. Blake Winton says:

      Perhaps it’s like calling a digital magazine “The Magazine“, or an email application “Mail“? (Maybe that’s just a Mac thing…)

  3. This pretty much epitomizes the fact that Linux is super awesome platform, just there is very little good software available for it. This is because not a lot of people can actually use it because… there is very little good software for it.

    1. krellen says:

      The thing I don’t understand is that this has been Linux’s problem for over twenty years. Surely there must exist a subset of people who a) can make good software and b) would like to see Linux more widely used, so why is this still a problem?

      1. SharpeRifle says:

        Linux does not come preinstalled. One must find it and install it oneself.
        This cuts down your available customer base significantly.

        With this in mind. Most software companies want to make money selling software and so design to the most common operating systems(windows/apple).

        Most people (even those who like and support linux) want to eat….and so must work day jobs where they cannot spend time designing other programs.

        And even those who find the time to program these things must do so either by themselves or in conjuction with people who they often contact through the computer as well(facetime helps with communication donchaknow).

        Finally when a good program is actually written for linux it must often sit in an opensource repository and just hope that enough people notice it as a good program.

        1. Blake Winton says:

          In addition to all the points SharpeRifle made, there also seems to be a bit of a culture of “this should be hard” to Linux. I’ve seen numerous projects designed to make Linux easier to use get a lot of pushback from the rest of the community.

          1. rayen says:

            The culture Linux has bred is “It’s the OS for Programmers.” I mean I might be willing to give it a go, but i been told eventually i need to program something myself, and that’ll be when i go back to windows, and i feel this is true for 90% of people. Nothing against them, but alot of the time when i read about Linux, the Linux users say, “You should use Linux” but there’s this undercurrent that says, “you should learn to program.” A this Point i have neither time nor energy nor money to to learn to program.

            Do i need to learn to program or have a close friend who can program and has used Linux for awhile to use it? Because alot of time thats what i see people starting to use it need, and my nearest friend is 1000 miles and some change away.

        2. Ateius says:

          Not to mention how many different Linux distros there are, and how often they get overhauled. What works on distro A may not work on distro B and sure, it works fine on distro C.1, but they just released distro C.2 and several important commands deep in your program are no longer recognized by the new codebase.

          In comparison, there is one version of Windows for the home computer, one version of whatever they’re calling the Mac OS these days, and the chances of an update to either of them breaking your commerically-released word processor are slim (I won’t say ‘none’, becaue c’mon, it’s Microsoft). Both your initial and continuing workload, and thus expenses, are much smaller.

          That’s in addition to their already-mentioned much larger market share. Fiscally speaking, there’s just no argument.

          1. bucaneer says:

            That’s not true. Linux distros primarily differ in which commonly available “third party” programs they include by default and, to some degree, how they organize system files and folders. Very little of what you find in a distro is really exclusive to it – that mostly consists of package management programs and system settings managers (so you can’t make Synaptic work on a non-Debian based distro, but why would you want that). There is some gray area of programs developed with a particular distro in mind (like Unity and Mate/Cinnamon interfaces which originate in Ubuntu and Mint, respectively) – they can be ported elsewhere, but that requires addressing certain assumptions made by developers – definitely doable (and done), but it needs more maintenance than usual. Generally, unless you go out of your way to make a program exclusive to one distro, all that is needed for cross-compatibility should be available in the package repositories of each distro.

            What you can see pretty often is breaking of backwards compatibility in successive releases, exactly like what happens with upgrades between XP/Vista/7/8 or big cat/next big cat, when the program requires a newer version of some library which is not included in an older release. Then again, if you choose to use Debian Stable, LTS version of Ubuntu or just any release past its support period, you are supposed to know what to expect and not to require any cutting-edge functionality.

            So to reiterate: unless you’re being intentionally obtuse about the way you release your software (like hardcoding dependencies and releasing it all in some impenetrable binary blob), compatibility issues in Linux are no bigger than in Windows or Mac OS, possibly even smaller.

    2. bloodsquirrel says:

      Linux itself isn’t faultless there, though.

      If Linux had a single packaging format that worked consistently across all distros then it would be a lot easier to distribute, find, and install software on it.

      Case in point: my version of Fedora apparently doesn’t have Chrome in its repository. That’s absurd. Not only is Chrome available for Linux, but its available for later versions of Fedora. But because Linux has settled on “every version of every distro for itself” as a software distribution model, I’d have to screw around with installing it the hard way.

      And this is friggin’ Chrome, one of the most popular web browsers out there.

  4. Psithief says:

    When you install Windows next, this time it might be best if you disable automatically turning off the hard drives. It’s under Control Panel -> Power Options.

    Long term effects? I don’t know, but it’s worked well enough for me against drives that get temperamental when switched on and off.

    1. Tse says:

      Thanks! It’s been bugging me when a program freezes for several seconds while my HDD is spinning up.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      That’s what I’ve been doing on my computers for a few years now too. Is there any tested data on whether this is actually helpful or not for the hdd longevity?

      1. Jason says:

        I thought the spinning-down the HDD was to save power, and keeping it spun up extended the lifespan.

        1. krellen says:

          As I understand things, this is basically true, yes.

          And all those “power saving” things drive me insane.

          Having the monitor power off when not in use saves 90% of the power draw a computer makes. The power savings that can be garnered out of the remaining 10% simply are not significant enough to justify the annoyance and/or mechanical wear they cause. There are MUCH better places we can focus on saving power than computers.

