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8 years of using Linux as my daily drive.

     
10:35 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Quite some time ago I wrote this post…
[webmasterworld.com...] (A week without Microsoft Windows)

I decided to spend a week using Linux as opposed to the Microsoft Windows operating system that I had been using since Windows 95. I used that thread to document my progress and explain what tools and software I was using under Linux to carry out my daily tasks.

That thread is now 8 years old and I feel it’s time to revisit the topic because my journey didn’t end when that week was over, far from it. I became a full-time Linux user.

My current home/office setup consists of a desktop running Kubuntu (Ubuntu with KDE desktop). My laptop running Kubuntu a couple of phones and tablets all running Android and a LAN server running Ubuntu Server.

The server acts like a web server for developing projects on, I have also set up NFS (Network file system) so that files can simply be dragged from the laptop or desktop to a folder on the server. This is a fairly simple method of backing those systems up, although It’s not enough. The server also has a 2nd HDD that is purely used for storage. I have a script that runs nightly on a cron to create a folder and copy the contents of disk 1 backups and the systems own home folder.

It simply creates a folder called [unix-timestamp] with the backed up files in there. I manually delete these folders as they get outdated to save disk space.

What do I do now compared to then?
Back then I was a designer/Developer and I mainly worked on my own projects although I did have client work as well. Now I continue to work mainly on my own projects, but I am a lot less of a designer. I am still a back-end developer, but I tend to use frameworks or outsource the design stuff.

What tools do I use?

Browsing the web
For surfing my default browser is Firefox. Firefox developers have not focused purely on Windows, every release is also available for Linux and Mac. They have been releasing in parallel for years.

Email
I use Thunderbird email client. It is also from Mozilla (they create Firefox) and I have found it to be very useful and stable. There are other email clients that do perhaps have better integration with a contact manager, but it works for me. It’s light, not obtrusive and just does what I want it to.

Text Editor
When referring to plain text editors people will always think of Notepad. On many Linux distributions, the default tool for .txt files will be Kate. It’s just a simple text editor. The developers have tried to “up the game” with features like projects where you can assign groups of files and tab views where you can open multiple documents.

For an extremely easy way to edit a text document, there are also many tools available through the console (Think command prompt). This sounds daunting and challenging, but after a while, in Linux, the console just becomes another tool to help you get things done.

Code Editor
I only code in HTML/CSS and PHP so my needs aren't that great. I use an IDE called Bluefish for all my coding needs.
It can be great for simply opening a script file and making an edit right down to creating a project from the ground up. It’s good being able to see the project tree to the left whilst having tabs of files open in the main pane. If your needs are much more advanced and you need to be able to work on larger more advanced projects Java, C, Python etc there are many more full-featured IDE’s out there such as Eclipse or Netbeans.

FTP Client
I use Filezilla for FTP, or in my case SFTP. (Secure FTP) There is no reason not to use SFTP in this day and age. If your host doesn’t support it, Move to one that does. The files you upload on a daily basis contain some fairly sensitive information. Think of a database config file with a username and password.

I use FTP for moving files to and from various hosts including my LAN server.

Office
I currently use LibreOffice. When I first became a Linux user OpenOffice was the typical office suite. Libre Office is a port of Open Office and from the user interface point of view, they are almost identical. It’s under the skin where we see real improvements. More reliable and more secure.

On a windows machine, you will typically use Microsoft Office. How does Libra office compare and what files can it work with?

Text-based documents:
Libre Office Writer, This can open or edit documents created with Microsoft Office. It can also save files with an extension that can be understood and opened by Microsoft Office.

Spreadsheets:
Calc is the default tool for opening such documents under LibreOffice. It has a very similar look and feel to Excel and they can open, edit and save the same file types.

Database:
Under Microsoft Office, users will be familiar with Access. With LibreOffice, there is a database package called “Base”. Both do a similar function, just in a very different way.

