Should Linux users consider buying a Mac?

Today in Open Source: Linux users and Macs. Plus: VLC 2.1 released, and AMD and Nvidia step up Linux driver support

By , ITworld |  Open Source, Linux, open source

Linux Users and Macs
A Linux user on Tech Republic is considering buying a Mac, to fill in the gaps where he feels that Linux stumbles: audio and video.

Every platform handles things differently, and every platform has its strengths and weaknesses. If I add a Mac into the mix, I would have a much easier time with audio and video -- but it would be at the expense of flexibility and ease of use. Am I willing to spend nearly $2,000 on a two-trick pony (recording audio and editing video)? Even if I did, I would still be using the tools I know (especially Audacity, as I cannot imagine a tool better suited to record podcasts and audiobooks).

That line of thinking brings me back to frustration. Why would I drop that much money, only to use the same tools I use on my Linux machines? Wouldn't it be better if, say, PulseAudio fixed those very well documented and reported bugs? Wouldn't it be better if, say, a tool like Lightworks could build video encoding into its Linux release? That would save me the financial burden of having to spend the coin for a new machine.

More at Tech Republic

I've always felt that people need to use the tools that get the job done for them. For some users Linux works very well, while for others it might be a Mac or something else. So if a Mac works for this guy, then more power to him.

However, there are some downsides to Macs. You might end up paying considerably more for lower powered hardware, and you lose a lot of flexibility and control over your computer.

Some people don't mind this, but for a lot of Linux users it could definitely be a deal breaker. When you enter Apple's world, you do things their way and that could end up being more than a lot of Linux users can tolerate over time. Linux offers enormous control over a user's computing experience, and that's almost the exact opposite of Apple's philosophy.

I won't say buy a Mac or don't buy a Mac, but if you really must have one then be sure to check Apple's refurbished page in their online store. Why pay full price for one? You get a one year warranty on refurbished Macs, and you can save hundreds of dollars off the price of a new one.

VLC 2.1 Available for Download
VLC 2.1 has been released, and it includes a number of fixes and new features. This looks like a must-have upgrade if you use VLC (and who doesn't these days?).

See the list of features in the snippet below. Lots of good stuff in this release of VLC.

Audio
Rewritten audio core, allowing better volume and device management.
Rewrite of the audio modules, to adapt to the new core.
Correct support for multi-channel layouts in all formats: 5.1, 6.1 and 7.1
New audio outputs for Windows Vista, Android, iOS, OpenBSD and OSSv4.
New remapping, gain, stereo widening, downmixing effects.
Higher samplerate, precision, live configuration in the core.
Numerous new audio metadata format supported.

Video
Port the OpenGL output to OpenGL ES.
Support color conversion shaders in glsl on Android and iOS.
New outputs for OpenMax IL on mobile and Decklink Blackmagic.
New video outputs for iOS using OpenGL ES2.
Support for deinterlacing for higher bit depth and XYZ colorspace.
New anaglyph filter for side-by-side 3D.
4K-ready :)

Codecs
Add hardware decoding for OS X using VDADecoder.
Add hardware decoding for Android using MediaCodec.
Add hardware decoding for GNU/Linux using VDPAU.
Add hardware encoding for Windows using Intel QuickSyncVideo.
Support for G2M4, MSS1, MSS2, TSCC2, CDXL, Ut, VBLE video codecs.
Support for Ulead DV audio, Indeo Audio Coder, RealAudio Lossless audio.
Support for SCTE-27 and complete EIA-608 subtitles.

Formats
Support for fragmented MP4, Wave/RF64 files.
Extended metadata tags and cover art support in Ogg, AVI, MP4 and MKV.
Support FLAC, Atrac, ADPCM, DV Type 1, 12bits DV audio in AVI.
Extended support for AVI, MKV and MJPEG streams.
Better recording of AVI and MKV format.
Audio fingerprinting using AcoustID.

Input and Devices
Support for screen input on OSX Lion and later.
Support for Microsoft Smooth Streaming, developed by Viotech.net
New RTMP input module, using libavformat!
Support for VNC/rfb and Remote Desktop view-only modes.
Important improvements on Blu-Ray, Dash, v4l2 and HTTP inputs.
New AVFoundation OS X and shm framebuffer inputs.

For Anime Fans
New 6.1 downmixer to 5.1 and Stereo from MKV/Flac 6.1.
Correct YUV->RGB color matrix in the OpenGL shaders.
Improved MKV support for seeking, and resiliancy.
Editions support in MKV.
Better subtitles and metadata support from MKV.
Various ASS subtitles improvements.

For Mobile
Port to Android, from 2.1 to 4.3, on ARMv6, ARMv7, x86 and MIPS.
New port to iOS, from iOS 5 to 7, on all iPads and iPhones after 3GS.
Partial port to WinRT, for Windows 8, 8.1 and WP8.
OpenGL ES optimized outputs.
Improvements of OpenMAX IL decoders, encoders and renderers.
New audio, video outputs and interfaces for mobiles.

For Developers
libVLC and most modules are now LGPLv2.1+.
libVLC media framework can now be used in all types of applications.
libVLC SDK packages now exists, in addition to more examples.
Improved libVLC API, for better control.
VLC's web plugins now support windowless mode, for smoother integration with HTML elements.

More at VLC

AMD and Nvidia Improve Linux Driver Support
Valve's SteamOS has gotten a lot of attention lately, and it seems that AMD and Nvidia have been watching closely. I'm very happy that both companies are stepping up their support of Linux. Thank you, Valve.

Well, that didn't take long. Less than a day after Valve announced SteamOS, a Linux-based operating system based around the incredibly popular Steam PC gaming service, both AMD and Nvidia stepped up their driver support for the open-source OS.

Driver support for graphics cards can be a major stumbling block for would-be Linux gamers. Since fewer people use Linux (and most games are created with Windows in mind), driver support for the operating system can be a bit, well, hit-or-miss.

More at PC World

What's your take on all this? Tell me in the comments below.

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