Ubuntu Linux AV and Backups
Saturday, February 21, 2009 2:43:10 PM
Not so much the LiveCD from which you can install Ubuntu (and other distros) with ease, but for peculiar questions that may rise. How to edit Digital Video images or movies, how to burn my data on a CD or DVD? How to play these movies on my stand-alone DVD player? How to optimize the use of Compiz Fusion, the remarkable Linux 3D desktop, and why use rotating 'workspaces'? I was astonished to see the many questions about this and other subjects on the Internet. Until I myself met some of these, often burning questions...
Sure! You need not use the desktop manager from Compiz. Most distros come with good looking desktop engines and a rich selection of options to dress your personal desktop (your computer screen) the way you want it. But watching what Compiz Fusion offers for advantages next to the personal "desktop joy" is way beyond anything that Windows ever offered!
Having multiple, concurrent working 'workspaces' is an example. The multiple ways to order folders, files, tasks on your desktop something you'll have to discover. Using those 'workspaces' is but one aspect of the many hours you could spend simply playing with your desktop, changing backgrounds, windows, texts, buttons, icons and whatever. An example of a personal desktop from somebody who wanted to keep things simple - 2 workspaces, no cube, ball or cylinder. Mind the last minute of this presentation!
A rather different matter is backing up files in Ubuntu. Assume the following situation: your PC runs Ubuntu and has 2 partitions on the hard drive. One with the Ubuntu-Linux file system and programmes, another with your data and back-ups. Linux as such is far more compact than Windows. So you'll have universes of space when you own a hard drive of 200 Gigabyte. In fact sufficient to run 4 fullblown Linux distributions with all programmes and data for years. The nagging question however remains: what if that hard drive goes bust? No matter the partitions you would loose your data. Another aspect is too much data on your hard drive, which makes things inaccessible for yourself not withstanding 'search' possibilities that for instance Windows always tried to sell us as an 'advantage'. Cross-referencing data remains comprehensible as long as it concerns clearly structured, coherent data and not the chaotic contents of files we often download from the Internet for which contextual references would be needed - what's this piece all about and how does it relate to similar references in other articles? The computer can't find that out! So you make Folders/Archives for data that more or less belongs together or refers to a main topic, "Weather" for example. Backing these files up on a DVD and removing them from the hard drive is a way to make your computer faster and more reliable as well. Having several tenthousands of files (ever counted?) on your hard drive is no advantage at all, let alone when they are indexed!
So we set out to burn these files on a DVD (or CD). Yes, I tried it too in Ubuntu. Bad surprise at first! Many made the same experience. What appeared simple turned out to be a problem, then burning data onto a DVD failed and does so on several computersystems for in fact unclear reasons. Is it caused by Gnome, its file manager Nautilus, some other cause? It took me 3 tries to figure out, that the (for me!) best solution was a programme called "K3b" that could be installed per 'Synaptic Package Manager' under the System-Administration menu. Forget all the rest when things don't work right away for you! Then most likely "K3b" will do the job in a perfect way. Its user interface is nice, clean and understandable. Just select the CD/DVD drive you would work with, the 'project'-type you would like to run (f.ex. data CD or video DVD etc.), drag and drop the files you want to burn in place and set burn preferences to "multiple session" (!) if you intend to use the CD or DVD more times after the current burn-session. Then burn away. Those who worked with similar software under Windows will find this easy! Remains the question why Gnome didn't come up with a similar good programme and why Nautilus offers an option to save on CD's that doesn't work for me? The alternative KDE desktop seemingly offers a better burner: K3b. But that programme runs as well under Gnome. Here the Ubuntu-team could have been smarter and could have noticed the existing, persistent problems and their solution! The rumour goes that it gets little attention because new fixed mass-memory solutions, like the USB card, are at the verge of introduction. My guess is that the economic crisis will make an end to that dream for a while. We'll have to work with what we have got and save any dollar we don't explicitly need in the years to come!
Working with audio-visual material under Ubuntu is as easy as Linux can offer. Particularly editing video material and converting formats in a way to have it replay on a stand-alone DVD Player is not so easy to achieve at first. However to a major extent this applies to Windows as well. Very specific applications under Linux were programmed by keen developers seeking solutions for their own problems. This "heritage" still lingers around in many distros, not only Ubuntu's. Promising solutions are often obscured and difficult to find at first. Very good, but difficult to use and graphically less attractive programmes are offered instead for their proven solidity and follow-up. It is what you need and most of us are but 'simple' users, seeking easy solutions without hassle and much thinking. There is a difference between a programme like "Avidemux" (Linux and Windows) and the surprising Open Movie Editor (Linux). The latter being somewhat comparable with the 'Windows Movie Editor', yet offering far better results with slightly larger files and more flexible options. See for yourself:
But even Open Movie Editor's wisdom comes to an end when burning movies onto a DVD is involved to play them back on a stand-alone DVD Player. Movies must be converted into the MPEG2 format. That can be burned, together with JPEG pictures and MP3 soundtracks, as DATA to a data-CD or data-DVD and nextly be played back on a TV-set. Conversions can very well be made with "Avidemux". The "K3b" tool the best option to securely burn DVD Player-readable, multi-session data-CD's or data-DVD's. More clear I can't explain this!
It now depends on the Player if it has rigid 'region' control or not. The cheapest, but most certainly not worst Chinese DVD Players allow easy reproduction with menus (!) from data-CD's and DVD's. One of ours costed just 27 dollar. A quite different story however is making professional Video-DVD's, a matter I'll not address here. If questions persist, just google around in this format: "Ubuntu [version],[my question]" (without " " and brackets of course) and many answers will be given. Some of them very useful. Take note of them. I write my Linux questions and problems down as well as the solutions found. For that I use my trusted pen and good old paper as a last resort.