Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Linux: Codecs, Proprietary Drivers & Hassle

I'm currently playing around with linux distros trying to find one that suites me. I've a collection of coverdisks from linux mags, and I'm to-ing and fro-ing, installing the various flavours on my new computer. But I'm finding it *very* frustrating.


First of all, the box came with Vista pre-installed. And whatever else can be said about micros~1 - Vista looks great! But I like my command line, so I reduced the Vista partition; created a few new ones and installed Ubuntu 7.04.

Ubuntu vs Media

My first impressions was that Ubuntu looks fairly ugly - or maybe 'old' is a better word - compared to Vista. Ubuntu catches up with the 3D desktop effects, and after installing NVIDIA's proprietary drivers from the "Restricted Drivers" tool, everything was running smoothly.

That was until I tried to play MP3's and the video tutorials from the guitar mag coverdisks I've lying around. Unsucessfully - although in fairness Vista doesn't play MPEG4's or MOVs out of the box either. I've no internet connection at home, so I can't use the automatic download tools to fetch the codecs. Hunting around on the net gave me no clues on what packages to download - and even if I fire up Synaptic and ask it to write a download script I've still no idea what to ask it to download.

LinuxMint vs Drivers

Then I heard of LinuxMint with it's bundled codecs. So I ordered it from On-Disk and was pleased to see it arrive after only 4 days or so. I much prefer the colour scheme, but again, things like the (IMHO) very poor icons make it look a bit rusty. The mintMenu is fairly cool and friendlier that Ubuntu's two-panel approach. But LinuxMint doesn't come with the *&^%£€<¹!¡ NVIDIA drivers!!

I'm going to have to stop being such a tight-arse and get my home computer wired up to the web. Or wait until NVIDIA open-source their drivers...

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