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How my computing needs affected switching to Linux

In response to my post about switching to Ubuntu Linux, Charles Arthur tweeted a question asking about my computing needs. It’s a good question, because – obviously – how you use your computer will often determine your platform of choice.
My needs are pretty diverse, but largely I’m a media monkey. Text is the most important medium I generat, which means that OpenOffice is probably my most-used application. But, like most journalists, bloggers and writers I also need to mess around with images, edit the occasional video and play with sound.
On the Mac, the applications I used for these tasks were:

  • Graphics: an ancient copy of Photoshop.
  • Video: iMovie, although I hated the “upgrade” to 08 with a passion.
  • Sound: Fission, and GarageBand for multitracking stuff.

With Ubuntu, these have been replaced with:

Could I switch to Linux if, say, I was a professional video or audio editor? Probably not. For both of those tasks, specialist applications like Final Cut Pro mean that Linux isn’t really an option (no doubt someone will pop up now to contradict me!) But for what I do, all the tools I need are there. Some of them (like Kino) are actually better than what i had before. And, importantly, they’re free – in all the sense of the word.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • http://technology.guardian.co.uk/ Charles Arthur

    Interesting – and food for thought! Thanks.

  • Terry

    Though I would rather use a Mac and final Cut for video editing there are plenty of very good video editing apps for Linux. You haven’t looked very hard if all you came up with is Kino.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ianbetteridge Ian Betteridge

    I haven’t looked very hard because I’m not a pro video editor. Kino does everything I need to do, in a way that I understand and find easy to use. Isn’t that the definition of “right tool for the job”?

  • http://ubuntulinuxtipstricks.blogspot.com Mackenzie

    If you *do* come across any professional graphics folks, Photoshop CS2 runs in WINE. Google paid the WINE devs to get that done.

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ianbetteridge Ian Betteridge

    Blimey, didn’t know that Mackenzie – thanks!

  • Andrew

    The one thing that keeps me from using Linux is native file format, namely .doc and .docx.
    Yes, I know that OO3 and every other word processor under the sun can import and export to Word, but not with complex formatting, and definitely not legal pleadings with those funky vertical rulers in the document that MUST line-up perfectly with the text. I’ve tried them all Abiword, OO2, OO3, Pages, WordPerfect, Nisus Pro, Mellel, you name it, it won’t import pleadings without breaking the formatting.
    Sorry, I’m just not willing to waste 10 or 20 minutes on each and every document I receive for the privilege of using free software. Word for Mac will open both Mac and Windows generated pleadings without breaking the formatting. The day that the Mac version doesn’t open pleadings is the day I have to move to Windows (in Parallels, of course).

  • http://profile.typepad.com/ianbetteridge Ian Betteridge

    Andrew, I hear what you’re saying – and I think it perfectly illustrates why I care about open file formats. Whether an application is open source or not is a choice that is really just down to asking what the right way to get the job done is. I believe strongly in a “mixed economy” for development, with different methodologies competing and spurring on improvement over the whole industry.
    But when you’re locked in to using a single product because the developer deliberately chose to use a format unique to itself… that’s not encouraging competition. That’s not encouraging innovation. It’s just encouraging developers to sit on their behinds raking in the cash because everyone HAS to use their product.
    Incidentally, have you tried Word running under WINE? I’m told it’s pretty good. http://appdb.winehq.org/appview.php?appId=10

  • Hung Doan

    I appreciate your blog entries about migrating over to uBuntu, as it makes sense to you. I think our reasons are somewhat the same in that, you realized that you have found better (read: cheaper) tools to help you accomplish your tasks. In my situation, it is more that Apple has strayed from what I have found Macs to be useful for (my daily needs) these long years as a Mac user.
    I feel that Apple is catering to mass consumers (altogether, not bad) and the creative pros. I was a student when I started on macs back in primary school and am still a student, and I feel that Apple’s tools do not cater to my situation well. They make iWork, but it’s all eye candy. They make “affordable” machines but really my options are a crippled Mac-mini (that’s really an expensive AppleTV), a non-upgradeable iMac, or a really expensive Mac Pro which I don’t need. The laptops are stylish without substance (an expensive PC laptop). If I purchase a Mac Laptop, I might end up converting to uBuntu and forking over more money than I could have ever wanted just to use a Linux variant!
    It’s true that companies and consumers’ needs evolve and change, and it is good that Apple is so successful. What attracted Macs to me first just doesn’t seem to captivate me now. You’ve shed new light on this discussion, thanks!

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