Now that my CD collection’s ripped to FLAC, I had to filter through my entire MP3 collection and pull out all of the MP3 rips of said albums. That took a few hours, to say the least. Still have those copies, just in case, but after symlinking my FLAC folder into my music folder so my player software can pick up the new files, I really don’t need the old MP3 rips. But they’re there, y’know, just in case.
I use Rhythmbox for my music listening. It’s OK as a player, and it’s got some…idiosyncrasies, but it’s usable. Usually. In my early phase of ripping my collection, I examined Rhythmbox’s handling of FLAC content. It plays fine, edits tags fine. It will even transcode the FLAC if you transfer it to a portable media device. The selection of file format is automatic based on the player, but will default to MP3. In your preferences, under “Music” tab, use the dropdown to select your preferred format — this is usually for ripping CDs with Rhythmbox (ugh, use Sound Juicer instead), but also applies to transcoding for media players. I edited my MP3 profile to encode at 256KB instead of my old 192KB.
That leaves the final piece of the puzzle: sharing this collection with portable thumbdrives. According to some docs out there, you can have Rhythmbox automatically transcode when copying media to a flash thumbdrive by placing an empty file called .is_audio_player in the root folder of the device. Then, when you insert the thumbdrive, Rhythmbox will notice, check for the file, and act like it’s a portable media device if it sees the file. Then you can drag-drop the files to the drive, and everything will be automatically transcoded. It’s a cludge, but what the hell.
As an aside: I know the latest version of Ubuntu desktop ejected Rhythmbox and is now using Banshee as the default player. I assume it’s got similar functionality, but I’ve not tested it myself. I’m just not ready to jump into “Natty Narwhal” or whatever they’re calling it. Progress comes with clenched fists.