Linux Scores

One of the things I’ve realised recently is that although I can’t sight read music properly it does help me to have the score to sing with rather than just the words.

This week having laid one song (temporarily) to rest and worked on another we started looking towards our next challenge. So my teacher suggested a site where I could purchase and print out the music for my next song. Cue an interesting technical problem.

While there are computers which can run a wide variety of operating systems in my house my primary system runs Linux. In fact I don’t remember the last time I booted into Windows. In general I don’t miss it. I have browsers, office software and a whole load of interesting and free applications to perform a variety of tasks. So, off I went to this website, credit card in hand to buy my song.

The website itself loaded flawlessly, I could search for and find the song I wanted, all I needed to do was to purchase and print it. It was of course here that the problems started. Music is subject to copyright (fair enough) so in order to control your use of it the website allows you to print your music only once and it must be direct to a printer, not for instance to a pdf. The problem is in that control. The website uses the Scorch plugin, a plugin that runs on Windows or a Mac but not on Linux.

My first thought was whether any other online music seller did support Linux but sadly I couldn’t find this song available anywhere promising. So I did what anyone would do in the circumstance – I googled some more and found a possible solution.

The solution suggested was to install Wine and then to install the Windows version of Firefox and then to install the Scorch plugin. I’ve last used Wine several years ago and it was decidely unreliable so I held out little hope but it was that or boot into Windows so I gave it a try. The installations all worked without a hitch and I was almost ready to roll. At this point my own caution nearly undid me as I attempted to test the setup by printing directly from Firefox to ensure the printer connection would work. After all you only get one chance at printing here.

The result was a computer that thought it had printed but a printer that produced nothing. My heart sank. Finally though, in a desperate act of optimism I decided to try loading the music website and printing the sample page direct from the plugin. Amazingly that worked and I went ahead to buy my music and print it out.

Linux certainly scored well today.