Ogg What?

Ogg Vorbis (http://www.vorbis.com) is a patent free media format

designed to supercede the popular MP3 format. No royalties and no

restrictions. Additionally, recent updates allow the Ogg Vorbis format

to provide higher quality than MP3 encodings. Alas, not much music is

available in this format yet. The Ogg Vorbis format, however, is only

the beginning of a whole series of free multimedia formats released

under the Ogg project.

From the download page (http://www.vorbis.com/download.html), you can

download Ogg Vorbis players and libraries for Linux, Windows, MacOS,

BeOS, and even OS/2. You can also download the full source code, which

is released under the GNU General Public License (GPL). Some of the

libraries are released under a more generous BSD-style license. In

addition to the main downloads, quite a few software packages support

the Ogg Vorbis format, as documented at

http://www.vorbis.com/thirdparty.html.

The issue with patents is more important for musicians than end users,

since you can download a variety of free music players that support the

MP3 and other proprietary formats. Both FreeAmp

(http://www.freeamp.org) and XMMS (http://www.xmms.org) support Ogg

Vorbis (XMMS with plugins). In addition, the Java application

jOggPlayer (http://www.webarts.bc.ca/jOggPlayer) runs on Linux. I found

that the XMMS player included with Red hat 7.1 plays Ogg Vorbis files

just fine so if you have a recent Linux distribution, then you likely

won't have to install any new software to play music in this format.

You can find out more at a number of Ogg Vorbis sites, including

http://www.vorbislinks.com, http://www.lawsonmedia.com, and

http://www.vorbissimo.com.

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