Presentations:
LibreOffice boasts “Impress” as an alternative to Powerpoint. They are very compatible. Under Impress you can open, edit and save a .ppt file.

Many of the tools available under LibreOffice (Or OpenOffice) are designed to offer a direct replacement for various items in the Microsoft toolchain. The ability to create and edit files that can later be opened and accessed by Microsoft users in no doubt a key consideration.

Under LibreOffice we also have the following…

Draw: For creating graphical documents

Math: Formula editor (for documents, spreadsheets and presentations)

The one area where I think Libra office could improve is far better integration with an email system. Think about how well-integrated Outlook is with Microsoft Office.

Linux has certainly changed a lot since I first tried it back in the dark ages. Now it is certainly a viable alternative for the home user.

Mack.
10:41 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thank you for sharing your experience.

I did switch to Linux too... progressively. My servers have always been running on Debian, but without GUI, but I was having difficulties to make the switch for my desktop / laptop computers. I didn't feel "comfortable" , because I've always been using Windows since 3.1. So, I started to progressively find alternative to the software I was using. I stopped using Office, and went to Open Office, then Libre Office, I changed the IDE to Visual Studio Source, etc... and progressively I ended using only software which were also existing on Linux. So, once I had all the tools / software I needed, I was able to switch to Linux definitively. Smooth transition.
11:09 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Thanks for sharing your positive experience with a full Linux working environment for the last eight years. My servers have all been on Linux for the past ten years but desktop and laptops are still Windows based. I will use your experience for the OS decision for my next laptop which I will buy later this year.
11:14 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm certainly not anti-Microsoft or Apple (or anything for that matter) I just have a preference towards Linux. It really all comes down to what you want to get from your system. If you are happy with Windows then it might just be the right system for you.

I think no matter what system a user is currently using, switching to anything else will have a learning curve. I had a play around with a Windows 10 machine a few days ago and I have to admit I was a little lost lol

Mack.
11:25 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have been using Linux for over 15 years now. I do have a presence for and greater trust in Linux. My wife and kids prefer it too now. My teenage daughter hated being made to use Windows at school.

My choices are similar to, but not the same as Mack's. I use Xubuntu (Ubuntu with XFCE) on desktops and Debian on servers. I use Libre office (but I have Gnumeric installed too).

I use multiple text editors and IDEs depending on the task - Komodo Edit for HTML and CSS, Spyder for Python, Geany and Gedit for other things.

The biggest difference is that I do not use a separate app for SFTP: I just use my file manager.

I do use Firefox and Thunderbird, but I also use other web browsers.

I entirely agree about it being a viable alternative for the home user. Actually, I would say it is a better alternative because it is easier to maintain and upgrade a Linux install once its installed so its a safer choice when you do not have IT support (for the average home user).
11:42 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For webdesign work , you should also look at "brackets"..gives realtime views for web dev work..very useful, I prefer it to blufish..
and for text ..notepadqq ( like notepad++, but does not require wine )
( .if you have the QT framework installed you can do a huge amount with it.. great for developers )

For video there are many applications ..begin with kdenlive..

For photographers darktable ( now cross platform..like a free lightroom, but, IMO better )

Many applications are also available as .appimages, or flatpak etc..this is similar to the way that "portable apps" works on windows...you load the application image ( with all dependencies )..the app then functions like ( as near as makes no difference ) a portable app .exe file..
11:43 am on Aug 22, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I agree... I have also converted some family members over. Didn't really convince them, they were just curious, tried it and I eventually helped them set up their system. For an average home user who really only needs an email client and a web browser, Linux will work just like windows. Just an icon instead of a start button on the taskbar. Security is also less of a concern.

The one big point people notice is that system and software updates are a lot more fluid. They don't take over and make you wait. That does seem to be a big peeve with Windows.

Mack.
3:04 am on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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All above are grand for the webmaster in general. About the only place that Windows (and certain aps) might excel is production work that has NOTHING to do with "office" or "websites" ... completely different kettle of fish.