        2. X2-Eliah says:

          Yeah, that’s the thing I heard on some forum too.. I was wondering if anyone had made an actual test-comparison on this, though.

  5. karthik says:

    Isn’t “Movie Player” actually called Totem? I believe it’s referred to as movie player in the menus because if it said Totem, no new user would have any idea what it does.

    In comparison, Windows doesn’t fare all that better, does it? Calling your application Windows Media Player is like naming your vehicle Ford Automobile.

    Also, there are hundreds of MP3 players in the repos; and most of them try to manage your music for you. If you use (or like) Winamp on windows, you can try Audacious.

    Some people swear by MPD (which is a daemon) and a client like MPC or Sonata,. You could try that too. I just use Rhythmbox (the default audio player in Ubuntu) with all the plugins (album art, radio, etc) turned off.

    1. Athan says:

      Another vote for Audacious from me.

      For hardware media keys just Preferences > Plugins > General tab > enable ‘Global Hotkey’. Works fine with my Logitech G110, but note I had to delete the ‘Play’ button in the preferences so the ‘Pause/Resume’ key would work (the G110 has one key with both play and pause symbols on it, and having both ‘Play’ and ‘Pause/Resume’ bound to it lead to no pause).

      1. Bryan says:

        Yeah, I like Audacious as well — but that’s because it’s relatively easy to build from source (at least for me; this won’t work for Shamus I don’t think), which is mostly because it only relies on gtk+, the decoding libraries for various file formats and codecs, and the output libraries for whatever sound system you want to plug it into (OSS/ALSA/pulseaudio/whatever else it is these days).

        But in any case, it *seems* like it should cover most of the requirements. I don’t have experience with the “media keys”, but that’s because I don’t think they’re useful. Shrug. :-)

      2. xKiv says:

        I am on Mint 14 (with cinnamon).
        Global Hotkey didn’t work for me (or did, but only sometimes and with bugs); I had to use Gnome Shortcuts instead.

    2. Rick C says:

      “Isn't “Movie Player” actually called Totem? I believe it's referred to as movie player in the menus because if it said Totem, no new user would have any idea what it does.”

      “Totem Movie Player” seems like it might be a better name, then.

      ETA: This isn’t meant as a potshot, btw, just that the Totem guys could pick a name that’s both more clever and doesn’t leave people going “what the heck’s that?”

    3. Kerin says:

      Plus one more for Audacious – it’s basically Winamp2.x but awesomer. It even loads Winamp skins! Hands down, it’s my favourite media player ever, for any OS.

      Sucks that Mangler’s broken for you, though – it always worked pretty awesomely for me, to the point where using stock Ventrilo in Windows became painful. Your problem sounds like it’s related to your soundcard, or maybe its interaction with PulseAudio; unfortunately removing Pulse is major surgery, which I wouldn’t suggest seriously to anyone who has less than five hours to spend screaming and making bargains with the devil to just get it working the way it was before. I’ve had motherboards that didn’t play even kind of nicely with my sound hardware, and it’s ridiculous.

      The crazy thing about screencapture is that a console command (!) is probably your best bet. For instance, see here:

      For bonus points, according to a commenter here you can actually do screencaps with vlc somehow. That sounds like ridiculous degrees of overengineering, but maybe it’s what you need? ;)

      FWIW, I’m one of those nutbars who lives and breathes the text console and only ever feels empowered by his computer when the prompt is open. I’m not saying that as an answer or solution – I recognize fully that this is a solution that works for approximately 0% of users, rounded down – but it is meant to serve as an explanation of the OS. I use Linux because that’s what makes my heart go pittypat. It breaks my heart that we haven’t done a better job of making it accessible and making the GUIs not suck eternally, but it is what it is.

  6. Neko says:

    Wish I could suggest something for the Vent situation, but it looks like you’ve already researched it pretty thoroughly.

    For MP3 playback, I want to recommend MPD plus some light-ish client like Ario or GMPC. The neat thing about MPD is that you give it your music dir and it’ll index it and whatnot (but not “manage” it for you, thank the gods), and then in true UNIXy fashion you use a seperate GUI or CLI program to interface with it. You can even set some music playing, then quit the control program entirely – doesn’t get much more lightweight than that.

    The reason I stressed “want” there is that, while MPD is my absolute favourite way to do music, it may or may not be a pain for you to get working. Maybe Mint has some nice defaults to get it working out of the box for you, but my experience has been tainted by the introduction of PulseAudio to my desktop environment.

    PulseAudio, bane of my existence. I could write several blog posts about my dislike for it. It does a number of things well, but also tends to fail on me for no discernable reason, and mixing its “Start a sound server for the graphically logged-in user” style with MPD’s “just use a single system service for music playback” style does not work well.

    Anyway, if you can get it working without issue, MPD is fantastic for trying out a bunch of music clients, since you don’t have to tell them about your music files each time; just point them at the localhost daemon and they’re ready to go.

    Haven’t experience with using Fraps for screenshots; could always run stuff via the Steam client to get the overlay and F12. I’ve already set it to run Minecraft via steam just so my friends can see when I’m in-game.

    If you do get the urge to record and process video, I do recommend Kazam Screencaster for the video/audio and OpenShot for a nice easy editor.

