Sharpening our focus

* If you don’t know who or what one of these are, check the Glossary page.

We’re back. We’ve been away from the pond on a special project for the past two weeks. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen often. It’s nice to be back on the LilyPad. The time away gave us a chance to think about what we’re working on and the tools were using.

We’re focusing on learning how to do various kinds of content creation here on the LilyPad. A significant reason that RoboFrog tries so many different Linux distributions is that, as our tech guy, HE’s* the one we depend upon to figure out which system and software will best suit our needs. HE thinks HE’s had a breakthrough. If HE’s right, it will both simplify our lives and sharpen our focus.

Ubuntu Studio

HE’s been looking at all kinds of open-source software for editing audio and video. We haven’t talked about those things yet, but eventually, we’ll get there. One of the exciting things about the open-source world is the number of software  choices you have for almost anything you want to do. You can load a piece of software and experiment with it at no cost. If it does what you want, you can use it…again, at no cost…and if not, try something else. There’s almost always more than one choice. The downside is…there are a lot of choices.

If you’re using Linux, there’s another downside. Every piece of software isn’t available in the repositories (the place software is stored) of every flavor of Linux. That’s why we stick to Linux distributions that have large repositories.

While RoboFrog was searching for audio and video editing software, HE ran across Ubuntu Studio. This is one of the *buntu’s (Linux distribution based on Ubuntu). We’ve always thought that a *buntu should be the favorite distribution  here on the LilyPad. Until recently, Debian was our favorite Linux distribution. Ubuntu is derived from Debian. We can’t explain it, but Ubuntu and it’s derivatives have always been our second favorite. We liked Ubuntu, but liked Debian better. We liked Ubuntu, but preferred Fedora 14. We liked Ubuntu, but we liked Arch Linux more. We thought Xubuntu (see previous post) was finally going to be the *buntu that became a favorite, but Xubuntu was unable to maintain a wireless Internet connection with Defiant*. You can understand my skepticism when HE decided that we needed to try Ubuntu Studio 11.10.

This is what caught HIS* attention: (from the Ubuntu Studio web site):

Let Your Creativity Fly

Ubuntu Studio. A multimedia creation flavor of Ubuntu.

Ubuntu Studio is aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast as well as professional.

We provide a suite of the best open-source applications available for multimedia creation. Completely free to use, modify and redistribute. Your only limitation is your imagination”

Here, apparently, was a Linux distribution tailor-made for us by people doing the same things that we want to learn to do. Even better, they’ve sifted through the open-source software and chosen the best stuff available. Even if we don’t agree 100% with their choices, using the tools included in this distribution would save us a lot of time. I understood why HE was so interested in Ubuntu Studio.

I think we’re in love!

HE loaded Ubuntu Studio onto Whitestar*. No problem with the installation. It was a little more difficult than regular Ubuntu, but not much. When we booted after installation, we were stunned. Ubuntu Studio presented us with a vanilla Xfce GUI (Graphical User Interface). If you’ve read previous posts, you know that Xfce is our preferred GUI at The Robotic Frog. We weren’t prepared, though. The interface was so unlike what was described at the Ubuntu Studio web site that we feared that we’d installed the wrong distribution. We returned to the Ubuntu Studio web site and found that they are transitioning from Gnome2 to Xfce. We are delighted!

We encountered one minor (as it turned out) problem. When we booted the first time, we had no sound. That could be a big problem for a multimedia distribution. As it turned out, the audio output was muted. Once we unmuted the output, everything was fine. [Applications Menu -> Multimedia -> PulseAudio Volume Control -> Output Devices, click on the little speaker]

This was almost too good to be true. All of the software we use was in the repositories and Ubuntu Studio was working…perfectly…on Whitestar. (Whitestar is our most troublesome machine with new Linux distributions.) Now, we needed to see if we could get it to work on Defiant*.

We loaded Ubuntu Studio onto Defiant the first time without a wired Internet connection. Everything seemed to go well, but we found that it was unable to establish a wireless connection. After our experience with Xubuntu, we feared that this would be the deal-breaker. We fiddled with it for awhile and could almost get the wireless to work. Every time we rebooted, though, it was gone again.

We decided to reinstall with Defiant hard-wired to the Internet. Amazingly, everything worked just fine. When we rebooted after the second installation, the wireless worked perfectly. We’re not sure why this made a difference, but it did. It was time to test the wireless connection and see if Ubuntu Studio could maintain it.

We’re writing this post on Defiant, upstairs, at the point farthest away from our router. We’ve been listening to Pandora on the headphones and working on this post for about two hours and haven’t lost the Internet a single time. Not so much as a skip or hiccup. What a relief.

Here’s our sharper focus: We’re going to use Ubuntu Studio 11.10. We’ll continue to focus on content creation, but also Ubuntu Studio and the media creation tools that it provides.

Next time…

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