I still run WinX (and I mean the X part) because of legacy or REQUIREMENTS (think video/graphics/audio) where a level above "consumer grade" is required. That said, the Linux community is constantly improving product (applications) in these areas and it is just a matter of time before production standards can be accomplished. When that happens I will make the full changeover.

Thanks,. Mack!
11:19 am on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I converted from Windows to linux several years ago after consulting in this forum. I began with Ubuntu until it got a bit weighty, when I switched to Mint. I still run Mint for an online mail server plus a couple of local machines. About a year ago I had a bad experience with a new version of Mint and got annoyed at having to reinstall new major versions (17, 18 etc) and set up a new machine with Manjaro (Arch-ish) which has rolling-release. It took a while to become familiar with it but for the most part I like it.

Sadly I'm stuck with Windows (2012) as a web server - historic reasons going back 20+ years and a lot of "library" code I developed for it. Not at all looking forward to having to migrate to Windows 10. Since my web sites use basic ASP (not .NET) I can still develop code on my original Windows 2000 OS, which is run in a virtual environment on one of the Mint boxes.

For coding and general purpose editing I use kate, with gedit as a "notepad". I used kate for a while on the mail server to manage postfix and spamassassin files but it often crashed on opening (due, I think, to too many files) so I now use geany for that.

My wife uses libre writer daily but apart from that we only have a minimum use for office tools. Orage is useful for reminders and CherryTree for notes. Clipman is a useful clipboard manager.

Thunderbird has been our emailer since Windows days and we favoured firefox for browsing until recently, when I became concerned about it becoming overblown with features and with potential privacy. At the moment we use Pale Moon, but that seems to have problems accessing some sites and it cannot resolve reCaptcha for some reason. I'm trying Waterfox, SeaMonkey and Basilisk to try to resolve Pale Moon issues which includes a lack of the NoScript addon. I also use Midori and Brave in some cases.

VLC on any of our platforms for video and sound in general, with Clementine for the record collection.

Filezilla is useful for upload to the Windows server but for the mail server I now use Thunar (the file manager) and geany over ssh. I use remmina to manage all the local and online machines and that works well.

Apart from the cost of Windows, I've always worried about its vulnerability. Linux of any sort is still relatively safe, I think; most of the reported vulnerabilities seem to require someone local to fire them up.
11:52 am on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Second vote for Thunar, fewer "bells and whistles"..but much lighter ( cpu and ram usage ) when running.
12:54 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Indirectly related, does anyone know of a good alternative to Adobe Illustrator? That's the only tool I was not able to replace so far.
1:13 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Good to see we have a fairly wide spread of different tools people are using. It always interests me on what different people choose to use for similar purposes.

Dimitri, I'm not that familiar with Illustrator but would Inkscape offer an alternative?

Mack.
2:30 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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inkscape combined with sk1 ( both svg software, but sk1 is more pre-produsction oriented for print or pdf , should cover just about anything that you'd do with illustrator..and if you use any raster software ( such as photoshop or gimp ) look at krita, for professional use by artists / illusrators it is much better than gimp.
2:32 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Sorry, typo crept in there, that should be sK1 ( upper case "K" )..
2:58 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Just following on from your mention of Gimp. Most distributions are still offering Gimp version 2.8 The most recent stable is 2.10 and it takes Gimp to the next level. A real alternative to Photoshop (on any platform).

I have been using Gimp long before I started using Linux and I will admit there is a learning process, but it really is worth it. I am an amateur photographer and when using a combination of Darktable and Gimp I can achieve just as much as I would with Lightroom and Photoshop.

