When it comes to multimedia software most Linux distributions have one thing in common: no proprietary codecs - and this might include MP3 playback. I have no deeper insights in the license terms of the MP3 codec, but there is a whole website about it by THOMPSON, the company claiming to control MP3 licensing: mp3licensing.com. There are other proprietary codecs as well, i.e. “aac” which I think is the default file format for Apple’s iTunes and devices by Nokia and Sony. Wouldn’t it be nice to not care about this crap? The open source alternative is “ogg vorbis”, providing great quality audio files and high compression at the same time. So, how can you switch from mp3 to ogg?
I still like Debian and Debian based distros like sidux or Ubuntu most, but - as always, if something works too well - I want something new… As I recently joined a training course at Red Hat and a new release of Fedora just hit the ftp servers, I went for Fedora 10.
Debian has one of the largest software repositories around but also has a very strict policy (which I respect) when it comes to legal stuff concerning free software or copyrights. I guess this is the reason why some multimedia software packages are missing. If you stick with Debian you have to install them manually, or - if you want the easy way - you could of course add some third party respositories or change for example to Ubuntu which doesn’t seem to share Debian’s concerns. As I’m running sidux (which is based on Debian Sid) I wanted to go for the manual installation (I don’t like to add repositories other than Debian’s). Debian comes with an MPlayer package but it lacks menconder. If you need menconder you’ll have to install from sources. lame, transcode, xvid and dvd::rip are not part of Debian repositories at all, so we’ll have to install them from sources, too. In this HOWTO I’ll explain how this worked for me (running sidux on amd64). I guess it should be similar to Debian testing or even stable.