Become a multimedia pro with the Vector Linux Multimedia Bonus Disc


Author: Travis Mallett

Many audio, video, and graphics professionals would like to make the switch to Linux, but don’t want to deal with the hassle of figuring out multimedia on Linux or are scared off by the purported lack of such tools. I created Vector Linux Multimedia Bonus Disc (MMBD) to address this problem and perception. It’s a complete multimedia creation and production system that contains hundreds of the best multimedia applications available on Linux.

The MMBD is an add-on for Vector Linux that installs directly into a preinstalled copy of the distribution. Vector is a Slackware-based distribution that is built for speed and flexibility. Although Slackware is sometimes viewed as an archaic, crude operating system, it is famous for its stability and clean, reliable core. Vector Linux improves on Slackware by enhancing user friendliness and provides many speed enhancements. It is a fast, friendly, and flexible modern distribution, making it the perfect platform for many multimedia processes.

The MMBD collection comprises hundreds of multimedia programs, including audio, video, and graphics. It supports nearly every known codec and provides the capability to convert between them.

Available audio applications include professional digital audio workstations (DAW) such as Ardour and audio editors such as Audacity, Sweep, and MhWaveEdit. A selection of digital DJ software, including Mixxx and TerminatorX, allows artists to play with and distort their music. Users can even create their own digital music using tools such as Hydrogen, LMMS, and JackBeat. In addition to the audio applications, the MMBD includes more than 300 audio effects and plugins that work directly with many of the audio editors.

Video applications in the MMBD include a range of video editors from Kino to more advanced and specialized video editors and motion picture retouching systems such as CinePaint. Cinelerra, a well-known Linux video editor, is not currently included because it had severalbugs that prevented packaging it with the latest X server included on Vector Linux, but I plan to include it if and when those bugs are fixed. In the meantime, other video editors such as Avidemux, OpenMovieEditor, and LiVes are included to fill in the gap.

The MMBD also has a collection of DVD authoring applications ranging from simple DVD encoders to advanced applications capable of complex menu structures and a high level of control. ManDVD, a simple wizard-like DVD creation program, allows for easy DVD creation, while those who want more control and capability in their DVDs can choose DVDstyler or Qdvdauthor to create professional-quality DVDs. Many other DVD-related applications are also on the disc, including command-line encoding and authoring tools.

An important capability of any multimedia workstation setup is the ability to convert between audio, video, and image formats. This is especially true for users who work with DVD authoring and need to take media from different sources and combine them into a single-format DVD. The MMBD includes the tools to read, write, and convert between nearly every known format, save for a few proprietary ones. Included are command-line applications such as ffmpeg, mplayer, and tovid, and graphical utilities such as MultimediaConverter, Ogg Convert, and Tovid GUI.

Graphics applications make up the last major category on the disc. Packaged applications include the GIMP, Blender, Digikam, Hugin, Inkscape, Xara Xtreme, and a host of others aimed at both amateurs and professionals.

A complete list of the applications included on the MMBD is listed on the project’s Web site.

The MMBD is free to download, and a $24 paid version that comes as a CD with a printed manual and 60 days of email support is also available. The manual walks readers through common tasks such as creating a DVD, audio and video conversion, creating panoramas with photos, and audio and video editing, with screenshots and examples.

The MMBD is not the only multimedia compendium available. For instance, Ubuntu Studio, dyne:bolic, and 64 Studio are complete distributions that focus on multimedia apps. But the MMBD is faster and more user-friendly, thanks to its Vector Linux base, and gives users more choice over exactly which programs, libraries, and codecs to install.

I hope the MMBD will allow many users to discover the power of multimedia in Linux.

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