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Linux Multimedia Hacks 99

MikeD writes "I just got my copy of the latest release in the O'Reilly's 'Hacks' series, "Linux Multimedia Hacks" by Kyle Rankin. If you are familiar with the other books in the 'Hack' series, this one will seem familiar." Read the rest of Mike's review.
Linux Multimedia Hacks
author Kyle Rankin
pages 330
publisher O'Reilly
rating 8
reviewer MikeD
ISBN 0-596-10076-0
summary Tips & Tools for Taming Images, Audio, and Video

There are 5 'Chapters', each focusing on a specific multimedia topic starting from the most basic/common and moving up the multimedia food chain. The chapters cover (in order) Images, Audio, Video, Broadcast media, and the Web. The hacks in each section are similarly arranged, usually starting with the simplest and moving to more complex issues. They helpfully put a little rating symbol by each hack indicating if it is for beginners, intermediate or advanced users. While that is a little simplistic, it does give you some hint at the complexity of that particular 'hack'.

Because this is a 'hack' book, it is really designed so you can look up the topic you want. For example in Chapter 3: Video, there is a "hack" explaining how to convert from one video format to another. If that is what you need to do, turn to hack 63 and follow along and you are done.

But they put a little extra effort into the layout and topics covered here and you *could* use this as a great introduction to a particular multimedia area as well.

Lets look at Chapter2: Audio for example. The first 'hack', number 13, is titled "Mix Your Audio for Perfect Sound. This hack begins by exploring the audio systems in your system, the hardware, the sources and such then finishes by introducing a couple of common tools for controlling your audio, aumix and alsamixer. The next 'hack', "Surround Yourself with Sound" goes into details on how to get sound out of your system. It discusses speakers, 5.1 surround sound and how to use the tools alsmixer, aplay and others to set up, test and ultimately enjoy the cool audio available while watching movies.

Together those two 'hacks' make a pretty basic introduction to PC audio under Linux. From there the audio hacks include format changing, ripping, burning CDs music management and much more. You really could start at the 13 and work your way through to hack 46 and have a very good understanding of audio, PC audio and how to get the most out of it on your Linux PC.

So it really is more than just a collection of hacks. It can lead you from the basics of screen capture ('hack' number 1), to image manipulation, animation, then move on to audio and video. In Chapter 4 they get into TV tuner cards, Myth TV, streaming audio and video, ripping to broadcasting.

Chapter 5, Web hacks is sort of the odd man out in this book. In some ways it is separate from the other four in that it is directed more towards the web, which is something that would require several whole books in itself to cover well. But they included a few ideas, like "Star in Your Own Reality TV Show (hack #97), that do relate to some of the prior material.

Over all this will be a very useful book to anyone who is new to multimedia, but even some more advanced users will find some interesting and useful ideas, I think. Well worth checking out."

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Linux Multimedia Hacks

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  • Great review (Score:3, Interesting)

    by XMilkProject ( 935232 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @02:53PM (#14744073) Homepage
    That was a well written review!

    The book sounds cool, I might go pick up a copy.

    I am curious, as I rarely purchase linux related books, is there alot of distribution specific material? Or is it overly generic to avoid being tied to a certain setup?

    For instance when dealing with the many tools i'm sure the book discusses, there could be KDE and GNOME specific implementations, as well as alot of differences on how you will find/install the tool depending on distribution. How is this sort of thing handled?
  • by bogaboga ( 793279 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @03:05PM (#14744167)
    While I appreciate the efforts of hackers to bring the cutting edge Multimedia experience to Linux, I always find the interfaces to programs used to play audio/video on Linux very wanting.

    In some of the cases, a choice of different engines for use is provided. Sometimes, a change in an engine will crash the app! And there is no easy way to know this choice even exists.

    I particularily appreciate the folks at [] for a job well done.

    But again, I fine Linux feels heavy, even on an AMD 2800+ Sempron processor with 512MB of RAM. On the other OS, it's all a snap.

    Can someone tell me why [] is still not that popular?

  • by rjnagle ( 122374 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @03:48PM (#14744526) Homepage
    This sounds like an interesting book, and I'll probably buy it, but looking over the Table of Contents, this book is geared more toward Linux Multimedia Management (PVR, mp3s) than doing actual recording and capturing.

    I'm a podcaster trying to figure out the best way to input mike/mixer into my linux laptop, and had the damnest time figuring out.

    Mastering the software stuff is easy (relatively speaking). Much harder is figuring out how to get your hardware to work. About the best resource I've found for that is this usb device database []. Under each multimedia device are user comments about how they made it work.

    Also, a few months ago I reviewed a book, Digital Video Hacks []. More about video production than linux, the book nonetheless a few things from a linux perspective. Highly recommended!

    On another note, why hasn't anyone published a decent GIMP manual yet? The last book is a good three years old, and a lot has happened to gimp since then. I would love to see a Gimp Hacks book sometime. I could really use that!
  • by fwitness ( 195565 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @05:59PM (#14745504)
    I also fondly remember that day. The voice that emerged from my speakers said:

    "My name is Linux Torvalds and I pronounce Linux Lee-nooks"

    And I'm like WTF? I thought Lin-ukks was a friggin atrocity to call my new Lie-nux installation. Now it's got nooks? This is just lue-duk-cruss.
  • Re:excellent! (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Halvy ( 748070 ) on Friday February 17, 2006 @09:41PM (#14746881) Journal

    I wouldn't hold my breath there buddy, cause a book aint gunna help the helpless.

    You keep waiting for Gates & Co. to deliver your stock programs.

    And several million other folks and myself will continue to improve an OS that has its roots in the worlds phone network and the InterNet.

    What's funny is people 'like you' are sort of 'locked' out of the real benefits of Linux by 'default', because of your IQ and propensity to learn. :)

    -- My favorite thing about OSS *IS* its Militancy!!

Usage: fortune -P [] -a [xsz] [Q: [file]] [rKe9] -v6[+] dataspec ... inputdir