Mandrake the Music Man
Mandrake has won my undying support this time.
After installing a number of the more popular Linux distributions, I
was very excited to find that at least one group of software writers
had the patience and the courage to set up the music program defaults
with the lazy user in mind. Newcomers to Linux from Mac or Microsoft
will feel quite at home. In fact, most will be more than comfortable.
They will be delighted.
Mandrake 9.1 astonished me. It was my last install of about 8
different distributions, and I was reluctantly getting used to
mounting CDROM players and "pointing" the software to the
correct devices. Some had auto-mount, and some had software that
worked without too much work, but none had been ready to use right
out of the box. And then I installed Mandrake 9.1.
If you tend to use a computer as your music centre, and you are
unsure of which Linux distribution to install, give serious
consideration to Mandrake, especially if you are migrating from Mac
or Microsoft. With Mandrake, the software is all there - no extra
purchases, no downloads, no installation hassles. And it works
without changes. Reboot your machine and make music.
Here's what I tested, and why I was amazed.
The first thing I did was put an audio CD in the tray. Mandrake
immediately went on the net and returned with the info about the CD.
KsCD is the default player in KDE, and it displayed the song titles
and waited for me to press the play arrow. The sound was crisp and clean.
Next I put a data CD in the tray, opened my home folder with the
mouse, and by clicking icons and names, moved to /mnt/cdrom. And
there they were, dozens of mp3 folders I had stored on the disc. No
mounting, no command line, no hassle. In fact, when I clicked on an
mp3 file, Noatun jumped onto the screen and began playing the music.
Magic again. However, I did find it more useful to open XMMS, and
with my mouse drag the music to the list window, and click the play
button. As you can see, audio CDs and data CDs play easily. No
searches on Google are necessary to get things running.
This was a real surprise. I put one of my favourite audio CDs in the
tray, called up Grip, and prepared myself for frustration. The first
discovery I made was that it automatically went on the web, obtained
the name of the CD and the individual cuts, and these later appeared
as the names of the mp3s.
I put a check mark beside each selection, and clicked rip and encode.
I was used to error messages on the first try. But I didn't have to
do anything else. The defaults were perfect.
The second discovery I made was that the files appeared in my
home directory in the mp3 folder, labeled and ready to use - in their
very own directory named after the CD!
The only complaint I have in this review concerns the download
manager. The Mozilla manager in Suse allowed me to have at least 6
downloads going at the same time.
This downloader only lets me get up to two, and the first one hogs
the bandwidth. So I had to stay around the computer to keep it busy.
And the Konqueror downloader requires that I write the name of the
file to be saved, or at least write something, as I start the
download. Not good for a mouseketeer like me. But these are trivial concerns.
Copying a CD
It couldn't be simpler. I put a CD in my burner, called up K3b,
clicked the double-disc icon for copying, changed none of the
defaults except the speed, and the program did the rest. The new CD
is a lovely duplicate. The defaults were flawless.
Making an ISO
This isn't music, but it uses the same tools. A Redhat ISO file that
I had downloaded was sitting patiently in my Documents directory. I
opened K3b, clicked on the "make an ISO" icon, and watched
a window open. I selected the Redhat download in the little window,
and then clicked "MD5 Sum" button. It was identical to the
download site's number, so now I was free to click "Write".
After a short while I put the CD ISO in a plastic case. Done! Not one
thing had to be changed. It doesn't get any better.
Making an Audio CD from MP3s
Again I opened K3b, as well as another window with my music MP3s. I
clicked the icon for "new audio project". From the window
with the MP3s I used drag and drop to add selections until I was 15
seconds short of 73 minutes of music.
The graph at the bottom kept me informed about my space useage on the
CD. I clicked my mouse to tell the program to go ahead, and in
awhile, I had a regular audio CD, ready to use. It couldn't be simpler.
It doesn't get any easier, in any system. Mandrake has put together
the hardware detection, the software, and the system defaults to make
9.1 the classiest of the linux distributions - at least for music
making. And for the desktop users new to linux, this has to be a huge
plus. Sing along with Mandrake.....
Editors Note: For an earlier article on Mandrake 9.1 see the Mandrake
9.1RC2 Review. You can also get a copy of the Mandrake Linux 9.1
CDs for $15 ($12 for members)! Details here.
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