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Feature: Desktop Software

Media collection managers for Linux

By Razvan T. Coloja on February 22, 2008 (7:00:00 PM)

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There comes a time, right after you burn your 137th MP3 CD, when you start feeling the need to establish a system for finding all the songs you treasure so much. It's the same with movies, application kits, books, and music -- you need software that lets you index your media quickly and output detailed search results. Here's a selection of Linux applications you can use to ease your work.

If you're a movie junkie, try GCStar. Setup is a breeze thanks to the graphical installer. When you start the program for the first time, you are asked what kind of a collection you want to create. Default models are board games, books, movies, music, numismatic, video games, and wines. Optionally, if you already have a collection indexed in another application, you can import it in GCStar. Supported software-generated files for importing are Ant Movie Catalog (AMC), DVDProfiler (XML), GCfilms (GKF) and Alexandria.

To make a new movie catalog, type part of the title in the first text field and press "Fetch Information." GCStar will suggest about 50 movie sites from which you can choose as the source of the information. I suggest going straight for IMDB, as it is the most up-to-date movie site on the Internet. Next you are presented with a list of movie titles to pick from. By holding Ctrl-Shift and clicking on the names, you can select multiple titles to be included in your collection. GCStar fetches each movie title, genre, cover image, director name, movie length, cast, and other details from the source. You can edit the fields afterwards if you want to add text of your own.

A second tab in the GCStar main window is called Details. Here you can specify the media type the movie is burned on, the video format, and whether the title is part of a series. Also, you can tell GCStar how much you liked the movie by assigning a rank. Finally, add a location for the movie by typing the name of the CD/DVD it resides on. If you decide to lend the movie, GCStar can track the borrowers' names and the date they asked you for it.

The application has three main skins, supports about 20 languages, and can display movies in a simple or detailed list or in the more comprehensive image list mode. The latter shows the movie covers, which makes it easier to search for a particular title. A plus for GCStar is the variety of export formats it supports. You can export a movie list in HTML, LaTeX, CSV, SQL, XML, or even Tellico file formats. In all, if you're looking to index a movie collection, GCStar might be the best option.

If you want an alternative, another good application is CeeMedia. Like GCStar, CeeMedia can fetch movie information from different online servers, but this software is dedicated to movie cataloging, unlike GCStar, which can manage different types of collections.

Once installed and started, CeeMedia presents you with a main window. Click on Add and type a movie title in the first box, then select one of five available movie sites from the drop-down box on the right: All Movie Guide, AlloCine.fr, IMDB, Amazon, and Laserdiken. Press search and another window pops up that lets you choose further criteria, such as exact words match, regular expression, year range, and video type (movie, TV series, or both). CeeMedia downloads all information and presents it to you in text boxes, where you can modify it. It gets the cover, genre, director, cast, plot text, release date, and even reviews concerning the movie. The information is more complex than that offered by GCStar, and there are some extra options that come in handy. You can mark a movie as seen, rare, adult, favorite, lost, or lent out, declare its aspect ratio, say whether it has a trailer or special features attached, specify the subtitle language, and many more.

If a movie cover is not found on IMDB, you can search for it on another available site. A feature that every collection manager should have is the ability to rank movies according to your liking. CeeMedia lets you assign a rating of your own to the indexed titles.

The display mode, besides the classic list view, offers a nice shelf view mode that orders the movie thumbnails on a wooden background, just as books would lie on a real shelf. Some item animations play in the process of selecting movies -- the current item is brought forward and lent out times are displayed in a translucent box.

There are however some downsides in using CeeMedia. The index can be saved only by exiting the program. The only supported export format is CSV, and you cannot batch export the existing items. The application hasn't been updated in almost two years, and sometimes it crashes in the middle of your work, losing all the data you entered since the last time you exited.

GCStar and CeeMedia may be good-looking, but they both lack automatic indexing. If you have a DVD full of data, you might not want to add entries one by one. GWhere, WhereIsIt's counterpart in Linux, manages automatic indexing. You just make a new catalog, insert your media into the tray, choose /dev/cdrom0 as source point for the data, and press Add Disk. GWhere then creates an index of all the files on the CD or DVD in just a few seconds. It even indexes the contents of archive files. You can later add descriptions for the folders or individual files. GWhere can import and export information in CSV format.

Another similar application is Hyper's CD Catalogizer (cdcat). Based on the Qt toolkit, it lets you index not only removable media but also local and network folders. When it comes to multimedia files, cdcat displays such embedded file information as video frame rate, resolution, total video file time, and audio bit rate. You can search by criteria varying from file name to MP3 tag comment. It can import and export CSV files and works quickly as it indexes. However, development of cdcat seems to have stopped, which is too bad, as it is a wonderful application.

