Posts tagged dyne:bolic

Auditioning Multimedia Distros (part 1 – dyne:bolic)

Cinelerra is a full-featured non-linear video editor for Linux. It has capabilities which, while nowhere near as polished, are roughly comparable to Final Cut Pro, the only commercial NLVE I am familiar with.

I’ve had a lot of trouble with Cinelerra over the years. I managed to successfully create a 40 minute rough cut of my latest project over a year ago, but then, due to upgrades on my Debian box, I couldn’t do any further edits. Cinelerra would hang or crash at times. Other times, I could load my project, but I couldn’t playback anything or make edits. In short it was an unusable pain and I nearly gave up.

Fortunately, I had faith that it was indeed possible to use Cinelerra successfully (in fact, I think it is a very good NLE tool which I enjoy using). Now that I’ve finally decided to tackle setting it up again, I decided rather than invest a lot of time messing with my existing Debian install (which refused to let me install Cinelerra and Kino at the same time due to library conflicts), I decided to start fresh with a setup intended for multimedia production.

I started with d y n e : b o l i c version 2.5.2.  I loved the XFCE desktop and the piles of cool multimedia software.  Dyne:bolic (made by Rastafarians! — I think that should be the distro’s motto) also allows you to copy the live CD to your hard drive without dual booting or disrupting your regular OS.  Cool.

Unfortunately, the live CD doesn’t include apt for upgrades (apt is a package manager in Debian-based distros which allows simple, one-command upgrades of all installed applications and easy installs of new packages from on-line repositories), so it isn’t really easy to fix problems with the pre-installed apps.  I was happy to use dyne:bolic anyhow until I discovered that Cinelerra simply doesn’t work in this version of the distro (at least on my crappy old hardware).

dynebolic screenshot

dynebolic screenshot

Due to a configuration problem with the kernel (or something? see Cinerella dont work :-(: msg#00020)) Cinelerra will load, but won’t allow the user to interact with the menus or controls.  This was a showstopper for me.

So, I’m not using dyne:bolic at this point.  I gave the CD to my musically-inclined son, however, and he used the “dock” method to install on his Windows laptop (to dock, simply copy the “dyne” folder from the CD onto the root of your hard drive — see Install on harddisk? Dock! — then use the “Nest” function to save your settings to the same folder, reboot with the CD, and you’re running db from the hard drive).  He’s had good fun using the drum machine and synth programs so far.

Note: one quirk which I noticed about db is that all of your drives are mounted with an extra layer of subfolder called simply “1.”  No doubt there’s a simple and good explanation for this, but it seems a bit odd to me.

Choosing a Multimedia Linux Distro

For reasons I won’t go into yet, I decided to take my tried and true Debian server and turn it into a multimedia workstation.

The machine is a Shuttle barebones case with an Athlon XP 1700+ CPU, 2GB of RAM, and a ATI Radeon video card.  It contains two WD 200GB drives, plus I’ve added a WD 1TB (I love writing that!) external USB drive.

The system isn’t exactly ideal for it, but my ultimate goal is to use it for video editing with Cinelerra in particular.  My old Debian install had too many idiosyncracies to continue with, but I really wanted to stay with a distro in the Debian family, which I’m very familiar and happy with.

I narrowed the choice down to three options.  There are other similar distros out there which might do (64Studio, Musix, for example), but these seemed like the best options for me:

  1. d y n e : b o l i c

    • plenty of great software, including Cinelerra
    • uses low-resource window manager
    • seems to have a good user base and a bit of history behind it
    • made by Rastafarians!
    • doesn’t use Debian’s apt for package management, so you must wait for the next dyne:bolic release for upgrades
  2. pure:dyne

    • entirely Debian, with traditional package management
    • uses low-resource window manager
    • supported by Arts Council England
    • although it used to be based on dyne:bolic, the latest versions have been recreated from scratch from Debian, so there’s probably still work to do
  3. Ubuntu Studio

    • Ubuntu-based, so it will have plenty of support
    • uses Gnome
    • doesn’t include Cinelerra

I tested all three, but I ended up using Ubuntu Studio. Why? Because of hardware problems of one sort or another. I’ll explain more later.