    Ah: Just checked, and I was surprised to find that gnome-screenshot is one of the few gnome utilities to come with an actual manpage and useful command-line options. If you use your desktop environment’s keyboard config to bind a key to something like gnome-screenshot -w you can use it to grab the current window. Seems to dump timestamped files into ~/Pictures/ . Use -B to omit the window border, or omit all the options to do a full-screen shot. I can’t guarantee it won’t accidentally skip cutscenes, though =( Best of luck!

    1. Anorak says:

      Weirdly, I’ve had a very different experience with Pulse Audio. Before it became a standard in many distros, I had an awful awful time trying to get more than one program to playback at once using ALSA. I’d switch to OSS on every new install. These days I don’t bother.
      The sound server has always been deep magic to me, and there’s only so much I can learn.

      For screen grabs, I use this:

      import -window root screenshot.jpg

      But I’m not sure if it handles 3D programs.

      1. bucaneer says:

        “import -window root” doesn’t like Compiz – all transparent components are rendered opaque, and for some reason it only captures window decorations of maximized windows. But it handles 3D normally, so it is a good option if you only want to take screenshots of fullscreen games, or don’t use Compiz, or don’t care about capturing all UI elements properly.

  7. Daemian Lucifer says:

    Well the solution for your first problem is obvious:You should just adopt the whole spoiler warning crew,and that way they can all be trollingnear you 24/7.

  8. ferry says:

    For the music player, give Amarok a try. It’s going to install some hundred MB of KDE compatibility layers, but it doesn’t actually impose any performance penalty for the interface. It’s got a clean interface(though windows-ier than the linux “less is more” standard most gnome application abide to), global shortcuts, though it does organise your music by author and album. As a gimick that might actually be useful, it can download and show you the lyrics automatically for any song.

    As for games, try PlayOnLinux. It can download and install a lot windows binaries like the various directx packages. For some popular games, it provides complete install scripts that download all the things the game needs and help intall it. It also downloads the latest and can keep multiple wine versions(some of which have patches for specific games)

    The official apt packages are usually updated rather slowly, so wine, for which the current nightly build might make the difference between a horrible crash at startup and a good play experience for a game, you need to either build from source or download a binary package with playonlinux.

    I played Dishonored at max graphics settings, with only slight camera lagging. Curiously, though, Half life 2 takes ages to load, so a dual boot is still a good idea.

    1. Anorak says:

      “Slight Camera Lagging” sounds ominous. Modern games have never been very good for me on Wine, and that sounds like one of those things that would drive me very crazy.

      Wine is a genuinely impressive achievement, but it’s not the way forward. It’s a way backward, for programs that are ancient and will never see a linux client. Whats that? You’ve got some homebrewed geography department program that no one has seen the source for in ten years? And it won’t run in Windows 7? Great! Try it in wine!

      Seriously though – wine for me is often an “almost” works or, needs a mountain of tweaking for specific games, and then weird bugs happen. Every year I try it out, and find that it’s getting better, but only for specific things. Half-Life 2 and various source engine games were the ones that I used to benchmark wine against, and they all work fine these days, but Supreme Commander 2 is an unholy mess and Civ 5 is worse. I no longer wish to spend my time tweaking wine.

    2. I have used “PlayonLinux” and totally forgot about it. Of course hard to say, for me, how well it works since my computer can’t handle most games anyway.

    3. Zak McKracken says:

      I agree that Amarok is a good idea.
      I has loads of features, but you don’t need to use them (Lyrics, wikipedia entries for bands, database…), and you can just browse music in the file system and put it in the playlist. There you go.

  9. Atheos says:

    For all things audio/video related I use VLC Media Player. It’s small, simple and straightforward. Plays just about anything and it’s available on Linux, though I have no idea how well it works on the platform. For all your other problems, I got nothing.

    1. Primogenitor says:

      I use VLC on Windows & Linux, for both audio and video. Yay for a standardised interface! Yes, it does have some extras (balance, visualizer, etc), but you can ignore that and IIRC its off by default. Never had a problem using extended keyboard on either OS.

    2. X2-Eliah says:

      Aye, I was also going to suggest VLC.. though I have only used (am using) it on the windows part. I did install and mess with it in the short time Ihad linux, but that was years ago and might not be relevant. Seemed to work then too, though.

      But, yeah. I like VLC because it performs well, doesn’t apply its own equalizer crap like some media players do, and has a very basic UI.

    3. jackmcbarn says:

      Yes, definitely use VLC for media. It’s played everything I’ve ever thrown at it and has zero bloat.

      1. Ateius says:

        I use VLC (in windows, no less) because I love its lack of bloat. It just does what I need it to without spreading like some cancerous blob of code and promotional materials.

        1. Nick says:

          +1 to VLC, it’s what I watch all video files and DVDs in and whilst it doesn’t do super complex playlists, you can simulate them by making a directory of symbolic links to the files you want in the playlist and then telling VLC to play that directory (there’s also a built in playlist but you can only have one at a time and it changes as you tell VLC to do things)

          1. Mephane says:

            Yepp, I have been using VLC on windows for years and I am still sometimes amazed when it plays some exotic format without trouble. No bloat, completely focussed on functionality, works like a charm.

            1. I also use VLC, but it does have a few drawbacks (though compared to others they’re pretty minor):

              1. No way (the last time I checked) to bookmark where you are in a playlist or make it remember where it left off if the player is turned off. If there’s a plugin, awesome, but the last time I went looking on the VideoLAN forums, the response to such requests was “if you want it, code it yourself.”

