Back to GNU/Linux

Sep 17 2016 Published by under General, Technology

My computing platform history in a nutshell.

1984 – First significant interaction with a computer. A Commodore 128 I inherited at work.

1989 – Bought my own Commodore Amiga.

Early 90’s – Was given a pc built from spare parts by a programmer friend. This was upgraded and evolved piece by piece, sometimes completely replaced throughout the 90’s / early 00’s. Eventually jumped over to laptops. This saw me through Windows 3.0, 3.1, 95, 98, 2000, NT, XP.

2007 – Got a Mac Book Pro. Fully switched away from Windows over to the Apple world.

2010 – After 3 years, while overall happy with the software and hardware experience on Mac, I was growing increasingly annoyed by Apple’s ever tightening grip over its users and developers. I moved back to Windows.

2010/11 – I then spent almost two years immersed in the GNU/Linux world. It was my daily OS. Loved it probably more than anything else.

2012 – Intrigued by Windows 8, I jumped back over to the MS platform to see what that was all about. I wound up staying longer than I had intended. Note that even while I was back on Windows as my daily OS, I always maintained a Linux tower PC that I used as a file server, media server, etc.

2016 – No major complaints with Windows 10. But it was time to get back to my favorite over the years. GNU/Linux.

Actually, I had tried to jump back about a year or so ago, trying a couple of different distros – probably Ubuntu and Mint – on my Yoga 2 Pro. I ran into a couple of major hurdles.

One was the high dpi screen on the Yoga. 3200×1800. Even when I initially got the Yoga, Windows didn’t handle it too well. And even to this day, a lot of Windows programs just don’t handle high dpi screens well. You wind up with tiny text, tiny icons or controls that get chopped off. Ubuntu was just getting to the point of addressing it, but it needed some work.

The other issue was video production. I make videos for Coding Math, Egghead, and occasionally other customers. I need software that does decent audio recording and editing, full screen capture and decent video editing.

For audio, I use Audacity, so I was covered there. Screen capture generally worked well, but I couldn’t find a decent editor. Every one I tried either didn’t have the (fairly basic) set of features I needed, or – more commonly – just crashed about every two minutes. There were a couple of others that didn’t crash but the workflow was way too complex and the performance was abysmal. I gave up and went back to Camtasia on Windows.

But recently I’d heard some positive words about video editing on Linux and decided to give it another shot. Starting out on my tower pc, I tried OpenShot. Last year it was crashing constantly. It seemed relatively stable and has a nice workflow. I was excited.

I took the plunge and installed Ubuntu on my Yoga again. I was really impressed. 99% of everything worked perfectly out of the box. I did need to tweak the trackpad a bit. The high dpi support was great, but in the end, I wound up lowering my resolution to 50% – 1600×900 anyway. It looks just as good to my eyes, you get much better performance, and any lingering issues are totally handled. It felt dirty to misuse all those pixels like that, but after a day, I never thought about it again.

Did some screen recording, fired up OpenShot and started cutting up clips and … crash. Not as bad as last year, but often enough to make it not worth using. Discouraged. Well, let’s see what else is out there. Another top contender was Kdenlive. Crossed my fingers, and tried it out.

I liked it. Used it some more… liked it a LOT. Is it crash free? mmm…. I can’t say that. But I can get through a full video editing session with 0 to 1… maybe 2 crashes, which I can live with. And so far, every time I’ve had a crash, I reopen the file and it auto recovers it to the exact point where I left off. So it’s a minor 20 second annoyance rather than something that destroys work.

There was one issue I ran into with screen recording. The solution to this issue led to some really cool discoveries that I’ll go over in another post.

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