eAR OS : a state-of-the-art Linux operating system.
<eAR OS is a state-of-the-art Linux operating system. It can run directly from a Live-CD and optionally be installed to a hard disk. That means you can try it out before you install it - for FREE!
eAR OS comes with the very advanced and beautifully simple to operate eAR Media Center. eAR Media Center is running out-of-the-box. Tune in the digital TV programs and rip some CD's to the hard disk in lossless FLAC quality, watch Digital TV and DVD's, listen to Internet Radio, view Photos, listen to Music while surfing the Internet, and Enjoy.
OS is an installable live CD. The boot options are similar to those of Ubuntu 8.04 and the installer is exactly the same.
I had high expectations for the Media Center, since it is the focus and purpose of this distribution. It opens full-screen with a list of multimedia tasks available, including Listen to Favorites, TV, DVD, Video, Music, Radio, Photo, and More. The menu list is navigable with the arrow keys or by using the mouse. If you'd like to access the regular desktop without shutting down the Media Center, you can use the Ctrl-Alt-Arrow key combination to change to another virtual desktop.
But you may not have to shut down the Media Center or arrow to another desktop, because under the More heading is a menu of commonly used applications that can be launched right from the Media Center. Key portions of the desktop will show as well, such as the panel and Simdock docking bar. This is handy in expanding the functionality of the interface, particularly on a computer that has been dedicated to being a home theater machine, where one would might prefer to leave the Media Center visible at all times. Some of the applications available include Firefox, OpenOffice.org, Pidgin, GIMP, Skype, and the GNOME Control Center.
The Listen to Favorites choice displays your personal playlist. It ships with a few examples, but you can add online radio stations, digital broadcast channels, on-disk music or videos, or music CD tracks to your Favorites. Depress the "p" key to access the list of Playlist Commands.
TV is for watching Digital Video Broadcasts using Kaffeine. That application must be able to detect and configure your TV card. I would like to see support for BTTV broadcast tuner cards included. I could use xawtv since Kaffeine doesn't support analog cards, but it's inconvenient and disappointing that this functionality isn't integrated into the eAR Media Center. As a compromise I was able to make a launcher in the eAR-More directory for xawtv so that it would appear in the More screen menu, but my family found it confusing to watch television through the More menu instead of the TV. Another alternative is to connect to a traditional television set (through S-Video or VGA-out for example), but that would require flipping the video input on the TV to watch, which is far from an integrated solution.
DVD is, obviously, for watching DVDs, and this choice too uses Kaffeine. Encrypted DVDs are no problem. The "d" key brings up the DVD menu, which gives access to other features available on a DVD. "s" controls subtitles, "f" raises the volume, "l" lowers the volume, and the space bar pauses and resumes a movie. The arrow keys fast-forward or go back in the video.
The Video menu lets you watch videos on your hard drive. Clicking it brings up a screen with several listed folders. Files should be stored in the subdirectories of /home/earmusic/eAR-Video, as there doesn't appear to be any way to add additional directories. All of the formats I tested (AVI, MPEG, and MPEG-4) played without issue.
Like Video, Music opens a screen of folders where your music should be stored. Also like Video, the files are stored in the /home/earmusic directory, and I didn't find a way to utilize directories of music stored elsewhere. You can listen to audio CDs too. While at the main screen with Music highlighted, if you use the right arrow key or move your mouse rightward, the entry will change to Listen to CD. If you choose that, Soundjuicer opens to play or extract the tracks.
Radio is for listening to Internet radio stations. eAR OS comes with an amazingly comprehensive list of stations to use, which is nice as I didn't see an easy way to add others.
Photo is for viewing a directory of images. As with Video and Music, images are stored in a hard-coded directory, specifically /home/earmusic/eAR-Photos.
The eAR Media Center is extremely easy to use. Although it didn't quite meet all my expectations, it provides extensive multimedia functionality. It looks great and was stable during my rigorous testing. I can forgive it for not supporting older analog TV cards, as they're at the threshold of antiquity and my workaround has sufficed. It comes with so many radio stations configured that everyone's tastes are likely be addressed. The only significant complaint is the hard-coded storage directories. I'd really like to be able to add my own storage directories to the choices.
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Related Topics :
GeexBox the Open Media Centre OS