              2. Whatever they did a few updates ago borked the ability to play a format I use from my Xacti video camera (I believe it was 3gp). The video would display just fine, but without audio, so I had to roll back my install to 1.1.9. If they’ve fixed it since, great, but the last time I checked, it didn’t work.

              Otherwise, it’s a great client that doesn’t weigh heavy on the memory and doesn’t try to completely take over your media preferences (I’m looking at YOU, Quicktime).

              1. Anachronist says:

                I love VLC on Windows (especially the high-speed video playback that keeps the audio pitch the same), and if I needed something similar on a Linux box, I’d use it there. I haven’t looked lately, but I recall there was a version for Ubuntu.

    4. SeekerOfThePath says:

      I have been installing VLC on each and every one of my machines — both Windows & Linux — for years now.

  10. evilmrhenry says:

    I use Audacious; it’s minimalistic and it works. Use the Global Hotkeys extension (which should come bundled) to attach it to your media buttons. If that doesn’t work, you probably need to play with your keyboard settings.

  11. Stephen says:

    Foobar2000 is aggressively simple. Its one heavy feature is a super-customisable UI, but if you click the defaults you’ll have a visually and computationally super-light media player.

    1. Anorak says:

      One of my friends at university got a little obsessive with Foobar2000, and started measuring the entropy of various Random number generators to use with it’s shuffle feature.

    2. bucaneer says:

      Foobar2000 is very good, but unfortunately lacks a native Linux version. It can run through Wine, though that means somewhat more sluggishness, less integration with the rest of the system and, possibly, problems setting up proper audio output.

      The closest native alternative I’ve found is gmusicbrowser (should be available in Synaptic). Like foobar, it is very powerful and customizable so you can make it exactly as simple or complicated as you want, and if you choose to go simple, the other features will not bother you because it still is very lightweight. Shamus may want to try a layout called “with playlist” which looks roughly like this and can be further customized to display folder and file name columns instead of artist and title, if that’s more convenient. Other layouts also have useful features, like a separate panel for search results or a filesystem tree – it never hurts to experiment a bit.

    3. Shamus says:

      Foobar was my player of choice on windows. I’m really missing it here in Linux-land.

      1. David says:

        You could use the command-line utility mplayer. It’s about as simple as could be, just pass it the file or files you want to play and it plays them, exiting when done.

      2. anaphysik says:

        Here’s some stuff about running foobar in Linux (which you’ve quite possibly seen since it’s one of the top google hits for “foobar linux” -_-):

  12. DrMcCoy says:

    For screen recording, I used XVidCap in the past; it also does still shots as well. It’s fiddly, though. And I had to compile it myself as opposed to using my distro’s binary, because the video output is (was?) severely jumbled when compiled for 64bit.

    For mp3 (and ogg vorbis, mostly) playing, I’m using mpd + mpc + a small thing I hacked together that docks in gkrellm, and I’ve told my WM E16 to run mpc for certain hotkeys (“mpc next” for ctrl-alt-numpad6, for example). I also use a console mplayer to watch videos, so you can probably ignore me if you want GUI stuff. :P

    1. Forumrabbit says:

      I honestly prefer DXtory to FRAPS, xvidcap, camwhatever, FFsplit, and the rest.

      It costs the same as fraps but (in terms of recording):

      Allows you to switch between hard drives with the press of 1 button (also allowing you to record to multiple AT THE SAME TIME)
      Allows you to compress as you record (USING ANY CODEC YOU WANT!) if you’re going for a longer session and your HDD isn’t big enough (I only have 100GB and a 2 hour session listening to quirky people in L4D wouldn’t be good with rawcap)
      Allows you to record your microphone separately (I imagine immensely useful for a solo caster)
      Allows you to rawcap as well or even use the lossless codec included which brings the filesize down significantly compared to 100MB/s + that rawcap (which it also has) offers
      Has a whole host of screenshot items
      Allows you to record or screencapture at any resolution desired (e.g. 720p if your computer can’t handle 1080), and allowing you to include the cursor or not at the click of a button in screen capture or video recording (as well as being able to perform screenshots in quick succession)

      The only downside is you have to exit the program through the button for changes to save and the pricetag (I don’t recall if screenshots have the dxtory tag on them unfortunately which would be its biggest drawback for screencap only).

      1. DrMcCoy says:

        Well, DXtory doesn’t work on GNU/Linux, so it’s out for me. :P

        Also, I sincerely doubt it can do “any codec you want”. What about, say, Bink? What about Coktel Vision / Sierra VMD? What about $OtherObscureCodecWithNoKnownAvailableEncoder? :P

  13. Anorak says:

    It’s good to know that you will dual boot once you’ve got Windows back on. The Mint installer makes dual booting very easy to do – it will recognize your Windows partition, shrink it (if Mint is going on the same drive) and install it’s own bootloader (Grub) to the MBR.

    If you’ve got a UEFI motherboard, and a GPT partition layout, things get a lot more complicated. Don’t try it, yet. Stick with MBR.

    The Vent Problem (which sounds like a logic puzzle) is one of those things that will hopefully eventually get fixed by them releasing a linux client. But telling you to switch would be futile – you already know Vent, and everyone else you know uses it too. You won’t be switching.

    The fact that you are re installing from scratch is familiar – when I first started with Fedora, I hosed a lot of installs, usually trying to install propriety graphics card drivers. I learned a lot though, and would start again with a cry of “I think I know what I did wrong”.

