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Linux Multimedia Hacks: Make Your Linux Computer Sing (and Play Videos)

December 12, 2005

Sebastopol, CA--When you think of computers with multimedia power you probably don't immediately think of Linux. You may think of Apple's new iMac with built in iSight camera, Front Row, and iLife, or you may think of a Windows XP Multimedia Center. However using open source software and a few simple tips you can easily turn a Linux box into a multimedia powerhouse.

As Kyle Rankin, author of the new Linux Multimedia Hacks (O'Reilly, US $29.95), puts it, "It seems like a person's computer is becoming the multimedia hub more and more these days. Even if you have some sort of portable device to listen to music or watch videos, most of the time you end up doing your ripping, encoding, and storage on your home PC." Linux has often been overlooked for these types of applications, but multimedia programs under Linux are getting more and more mature. The list of things you can't do with free open source tools under Linux keeps getting shorter as the multimedia tools get easier to use and more powerful.

Rankin's book, one of O'Reilly's popular "Hacks" series, contains a hundred hacks to help readers get the best multimedia experience from their computers. Topics covered include:

  • Building a MythTV digital media hub that allows you to record television, watch videos, listen to music, and even play classic arcade games
  • Editing audio, video, and images, using both command-line and GUI tools, all of them free
  • Managing your music collection by synchronizing your MP3 player and desktop and using dynamic playlists
  • Creating and burning your own DVDs and VCDs
  • Streaming audio and video over the Internet
  • Syncing your digital camera to your PC to organize, touch up, and display your photographs
  • Rankin sums it up well: "I would like the reader to know that Linux multimedia tools are as good and in some cases better, than their counterparts on other platforms. In some situations all you need is a little instruction and everything else will fall into place--that's the sort of thing I'm trying to accomplish with the book.

    "Linux can be a great multimedia platform, once you learn how to use it," Rankin adds. "The problem is that documentation for these tools is often scattered, incomplete, and in some cases overly complicated. Plus there are plenty of great tools that few people have even heard of. Linux Multimedia Hacks puts all of this information in one place written in plain English."

    Additional Resources:

    Linux Multimedia Hacks
    Kyle Rankin
    ISBN: 0-596-10076-0, 310 pages, $29.95 US
    1-800-998-9938; 1-707-827-7000

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