Sunday, August 23, 2009

I Made The Switch

I recently made the switch. No! Not to Windows 7 !!!!
I switched to Mint.
I have been using Ubuntu since Edgy and became a full time Linux user since Feisty.
As good as it is, I needed a change. Not so much a full distro change but more of a look and feel change.

I had some help with this decision. I was trying out ReneL's new multi-boot DVD which contains Mint (Both Gnome and KDE) along with all the Ubuntu versions, SysRescue and TinyCore.
In case you haven't been following the comments in my blogs and missed it, you can get the torrent from here;

I will also be posting a new article about it and hope to put up some RS links to it.
Now about Mint.
After I installed it I realized that the look was very different. Instead of 2 task bars, there was only one. And that was at the bottom of the screen. I know I said I wanted a new look and feel but I'm so accustomed to having the task bar on top I switched its position.

The install and updates along with additional software installs took about 2 hours.
And thanks to Linux keeping all your personal files in the Home directory along with the ability to have your Home folder loaded into it's own partition, my documents, bookmarks and email were all ready and waiting for me.

So now I will be using Mint until I tire of it and switch to another distro.
But I still have my back up computer that currently has Vector Linux on it that I also use.
I enjoy variety and thankfully Linux provides me with plenty of choices.
Maybe I will just have to set up a multi-boot on my back up computer and install TinyCore next to Vector just for the fun of it.

BTW..... As with all the Debian distros, Streamtuner also needed to be patched for the Shoutcast bug. Mint may look different but it still has it's roots in Debian.

Until next time.


Thursday, August 6, 2009

A Look At DVDStyler (Mini Review)

Recently I came across DVDStyler to make DVD's from some video files I have.
This is my second time trying this software. My first encounter with DVDStyler was a not very successful. But that was back in the Feisty Fawn days.
Today I take back what I said back then about DVDStyler.

I'm using version 1.7.2 and have had no real problems except for the few I will mention in this article.
It is available for Linux and Windows users which is a major plus for open source software.

The layout is simple and easy to navigate. It uses category tabs on the left to pick backgrounds, buttons and files. It's all drag and drop and allows customizing the size, color and font of the buttons and any text you add such as titles.

It converts almost any file fairly fast and allows auto-chaptering and multiple video files. Just add the file to the time line at the bottom and pop in a few sub-menus. Add text, images and frames by right clicking on the screen and make a selection from the menu.

It also offers options to choose the video aspect ratio, video bitrate, audio output of mp2 or ac3, NTSC or PAL formats. Many features but not overwhelming that it will confuse the new user.

I've been using DVDStyler to create a DVD disk and have it save the resulting disk as a ISO. Then I open the ISO with VLC media player to check it. Once I'm satisfied I burn the ISO to a DVD with k3b or you can use the burner of your choice.

The only drawbacks I have had with this DVD creator are as follows:

Background selection is minimal. This can easily be fixed by adding in your own jpg background files using root access to the DVDStyler folder.

The selection of buttons is also minimal. The buttons are svg graphics so they can be scaled to any size with out loosing clarity. Finding additional svg graphics can turn into a scavenger hunt.

When adding a sub-title (srt file) I thought I had figured it out, details and help are sketchy for doing this, but when running the conversion I received an error saying it couldn't find the font file. After a few hours of trying to find a fix I ended up using avidemux to integrate the srt file into the video then used DVDStyler to create the DVD.

I use the restricted extra codecs on my 'nix box but haven't been able to successfully convert DivX avi video files. For this problem I use WinFF to
convert the avi to a DVD compliant mpeg. That way DVDStyler doesn't have to re-encode the video file. It only needs to turn it into the vob and ifo files which only takes 10 -15 minutes depending on the file size.

That said, I have been very happy with the ease and quality of DVDStyler.
It has done what I needed it to do, is easy to use and is faster then most video converters and dvd creators.

Whether you use Linux or Windows, you should do yourself a favor and try out DVDStyler. You may be pleasantly surprised.
And in case you missed the text link you can find it here;