I guess this working group is the right one although we probably need some wider feedback about this.
I think there are 3 problems with the Mac that we're using as jukebox in the cafe right now:
1. There's no backup of the music, as far as I know. When the Mac has a hardware failure (Apple is known for good quality hardware, but I do mean when
) then all the music will possibly be lost forever. Has there ever been a backup made?
2. We are using Mac OS X and particularly iTunes which are Proprietary/Non-Free Software
. I care about this and think we should not use this software on principle.
It might not be so important with the Mac that is locked away in a cupboard, BUT whenever an artist gives us a CD and we rip it using iTunes it is probably storing that music in a hideous proprietary file format
. This means that iTunes encodes the music in such a way that only software produced by Apple can use the music. This is a corporate tactic known as Vendor Lock-In
: once you have a large collection of music that you can only play on Apple software, then you become dependent on Apple.
This is potentially very shit, because if our Mac should stop working, even if we had a backup of the music, we might not be able to play any of our music until we got another Mac, not a PC.
Ofcourse, there are ways around the problem, we could probably find a way to convert the music into a free format that can be played on any computer with freely available software. Ogg Vorbis
is a free audio format.
3. When you rip a CD with iTunes, iTunes decides what to name the files, and where to put them, probably creating a huge mess. Not such a big deal, but annoying.
A friend of mine, Erik, has an Apple laptop and has offered to use it to backup all the music from the jukebox. We would copy all the music to his laptop, then burn it to DVDs. We might also convert it to a free format while we're at it. That would solve problem 1. Does anyone know roughly how much music (in GigaBytes) is on there?
As for problem 2, there are two things we could do:
1. Get a decent spec PC, install Ubuntu on it, put the music on that, and put it where the Mac is. Move the Mac downstairs as a backup. We can both play and rip music easily with Ubuntu. This disadvantage of this option is we will probably have to spend money to get a computer, though not much.
2. Install Ubuntu on the Mac, which according to Erik is child's play and exactly like installing Ubuntu on a PC, so should not cause any problems. This would not cost us anything. The disadvantage is that if something goes wrong, not that I think it would, but if something went wrong and Ubuntu was not doing the job, we wouldn't simply be able to bring the Mac back upstairs and use it as before. We could however reinstall OS X if we had to, as I think we have an OS X CD.
I realise that the jukebox is needed to play music all day every day and has always just worked, and must continue to do so, so I think it's important to do any change with no disruption. Ubuntu is very reliable -- as far as I know the two Ubuntu machines in the cafe, which are running on really crappy scavenged old hardware, have never crashed.
How do people feel about this?