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New media center OS is pleasing to the eye and ear

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Acoustic Reality is a Danish company that sells speakers, amplifiers, storage devices, cables, and other products to build top-shelf home entertainment centers. It recently released eAR OS Free Edition, a free media center system built on top of Ubuntu that features a free version of the Acoustic Reality software technology used in the $100 eAR RT-OS Enterprise Edition and in the company's hardware Media 4 products. It provides a user-friendly media center along with a nice implementation of Ubuntu.

eAR OS is an installable live CD. The boot options are similar to those of Ubuntu 8.04 and the installer is exactly the same. The only problem I noted with the installer was with user setup, which didn't actually add my user. The eAR desktop uses the "earmusic" user, with the password "earmusic."

I had high expectations for the Media Center, since it is the focus and purpose of this distribution. It opens full-screen with a list of multimedia tasks available, including Listen to Favorites, TV, DVD, Video, Music, Radio, Photo, and More. The menu list is navigable with the arrow keys or by using the mouse. If you'd like to access the regular desktop without shutting down the Media Center, you can use the Ctrl-Alt-Arrow key combination to change to another virtual desktop.

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