The perfect linux desktop (part 2): Multimedia support

In this post I’ll list and give installation instructions for the media applications that I have found most useful on my Linux Mint desktop. That should cover photo management, video and music.

1. Photo Organizer


Shotwell photo organizer

OK, this may come as a surprise to some, but if I were you… I’d ditch F-Spot! Really, just uninstall it. There’s a much better application that actually works, and it’s called Shotwell!! It is the default photo organizer in Fedora 13.

I really like the Shotwell project, it does what it’s supposed to do, and it does it well. There’s also a very helpful on-line manual.

The fastest way to install it, is either via the package manager, or by firing up a console and typing:

$ sudo apt-get install shotwell

If, however, you want to make sure that you’ll always have the latest version for your distribution, follow the instructions at their website (check the option for Ubuntu), which are, in short, to fire up a console and enter the code below (you can also drag-n-drop the code, from here to the terminal, line by line!!)

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:yorba/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install shotwell

2. Video Editing


PiTiVi video editor

To quote their website, PiTiVi is a free, intuitive and featureful movie editor for the Linux desktop.

For a list of features, take a look at this page. It is a fairly new project, but it shows great potential and it is already full featured and fully usable.

In order to install it, you can use the package manager, or just fire up a console and enter:

$ sudo apt-get install pitivi

In case that you want to use the latest beta version (beware, this may break things), you can add the development repository:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:gwibber-daily/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install pitivi

3. Video Transcoding & Converting


WinFF 1.1.1 for Ubuntu

When it comes to video transcoding, there’s only one choice on my mind – WinFF. To quote their website:

WinFF is a GUI for the command line video converter, FFMPEG. It will convert most any video file that FFmpeg will convert. WinFF does multiple files in multiple formats at one time. You can for example convert mpeg’s, flv’s, and mov’s, all into avi’s all at once.

WinFF has many presets for output targets and it keeps getting better. You can install it using the package manager, but I recommend getting the latest version, following the procedure below (in a terminal):

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:paul-climbing/ppa
$ sudo apt-get install winff

This will work just fine for almost everybody. However, in order to get the absolute maximum out of this program, you may need to get the unstripped versions of ffmpeg. These libraries are available at the medibuntu repository (Multimedia, Entertainment & Distractions In Ubuntu). Please note the disclaimer from their website:

Medibuntu is a repository of packages that cannot be included into the Ubuntu distribution for legal reasons (copyright, license, patent, etc), related to geographical variations in legislation regarding intellectual property, security and other issues.

Patent and copyright laws operate differently depending on which country you are in. Please obtain legal advice if you are unsure whether a particular patent or restriction applies to a media format you wish to use in your country.

See Ubuntu’s Free Software Philosophy and the FreeFormats page for a more comprehensive discussion of these issues.

If you decide to add this repository to your system, give the following commands at a terminal and then do a [code]sudo apt-get update; sudo apt-get upgrade[/code]

Replace $(lsb_release -sc) by the corresponding release of Ubuntu in Linux Mint (click here for the Mint name corresponding to each Ubuntu release). For example, if you are using Linux Mint Isadora, replace “$(lsb_release -sc)” with “lucid”:

$ sudo wget --output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list$(lsb_release -cs).list && sudo apt-get --quiet update && sudo apt-get --yes --quiet --allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get --quiet update

$ sudo apt-get --yes install app-install-data-medibuntu apport-hooks-medibuntu

4. DVD Ripping

There are three apps that I like for the task of DVD ripping: AcidRip, DVD::Rip and K9Copy!



For AcidRip, just go to the package manager and install it, pretty straightforward.

To quote SourceForge:

AcidRip is an automated front end for MPlayer/Mencoder written in Perl, using Gtk2::Perl for a graphical interface. Makes encoding a DVD just one button click!

AcidRip is by far the easiest app for ripping DVDs. It’s main advantage is that, most of the times, in order to encode a DVD into avi, it really only takes one click!



DVD::Rip is an old-school application, at least as far as appearances go. A newbie may easily be intimidated by the user interface, but all in all, it is the most capable ripper. Anything you can imagine that a DVD ripper should do, it does it. You can install it from the package manager.

Just for the fun of it, check out the features list at their website. It’s quite long!!

One final note: in order to get maximum results when handling encrypted DVDs that you have bought and wish to back up, it may do better after you install the library libdvdcss2.

This is a library that you may find at medibuntu, so read the disclaimer and the relevant info further up in the post. You will be able to install libdvdcss2 after you have activated the medibuntu repository.



Another great application for backing up your DVDs is K9Copy. It is very similar in functionality to the windows program DVDShrink.