CD/DVD indexing in Linux is not limited to local databases. CDNavigator, for example, is a Java application that can create and maintain a MySQL, PostgreSQL, Oracle, or Sybase database, or its own local HSQL embedded database for your collection. Other cataloging applications you might be interested in include Katalog, GTKatalog, CDCollect, and Tellico.

Razvan T. Coloja has published more than 150 Linux and IT-related articles in print and online magazines. He is an editor for a Romanian magazine and one of the maintainers and editors of www.mylro.org, a Romanian Linux/OSS portal and community.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 189.13.120.56] on February 22, 2008 07:39 PM
As far as 'film catalog manager' is concerned. IMHO, you missed the best software, Griffith.

http://griffith.berlios.de/

It runs on GNU/Linux, Mac and Windows.

Check it out!

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 64.30.72.17] on February 22, 2008 08:35 PM
Why, in a million years, would you use the link that you did for GCStar?
http://www.gcstar.org/ Is a helluva lot more appropriate than one that opens to an https site with mismatching domains.

I second the theme of the above commentor, you missed a most excellent video collection manager: <a href="http://www.splitbrain.org/projects/videodb">videodb</a>. I suppose you overlooked it because it's web based. However, this just means that it's not architecture dependent.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 70.80.109.230] on February 22, 2008 10:06 PM
For MP3 CDs I personally use Prokyon3. Stable and uses a MySQL backend so searches are really powerful when needed. Lacks reporting features, but again, with a MySQL backend, anything is possible!

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 213.9.123.43] on February 22, 2008 11:28 PM
Okay, that's all well and good if you already have your [DVD, VHS, WMV, book, etc.] collection entered into some sort of recognized format. Where is the application that will help me get my 500+ album collection, 500+ CD collection, and 2000+ book collection into some recognized format so that I can use one of these whizbang applications for sorting them and tracking how many I have loaned out to my friends?

Give me an application that takes ISBNs or barcodes from a USB barcode reader an turns them into a meaningful database that I can use with all the programs of which you seem so fond.

Remember, you can't do diddly until you've got the data entered into some sort of usable format.

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Re: Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 68.48.203.55] on February 24, 2008 11:09 PM
I use Readerware (http://www.readerware.com/). It's not free, but does everything you asked for: barcode scanning, loan tracking, auto import from the web, past purchase import, etc. There are 3 versions, one for books, music or DVDs. They'll even send you a barcode reader for 10$. Works in Linux, OSX and windows.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 24.86.15.174] on February 23, 2008 12:19 AM
Is there a video file catalog program that would catalog local files and also allow you to launch them?

Ideally this should be part of a video player, the same way as audio players also catalog your local music collection.

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Re: Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 74.236.242.9] on February 23, 2008 01:51 AM
I'm currently using GCStar for just this purpose. For each entry you put in your collections, it allows you to select a file. When you click "Play," it opens the file in your system's default media player. Granted, it's not exactly a tidy, all-in-one solution a la` Amarok, but it does the job for me.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 172.16.70.7] on February 23, 2008 01:24 AM
I'm partial to jinzora

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 194.105.103.30] on February 23, 2008 06:25 PM
i manage my music-collection via amarok's superb collection thingie <:

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 192.168.0.29] on February 23, 2008 08:04 PM
There is another cataloguer in the style of gtkatalog, gnomecatalog.
http://gnomecatalog.sf.net

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more context framing

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 66.122.165.196] on February 23, 2008 10:24 PM
..it's context all the way down. This isn'nt the lucus chronical..nooo not the lucus chronical. No it's not the lucus chronical..that vile beast..I only have one life to live so that colledge kid with the beany and lap top will just have to wait. You might not like it but for now untill the world changes thats just how the world turns. (maybe next time) Allthough the cpu has abstracted mechanism into software, word processor vs. typewriter, there may be value in having literaly multiple windows. Using the picture frame displays, if they had touch screens and I/O connectivity with a computer (router, firewall) they could provide isolation allowing an important work or a secure or business environment to be separated from an online connection. Well thats about all I have to say, I wonder if colleges offer couses in callage - thats all there is.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 193.254.61.192] on February 24, 2008 10:56 PM
I second GnomeCatalog. It's still early in development, but seems to be doing right all the things that cdcat (aka Hyper's) did half-way and never finished.

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 80.96.178.2] on February 25, 2008 10:20 AM
Griffith is indeed a nice cataloging app. Thanks for the tip!

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Media collection managers for Linux

Posted by: Anonymous [ip: 195.250.202.227] on February 25, 2008 01:30 PM
I use cdfly because I started using it few years ago. It's similar to cdcat or gnome catalog.

http://cdfly.sourceforge.net/

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