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Wine, Linux and Multimedia Software (Part 2)

In the second part of this feature, I will focus on my experience of running three different Windows applications under Wine. These are mp3DirectCut (an audio editor and recorder), Mp3tag (a universal tag editor), and CDex (a very popular CD ripper with more than 38 million downloads to date). They are all fairly small tools.

Unlike the software featured in the first part of this article, the applications here are not proprietary software. In the case of mp3DirectCut and Mp3tag they are released under a freeware license, whereas CDex is published under the GNU General Public License version 3. However, the developers of this software have elected, for whatever reason, not to release Linux versions.


mp3DirectCut

mp3DirectCut is a fast and extensive lossless audio editor and recorder for MP2 and MP3 files. This software lets a user directly cut, copy, paste or change the volume with no need to decompress files for audio editing. This saves encoding time and preserves the original quality, because nothing is re-encoded.

The built in recorder creates mp3 on the fly from your audio input. Using Cue sheets, pause detection or Auto cue users can easily divide long files.

Whilst mp3DirectCut is extremely simple and intuitive to ease, it also has a good feature set supporting non-destructive cut, copy and paste, mp3 recording, mp3 visualization, tags, cue sheet support, track splitting, basic audio manipulation (e.g. fade, normalize, amplification), and more.

The installer for mp3DirectCut worked fine, although it was the only application where a Wine menu entry was not automatically created. Apart from this minor inconvenience, the software ran absolutely spotlessly in Wine. In fact it seemed almost as if it ran slightly quicker in Wine than it does under Windows. Another complete unqualified success!

mp3DirectCut is not necessarily a superior audio editor to Audacity, another easy-to-use audio editor and recorder. Audacity also has the advantage that it is cross-platform running natively under Windows, Mac OS X, and Linux, and is released under a freely distributable license. However, I am already experienced in using mp3DirectCut and never tried Audacity under Windows. Given that mp3DirectCut does everything I want in the audio editing world, it is great that Wine enables me to run the application under Linux.


CDex

Chances are if you have used Windows in the past you will have given CDex a whirl. CDex is a CD-Ripper, extracting digital audio data from an Audio CD. This software is able to convert CD audio into several formats including WAV, MP3 (using the LAME encoder), Ogg Vorbis, VQF, Musepack, APE, and many others.

It is a fast, and reliable multimedia utility, and is one of the most popular downloads on SourceForge.net. Consequently, it is an important test of the capabilities of Wine.

For a compact utility, CDex has a good feature set. I particularly like the fact that CDex has a really easy to use interface, the advanced jitter correction works really well, supports ID3 V2 tags, has support for cuesheets, freeCDDB, and creates PLS and M3U playlist files without any fuss or bother. Bascially it has all of the functionality that I need.

Whilst CDex is released under an open source license it is not clear how to compile it under Linux (if that is even possible).

Fortunately, I am pleased to report that CDex works sweetly under Wine. It recognised my DVD drive without any difficulties, and proceeded merrily to rip audio CDs (as depicted in the above screenshot) without a hitch. The only problem I encountered with CDex was trying to save files to a directory with a space in it. Apart from that, CDex works spendidly under Wine.

Linux is blessed with some great CD ripper software such as Grip, Sound Juicer, and K3b. However, CDex has again the big advantage that I have used it for years and therefore know the application inside out.


Mp3tag

The final application that is under the spotlight is Mp3tag. This is a freeware metadata editor for many audio file formats. It runs on Microsoft Windows only.

Mp3tag includes support for the following audio formats: AAC, FLAC, APE, MP3, MPEG-4 (mp4/m4a/m4b/iTunes compatible), MPC, OGG, OptimFROG OFR, OFS, SPX, TAK, TTA, WMA, WV.

Mp3tag is another incredibly useful multimedia utility. I regularly use its batch tag editing features, and importing tags from online services such as Amazon and MusicBrainz is a real time saver. UTF-8 encoding is also crucial.

Unfortunately drag'n'drop between a windows application to a different Windows application is not currently implemented in Wine. In Windows I would often use Mp3tag by dragging files to the application from Explorer. Unfortunately this is not possible when running Mp3tag in Wine. Nevertheless, this is not a showstopper, as it is still possible to use Mp3tag effectively, but I just had to change my approach to using it.

Apart from the above issue, Mp3tag worked very well. It was stable in use, and support for cover art and import functionality worked perfectly. Another hit for Wine.


In Summary

I am very impressed with Wine and heartily recommend it to Windows users who are thinking of migrating to Linux. It is incredibly useful software, and is now mature enough to use on a daily basis. With the exception of VideoReDo, the multimedia Windows software worked like magic. However, there is still a lot of development needed to Wine.

Wine makes a real difference to reducing one of the most significant barriers of entry to Linux. Moving to Linux is overwhelming for Windows users as they are faced with a largely alien set of software. Whilst this will have little importance to experienced Linux users, if Linux is going to significantly increase its market share of the desktop (currently about 2%) it needs Windows software to run effortlessly. Furthermore, as much as I dislike the Windows operating system, there is a vast catalogue of high quality Windows software available (some of which is free).

Virtualization software (such as VirtualBox) represents another approach to running Windows software, but for me, Wine represents the quickest way to get Windows software running on a Linux box.


Return to the first part of this article:

Part 1: Spotify, DigiGuide, VideReDo


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Last Updated Sunday, September 06 2009 @ 09:14 AM EDT


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