    Will you be keeping up these blog posts?

    1. Heron says:

      Ventrilo’s website has listed a linux client as “in development” for as long as I can remember — and I started using Ventrilo something like 8 years ago. For some reason I can’t work up any hope for an official linux client release anytime soon.

  14. gzy says:

    If dual booting is too much of a hassle, maybe just run two machines and share a single mouse keyboard with something like synergy.

    If you’re not upgrading your computer with the latest video card every six months a development / gaming computer should be cheap enough so “why not buy two for twice the price?”

  15. Cannibalguppy says:

    Get an SSD and rebooting to talk to your friends is 15 seconds away. :P really how can you call yourself a computer guy and not use an SSD. if you need one i can donate mid january. deal?

    1. Raygereio says:

      How can you call yourself a computer guy and loose your shift key?

    2. Klay F. says:

      Its easy, really. Because a SSD will turn into a brick after a month. And saving 30 seconds of boot time is not worth the frankly embarrassing storage space. Because you can get 6 Terabytes of storage on a HDD for the same money as a 512 Gigabyte SDD.

      1. Raygereio says:

        Are SSDs still that crappy in terms of reliability and lifespan?

        1. AyeGill says:

          I believe he’s overstating it, and most SSDs come with several years of warranty. But the price tag is still prohibitive.

          1. coarsesand says:

            Seriously exaggerated since most current SSDs have estimated failure times for regular desktop users somewhere around 19 years. It’s true early controllers were incredibly flakey, and you can still definitely get lemons, but things have settled down. As for storage, Klay is right that SSDs still cost far too much for storing large numbers of files, but the speed boost from keeping operating system files on an SSD is too huge to ignore. Personally I use a 128GB SSD and a 2TB HDD for any media I need to have around (music, videos, that jazz.) Combined they probably cost me $250 CAD, which is hardly insane. Add Steam Tool to that and I can move games in and out of the SSD freely.

            1. Klay F. says:

              I may be exaggerating, but not by much. I’ve heard WAY too many horror stories from people I know personally to ever justify a purchase. At least until the next 10 years or so.

              1. coarsesand says:

                I’ve heard horror stories as well, but those are largely from sysadmins who have to go through large crops of disks and are more likely to encounter the lemons. I think you’re missing out for personal and gaming use, but then I refuse to go anywhere near ATI cards because of my own bad experiences in the past. You really should give them another look though, at least the next time you build a new machine.

            2. krellen says:

              Shamus doesn’t talk about personal stuff here much, but $250 is a LOT of money for a lot of people, and I know Shamus is one of those. I’m one of those.

          2. Klay F. says:

            You know what also comes with several years warranty? An Xbox 360. Don’t put much stock in them. Personally, I don’t put faith in corporate promises until they actually live up to them, which they have yet to do. Like I said, they may be worth the price in 10 years, but most definitely not now.

            1. Colin L. says:

              If you don’t want an SSD, that’s fine. But spreading FUD on them, especially without having personally used one, is not.

              As has already been pointed out, SSDs can and do last longer than HDDs, just like HDDs can and do last longer than SSDs. No storage solution has perfect reliably, but pretending that an average SSD is going to brick on a scale of anything less than years (like a hard drive) is either lying or ignorance.

              And of course they’re still more expensive per GB than HDDs, but the performance boost is incredible and the prices have been and are rapidly falling. There’s obviously going to be a premium for a solution, because raw storage space isn’t the only factor when considering a drive. Saying that it’s insulting is like saying the same for a beautiful house overlooking the ocean in San Francisco to be more expensive than a similarly sized one in a slum somewhere.

              Even getting a small SSD for your OS and then using a hard drive for data is still like night and day from a single mechanical solution. Anecdotally speaking, anyone I know who has used an SSD would not consider using a hard drive for their OS again. Consumer mechanical hard drives are on the way out, and I highly doubt they will even be relevant to that market in 10 years time.

              1. Asimech says:

                FUD is a) corporate strategy and b) wilful spread of lies. I would really appreciate it if people would stop throwing the term around so casually.

                1. decius says:

                  FUD FUD?

            2. Cannibalguppy says:

              you are honestly not understanding the point. not only are they more reliable than HDDs(since you cant ruin them by dropping them or such) they are so much faster its not even comparable. the startup time on HDDs are about 60-80 secs if you have a fast HDD and barely any programs at all on it, on an SSD its 15 secs and 10secs if you optimize your computer for it.

              Aarring the startup times you have things like the fact that browsers open in about 1-2 secs on SSDs and around 5-10 secs on HDDs, this priciple applies to anything you do and use on the computer. So get some experience with such a part before you talk.

              I run 3 ssds on my main rig and 2 on my lan rid and so far the only part that failed was my storage HDD(they are all bought within the same month btw).

              And if you are unlucky and it dies just get a new on the 3-5year warranties most companies have with their disks. And YES they are costly compared to HDDs but they also serve an entirely different purpose.

      2. Cannibalguppy says:

        yeah no having a Drive that lasts on average 2-4 times longer than a hdd if you choose the right one is bad. plus having your system 10 times faster is also very bad.

        and if you cared to read you would see i offered to buy mr Young an ssd. next time focus on whats written than HOW its written, not my fault english isent my first language and i could care less about the grammar :P

        1. Raygereio says:

          My comment was originally made in jest, but in all seriousness:
          Honest mistakes in grammar and typos is one thing, but English not being your first language is no excuse for not giving a crap.

