Sunday, August 10, 2008

Finally a good CD ripper for Linux

I had about given-up on finding a good CD-to-MP3 ripper for Ubuntu. All the 'official' programs had serious shortcomings, e.g. the included Sound Juicer didn't support MP3 out-of-the-box and even after I'd reconfigured it I somehow continued to receive OGG format instead. Very frustrating, especially considering the multiple options available under Windows. I even tried using Musicmatch Jukebox inside a Windows virtual-machine (VirtualBox) but it couldn't read the CD because Ubuntu wouldn't mount it??

One of the early recommendations had been for 'Grip' and I initially dismissed it because it seemed too clumsy to use. Eventually, I received feedback on the Ubuntu forums telling me to check all the settings again because -- clumsy though it was -- it should only be a one-time effort to configure. And they were right!

Basically, Grip seems to default to the absolute lowest-common denominator, i.e., no ID3 tags, no mixed upper/lower-case, and no spaces. But all those feature can be re-enabled and it has a very flexible naming-method with lots of variables to choose from. So, I eventually went back and was able to configure it exactly as I wanted.

I now have it configured to rip my CDs to a folder labeled as
Genre \ Artist - Disc \ Artist - Track# - Song Title

  1. go into Synaptic and install 'grip'
  2. In the 'Grip' software, under Config > CD,
    set Device = /dev/scd0
  3. (optional?) under Rip > Ripper,
    set Rip file format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%n.wav
  4. under Encode > Encoder
    set Encoder = lame
    set Encoder Command-line = -h -V 3 -b %b %w %m
    set Encode File Format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%A - %t - %n.%x
  5. under Encode > Options,
    set M3U file format = /home/music/%G/%A - %d/%A - %d.m3u
    set Encoding bitrate = 160
  6. under ID3,
    enable both "Add ID3" and "Add ID3v2"
  7. under Config > Misc,
    checkbox ('enable') both "Do not lowercase" and "Do not change spaces"
    set Characters To Not Strip = ()'-
NOTE - this Encoder Command-line uses VBR Quality = '3' (which is slightly better than the default '4') resulting in files with a bit-rate in the 180-200 kbps range, and with a minimum bitrate set by Grip (default is 160 kbps)

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

And again, more Ubuntu breakage

I seem to have 'fixed' it now but I wanted to report still more breakage in my Ubuntu 8.04 setup. The Last Straw was when the Fast User Switcher stopped detecting that I was already logged-in and started to reset my login each time. In other words, my wife would switch from my login to hers but then when I'd try to switch back it would crash all my programs.

The solution seems to have been removing the official Nvidia driver?! We are now running the very generic 'nv' (or is it 'nvidia'? who cares...) video driver.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Still more Ubuntu breakage

Just to follow-up on yesterday's rant, today has a new symptom. I've barely used the computer this past week so I can't imagine what I might have done to cause it.

I was starting to grow suspicious because my office Ubuntu setup had downloaded two updates while my home PC had not. Just now, under my wife's login, I saw the Update Manager prompting her/us to download. When I switched back to my own login, the prompt went away.

Did I do something to indicate I did not want to receive automatic updates? Or, did this version of Ubuntu just spontaneously stop offering them...