My laptop crashed and so I made the switched to Ubuntu. Here is my story.
A few days ago I was uninstalling a program from Window’s 7 and as a result the entire system crashed. After that everything move very slowly but the CPU meter showed me running at 1% (when it felt like 99%). I didnt’t have a restore point and no back up disc. I went to the computer story and paid $10 for a OEM disc of Window’s 7 and plan to start from scratch but the disk was for 64-bit and I need 32-bit. My attempt to run this OEM “fix” only screwed everything up more….
I had previously installed Ubuntu on my laptop and I found it was still working like a champ. I could get on-line and check my email and it was better then nothing… actually, even though I had Ubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) running, I never really used it… I was just too addicted to Windows, but now I was faced with a choice to either pay $189 for Window’s 8 or buy an new laptop. It was time to learn Ubuntu… and I had the weekend free… so I decided to learn all I could. First, I found out I could save/rescue all my files that I thought were lost by using Ubuntu’s file program. I just went into the directory, copied the files to a 16G flash drive I got at Wal-Mart for $14 and I was a happy man.
Yesterday I got Ubuntu Studio (12.10) running and I love it.
Ironically, I had just ordered the standard Ubuntu 12.10 disc off eBay a few days before my laptop crashed, and my plan was to upgrade and run both like I had been. With two days off work, I didn’t want to wait minute to get my computer working again. What could I do?
After a little research I download the LinuxLive USB Key Creator (linuxliveusb.com). This allowed me to test Lubuntu, Mythubuntu, and Kubuntu within a few hours time and I did it all in the test environment of a Virtue Box so there was never any changes made to my Hard Drive. What I really want to try was Ubuntu 12.10, but the file I download was corrupt and LinuxLive would not install it. After three attempted I was about to give up when I saw “Ubuntu Studio 12.10 DVD” listed in the LinuxLive drop down menu. Not knowing it was Xubuntu I gave it a try… and I’m glad I did.
The great thing about LinuxLive is it allows you to launch what ever version of Ubuntu you want directly in any Windows without any configuration nor software installation on your hard drive. No other Creator offers this exclusive feature. However after seeing Studio in action, I did not hesitate to place it on my computer… I was so eager to use it, I didn’t bother to partition my 200G hard drive… and I just wiped out the two corrupt Windows 7 installs and started fresh.
Move over Microsoft, I found my new OS!
The Ubuntu default desktop uses the Gnome window manager, which can be a difficult transition for Windows users. However, with Ubuntu Studio (Xfce) the desktop is completely customisable (I spent hours getting it tweeted out the way I like it) and it will be a lot more familiar to Windows users, as Xfce has something comparable to the start menu.
INSTALLATION AND FIRST IMPRESSIONS
The installation is superb. Quick, intuitive, only asking relevant questions and leaving the confusing bits aside, mature and stable. Thanks to the ability to download updates during the installation, I got a fully updated Ubuntu Studio desktop right off the bat, albeit taking longer than an “offline” installation would have, of course. Here are a few tips and tricks.
The Ubuntu 12.04 splash screen is beautiful, impressive, looking very professional and sharp. Unfortunately not like it is the login screen, which looks a bit archaic, even if sporting a beautiful background image. Just as it is the case in Xubuntu, the LightDM theme in Ubuntu Studio is far from being as sleek as Ubuntu´s. Hopefully we will see improvements in this area come future releases. If not, thanks to the reduced complexity of LightDM, changes to the background picture, login window theme and fonts are fortunately quite simple.
Unlike Xubuntu, Ubuntu Studio 12.04 leans towards GNOME in its applications of choice, so it is no surprise that Nautilus handles file management, instead of XFCE´s Thunar.
Another departure from Xubuntu´s defaults is the text editor of choice, good old Gedit.
Aside from a few minor differences, though, the similarities with Xubuntu are obvious. This should come as no surprise since both are using XFCE now. A good example of those similarities is the identical System Settings tool.
The Audio Production application catalog is full of candy. Mudita 24 quickly helped me manage my 1010LT input and output levels, while Jack gave me a hand in choosing the hardware interface and adjusting connections. I still get an old issue at times, when my two audio cards seem to battle to take the first spot (HW0) at boot, making my default Jack setup fail. Choosing “default” in Jack Interface drop-down menu didn´t help, unfortunately. Now, I know there is a fix to this which involves hard coding which interface should go in first, but I was hoping this would be managed automatically at this stage. Oh, well.
I quickly fired Hydrogen (testing version 0.96) and loaded one of my songs. Of course, I had to go through the tedious task of mapping instrument layers, but I was happy to see some new features that made my life a little easier when recording. All in all, though, Hydrogen is still poor in several areas, the user interface being the one I probably have more problems with. It does get the job done, though, and since this is an Ubuntu Studio review, I won´t go on about it.
I then started Ardour (version 2.8) and was happy to see all looking very much familiar. I loaded some old projects and it all went buttery smooth. I only had to remap connections through Jack to get my drum tracks in, and I must say I am getting the best results ever in terms of latency, with less than 10ms. and almost zero xruns.
The whole thing comes preconfigured with LADSPA effects, mastering tools like Jamin and players like Audacious, among many others. Thanks to the intuitive audio setup, I now find it very easy to master my songs, export them and then check them out through my standard speakers or regular headphones, all without having to switch or change anything on Jack. It´s making mixing and mastering way easier and faster!
Ubuntu Studio is not focused solely on Audio Production, though, Video, Image Manipulation and Digital Animation are very much part of it thanks to applications like OpenShot, GIMP and Blender. I have no skills at animation, though, so to me Blender is just a great companion to OpenShot for the 3D titles.
The default Video Player handles a wide arrange of formats, but I find it is no match for my favorite: VLC. Luckily, Ubuntu Studio 12.04 benefits from being part of the x-buntu family and includes a fully up to date version of the great Ubuntu Software Manager, which made installing VLC (just an example) a breeze.
As can be seen, the application catalog in Ubuntu Studio is impressive, but I think there are better options than Brasero for burning CDs/DVDs, specially in a distro like this, which may take such applications to their limits. Personally, I would have included K3B, my favorite.
GIMP (which does include all of its plugins by default) I use quite a lot on most of my installations, but it does feel good to have it here, on a dedicated distro. Ubuntu Studio will probably handle all my image manipulation from now on.
A SINGLE WORD: CONGRATULATIONS!
At the end of last year, the future of Ubuntu Studio looked uncertain, so to see the distro come back to life in such style is a most welcome and impressive surprise. The best thing, though, is that it just starts there, but only truly unfolds when one starts using it in depth and finding how good Ubuntu Studio 12.10 actually is. The only drawback that I’ve found is not being able to watch Netflix, but as of yesterday, even that now has a fix!