This week, in our Linux Page (in Spanish), we posted a brief tutorial about installing XBMC on Ubuntu 8.10. As you certainly know, XBCM is a complete Media Center based on Ubuntu. This program is multiplatform (Linux, Windows, OS X and also XBOX – not officially supported-) and, in our opinion, is the most efficient and complete open source media center you can find today on the Internet. Moreover, XBMC has developed a special version that could be installed on a USB Key on a Live CD to freely test the application before installing on your PC. The post is brief but contains all the complete instructions to quickly install XBMC without problems. Please, be sure to digit sudo apt-get update in Terminal after you install the new repositories. Recommended!!
Today, in our Linux Page (in Spanish) we posted some brief notes about Ex Falso: a very useful software which allows you to manage your mp3 collections with just few clicks. When saving my CDs on my hard disk, I convert them into mp3 files and then I change their metadata order (or simply I add some more information) using Ex Falso. This software is very simple to install (in Ubuntu, for example, you can add it directly from the “Add/Remove” function contained in the Application menu) and very easy to use. Ex Falso is graphically divided in three main areas: Folders, Songs and a menu area where you directly decide what and how to change your metadatas. After few tests you will able to rapidly use Ex Falso and (we hope) enjoy all its features. Strongly recommended for all that people who have big mp3 collections!
Today, in our Linux Page (in Spanish) we added a brief post about XBMC, the best open source (GPL), free entertainment hub you can find on internet. XBMC is really easy to install (for Linux users, especially in Ubuntu) and its features are very intuitive and simple to configure. Moreover the graphics themes are very attractive and it is able to manage many multimedia formats, “playlists, audio visualizations, slideshow and weather forecast functions”. It is also possible to add many interesting third-party plugins that you can find through a simple google query (XBMC plugin). Last, but not least, XBMC is a multiplatform software, in fact the download page contains four different versions for Windows, XBox, Linux and MAC OSX. When we compared XBMC to the Windows Media Center we did not notice any loss in this open-source media center and, honestly, we were positively impressed by all the XBMC featured we tested. Recommended!
It is true! MP3 format is the most common format we normally use in our everyday applications but MP3 is a lossy compression algorithm and it is not comparable with the quality of uncompressed audio formats as Monkey’s Audio, ALAC, WMA. This week, in our Freeware page, we posted a brief review about some particular features of FLAC: a multiplatform (Linux, Windows, MAC OS X) Free Lossless Audio Codec. Nowadays, FLAC is well and constantly supported by many music player producer. We compared FLAC and MP3 formats using the “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major – Allegro” by Bach and the results were very interesting. For common listeners (as us) the audio quality was, more or less, the same but when we asked to a couple of friends (authentic music “hooligans”) to describe the difference between the two music files (FLAC and MP3) they spent more than 15 minutes of their (and our) time talking about “tones”, “pizzicato” and something else that I really do not remember at the moment! After the listening, when we compared the file extensions, we discovered that the FLAC file was five times bigger than the MP3 (25.6MB vs 5.1MB)… To conclude, we really think that FLAC represents a fantastic (and the best) lossless format for home stereo systems. On the other side, if you are not a music purist, MP3 could be the best choice for listening music on portable audio devices.
Rockbox is the best alternative you can find to many firmware of mp3 player currently on sale. for many models it can be installed without removing the original firmware and in this case you can decide at every boot up what firmware you prefer to use. This week, in our Freeware Page, we have posted a brief review about this open-source firmware which really adds new features to your mp3 player; for example, Rockbox allows you to play movies on a iPod Photo or adds games to your Sansa e200 or c200 series. The installation is not difficult but a minimal previous experience in this field is preferable: if something goes wrong, please, don’t panic but try to solve it following the many tips contained in the Rockbox website or reset your mp3 player. Last but not least, in the “Customizing Rockbox” section you will find a huge quantity of resources to customize your mp3 player. Recommended (and really funny)!
In our Freeware Page we have posted a review about MusikCube, the most powerful competitor to iTunes. It is superfluous to remind that this opensource software has exactly the same features than iTunes (e.g. tags and dynamic playlist), personally I prefer to underline that MusikCube is extremely lightweight (12,792K on my XP), fast (due to the sqlite database engine), compact and easy to use (it has also a good integrated CD ripper) . Unfortunately it is not possible to personalize (or create) the skin but there are more than 20 plugins you can choose between. Moreover I tried to connect my IPod but I did not succeed; with Zen and Rio I had not any problem. To conclude, I suggest MusikCube to all people who are loking for a modern mp3player with a terrific integrated library manager!