Mack.
4:33 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Nice. I started on DOS, then MS Windows, quickly moved to MacOS and then back to Windows. For quite some time I was using only Linux as my unique OS and it was amazingly great. The top benefits I had over that time are:

- Full performance (no need for antivirus consuming background resources)
- Saving space (no antivirus space consumed, plus most of my setup was lighter than on Windows)
- Faster (yes, it was way faster) I was using Xubuntu (my fav option) and **Lubuntu
- Fully customizable
- Not just safer, I could read just about any format (including file systems)
- Better suit of security testing tools
- I think it has better Bluetooth universe
- Great package installer / remover (manager) to keep my house in order
- Nice backup (more of that in a moment)

Unfortunately I had to go back to Windows due to several projects needing specific software that are not available on Linux, very specific needs and no option/time to rebuild everything on another platform. I used Wine with great success but still 2 software apps were buggy so no luck for me in that case.

The title on the front page says "Experiences and Tips For Linux OS Users", some advice/tips crossed my mind.

1. Permissions and ownership
Learn the right way to set up permissions and file ownership, specially when installing special apps or setting folders for local webservers. You might find your backups (moved to live servers) failing, or having issues with the files you create on those apps (having the wrong permissions) and nobody wants to sudo constantly.

2. Partitions
Read and learn the right way to set up your partitions so you can erase, format, upgrade or downgrade without affecting your files and work.

3. Backup
Always no matter your OS, and choose the right one. I don't use this anymore (Linux app) but consider RemasterSYS [es.wikipedia.org...] once installed you could create a full ISO image of your whole system as a backup, so boring right? wait: you could boot any computer with it and it had all your apps and files. Wait there is more: you could boot and then "install", a full install of your system, how nice is that? the last time I used there was some tricks to be applied, anyway it is awesome. I don't know of any other tool being able to do this.

4. Enough RAM and SSD
Linux runs pretty well on low ram systems, but having an SSD makes everything faster, just remember to keep swap at the minimum to extent the life of the drive (that's why more ram).

I tried diff flavors, there are plenty to choose from. Among the many I tried, Xubuntu was to me the best in performance and speed, light, etc. I mentioned Lubuntu above but while I did love it, there were some issues with some apps so that's why I dropped it. I guess most of that has been solved today.


@Dimitri (about A. Illustrator) for several reasons I've been a power user of Adobe apps (in general, sometimes it's not just about replacing the app with another drawing / photo tool, there is great efficiency or user experience that affects your work) so I had to stick with some Adobe apps while in Linux. Did you try Wine? it's a windows compatibility layer, it worked for me on many apps, not for all Photoshop versions but for some it was perfect. If you own an iPad you could use the iPad version and export your work so you only print it from desktop (iPad version is quite nice, not to mention the benefits of stylus on that screen). Macromedia Freehand is already dead but it ran perfectly stable under Wine (Freehand MX, the last commercial version, killed by Adobe), it is quite compatible with Illustrator files and as said, no issues under Wine on Linux.
6:24 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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SSD makes everything faster..specially windows..Linux is usually faster on the same spec machine than windows, even windows 10.. :)

"flatpak" is the way that the "official gimp site" offers gimp 2.10.6 ( the latest gimp )..But not all distros can run flatpak ..or some can but with some fiddling around.."the dreaded terminal" ..that puts many off trying linux ( actually , if you don't want to, you never have to visit "the dreaded terminal" to use linux )..others live all day in the terminal..

Anyone thinking of upgrading to gimp 2.10 but is on a distro that cant run flatpak* ( that includes all the "trusty" based ones ) can use gimp via an appimage..

The usual appimage versions pages at github 404..but with a bit of digging around..you can get this link..
[github.com...]
Or you can just use the above link without any "digging around" :)

Same appimage developer as the other ones..and they are only a little behind the flatpak versions from Gimp..Gimp is at 2.10.6 as of aug 19 2018..the latest appimage is at 2.10.5

To make an appimage work..download it to where you want to keep it..right click on it to get into file "properties"..go to the "permissions" tab..once there tick the box "program" "allow this file to run as a program"..close the properties dialogue and "double click" on the appimage..it will launch just as a "portable app" would under windows..

First launch of any appimage this way is always a bit slower than the subsequent launches ..it has to find things..

