Full Migration from Windows to Linux - Report #2 Software

What makes or breaks a platform? Software.

What gets people to use your software? Marketing.

Something I've noticed among every group of people, even ones that have some difficulty using a computer. They know the term "Photoshop" and at times it's not even directly related as the program itself in the name, it's now a term or lingo to call something Photoshoped. Pretty sure that there are some out there that use the term without knowing about the software in the first place.

So with that in mind...I'm an adobe junkie, been using Photoshop, Lightroom & Premiere sense the early 2000's moving away from that much to learn a new chunk of software is hard, hell a new workflow. That sounds harder!

But I've made a move and started using Kdenlive on Linux Mint 17.3 to edit videos of my sister and I playing video games (not original sure, but we have fun doing it). The first thing I tried was to simply load in the recorded video plus audio from the mic and dive face first into editing it and attempting to do all the same things I do with my editing style with Premiere. This includes just simple stuff as fading from and to black, audio dips in keyframe moments (when coughing) splicing the video when cuts are needed and fading into other video (example on a video here) and laying video over other video in a lower corner. Simple things sure but I found all of these things and more within Kdenlive, even a few things I wish Premiere had but I guess that isn't a problem any more! As for diving in face first you'll just waste time, find someone who has put up a tutorial (I found this guy who goes into some nice detail but do look at several videos). Even if you know how non-linear video editing works in practice the software is an entirely different tool even if it's doing the same thing.
There are different video editors for linux as well such as OpenShot and Flowblade, in the end you'll have to try them out to see which works best for you.

The video editor was the first thing I looked for to replace the windows end of things and after uploading the finished video it felt fairly easy that it was edited, rendered and uploaded all within some other software that I've never used before.
It's been a long time sense I've had to learn and use new software so this has brought back some old excitement to me from when I was learning all of this stuff back in the early days of windows about the only thing missing is the huge amounts of time I found myself with back in the 90s.

As things are going along now I've actually learned quite a bit more than the video editor but I'm slow to write this stuff. But the above is what I found and felt during all of that. Now to get into stuff that might actually be more useful.

I've been looking into a lot of different software to replace just about everything I do and as the name of some chunk of software is the first tricky step (at least it was for me) I figured sharing everything I found would be helpful to other trying to make a switch.

The left side will be the windows software to be replaced, the right side will have the replacement.
This is my personal list of what I found works for me.

  • Photoshop - GIMP + MyPaint
  • Lightroom - Darktable
  • Adobe Bridge - Shotwell
  • Adobe Audition - Audacity
  • Premiere - Kdenlive
  • Sketchbook - Krita
  • Winamp - Clementine
  • Imgburn - Brasero
  • Illustrator - Inkscape
  • cuetools - Flacon
  • Indesign - Scribus
  • ZBrush - Blender

With Photoshop and Sketchbook it's actually split between GIMP, Krita and MyPaint. With these different tools they are more powerful in the regards of what I'm after in the end.
There was also quite a few tools I used in windows that were already packaged for Linux such as Hexchat, Handbrake and Steam but thats another subject.

Now not everything either works out of the box or just in a different package ready to go. There are two programs I was nail biting over as they are less work-ish but can be seen as work however bring me great joy. FL Studio and Hammer (map making tool for source engine games). But there is good news everbody! They work just fine in WINE, FL studio took installing quite a bit of extras from WineTricks but I loaded up a huge demo project and plays just fine. Hammer was the one I was really freaking over but it ran and compiled a map just fine, the only thing I wasn't able to get going was running CSGO to let hammer see all of the resources but thats because I'm doing all of this testing on a Thinkpad X220 laptop with an Intel GPU and WINE makes fun of the Mesa drivers, however on my main machine with a Nvidia GPU I'm quite sure it will run perfectly fine but even if it doesn't I'll just have to manually tell hammer where to do everything.

I'm sure in time there will be different programs I try or even shift to and with that I'll do my best to post progress on it as I haven't seen very many people document this kind of shift and even as I write this there are other things coming to mind about what kinds of programs that can run on the penguin. Firefox and Chrome for example, sure anyone just loading up about any distro of Linux will see that Firefox or Chrome(ium) is loaded up but it's there and almost taken for granted.

Now for a change of pace. Originally I was going to go with Linux Mint and call it a day but I've been using the same semi-bland looking OS sense the age of time and while Mint is much prettier than windows I wanted some major eye-candy but it still needed to be highly functional. At one point I almost went for Debian and pump it full of themes but I'm lazy and I like PPAs that ubuntu based distro can use. With that I've found that Kubuntu is what calls to me, currently I'm using 15.10 and that has KDE Plasma 5.4.2, I've changed the overall look to Breeze Dark and oh my it sure is pretty.

Yeah I'm a sucker for 75% grey-blues with minimalists look to it. Down the road I'm sure that it will be changed to something more green with simple icons but thats an easy change for when I'm really settled in. There was a part of me that just wanted to load in Ubuntu and roll with it but KDE has everything I need along with that very familiar shart button in the lower left. And I can't get used to the window buttons being on the left, always feels like I'm borrowing another persons computer. One thing to note however is that by default single click acts as a double click when opening files and folders, I tried very very hard for a week to get used to it. Just Can't Do It. However it's an easily changeable setting in the mouse options, along with acceleration for whatever reason is a thing on by default as well.

