Sunday, 27 February 2011

MP3 files in Debian

A lot of new users move from Ubuntu to another Debian based distro to limit the ammount of change they experience. But often can be a bit daunted by the challenges that Ubuntu made easy for them. One such is music files in MP3 format.

Whilst I personally use Ogg Vorbis and would encourage all others to, I am realistic that a lot of people still want to use their MP3 files and even build up their collection.

*If you are unsure what the term "as root" means then simply add sudo before each command that requires root privileges, you will be required to enter your password as sudo is a powerful tool*

Playing MP3 files

For playing MP3 files, the quickest method is to download VLC player. This is available from the software repositories from the majority of distros. This can be installed very easily:

1. Open the terminal

2. As root type: apt-get install vlc

This now gives you a player.

Ripping CDs to MP3 format

Should you want to rip your CDs to MP3 format then we still have another few steps to take.

1. Open the terminal

2. As root type: apt-get install sound-juicer

This gives a program that will rip the music from a CD and save it onto the computer. We can load it up from the main menu (usually listed under the multimedia or sound and video), called Audio CD Extractor.

If we open this up and click on edit and preferences we should be greeted by a window as shown below:

Down near the bottom of the window we should see Output Format, this by default is set to CD Qua;ity, Lossy (.ogg type). At this point if we click on this it will not give us the option of MP3. We still have a few more things to do.

The package we need is not available in the Debian repos due to Debian's commitment to free software. But we can add this. We need to go back to our terminal.

3. As root type: nano /etc/apt/sources.list (if you are met with the message unknown command nano, then you can retype the command replacing nano with gedit)

4. Decide what repos you would like to add:

Stable: deb stable main non-free
Testing: deb testing main non-free
Unstable: deb sid main non-free

Add only one of the above choices, just type the part in bold to the end of document.

5. Exit the file by pressing Ctrl + X, it will then ask you if you wish to save press y and then hit return twice.

This will add the repos to our system, but we also need to have the keyring before the repos will work.

6. Download the Debian Multimedia keyring from here.

7. Navigate to the directory and, as root, type: dpkg -i debian-multimedia-keyring*.deb

8. as root, type: apt-get update

9. as root, type: apt-get install gstreamer0.10-lame gstreamer0.10-plugins-ugly

That's it.

To check it has worked open up Audio CD Extractor again, click on edit and preferences. This time when we click on Output Format, MP3 should be an option.

Enjoy your music.

Saturday, 26 February 2011

Formatting a USB pen drive with the Command Line

The vast majority of users today are probably wandering why I would even consider writing a 'how to' for formatting anything from the command line. The vast majority of distros come with gparted installed and that is an easier option to format any drive with the added convenience of a nice graphical front end.

However for those users who like to test out new distros on a regular basis, a USB pen drive is now the preferred option to boot into a live environment. Why? Well for starters programs like Unetbootin make it very easy to put a live distro onto a pen drive. This can be run, booted straight from the stick, without ever having the need to burn a CD. After testing and/or installing the distro the drive can be reused, unlike the CD which may be used as a coaster before ending up in the bin.

Some programs, when they put the distro onto the pen drive, trick the computer into thinking that the pen drive is a CD. It works fine for testing the distro, but when it comes to wiping it you are unable to do it from the file manager (CDs are read only) and gparted will not format it (it does drives not CDs). So your left with a pen drive that behaves like it can't be altered, but this is where the command line is a useful tool.

This will wipe all the data off the pen stick, for safety reasons I would strongly advise disconnecting any other external USB hard drives or pen sticks at this point.

First of all you need to find out the stick is listed as
1. open up the terminal

2. type: fdisk -l

This will tell you the location of your USB drive, in the case below it is located at /dev/sdd so I'll use that for the rest of the tutorial. Please remember to substitute in the actual location of the drive when you are doing this.
kevie@kev-pc:~$ fdisk -l

Disk /dev/sdd: 4009 MB, 4009754624 bytes
124 heads, 62 sectors/track, 1018 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 7688 * 512 = 3936256 bytes
Sector size (logical/physical): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
I/O size (minimum/optimal): 512 bytes / 512 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00000000

Device Boot Start End Blocks Id System
3. unmount the drive with the command: umount /dev/sdd

4. I'm going to assume that your wanting the pen drive formatted to FAT32 to allow you to use it on any system. Type: mkdosfs -F 32 -I /dev/sdd

That's it, your done.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

NoS-LUG Shirts Update

A while back I spoke about the North of Scotland Linux User Group printing a t-shirt with a view to wearing it at an upcoming open source event such as Oggcamp. Well after a lengthy wait the t-shirts are now available online at in the UK or for international orders. Two t-shirts have been created, although these can be customised to any colour the buyer wishes, the default colouring is light blue and navy blue (shown below). A NoS-LUG coffee mug is also available. These items can be viewed here at the store, hopefully there shall be more items to follow.

Please leave any feedback of the items in the comment boxes below.