          If you don’t care enough to even just attempt to compose your post properly and in a legible manner, why should we care enough to decipher your post?

          1. Cannibalguppy says:

            Maybe because the content is more important than the grammar? Ever stopped to think about that?

            1. Raygereio says:

              I’d agree with that in principle, but the real world doesn’t work like that. A post filled with typos and complete disregard to grammar, capitalisation, punctuation and whatnot is tiresome to read.
              Expending the small effort it takes to make your post as error-free as possible for you (no one is perfect) is no more then polite to your intended audience. More importantly for you: People will unconciously skim over tiresome-to-read text. Maybe you have wonderful things to say, won’t stop you from being ignored because of how you decided to present yourself.

              It was a friendly piece of advice. No more. By the way, proper capitalisation. Thank you (no sarcasm).

          2. X2-Eliah says:

            But his post *was* legible. Very short, and jokey, but it was perfectly understandable, including the offer to donate an ssd mid-january.

            1. Cannibalguppy says:

              I do love how you are the first person to achnowledge the offer to donate a SSD.

              But kudos for supporting me anyhow <3

              I am a jokey person but the offer was real, its a shame mr.Young seems to have no need of it.

              1. Shamus says:

                To be clear: I really appreciate the offer. Seriously, thanks. You’re very kind just to consider it.

                My worry is that next week I’ll get the dual-boot stuff set up and get everything just the way I want it. After that, I might be reluctant to add another drive and go through the whole process again. I just have no idea what I’m doing with this machine right now. :)

                1. Cannibalguppy says:

                  Fair enough. I understand the hassle of reinstalling and such alot better than most(i cover my entire familys IT needs and they are all such virusdownloading idiots :P)

      3. X2-Eliah says:

        “Into a brick after a month” – that is pure, rancid bull crap and you know that. Oh, I’m being offensive? That’s because you straight up stated a flat-out lie, without even qualifying if it was an exaggeration, personal prejudice or whatever. No, modern SSDs last for years – 10+ years for common users, and at least 5 or more years for power users like Shamus. Don’t get a drive with a sandforce controller.. or rather, get an ssd from a company that actually tests their drives (intel, samsung, corsair) and it will last longer than an hdd. And that too is personal experience, so neener.

    3. Winter says:

      Dual SSD raid. 1 gigabyte per second disk reads. Boot from power off to desktop in 5 seconds.

  16. bucaneer says:

    For screenshots: command line to the rescue! No, I’m not saying you should open up a terminal when you want a screenshot taken, but you can bind terminal commands to custom hotkeys (Google says that in Cinnamon flavored Mint it is Preferences > Keyboard > Shortcuts > Custom Shortcuts, though I never used it myself). For example, my Printscreen button currently executes this:

    scrot ‘$%F_%H%M%S.png’ -q 1 -e ‘mv $f ~/Pictures/’

    “scrot” is the name of the program (should be in Synaptic);
    “‘$%F_%H%M%S.png'” is the filename that accepts standard date/time format (here it generates something like 2012-12-30_130651.png);
    “-q 1” is the quality/compression – for a lossless format like PNG you want a low number (more compression and lower file size), for JPG you want a big one (the scale is 1-100);
    “-e ‘mv $f ~/Pictures/'” is the command to be executed after taking the screenshot – in this case, moving the new file to ~/Pictures.

    It’s somewhat more complicated if you only want to capture the active window and not the entire screen, because scrot can’t automatically detect which window is active. For that, my hotkey calls a separately saved bash script (say, ~/

    activeWinLine=$(xprop -root | grep “_NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW(WINDOW)”)
    import -quality 100 -window “$activeWinId” ~/Pictures/$(date +%F_%H%M%S).png

    This uses import which is part of the imagemagick package and is designed specifically for capturing individual windows. Notably, the quality setting is interpreted differently – here a big number always means better quality. Also, it doesn’t require a separate function call to move the picture to a desired location, but it does require a separate function call to interpret the timestamp. But really, once you’ve set this up it’s pretty safe to forget about it and not worry about the idiosyncrasies of each program.

    The nicest thing about this is that you never have to worry about Fraps not being on when you need it, or taking up space in the tray when you don’t. If your keyboard is working, so will these commands (provided you don’t uninstall scrot or imagemagick).

    1. bucaneer says:

      I just realized that this setup doesn’t do one thing that Fraps does – including the name of application in the filename of screenshot. This can be implemented by adding a couple more lines to our script:

      activeWinPid=$(xprop -id $activeWinId _NET_WM_PID | cut -d’ ‘ -f3)
      activeWinTitle=$(ps -p $activeWinPid -o comm=)

      The first one determines which process owns the active window and the second finds what that process calls itself. The full script then (after some additional cleanup – the first two lines of the original can be turned into one) looks like this:

      activeWinId=$(xprop -root _NET_ACTIVE_WINDOW | cut -d’ ‘ -f5)
      activeWinPid=$(xprop -id $activeWinId _NET_WM_PID | cut -d’ ‘ -f3)
      activeWinTitle=$(ps -p $activeWinPid -o comm=)
      import -quality 100 -window $activeWinId “~/Pictures/$activeWinTitle $(date +%F_%H%M%S_%N).png”

      To my knowledge, this fully replicates Fraps screenshot taking functionality (of the full version that costs money – the free one only lets you save BMP files).

