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Foresight Linux: Music, Video, And System Update Software

Shuttle's New $99 KPC Review

Banshee is the default music player included on the system. It played the MP3 files that we tried throwing at it with no problem, but unfortunately not any music from i-Tunes; Apple has not created i-Tunes for Linux, though Banshee will play AAC if you download and install Realnetworks Helix media framework. Music playback was clear and smooth on the system.

Video playback is supported by Totem movie player. This is the official movie player of the Gnome desktop, and is based on xine-lib or Gstreamer; it plays movies very well, with no noticeable problems. It does support Divx and WMV via the gst0ffmpeg plug-in, and can play over the air and satellite digital TV with a supported card and software. This requires manual configuration, however, as it does not scan for channels - that is an ongoing project. The only issue is that since this system does not have room for an internal optical drive, you must configure it to support a USB based optical drive. For basic movie playback however, Totem seems to work quite well.

Change load/save defaults

The need for a photo organizer is supplied by F-Spot. A Kodak C533 digital camera was used to test compatibility. A full 512 MB card was in the camera and using F-Spot it was easy to load the pictures and organize them. They can be organized by date, and moved and saved easily.

F-Spot software can tag your images for easy searching. F-Spot supports a wide variety of image formats including RAW for photo buffs. I found this software to be pretty good, but perhaps Picasso for Linux would be another choice to add to this system.

System update

The Conary Package Manager is used to update the system; it is developed by rPath and distributed under the Common Public License (CPL). Conary is designed to minimize time and bandwidth when performing the update. Testing this feature proved that it works to update the system: during the testing for F-Spot software, one of the limits of this system was discovered. The Kodak C533 camera was not detected by default, so we were able to do a Google search for this issue and found that an update was needed.

We typed the required update into the Conary Package Manager and it updated the software quickly. The KPC then reconnected the camera and images were imported. We also used this to install GIMP and update the system. The update of the system was triggered by an indicator in the upper right corner, notifying us an update was available. The one issue with Conary is that you have to know which update package you want to install; many new users will not know the exact name of the package even if they know the software they want. It would be nice if they provided an application browser that would allow users to view a selection of software.

Since this is Linux, there is a very large base of free software, and the Conary Package Manager does a good job of acquiring it - finding what software you’re interested in is the hard part. On the whole, Foresight and Shuttle have done a good job in picking out the software to get a user up and running. After that, the user will need to do a little groundwork, much the same as any other system.

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