Posted by: duskfire | June 30, 2011

Lowering the cost of hobby entry

One really nice side benefit to using Linux is that it becomes quite easy to try out a new hobby, without spending a lot of money to get the software you need. Whether it’s starting to program, learning how to create pixel art, dabbling in music production, or starting non-linear video editing, you can afford to discover what your interests are – and all you really need is time.

This past week I have become fascinated by the discussion online about a new $300 Apple program, Final Cut Pro X. I know absolutely nothing about video editing, and never expected I would want to learn about it. But after reading the articles, I got curious about what these programs really do. Windows has a free consumer program called “Windows Live MovieMaker”, which I’ve never tried. But on Linux, there are many programs that either let you do NLE video editing or help you process videos in some way.

So I did what you usually do in this situation if you run Linux – fired up Synaptic, and did a search:

Synaptic is simply a graphical front end to a sophisticated program (apt, the Advanced Packaging Tool) that lets people find and install updates or new programs, and remove unwanted programs. Pioneered by Debian Linux years ago, and using the ubiquitous repository system that most Linux systems employ to access updates and new programs, it leaves Windows in the dust for ease of use.

So now, what do I have in the main menu, less than 15 minutes later?

the GNOME main menu, "Sound and Video"

Note: Apparently, Kdenlive doesn’t appear in the menu by default. Sometimes, a program you install doesn’t add itself to the menu. In these cases, you have to start the program by either opening a terminal and running from the command line, or if you use KDE you can click the “Run Command” feature on the menu. Also, you can edit the menu to add a program to one of the categories.

There is one video editing program for Linux, Cinelerra, that isn’t listed in the Ubuntu repositories. It can be downloaded and installed by adding their PPA to your repository listing (under “Adding PPAs” on that page, if you use a Ubuntu-based version of Linux), or check their “Get Cinelerra” section to see if your system is supported.

So I can now play around with seven or eight programs that help me work with video and editing. I might take a detailed look at them in another post, but my point is simple. If you want to learn how to use serious applications (i.e. not games, my usual focus), how much can you afford to spend on applications under Windows? or on a Mac? If you know what you want to learn, or already are planning how to turn a hobby into a career, spending hundreds of dollars might be worth it. But what if you can’t afford that much money? With Linux, it becomes simple to install all the tools you would want to try. Google or DuckDuckGo can point you to online information and tutorials for most of the programs you install, and you will be off and running (or learning).



  1. I must say, poor menues are one of the things Linux really needs to work on. It is hard to move things around in them, hard to add things to them, and things don’t always add themselves to them like they should. This really doesn’t seem to be a hard issue, I wish they would work on it.

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