      Oh, and in case this doesn’t work, try expanding ~ in the file path (“/home/yourusername/Pictures/…” instead of “~/Pictures/…”) – I’ve had issues with some hotkey commands acting up when presented with ~.

      1. Shamus says:

        Hm. I simplified the scrot command until I got it working, but not a new problem: The screenshot it took is of my desktop AS OF AN HOUR AGO. WTF?!?!

        An hour ago I installed Clementine audio player, just to look at it. Then I closed the Software Manager and did a thousand other things. I just took a screenshot and it contains the Clementine install window.

        What witchcraft is this?!!?!?

        1. bucaneer says:

          That… is strange. If you take another screenshot, does it show the same screen?

          1. Shamus says:

            Yes. Always the same screen, which is unlike either of the workspace windows.

            1. bucaneer says:

              Apparently, it is a known issue for Cinnamon + proprietary ATI drivers, with no apparent solution at this point:

              Given that it affects the built-in screenshot applet (gnome-screenshot) as well as scrot, the problem is probably somewhere deep in the display pipeline, but just in case:

              import -window root screenshot.jpg

              Does this produce a different result?

        2. Asimech says:

          Umm… when I tested Clementine it reorganised my files. I really hope that didn’t happen to you.

        3. ClearWater says:

          Do you realise what this means? It’s a screen-shot-time-machine. With the right configuration and tuning we can see what our ancient ancestors were chatting about!

    2. Shamus says:

      This looked like fun, so I fiddled around with it. Trying the simplest example first, I get:

      giblib error: Saving to file “˜2012-12-30_103047.png' failed

      I made sure the permissions on the folder were to ‘create and delete’ for everyone, which I believe is the most permissive. (I wish it would just show the CHMOD flags, which made more sense to me.)

      In any case, this didn’t fix it.

      Hm. A search turns up a very old thread:

      Which has the same error message, but I can’t draw any conclusions here. I’ve made sure I’ve got scrot and imlib2 (have no idea what “remerge” means) and really this error could mean ANYTHING.

      1. bucaneer says:

        Hm, try adding the destination to the filename instead of the mv command, like this:

        scrot “˜~/Pictures/$%F_%H%M%S.png' -q 1

        In the original command, it saves the file in the current working directory and then moves it. Apparently, the working directory in which hotkey commands operate in Mint/Cinnamon is someplace you don’t have write permissions, which causes the error.

      2. Andrew says:

        “remerge” is a gentoo specific thing, i believe it’s essentially a reinstall. called a merge due to gentoo’s ‘compile everything from source’ method, applys patches and probably does other things (i’m not a gentoo user).

        You could try strace (spesificly strace -e trace=open [command]), traces system calls, somewhat like procmon on windows. If it’s a permission error this should show it.

  17. Antonis says:

    I used vent during the 9.xx and 10.xx distro-time for raiding without issue so maybe it’s a version thing. Try installing through PlayOnlinux, as mentioned above, which does not only pick the best parameters for the applications it supports, but it also downloads the most suitable version of wine. Though I do think that you probably need to install the programs you’ll use with vent in the same container.

  18. Another vote for Audacious. I’ve played with mp3 server daemons, and while the idea is interesting, most of the utility comes from embedded computers or multiple users.

    For vent, I’d say you’re falling into the classic error of trying to use the same program you use on Windows when there isn’t a linux version available. Find something with a specific linux version instead. (Mumble works well, as people have noticed). Does that mean your friends have to also switch? Probably, but Mumble has a Windows version). If you’re not willing to get your friends to switch, or run two clients, well, your options are limited. Sorry.

    For games in general, dual boot or a completely separate computer is the right way to go. I like not having to interrupt all the productive things (or webbrowsing) I am doing in Linux to run a game that takes over most of the system, and — in the case of bugs — may require me to restart X or even reboot. Much rather have games running on separate hardware, especially when it means I can optimize the hardware differently. (Linux — optimized for stability, quiet operation, low power, continuous run. Windows — optimized for game performance, not much else). Don’t get me wrong, I am all for better game support for Linux, and there’s no technical reason it can’t be done. But there are benefits from separating productive work from play.

  19. Nathon says:

    It’s been a long time since I played MP3s on my computer, but it sounds like you might want to give xmms a shot.

  20. Licaon_Kter says:

    movies: smplayer or vlc
    music: gmpc (MPD client) or audacious
    game recording:
    ventrilo fixes (you probably tried them already):

  21. TheUnHidden says:

    Well glc is not really vanished, it just has been incorporated into other projects. And there’s no need to compile stuff yourself either.

    You should give “gamecaster” a try. It’s a glc frontend and especially made for games.

    The instructions to add their ppa and install gamecaster are on that page (three commands on the cli). The ppa includes the packages for glc, so that after you’ve installed it you’ll get the updates as they come in.

  22. David says:

    When I’m on Linux I’m a big fan of Quod Libet as my music player. It’s very similar, in its way, to foobar. (Less focussed on the ridiculous levels of UI customization, but I never really bothered with that anyway.)

  23. fenix says:

    Mumble does have multi-channel audio recording. I’m not sure when they added it, but it’s an option. We can create a password locked channel for Spoiler Warning on the Twentymine Mumble server if you want. It’s no big deal.

    Rhythmbox is a bit more barebones than Banshee, however I’m not sure if it’s as barebones as you’d like.