Currently my plan is to install 15.10 on my main machine then roll it over to 16.04 in April, it seems Linux Mint can't do that sort of self upgrade yet though they did mention version 18 should be able to handle that. I will say for anyone migrating from windows, Linux Mint really is the easiest way to go as it even uses nearly all of the hotkeys I was used to, where as with KDE 5 I'm having to manually put in stuff like Meta+L to lock the desktop when I get up, or even just hit the Meta key for bringing up the shart menu to start typing in a name of something (which I use a lot rather than icon hunting with the mouse, though again this works in Linux Mint out of the box!)

This is everything I've discovered so far, once more things get moving there will be more updates to come. Hope this was helpful or just interesting.

Full Migration from Windows to Linux - Report #1 Rant

I knew very well at some point in the future that Linux would be my main driver for doing everything I do but there was hesitation as there is a very large list of things I figured could only be "windows only" but luckily that isn't quite true and a lot has come to my attention putting Windows 10 as not an option, ever.

First off, what happened?
I grew up with being able to take apart, repair and mod just about anything with electronics in it there wasn't any worry about getting around some proprietary thing and most of the time the circuit layout was even printed inside the case! The thing that happened isn't just one thing, but a lot of things mixed together to the point where I'm wearing a tinfoil hat and tinfoil pants, but being spied on wasn't even the biggest thing on my list the very top thing was the fact that I was loosing control over the machine(s) I use every day.

I will make note of the final thing that did me over was reading an article about Windows 7 loosing support for new hardware. Now I wasn't in the market for new hardware or anything but this was a wake up call to me as I did try Win10 on a laptop and only shortly after that did I find everything terrible such as delivering ads in the start menu and turning settings back on that I turned off along with Cortana never actually "off".

There is more but I'm skipping over the rest of that rant.

Now to be fair I never actually liked using Windows ever sense Vista (never had to use Vista thankfully) but it was what I had all my software and games on and Apple stuff wasn't any better with it's propitiatory-everything.
With all of that out of the way lets get to the good bits.

I have been using Linux before a lot of this so wasn't going in completely blind, played with a Raspberry Pi for quite a while feeling very free to screw up the entire thing and all I had to do was flash the SD card without a care in the world. So my first attempt to fully move into Linux was a bit of a foolish one, dual booting... It's just a terrible idea and let me explain from first hand experience.
In Mid of 2015 I tried to shift from windows to Linux head first by dual-booting with Win7 + Ubuntu 14.04 on my main rig and Win8 + Linux Mint 17 on my laptop. Disk space wasn't an issue and even had ubuntu on a seperate driver entirely (on both machines). Now I'm sure somewhere along the line I made a user error but Windows didn't help. At. All. One morning I wake to find that my main rig is having problems finding the boot record, I spend a good hour or two with my findings that Windows panicked and tried to rewrite in the MBR (Master Boot Record) but failed. Really not that big of an issue just live boot Ubuntu and grub-repair. Yeah, no. Something worse, I have no idea what the hell happened but the Windows drives have lost their file index so I can mount the drive but it can't see any files, oh joy. A wasted few days later I finally restore the NTFS file system and recover my stuff but I'm left with only reinstalling Win7 as the only OS as I still needed to work with Lightroom and all of the other software I wasn't ready to part from yet.
Then the laptop did almost the same thing but it was more of my fault. Win8 was encrypted with BitLocker and it depends on the bootloader not changing at all to make sure it's still on the same machine. I updated Grub2 and that makes new UUIDs so Win8 was asking for my BitLocker key, no problem thats backed up so I go grab it but only to remember I made a BitLocker key backup before installing Linux (I unencrypted it as per some instructions I found to make installing Linux easier) then re-encrypted Win8 but forgot to backup the key, the key was still on the laptop but not like I can get to it now! Everything on the laptop gets properly backed up though so I didn't loose any data, good news for once!

So with all of this hassle I couldn't keep messing with this so had to stick with Windows for the time being. Then I learned about the life cycle left on Win7 along with that article mentioned before, now 2020 may sound way off into the distance but I knew that if I didn't start finding and learning to use alternative programs for what I do that I'd be stuck with an insecure system, once more Windows 10 isn't an option.

What I didn't want was another situation where I'd be reinstalling stuff left and right, loosing data and so on so I revived my old thinkpad laptop (which I need to cover at some point) and made a plan. First thing was to research every kind of program there is out there and which one works best for my needs to replace the Windows version. This is the tiny detail that I didn't really do ahead of time as I could throw names of software out to other people using a Windows machine without a second though of how I knew the name of it or where was the first place I saw it at, just a thing. For Linux software I had to make this happen.

The software thing sounds like a big fuss but for me I do a lot of things. I could list them all but alternatives will be something later on.

So with this laptop ready to be reinstalling things over and over again I had a chance to sit and learn while being able to still do my normal work on the other machine when needed. I'm lucky in this regard as this isn't something everyone would be able to do/afford. Virtual machines are good for some things but for practicing how well a non-linear video editor will work or how well a game works on your current hardware, it just can't cut it.
Speaking of video editing, that is something I did with this tiny laptop. Took forever to render 1080p but working with the files and learning to use Kdenlive was quite fun and at the end of it all once I uploaded the video to youtube I had a great feeling of "yes, this can all work".

I will be posting more real information about whats going on rather than random rants but had to get this out of the way first