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I upgraded to Mint 16 and QGIS 2.4 and unable to get ecw to work following various guides available.

How and why is it so hard?

I run it on a windows machine out of the box.

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I gather from a few articles that support for ECW (a highly proprietary format) heavily favours Windows installations:

http://www.surfaces.co.il/qgis-on-windows-with-ecw/

I'm not sure how to get the ERDAS support files for Linux, but that's what you'll have to do as noted in the blog post referenced above.

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