I have been trialling a Linux distribution called “Mint” (Linux Mint 6 “Felicia”). The plus point about this distribution is that, unlike most Linux distributions, it plays all the filetypes of interest to downloaders of anime, straight out of the box.Â For instance it plays .mkvÂ Â and .mp4 files.
One can play these files with other Linux distributions, but only after a severe encounter with Linux jargon in the course of finding the required codecs (libxine1) and figuring out how to install them.
As for how well Mint works:Â it can be used as a “live CD” or properlyÂ installed to the hard disc.Â The live CD operation is extremely slow. Once installed, I found it was still a bit slow and grindy, (however I installed it on a very old and small hard drive so it was not a definitive test.) It did play all the filetypes I tried. However I found an annoying bug in that the network browsing didn’t work. It seems I’m not the only one to find this, and following advice found online, I installedÂ “fusesmb” andÂ “smb4k”.Â Â BeforeÂ I fired either of these up, however, I found that the network browsing had sprung into life, which left me wonderingÂ if the real issue is thatÂ one has toÂ double-click on the networkÂ icon to open it, rather than theÂ single-click which works elsewhere in Linux file browsers.Â Another annoying thing about Mint is that there are no helpfiles worth mentioning either in the installation or online! (But it is based on Ubuntu, which has reams of help).
I tried benchmarking just how well my hardware handled anime video files. The details won’t be of great interest to you, unless you are using older PCs, however:
Turns out that SuSE Linux 10.0 uses slightly less processor power for this task than Windows XP, on identical hardware. (a measure of codec efficiency). Mint (on which even the system monitor program consumed a noticeable amount of power) was less efficient than SuSE in my test.
Also these PCs didn’t like larger (i.e. HD) .mkv files, which caused the processor demand to ramp up towards 100% even on the better machine of the two.Â Demand on SD .mkv files was a quarter that on HD.
Addendum: The SuSE Linux 10.0 hopefully can be upgraded online and then configured to use the BBC’s beta version iplayer downloader for Linux. Hopefully this will allow programs to be downloaded for later viewing. The Mint Linux, meanwhile, refuses to load either from the hard-disk or the live CD.