Bonus: fbff, fbpad … and fbpdf too

I do feel obligated to list some framebuffer-specific software here, and I realized a week or two ago that my last list of framebuffer applications was not only almost a year old, but also omitted a worthy pair.

I don’t have much to show for fbff and fbpad, but they are both by the author of fbpdf, and mentioning one without the other two was an oversight. To complicate things, I don’t have a machine right now that will take faithful images of framebuffer output, so here’s my best effort at fbff, and to be fair, fbpdf.

2014-09-06-jsgk71-fbff 2014-09-06-jsgk71-fbpdf

Laughable, I know. Just don’t ask about fbpad.🙄

fbff is probably my favorite of the three, as an alternative to running mplayer against the framebuffer. At 2Ghz on an ATI Mobility Radeon 7500 with an xvid-encoded avi file, the results were quite good. If you could see what it was showing, you’d be watching the opening credits for the first episode of season 11 of Gunsmoke.😕 (Sorry, in my culture, people are mad for anything Western.)

And if you could see fbpdf at work above, it would be a classy black-and-white page with the words, “Sample text here.” I am nothing, if not inventive.🙄

Please don’t blame the software for the shortcomings you see there. Both fbff and fbpdf accurately rendered the media against the framebuffer, and offered basic controls for each application. In spite of what you see above, they did actually work right. I just lack a proper screenshot.

fbpad was another issue, but that one was working against the clock for me. Configuring fbpad requires some heavy-duty font setup, the use of an outside font conversion tool, then editing the source code and recompiling fbpad to show the converted font.

I can’t say this is a better way than, perhaps, configuring fbterm. If you wade through those steps, show us a screenshot and we’ll all think highly of you.😉

Dependency-wise, fbff and fbpdf were the heaviest, with fbff pulling in the ffmpeg structure (of course) and fbpdf requiring mupdf, some poppler and some djvulibre. If you have other options for video/audio/image playback and pdf display at the framebuffer, I’d recommend weighing them against what fbff and fbpdf will need.

fbpad didn’t strike me much heavier than fbterm, truth be told — unless you count the time and tools it would take to convert and configure and compile the font. And that, knowing full well I wouldn’t get a proper image of it anyway.😦

One last question you might ask: So why make so much fuss about a couple of framebuffer-based applications? Well, for one thing, alternatives to the industry-standard tools, like mplayer or fbida, are always welcome. Neither of those is such a perfect fit for a framebuffer-only machine that someone new can’t wedge their way into my system.

Second, and probably more importantly, access to a framebuffer can sometimes be what saves a machine from the eternal reward. There’s a big difference between a 233Mhz machine that can run text programs fullscreen at 80×25, and a 233Mhz machine that can run a full suite of terminal applications at 1024×768 using the terminus font overlaid atop a picture of Miles Davis.

One is functional, but the other is crazy, funky and cool.😉

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