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Old 02-05-2009, 05:43 AM   #1
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Cool video encoding within vmware - small fast distro recommendation


I'm happy owner of a MacBook and an iPod touch and took the usual route (dos, windows, linux) getting there.

My experience with windows taught me that it's incredibly easy to mess up your system by installing the wrong codecs in the wronger order, so I tended to reinstall systems quite a lot.

Now, since vmware has decent multimedia capabilities, I'm going to outsource media conversion tasks to a virtual machine (i did that before for development ... works just swell). But since drive space is kinda restricted on a notbook and system resources are an issue as well, I'd like to optimize the VM I'm going to use for encoding (probably using mencoder for everything).

The tasks I'm going to perform are mostly converting videos from varying formats (ogm, mkv) and codecs (h264, divx, whatever) with embedded subtitles and sometimes several audio tracks into an iphone compatible format with a single audio track and hard encoded subtitle.

I usually used the Windows Software MediaCoder for most of the time, but recently I encountered tons of source videos that resist all my efforts. Audio track out of sync, 24 minute episodes shrink to a garbled 4 minute flick, or subtitles mysteriously disappear. One way to work around that was to rip video/audio/subtitle streams seperately and combine them to a single file manually. And since no known gui is going to take this work from me I might as well ditch the guis altogether and script it in linux, which brings me to my original request:

* I need a small fast distro that doesn't install anything unneeded for these specific tasks.
* It obviously needs video/audio playback capabilities and may have a desktop environment (I tend to xfe, which is why I don't consider xubuntu anymore: It's half gnome by now).
* It would be nice if it autodetects network shares like ubuntu does (xubuntu doesn't) because the to-be-converted movies will be in vmware shared folders or network shares.
* I really don't want to install everything from scratch. When I say barebone I really mean fleshed out (but not bloated). I don't need open office for video conversion but graphic text editor and file manager are ok.

So, which is the distro of my dreams ?

Old 02-05-2009, 06:44 AM   #2
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I suppose you would have what you need with this:

It can be downloaded (see Download at the top of the page). It is a distribution aimed at multimedia, while being small and doing its best to leave as much processing power as possible to the applications.

Old 02-05-2009, 10:23 AM   #3
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Thanks, I just tried that.
Curiously, Vector Linux is the first OS ever I encountered that didn't even recognize the virtual harddrive....
I used a gparted live cd to create a partition, then switched the image back to VL, but I only get a black screen with a lonesome cursor in the top left.

Old 02-05-2009, 10:40 AM   #4
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I managed to boot the VL image by adding
bios.bootDelay = “5000”
the the .vmx file, giving me time to enter the boot menu. The CD boots like before ... and just like before VL won't recognize the hard drive.

Has anyone had similiar problems like this ?

Ah, figured it out: VL 5.9 standard doesn't suppor SCSI drives, which is the default bus vmware uses for new harddrives. Made a new virtual IDE drive and it installs. Lets see how well it works.

Last edited by arotto; 02-05-2009 at 11:01 AM.
Old 02-05-2009, 03:19 PM   #5
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Well, so much for vector linux. This distro is bloated. After installation it occupied about 4 gb on the drive.
The installer is weird and inconsistent and surely not for the inexperienced (although I managed).
You can configure the to be installed packages, although not all of them. If you reconsider and abort you get taunted and called a chicken and the distro installs anyway.

After installing networking is not functioning and has to be manually configured (well, I used vasm. semi-manually).

Mounting network shares is beyond weird. VL provides a menu option in the taskbar, upon which a dialog opens allowing you to rescan the network or mount a share. It managed to find the same share twice. If I try to mount it, a shell opens up, demanding a password without telling me which. Root ? User ? Samba User ?

Besides, the background image is very badly chosen and about the first thing to be disabled by probably everyone.
And the language used in the installer doesn't leave the impression that this distro is to be taken seriously. The chicken didn't help either.

Thanks for the recommendation but VL is out!


distro, encoding, video

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