Just a suggestion or two for ripping audiobooks in Linux

I’m using Ubuntu 9.04 and a Sansa Fuze.  Through trial-and-error I’m getting closer to fairly hassle-free audiobook ripping.

Sound Juicer is the default program when Ubuntu sees an Audio CD.  I ignore Sound Juicer and use a program called RubyRipper.  One way to make ignoring Sound Juicer easier is to let it come up with the first CD on your #1 workspace, then hop over to your #2 workspace and open RubyRipper there.  Stay in #2 workspace and let Sound Juicer sit unattended in the other workspace. 

Once it’s installed, you’ll find RubyRipper in Applications>Sound&Video.  Under Preferences, Secure Ripping tab, go to the bottom of the window and check “Rip CD to single file”.  Go to the Codecs tab and click “Lame Mp3”.  I’m not sure, but to get Lame Mp3 setting to work you probably have to download the extra codecs first.  (If you don’t know what that means there are many posts on Ubuntu Forums about “restricted extras”)  Go back to the main page.  Pop in a CD, wait until it’s detected, click the “Scan Drive” button.  Then I delete the Artist, Genre, and Album lines and put a very simple name in the Album line.  For instance, if the audiobook is “Farewell to Arms” I’ll label the first CD “FA-01”, the second CD “FA-02”, etc. 

Then start ripping.  Ruby attempts to match corrupted chunks, so as soon as it starts ripping, I scroll down to the bottom of the active window.  If you don’t scroll down you won’t be able to see what Ruby’s doing.  If all goes well, you’ll see it rip the CD once, check a second time for matching chunks, then the ripping process stops and you’ll see the “Encoding” bar turn blue.  When it’s done it gives you a little report about matching chunks.  If the CD is badly scratched it will try to match mis-matched chunks several times.  You can set how many times for it to try but it appears two is the minimum.  If the PC hangs at the ripping process for more than about ten or fifteen minutes, and you see your HDD activity light staying on solid, then Ruby’s having troubles and you might have to try something else.  You can abort, uncheck the “Rip CD to single file”, and try again.  Watch Ruby’s progress - this will at least tell you where it’s having trouble.

The rips become folders that go to a folder that Ruby creates in Home called “mp3”.  When I’m done with several CD’s or the entire book, I go to the “mp3” folder, and open each folder to delete the “ripping log”.  Then I rename each folder by hand.  Using the “Farewell to Arms” example, even if I erase all the Artist, Genre, and Year lines, Ruby names the folders (0) FA-01, (0) FA-02, etc. so I rename them FA-01, FA-02, etc.  This reduces confusion for the Fuze user.

If I just can’t rip the CD in RubyRipper because it’s too beat up, I’ve had pretty good luck copying the CD on our Windows PC using the NTI software that came with the burner, then going back to the Linux PC and ripping from the brand new CD.  I imagine there’s some loss of data but my wife hasn’t complained of pops or glitches yet.

I’ll then create a folder called “Farewell_To_Arms” or something similar and drag all the individual rips into that folder so that months later I don’t have to try to remember what “FA-01” means.  I have a Vantec dock and a 1TB HDD that I’m using for storage.  The drive is formatted NTFS so that I can use it on either OS.  On a whim one day I plugged the Vantec and HDD into the Windows PC and asked it to check fragmentation.  The drive was badly fragmented , so I defragged it on the Windows PC.  Since Linux file systems are less prone to fragmentation, I didn’t know if there was a way to defrag in Linux so it was just as easy to hook up to the Windows PC and do it there.

Set your Sansa Fuze to use the “Folders” setting so that it doesn’t try to read tags.  I’ve tried using EasyTag in Linux and it works OK but the above is simpler for audiobooks.  For music you might want tags…