*Mint prior to version 18 has no "native support" for flatpak..since 18 it is built in at 18.3 and was backported ( if you updated your older versions of mint 18 ) to earlier 18 versions..Ubuntu ( and derivatives ) based can be got to run flatpak , but they don't really like it.

Snap is another way that some programs can be run on older linux distros..

The appimage at the above link of gimp 2.10.5 runs fine on mint 17.2 or 3..and trusty..in case anyone dos not want to update to 18 at the moment.

HTH :)
7:43 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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There is also a Gimp issues PPA repository. Then you can install it like any other piece of software using apt-get. Obviously, this will only work on systems that allow users to specify software repositories.

Mack.
8:28 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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The ppa I know of ( may be others ).. works for 17.10 and above ..can be reached via terminal copy and paste the following.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:otto-kesselgulasch/gimp
sudo apt update && sudo apt install gimp

Yes it is an "unknown" unofficial repository, although the person who runs it is a gimp developer..

But..AFAIK* ..no way to get gimp 2.10(x) onto ubuntu based distros via "install" for 16.04.. other than the appimage...or compiling it...or going into terminal a bit more..( depends on how happy one is compiling , or working in terminal )..

The following is copied from "stack"..I haven't tried it personally..I haven't needed to ..I like to run appimages until I know any "bugs" are dealt with on the "installed" versions..
If you need a newer version of gimp, for example 2.10, you can download it from [gimp.org...] . That's the official site of the gimp organization. You need to download gimp-2.10.0.tar.bz2 .

Since it's a compressed package and you probably don't want to install it from source I'm going to explain an alternative way of doing it. With this you are going to convert that file to a .deb file and then you can install it using apt while still receiving updates if a more recent version of gimp is available on the ubuntu repos.

First you need to install alien with sudo apt install alien. Now you go to the folder where you've downloaded that gimp*.tar.bz2 package and you press right click > open on terminal. Execute sudo alien -d gimp*, that's going to create a .deb file, may take some minutes to complete.

Now that you have a .deb file you can install it with sudo apt install -f ./gimp*.deb. When it's finished installing you can delete the .deb package with sudo rm gimp*.deb

With this you should have the lastest stable gimp version. This procedure can also be applied to any other app that comes in a .tar.bz or similar package.


* mack ..do you know of a ppa that works for below / earlier than ubuntu 17.10 ?



[edited by: not2easy at 8:53 pm (utc) on Aug 23, 2018]
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8:41 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I'm a Windows user but also have an old laptop that runs Linux Mint, by favoring multi platform applications like Sublime Text, Filezilla, Firefox, Thunderbird, it makes the context switching relatively seamless. Nowadays, Windows can even run Linux with Bash environment on command line, so Windows users also have access to Linux tools, like rsync, ssh, scp, etc.
9:11 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Leosghost that's the PPA I used, but I'm on 17.10. I wasn't aware it didn't work on older versions.

Appimage is getting more and more popular. Not entirely sure what I think of it. I like to have software installed as "native" apps (if that makes sense?)

Mack.
9:12 pm on Aug 23, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I changed to Ubuntu May 2016 as an result of the Windows 10 update terror.
I thought to change to Linux since maybe 2008, but Windows 10 brought the decision.

Now all 4 notebooks of the family are purchased without OS, Acer ES1-331 series.

The most time consuming part was my own software wirten in Perl with MSIE as user interface via HTA - Hyper Text Application. I thought 1999 this is a great idea, until I realized, that only the windows version of MSIE supported HTA.
All my software changed to client server
10:35 am on Aug 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Dimitri, I'm not that familiar with Illustrator but would Inkscape offer an alternative?

I did try it, but it was a bit too far from Illustrator for productive work (in my opinion, but it might because i am too in use of illustrator), but I'll give it a try again. Thank you.

As a side note, an issue i've been facing (rarely) is incompatibility with some external devices. For example, my Canon scanner was not working , in spite of a huge effort from independent developers to provide compatible drivers for Linux.

