Sunday, January 30, 2005

Real to MP3

One frequent task I perform is a conversion from Real Audio to MP3. Most of my music content happens to be in real format, but I would prefer to listen to it on my discman, which plays MP3 disks. Hitherto, this required a trial version of StreamBox Ripper, an excellent conversion software, that also supports batch processing.

Now that windows is gone, I had to look for Linux alternatives. I didn't had many hopes, since real-audio is a proprietary format, but I was in for a surprise. Real Networks is paying real attention to the Linux Platform (with a community supported Helix Player, and Free/Closed Real Player). And mplayer does the job of conversion just very well. Here is a shell script that I use to do batch conversions

INPUTFMTS='.ra .rm'

convert() {
for i in `find $1 -name '*'$3`
outfile=`basename $i $3`
outdir=`dirname $i`
if [ ! -e $2/$outdir ]; then
mkdir -p $2/$outdir;
mplayer -vo null -vc dummy -af resample=44100 -ao pcm -waveheader $i && lame -m s audiodump.wav -o $2/$outdir/$outfile.mp3

case $# in
*) echo "Usage: $0 ";
exit 1;;

if [ ! -e $2 ]; then
mkdir $2 || exit 1;
echo "$2: pathname created";

if [ ! -d $2 ]; then
echo "Source directory invalid";
exit 1;

for i in $INPUTFMTS
echo "Converting all $i files to mp3"
convert $1 $2 $i
rm -f audiodump.wav
I guess this script would also work for wma to mp3, you just need to add wma to INPUTFMTS variable.

If I had to write a similar script on Windows , how difficult it would have been. I know this because my last job involved some windows batch scripting and vbscripting. Reminds me of this saying (probably by Larry Wall), about a good programming language

Easy things should be easy, and difficult things should be possible.

Not quite windows.

A tryst with FreeBSD

Now that I have a lot of freespace on my hard-disk, (since removing windows), I decided to experiment with another OS. I use Solaris+Linux at work, and Linux at home, so the choice gets limited to
1) One of the BSDs (FreeBSD, NetBSD and OpenBSD)
2) GNU Hurd
3) Solaris 10
(BeOS & QNX I have already experimented with)

I downloaded HURD quite some time ago, but it could only be compiled from another Hurd natively, and cross-compilation didn't looked easy. In any case, Hurd isn't going to be usable any time soon, so I downloaded the latest stable FreeBSD (5.3).

Linux is no longer good enough. It has lost the exclusivity it had a few years back, so I needed something more uncommon to adorn my desktop. After all, every new kid on the block is running linux today ( or has run it at some point and given up), so you need something more to be accepted like a uber-geek, and thats where FreeBSD fits in very well. At least for the time being :)

Jokes apart, I thought I had get some idea of the BSD kernel, and see if I can port the work I am doing on Solaris to FreeBSD. The two are a lot similar, and as I wait for the Solaris sources to be opened, FreeBSD kernel sources are proving quite helpful. Sun has taken the first step with dtrace (, but my guess is it would still take few more months.

This post, being made from

FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE FreeBSD 5.3-RELEASE #0: Fri Nov 5 04:19:18 UTC 2004 i386

is a proof that I have got FreeBSD and one of my LAN cards working. (which connects to 24Online cable network) . The other one still needs to be configured.

BTW, Epiphany looks like a browser well done.

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

Adieu Windows

It has been more than a month since I last wrote. I would very much like to have an entry at least once a month.
I am a long time linux user, using linux at work and home, most of the time. Still I had my machine set up for dual boot, and had to go through the rigouros exercise of formatting Windows every few months. Years ago, I would format it to get a clean new shiny system, & after every format, it seemed like I had a hardware upgrade. Since an year or so, I am still following the ritual, but for a different reason; to get rid of all the spyware.

The problem became too bad since I opted for broadband. So last time I had to format, which was around 90 days back, I decided to say good bye to dual booting windows. Of course, I still own hardware devices that are unsupported on Linux, but I am firm in my new year resolution, no windows on my home pc from now on. Fortunately, I no longer need to document my code & other stuff in Microsoft Word, so my office pc is running linux as happily. I have begun converting my powerpoint presentations to OpenOffice formats.

Bye Bye Windows, may you never reside in my PCs RAM and disk ever again !!