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Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Spice up Windows: replace it with Linux; part 2

In my previous post I started to explain the process of "spicing up" the Windows installation by moving to Linux. This time I will explain the 2nd step: Spicing up Multimedia applications.

I define multimedia applications as applications used for the following tasks:

  • Listening to music
  • Listening to internet radio
  • Watching movies

So, without further due, lets dive in:

1. VLC - is one of the best multimedia applications ever. I use it extensively for music playing/listening, watching movies, and listening to some very cool internet radio stations. It is an open source project, supports replaying virtually all formats and containers in existence (except some exotic ones), supports subtitles, playlists and many more.

In an ideal world, I think I'd just suggest VLC and that would be it. But we don't live in such world, and I will provide couple more applications:

2. Last.FM - this service allows creating "custom" radio stations based on personal choice and preference. It is very similar in functionality to Pandora, but Pandora has recently shut their service outside the United States, so as I live outside the US, I had to find something else. In fact I already have used more that Pandora, so the "switch" came to me with no big problem.

3. Jajuk and Songbird - these two are media management utilities, quite recent but fairly usable. I suggest them in case you have tones of multimedia and you're tired managing it manually. If manual management doesn't bother you (and you're fine doing it), then there's no real need to install multimedia packages. Jajuk is a Java application and Songbird is more of a web browser with vast multimedia features, that allow it to be digital media manager. You all should know though, that I don't use media management applications, so my knowledge in this area is limited, so any feedback on this would be greatly appreciated.

Now, I have to mention couple more things:

1. iTunes - while the best in its field for managing multimedia content, I don't suggest using it. Using iTunes would be justified if I were trying to explain the move from Windows to Mac OS, but since I'm trying to encourage people to "stay" with their hardware and just to move to better operating environment, move to Mac OS is beyond the scope of this subject.

2. Photo management - I wasn't sure whether to suggest it or not, and if so, then in which category? I've decided to explain it here, in "Multimedia" context but still apart. For photo management I am suggesting to install Picasa - it is one of the Google's acquired assets. It is in an essence a photo management application, which does a really great job managing photos, but no so great job for adjusting them and making small changes/fixes. So, this one is great for management, and if someone knows great application for "simple"/"minimal" photo manipulations, please let me know and I will add it to this list with links to people who suggested it.

After you install aforementioned applications, start using them. It is important to leave older application aside, just in case. But use these new ones to get used to them. I hope you will find those application easy to use and transfer your data to new applications. Take some time with these applications, say couple of weeks to see how it feels. If it feels good, move to next step, if not - use it for little more. These are all great applications and they all are very usable and there's no reason one should have problem to get along with them.

Next time I will explain how do we install Office/Production applications (and which ones) to make life in Windows more productive (and in some cases - cheaper).

Feedback for everything is greatly appreciated.


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