    Hitting the PrintScrn button takes a screenshot in Linux (at least it does in Ubuntu). It lets you select where that image goes as well. There was a project based off of GLC that looked quite promising and is under development, however I can’t remember what it is called at the moment :(

    And yeah. Games are getting better on Linux, and with the introduction of a SteamBox built on Linux one day we might not need a Windows partition for gaming, but for now it is still necessary.

    Hope that helps a bit.

  24. Veylon says:

    Has anyone else here taken a look at ffmpeg? It’s cross-platform, open-source, streams video/audio to/from a large variety of files and across the net. Granted, it’s a command line utility, but it seems like just the sort of lightweight thing that can be set up to work in the background. Seems like it could well do double-duty for both Vent AND Fraps.

  25. Eddie says:

    I can confirm from personal experience that dual boot works better when you install Windows first. Also, if you have an existing dual boot setup and upgrade from one version of Windows to another (as I recently did going from XP to 7) it may remove your dual boot options. I haven’t gotten around to digging around to unearth my Linux partition yet, so I can’t say how much of a pain this actually is, but it’s worth keeping in mind.

  26. Freggle says:

    I’ve been looking into a new MP3-player/music-library program myself, and found that for example Winamp has indeed way to many features and a cluttered interface. I don’t know about Linux players myself, but for Windows I can really recommend AIMP. Since you’re going for Dual-boot, you might want to try it out. It has some of the features you don’t need (as me neither), but I found those to be quite out of the way, and not troublesome. The basic interface of AIMP is simple, it has great support for keyboard shortcuts and it is just nice to work with.

    Also, you might want to check out this site I just found for Linux alternatives:

  27. Wedge says:

    Rather than dual-boot, I actually run Linux on a Virtual Machine on top of Windows 7–it works really well. With dual-booting, you’re always missing whatever you want to use on the OTHER operating system, and shutting down and rebooting every time you want to switch is annoying. With a VM, you can just open the Linux VM whenever you want to use it, and still have access to everything on Windows that doesn’t have a Linux solution. You can even copy-paste back and forth between Windows and the Linux vm. VirtualBox is free and very, very good.

    1. Rick C says:

      Yeah. You can also share files between the two OSes.

      If Shamus is using the right version of Windows 7, he can even get XP Mode, a free VM with XP in it.

      1. Wedge says:

        I played with XP Mode a little, and it wasn’t very good. I personally just run a Windows XP VM on VirtualBox — it does everything XP Mode does, and has a lot more features to boot. It also works on EVERY version of Windows 7, and not just the super-expensive ones.

        1. Rick C says:

          You know what XM Mode can do that a regular VM can’t? Run it’s apps on your Win7 desktop. Also it’s free. Using a regular VM requires you to have a spare OS license lying around.

          There’s a place for all of ’em.

          1. Zukhramm says:

            It does require me to waste my money on a more expensive Windows 7 edition with a bunch of features I’ll never use.

            1. Rick C says:

              “Waste” isn’t a helpful term. My current computer at work came with Win7 Pro because I need to be on a domain. At home, true, you don’t necessarily need that, but then again the cost of XP Pro if you don’t have a legal, spare license (remember, if you have an OEM copy you’re not legally allowed to switch machines) is probably more than the delta between Win7 Home Premium and Pro.

              1. Zukhramm says:

                As noted by the pronouns in my post, “waste” refers to the value of it in my own situation.

  28. Tobias says:

    I always found recording LPs to be a lot easier on Linux than on Windows. As long as you got the game working already.

    I just use ffmpeg directly to record videos, it can even record 2 separate audio streams, for mic and system output, which is something that no free windows software can do.

    You can bind a hotkey to a shellcommand to make your screenshot, that would probably be the easiest way to take screenshots.

    1. wererogue says:

      I tend to like a little more from a media player than Rhythmbox does, but I must admit it is a *very* friendly, easy-to-use player.

      If you want to go the extra mile, MPD is what I always wanted. It can be finicky with permissions on Ubuntu/Mint, but I *love* being able to have my media server on, projector off, and be able to change the playlist from the netbook on the sofa, or pause the music from the kitchen when I realize I forgot to turn it off.

      There’s a PPA for glc at – these are repositories that can be added to synaptic alongside the official repos, so that you get updates for unofficial software. You won’t be using Ubuntu as a dev for long without using PPAs. But like others have mentioned, if you have the stomach to learn the command-line options (or make yourself a script) FFMPEG is a good capture solution.

  29. jameswilddev says:

    Hey, is that your city in the Pixel City screensaver seen in rss-glx?

    1. ZzzzSleep says:

      I would say so.


      Current Release: 0.9.1 (01/04/10)

      Screen Shots!

      Changelog for 0.9.1:
      Added port of Pixel City, originally by Shamus Young.
      Replaced methods deprecated by ImageMagick.

  30. Dev Null says:

    I would totally buy a car called “The Automobile”.

  31. turtleclock says:

    For an mp3 player, the only one I use is moc (Music on Console). It might be what you need: no gui, low overhead, completely controlled by keystrokes. I love it!

  32. I use Rhythmbox. I’ve tried a couple of the more snazzy-looking modern ones and I had trouble figuring out how to get them to just play an album and not bug me. Rhythmbox will let you muck with playlists and who knows what all, but it doesn’t force you.

    Um, this may be naive because I don’t really do things with screenshots, but on my Mint when I search “screenshot” in the software manager, the top thing it turns up is called “Shutter”, which it claims is a screenshot thingie with many features. Some reviews look positive. So maybe?

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