Tuesday, June 9, 2009

iPods and Banshee

Scott Mann posted a note to the Boulder Linux Users' Group Mailing list, asking for advice about iPods, MP3 players, and what software to use to manage them under Linux.

As you'd expect, much of the advice was hyperbolic. "Don't get an iPod. They're unuseable." Quick, someone tell Steve Jobs.

I replied with my recent experience.

A few months ago, I switched my girlfriend, Kristina, over to Linux; her old, G3, iBook was finally biting the dust. She's been completely happy with Ubuntu.

Last week, she bought an iPod Nano on eBay.

She's going to fill it with
her Dad's favorite music and give it to him.

When it arrived, she took it out of the box, turned to me, and said, "How do I put music on this?"

I took Scott Mann's advice and installed Banshee. It mostly just worked. It rips CDs to ogg by default, but I kept throwing gstreamer packages at it until it said it knew how to create mp3s, too.

To my mild surprise, it now also converts flac, ogg, wmv, and wv files to mp3s, on the fly, when I drag them onto the iPod. I found this out by accident. I mean, uh, by carefully reading all the documentation.

Still, after reviewing this thread, I started to wonder whether, instead, I should have traded Kristina in for a smarter girlfriend -- one who'd have bought an mp3 player with a much better interface and then re-flashed it with Linux or RockBox herself.

When I asked her if she thought so, too, she ignored the question.

Maybe she's smart enough.

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