Ubuntu Studio is a variant of Ubuntu that concentrates on three creative tasks: video editing, audio recording and graphics.
The ISO is an annoying 867megs, making it a slice too big for a CD but a waste of a 4.7gig DVD. But I’m nit-picking…
Because this is based off an alternative Ubuntu release, the only option to use Ubuntu Studio is by installing it using the text-based installer. I can’t deny I was a little sad not to see a live version, especially considering that they had already cracked into a DVD-sized distribution. To me it would have made sense to go the whole hog and let people play with it before they install.
Installing it is really as simple as installing Ubuntu using the text-based installer. As long as you don’t need to resize partitions or do anything particularly creative here, you should be okay. The only difference was towards the end of the user input stage where you see this screen:
Four absolute choices over what you get. I’m not sure this is enough choice but I’ll come back to this area in my conclusion.
Ubuntu Studio is based on the Feisty Fawn release of Ubuntu but does away with Ubuntu’s default orange/brown theme in favour of a sexy charcoal gradient affair with highlights of a nice neon blue. The boot screen diverges from the scheme a little:
As does the login screen:
It is important to remember that all of Ubuntu is just lurking under the surface. All the config is where you would expect it and they haven’t removed anything important (except Tali).
Do you really need most of Ubuntu present just to power one or two applications in an appliance-style fashion? Moreover, do you need the resource-heavy theme?
As somebody who doesn’t create video or audio content for a living, I might not be best placed to review each piece of software installed with Ubuntu Studio, but I’ll give it a shot =)
One thing I will say beforehand is the organisation isn’t particularly great. Graphics has its own menu but audio and video are lumped in the same group and this makes for a massive list of applications. I feel some work could have been done to split them into their own menus.
There is a great range of graphical applications. You have GIMP for photoshopping, Blender for 3D work, Stopmotion and Synfig for animation, Inkscape for vector work as well as a set of accessory applications like Agave for colour scheme generation, FontForge for touching up and creating fonts ans several image managers and retouchers.
But I can’t say they really build up to what somebody might need as a comprehensive graphical creative suite — I would need to add more to get started.
I’ll admit that I’m really out of my depth here and this seems to be where this release really concentrated.
There is a plethora of audio software including sequencers, drum machines, quality mixers, input controls, multi-track recorders and even a classical score editor. Again a wide selection but there might be some things that seasoned professionals might expect as standard.
I thought this was another section that was a little light, to say the least. I really only found two tools: Kino for non-linear DVCam editing and PiTiVi for general non-linear video editing. Neither really comes close in terms of features as Adobe Premier Pro — but there is a small difference in price tag.
Codec support is, by standard, pretty light, but Ubuntu makes getting more quite trivial.
In my eyes, Ubuntu Studio is not complete by any stretch of the imagination and saying it’s a three-pronged attack on the creative senses is stretching it a bit too far.
I wonder why they’ve released it in this state
Certainly for audio recording, people should pay Ubuntu Studio a look-in. There is a large array of tools preconfigured on a low-latency kernel making real-time recording and processing manageable. However for video and graphics, I found Ubuntu Studio severely lacking to the point where I wonder why they’ve released it in this state.
I also have doubts whether chucking in a heavy system theme is a good idea when you’re vying for real-time performance but I can’t deny it’s really pretty… So much so, I’m considering bringing the theme over to my Ubuntu box.
I think the installer system needs some attention too. If you’re going for a DVD sized distribution, I see no reason why you can’t look at making the distribution Live. The installer could then be graphical and it would be much easier to let people decide exactly what they’re installing.
‘A solid start’ would be my summation. I wouldn’t chuck out your production box yet but definitely keep your eye on Ubuntu Studio for future releases.
About Oli: I’m a Django and Python programmer, occasional designer, Ubuntu member, Ask Ubuntu moderator and technical blogger. I occasionally like to rant about subjects I should probably learn more about but I usually mean well.