Chapter 13: Tux Rocks

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Music à la Linux

It’s now time to move on to the audio side of things. Yes, Linux does indeed rock. You already learned about the GNOME CD Player in Chapter 7, but in this chapter you will find out even more about your system’s musical talents. You will learn how to rip CDs and create MP3 and Ogg files (which have the .mp3 and .ogg filename extensions), how to change the tags of such files, and how to play those files. You’ll also learn how to play a variety of audio streams.

Audio Formats

Before we go any further, it is probably best to discuss the various formats in which audio data can be stored on your computer. The de facto standards for the longest time have been WAV (created by Microsoft/IBM and using the .wav extension), AU

(from Sun/Unix, and using the .au extension), and AIFF (from Apple), all of which are uncompressed formats. Files saved in these formats are, therefore, exceedingly large, with an average WAV file of CD-quality music weighing in at about 10MB per minute. To put that in perspective, my first Macintosh back in 1988 had a 40MB hard disk — more space than I would ever need, I thought at the time, but not enough to store a WAV file of Nirvana’s “Come as You Are.”

As computers underwent their evolution into the multimedia machines they are today, it became clear that something was going to have to be done about those disk-space devouring audio files. Audio compression formats were thus developed. These compression formats worked, to oversimplify things a bit, by cutting out the portions of a sound signal that the human ear cannot hear — sort of a dog-whistle approach. The most widely known and embraced of these audio compression formats is MP3. Audio files encoded in MP3 format can end up being as little as one-twelfth the size of the original WAV file without any noticeable loss in quality.

Another audio-compression format that was developed was Ogg Vorbis. Ogg Vorbis was a product of the open source community, and so, unlike MP3, which has always been used under the shadow of yet-to-be-exercised patent rights, was free of patent and licensing worries from the get-go. Because of that, and the fact that it was the equal of MP3 in terms of quality and performance (if not better), Ogg Vorbis became the darling of the Linux community, and its de facto audio compression format.



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Linux for Non-Geeks. A Hands-On, Project-Based, Take-It-Slow Guidebook
Linux for Non-Geeks: A Hands-On, Project-Based, Take-It-Slow Guidebook
ISBN: 1593270348
EAN: 2147483647
Year: 2003
Pages: 188

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