Last week was a good week for folks who use Linux to enjoy off-line, DRM-free digital media -- with significant releases of Calibre (the eBook manager and reader) and HandBrake (the video converter).
I've been using Calibre to organize my collection of eBooks for longer than I can remember. Not only does it support almost every eBook format you can imagine (ePub, PDF, AZW, MOBI, the works) but it also seems to be able to handle use about any eBook reading device out there.
The big new features in 7.0, in my opinion, have to do with adding supplementary data to books in your collection.
- You can now add notes to any book, author, or tag. All searchable.
- And you can attach any arbitrary files you like to a book. While this doesn't impact the book reading experience, this can be used for supplementary material. Alternate covers, research papers, audio clips, interview PDFs, or the like.
If you've never tried Calibre for your book organizing, I highly recommend it. While the UI has some rough spots here and there, the features can truly make working with eBooks a far more pleasant experience. Being able to convert between all of the eBook-related formats is incredibly handy.
Where Calibre is the Swiss Army Knife of dealing with eBook formats, HandBrake fills some of the same "convert between formats" needs for digital video formats.
The new version, 1.7.0, adds a number of presets and support for a few additional encoding options:
- Added AMD VCN, and NVIDIA NVENC AV1 encoders
- Improved performance on arm64 / aarch64 / Apple Silicon architectures
- A number of new and refined presets
- And a pretty hefty helping of performance improvements and fixes
HandBrake may not have all the organization and viewing features of Calibre... but I rather like the "do one thing and do it well" approach. HandBrake converts and re-encodes video files. That's it.
Open source digital media software is rad
I love seeing these sorts of steady improvements to open source tools -- allowing us increasing amounts of freedom and flexibility in how we handle our digital books and videos.
These tools have allowed Linux to become an absolutely splendid platform for organizing, working with, and enjoying digital, DRM-free media. Looking forward to what they bring to the table in future releases.