You can compress a 9gb DVD so that it will fit on a 4.7gb disk, preserve original menus and even choose which languages or subtitles to back up or leave out. You can also set the output to be an avi or an iso file.

5. CD Ripping


GRip in action

There’s only one app that I like here: GRip! This is the best app I’ve ever used in order to back up my CDs.

Features list:

  • Full-featured CD player with a small screen footprint in “condensed” mode
  • Database lookup/submission to share track information over the net
  • HTTP proxy support for those behind firewalls
  • Loop, shuffle, and playlist modes
  • Ripping of single, multiple, or partial tracks
  • Encoding of ripped .wav files into MP3 files (as well support for OGG and FLAC)
  • Simultaneous rip and encode
  • Support for multiple encode processes on SMP machines
  • Adding ID3v1/v2 tags to MP3 files
  • Cooperating with DigitalDJ, my SQL-based MP3 jukebox

6. Audio Editing



In my experience, there is no sound editor with so many features, that is so easy to use, at the same time, as is Audacity.

The features list is too long to post!!

7. Music Player & Organizer



For a long time, Amarok (“Wolf” in Native American) had been the only reason for which I had KDE libraries installed on my Gnome machine. Up until 2008. That’s when version 2.0 came out, which I then thought was the worst thing that could happen to the project. Partly because it was completely unusable, partly because I could really not see where the poet was going with it (coding is poetry, right?).

I then tried several other solutions, among which I have to say that Exaile was the next best thing.

Over time, however, Amarok got back on track, and it is now, once again, the only reason for which I keep KDE libraries installed on my Gnome machine.

With Amarok, you will really rediscover your music. Really.

Oh, and by the way, it also has a built-in equalizer!!!

You can install it from the package manager and you’re good to go. However, what kind of geek would you be, if you did not follow the instructions below?

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kubuntu-ppa/backports
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install amarok
$ sudo aptitude install phonon-backend-xine

In case you have a “need for expeditious velocity”, you can follow the instructions from this excellent post, in order to have Amarok use MySQL as a back-end database. Combined with the embedded help from Amarok itself (in database settings), you get the following example. Replace with your own data and run in a terminal:

[code]sudo apt-get install mysql-server mysql-client[/code]

This will install the database. Make sure you set an administrator password when asked. Then, enter these commands (don’t you just love how efficient the terminal is? :P)

[code]mysql -p -u root
GRANT ALL PRIVILEGES ON amarokdb.* TO ‘amarokuser’ IDENTIFIED BY ‘password’;

Finally, fill in the same data in Amarok’s database settings, restart MySQL, then restart Amarok set it to completely rescan the music folder.

Amarok’s functionality can be expanded by scripts. For example, in order to have a nice list of Greek radio stations streaming through Amarok, you can install this script. Just go download and then install through Amarok’s script manager.

Update, November 2010

8. MKV muxer

MKVToolnix — Cross-platform tools for Matroska

Just found out about it, you can follow the instructions here to set it up!!

  • Unlimited video/audio track layers
  • Full undo/redo history
  • Basic clip manipulation
    • Trimming
    • Snapping
    • Splitting/cutting
    • Ripple edits/roll edits
  • Frame stepping, keyboard controls and shortcuts
  • Audio editing
    • Sound mixing of multiple concurrent audio layers
    • Trimming, splitting/cutting
    • Volume keyframe curves
    • Fast audio waveforms
  • Video thumbnails
  • Fast, playhead-centered zooming
  • Mousewheel integration with modifier keys for timeline navigation
  • Scrubbing

Linking/grouping of clips

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Stratos Laspas

Stratos Laspas

O Στράτος Λάσπας είναι Certified Eating Psychology & Mind-Body Nutrtition Coach. Η προσωπική συμβουλευτική υποστήριξη στην ψυχολογία της διατροφής (Eating Psychology Coaching) είναι μια συναρπαστική και καινοτόμος προσέγγιση που αντιμετωπίζει με αποτελεσματικότητα θέματα βάρους, αδηφαγίας (binge eating), υπερφαγίας (overeating), συναισθηματικής υπερφαγίας (emotional eating), προκλήσεις σε σχέση με την προσωπική εικόνα που έχουμε για το σώμα μας (body image), τις αιώνιες, ατελείωτες και επαναλαμβανόμενες δίαιτες (yo-yo dieting), καθώς και ποικιλία ζητημάτων υγείας και σωματικών συμπτωμάτων που σχετίζονται με τη διατροφή, όπως η λειτουργία της πέψης, η αίσθηση κόπωσης, η πεσμένη ή ευμετάβλητη διάθεση, η λειτουργία του ανοσοποιητικού και άλλα.

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