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This isn't exhaustive by any means; I will not bother to mention all the obvious stuff like Gimp (does it have competition at all?) or Firefox. Some programs I do not use very often need to be here so I can remember, otherwise I keep searching Freshmeat over and over. (Speaking of this, I wish KDE had some kind of easy mechanism to tag favorite programs, without having to resort to editing the menus. Especially since the menus change by themselves over time, as you install new stuff.)


Metadata tagging

When I rip my own CDs I rip them to FLAC, and would like to use ogg for smaller file sizes but there are not enough devices which support it, so I end up encoding to MP3 just so I can play on the car stereo, cell phone, or portable MP3 player. AAC is also not bad but has more IP encumbrances. FLAC at least is future-proof, if not small, because the encoding is lossless so I can always re-encode to other formats in the future.

Some day if Hans Reiser has his way, the filesystem will store the metadata, like it was on MacOS prior to OS X; and this will be done in a standard way, rather than differently for every kind of file. (And tar will have to be extended to make portable tarballs with metadata in them.) Meanwhile, every music file format has its own metadata format. So you need complex tools to deal with the present-day mess.

BTW now is the time to start using UTF-8 both for filenames and for metadata! My Russian stuff that was previously tagged using CP-1251 or KOI8-R codepages is now turning into a real pain - it's not easy to convert it. This would be a nice feature for one of the tagging programs to implement.

  • EasyTag is by far the best for Linux. Most taggers don't even try to deal with more than one format but EasyTag does MP3, MP2, FLAC, Ogg Vorbis, MusePack and Monkey's Audio so far. Even can do album art, and handles multiple album art images of different types (front cover, back cover, inside, etc.). Manages ID3v1 and ID3v2 tags transparently, at the same time, without bothering you about which is which. Auto-converts from ID3V1 to ID3V2 on files that don't yet have the V2 tags, without bothering you about it. Can extract metadata patterns from filenames for files that have no metadata at all. Can rename files to whatever pattern you like. How did I ever live without this?
  • MP3 Tag Tools is about as good as it gets for free if you are stuck on Windows. At least you can write album art images, and use the right category for them (not just "other" like stupid iTunes) but the interface is relatively clumsy. Only deals with MP3 files.
  • album art downloader is kindof unique so far - it tries to automatically grab album art off the net. It doesn't work too well behind a proxy firewall though.


  • ogg2mp3 does a good job despite being heretical. I use it only when the only file I have is an OGG, and I need a form that plays on portable devices. Don't see any point in just downloading MP3s if OGGs are available, because MP3s are quite obsolete. Don't see a point in converting other lossy codecs into ogg either, because I want my oggs to be pristine, without the extra artifacts.


  • ABCDE does a fine job of command-line ripping, and can be configured to encode multiple formats at the same time. I use FLAC and MP3 (knowing I can make OGGs later if there is ever a device which can play oggs but not flac). It does a fine job of tagging too, using, and if there are multiple choices, it lets you choose. My nits are that I cannot change the genre until later (it's often wrong in freedb - people choose ambiguous categories like rock or blues or newage for almost everything), and that it doesn't try to do anything with album art. I emailed the author and he is refusing to even think about including such a feature. So if I scan album art, I just save it as cover.jpg in the same directory and maybe will deal with it later if I get around to it.


I don't quite have a favorite yet; none of them just feel right, the way Gimp or EasyTag does. Some of this is just because I don't edit sound very often. Here's a nice article about this subject.

Audacity Supposed to be really cool but it doesn't run on Gentoo, so far. The "stable" one won't compile (complains that I must turn off unicode and rebuild wxgtk, but when I do that, it still continues to complain); the new one compiles and then segfaults at runtime.
 * Audacity will not build if wxGTK was compiled
 * with unicode support.  If you are using a version of
 * wxGTK <= 2.4.2, you must set USE=-gtk2.  In newer versions,
 * you must set USE=-unicode.
Sweep Pretty cool interface for playback and seeking within the waveform. But it is not obvious how to do simple editing operations like fade in, fade out, amplify/attenuate etc. Also segfaulted once.
WaveSurfer Decent basic one. At least fade in/fade out and amplify is easy but it's not very loaded with features. Sometimes pretends to be playing and is not actually playing; then hit stop and try again and it works. (But I suppose this could be a bug in Alsa/OSS emulation.)
Rezound Pretty decent, has a good selection of features and works with LADSPA plugins. Interface is a little busy, but not too bad. Startup is annoying - puts up the "about" box and requires you to dismiss it before going on to the main window. Why don't they just have a help menu with help/about like every other app? But anyway maybe it's my favorite for now; it's fairly useable.


XMMS I keep using it out of habit, not because it's really the best anymore. At least there are a lot of plugins for different formats, so I can even play WMAs now just in case I'm forced into doing that...
Quod Libet Looks interesting
Amarok Looks very cool, a real competitor to iTunes, but it has a hard time handling a huge collection


I haven't found a good simple recorder which can:

  • record from ALSA devices, providing the user a combo-box to select which device
  • record direct to a WAV or FLAC file rather than to memory
  • show an accurate VU meter during this process

Meanwhile... to record from a specific card for 92 minutes:

 arecord -Dplughw:1 -f cd -t wav -d 5520 all.wav

Gramofile can sometimes be coaxed into properly splitting the tracks after you have captured audio from an analog source (cassette, LP or whatever). These settings work almost well enough:

 Length of blocks of signal power data (samples)   : 4410
 Global silence factor (0.1 %)                     : 450
 Local silence factor (%)                          : 5
 Minimal length of inter-track silence (blocks)    : 10
 Minimal length of tracks (blocks)                 : 50
 Number of extra blocks at track start             : 3
 Number of extra blocks at track end               : 6

PDF documents


Beautifying source code

  • Uncrustify is looking pretty good
  • bcpp the source code beautifier for C++

MS Windows survival

Editing environment variables

Mount an ISO image

  • WinCDEmu: "open" an ISO (or other image type) to mount it; as many as you like, simultaneously

There's also an old clunky Microsoft utility, which works:

and lots of others