For PHP (or other language) web developers, (and considering your host is in under linux), this is interesting to have a linux at home/office because there are still some slight differences between Windows and Linux environment.
2:34 pm on Aug 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have been using Linux as my desktop for about 10 years now - and I also use Kubuntu and more-or-less the same setup as the OP (following Mint ending their KDE version).

The new 2.10 version of GIMP is a huge step forward as it now supports 16 bit and 32 bit precision, and therefore a lot less banding when working with RAW images. For RAW processing, I use RawTherapee.

While Ardour allows me to do some Audio work, I still find myself booting into Windows 10 (torture to use) so that I can use Cubase - and no, there is no software even close to this available for Linux (mainly because of the vast array of VST plugins available for Windows or Mac).

For video editing, I use Cinelerra (Goodguy's 5.1 fork), which does everything that I need, though better LUT support would be nice. DaVinci Resolve is available for Linux if you have a video card that supports it.

As someone else in this thread suggested, if you are thinking about switching to Linux, do it gradually by first migrating to cross-platform applications while still using Windows or Mac, once you are using those daily, make the switch.

Finally, another very handy program is HeidiSQL which runs fine in Linux under WINE - I can even manage my Microsoft SQL databases using that.
3:25 pm on Aug 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For video editing, I use Cinelerra

Have you tried Kdenlive? It's an impressive piece of software.

The new 2.10 version of GIMP is a huge step forward

It certainly is. I just wish it could deal with raw files natively. With my current setup when I right click a raw file and select "Open with" then click Gimp it opens gimp as normal, then opens DarkTable. I can then make any adjustments I want in DarkTable and when I close it the file opens it in Gimp. This is as far as Gims has gone with regards to raw handling.

For PHP (or other language) web developers, (and considering your host is in under linux)

That was my initial reason for making the switch. Having my development environment as similar to my host environment as possible is always going to be an advantage.

Mack.
6:42 pm on Aug 24, 2018 (gmt 0)

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While my servers have always been Debian when the time came to give up Win98se on personal computers I just couldn't get the ease of use I wanted so switched to an iMac and have been sufficiently pleased to stay there.

This thread has been very interesting and I've enjoyed reading on the software options recommended. Next upgrade cycle looks to offer more choice than previous. Thanks all.
8:22 am on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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For video editing, I use Cinelerra


Have you tried Kdenlive? It's an impressive piece of software.


I have tried it in the past, but found it very basic compared to Cinelerra in terms of features - if you haven't tried it recently, you should look at the the GoodGuy fork of Cinelerra - it is vastly superior to the other versions.
2:24 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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I have been looking into Cinelerra but I honestly prefer Kdenlive. I use it for basic editing for my Youtube channel but have also messed around with some other features like green screening and rotoscoping. I think this is another area where it comes don to personal preference.

Mack.
3:54 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Cinelerra ( from Good Guy ) will also only run on versions of linux mint later than 17.2 ( that is the oldest "mint" version available on the downloads page at cinelerra-cv.org )..no appimage,nor flatpak or snap..it will run on 17.3 and above..and there is an upto date version of cinelerra ( Good Guy ) for linux 18 etc..If you are on mint older than 17.3 , you might be able to compile a version that works..The learning curve is steeper ( IMO ) than for kdenlive..

Blender is well worth looking at for lots of things..including some video work.
4:53 pm on Aug 25, 2018 (gmt 0)

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Blender is well worth looking at for lots of things..including some video work.


Blender is a brilliant piece of software, so many things you can do with it from 3d design to animation. It even has a game engine. But I have always found it to be the most non-intuitive application to use. Just little things like the left and right mouse buttons doing the opposite from what you expect. I know this was probably done to so that Windows and Apple users could meet halfway, but I still struggle with it. (maybe just a slow learner).

Blender also has some brilliant editing tools for video. I spend a bit of time learning that aspect.

Mack.
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