Sunday, December 9, 2007

Rhythmbox And Magnatune

Because I like to spend a little too much time in the ubuntu forums, I was going over the Idea Pool for Hardy Heron (the next version of Ubuntu slated for release in April, 2008),, and found a thread discussing music management on Ubuntu.

First, just a pre-thought. I might be alone on this, but I actually *do not* like a lot of the new media players on other operating systems, such as iTunes and Windows Media Player, for the fact that they mostly seem to use a rather large amount of system resources. On the thread, they suggested against the plug-in architecture and urged towards making most features out of the box. Here I like to disagree, as most average users rarely use ALL features included in most media players, so many times end up consuming resources while not actually being used. The plug-in architecture allows me to start off with a relatively lean program, and then add features I like.

With that said, I did spend a minute looking through available plug-ins for Rhythmbox and found Magnatune, which I have browsed music at their website before at and found a few artists I really like (especially Falling You). What surprised me though, is that the plug-in actually allowed an entire collection from Magnatune to be streamed to your computer, and act almost as a second library, with great quality! They are not samples, but the full songs (with a short few words at the end saying this has been track # by artist name at A definite thumbs up. It of course also adds options to purchase the album (by download) or purchase the Physical CD, and retrieve artist information from the website. So if you have Rhythmbox, definitely give it a shot.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

CNR (Beta) on Ubuntu 7.10

A while back, I used Freespire for a while on my laptop that I now have Ubuntu on. I actually started with Ubuntu, but tried out Freespire mostly because it already had the codecs installed and was based on KDE. However, after several Ubuntu releases I became envious of it's advancements and progress, missed the community, and simply was nostalgic so I switched back to Ubuntu.

One of the things I liked most about Freespire was CNR. It was simple, easy, and had my favorite feature of all time (Aisles). So naturally I became excited when was announced and included the ability to install software via CNR on Ubuntu. Of course that excitement may have been a little too early.

I completely skipped the alpha stage, since I am more of an end user (and certainly not a developer) and waited until the Beta announcement, which also came support for the newest version of Ubuntu 7.10. With it here, I decided to give a test run. Now before I go any further, I just want to say that these are my own personal experiences, and may not reflect everyone's experience with (at least, hopefully).

Installing the CNR client was a breeze in Ubuntu. All you have to do is navigate to the download page for Ubuntu, click download, open with GDeb (default action), and it installed. A great first impression.

To give it a test run, I attempted four different software packages: Quake II, Simutrans, Inkscape, and Chromium. In short, I did not get a usable program at all in these trials.

Starting with Quake II, this one actually gave me the least problems in at least getting it installed. I simply navigated to the Games section, and saw it on the first list presented, and being a semi-Quake fan I decided to give it ago. I clicked Install, waited for it to synchronize and download, and installed fine. Now, I did not got a menu anywhere in Gnome, so I pulled up a terminal and typed in quake2 to get it started. After watching it for a few seconds, it returned an error about missing map/graphics or something of the sort (making me guess it may have just been the Quake II engine instead of the full game, which may be my fault for not looking into more). So Quake was a quick no go.

My second piece of software was Simutrans. This is where I found out very quickly that just because it is available on does not mean you can use it. I clicked the Install button, and received an error message that it would not install and it may not be available for your specific distro. So I went back to the page, and found (according to the graphic at the top right with the distro names and graphics) that indeed Ubuntu was not supported and would not install. I browsed through several of the game categories only to find that quite a few did not support Ubuntu, but only Freespire and Linspire.

Going onto the third one, Inkscape, will be brief. It simply froze CNR completely, and caused it to not respond. Nothing more to say. Restarted CNR, and moved on.

My last package was Chromium. Now to make sure, I checked that Chromium was indeed supported for Ubuntu (and it was). Great! I love this game. So I clicked install, but got an error message saying the game was not available on server, so unfortunately I never got to download it and play it. This was the last software I attempted to install, after having several failed attempts.

So after trying for a little while, I decided to postpone using anymore until it has had more time to mature and add additional support for Ubuntu. Until then, I do have a (short) list of suggestions I believe would really place above Ubuntu's native Add/Remove and Synaptic:

  1. Have more packages support Ubuntu
  2. Include games and game demos from commercial Linux companies (such as Linux Game Publishing).
  3. Include older and harder to find Linux games that are still very popular, and make installation a breeze. This includes old Loki games. Securing distribution rights for these games across multiple Linux distros would make a killing.
As for right now, because it is still in beta and because this was a rather short review / rant, I will withold giving a score until the final version of comes out.