Archive for the ‘Operating system’ Category

Mount the Kindle Fire HD in Linux and hack it!

Tuesday, March 26th, 2013

Ok, so I know I’m not the only one that’s had this problem and my wife’s been getting on me to blog all this stuff when I figure it out so I’m about to tell you all my exploits with mounting the Kindle Fire HD in Linux.


First, let me give you a little background information. I’ve been an Amazon Kindle junkie since they first came out. I missed getting the very first Kindle but have gotten all the versions ever since and have a couple of them floating around my house and family since we’re big on reading. Once the first Kindle Fire came out soon it was easily recognized by my computer and I really didn’t have a problem. Now a lot of the new tablets are using a new standard called Media Transfer Protocal (MTP). MTP is supposed to make it easier for the device to look at media being transferred over and figure out what it is and assign it properly. I really haven’t seen the advantages of this but maybe that remains to be seen.

As you might have read in a previous blog post about my ebook managing software Calibre I mentioned how I love to send everything to my Kindle since I’ve gone digital. Lately I’ve even been scanning in all my written notes on my printer that saves to PDF and sending them to my Kindle. The cool thing about Calibre is that it reads almost EVERY format. Yes, that does mean that it can read the native Amazon DRM formats too and convert them. I of course don’t endorse this since I find giving $10 for a Kindle book is like buying 2 premium coffees and I keep that knowledge forever being the best deal in town but I won’t judge you.

First step you’ll need to do on a Debian based system like Ubuntu is download Calibre, mtp-tools, and mtpfs. So from a terminal line do the following:

Sudo apt-get install calibre mtp-tools mtpfs

That should do it. For RPM distributions like Fedora, RedHat and Opensuse these should be available in the main repositories as well. I’m not sure about pacman or Gentoo repos so please comment and let us all know.

Next make a mount directory.

mkdir kindlefire

After that I wrote a quick little script that you can run every time. I named it kindlemount and do the following.

touch kindlemount

chmod u+x kindlemount

That made the file and made the script executable. Now you want to open the file in whatever editing software you use and put in the following:

sudo mtp-detect
sudo mtpfs -o allow_other ~/kindlefire

That’s it. Using ./kindlemount when your Kindle is attached should mount it under kindlemount for you to copy files over to it whenever you want.

HOLD ON A SECOND THOUGH. Before you run the script to mount you Kindle notice that Calibre has built in mtp support since a month after the Fire HD came out so you will be able to see and convert and send files over to the Kindle with one small problem. Only ebook formats and it doesn’t see what’s already been bought on Amazon. “I want to put movies and music on this thing” you might be saying. Well here’s the cool part.

Exit Calibre and run your kindlemount script. In your kindlefire directory you should see the folder Movies, Music, etc. Copy movies and music to it and look at them with with a video viewing app on your device (WARNING: You may need to download one like MoboPlayer which will view almost anything).

Now, to backup your books start Calibre again. This time tell it to Add books from directories…Multiple books. Select ~/kindlefire/Books as the directory and watch the magic happen!

Also note: You may need to check your Kindle Fire HD video format sizes and convert them to MP4, 3GP, VP8 (.webm) with software such as Handbrake or ffmpeg. Happy Kindle-ing.

Crunchbang Linux: Quick. Simple. Linux. (Day 13 of 20 days of SCALE)

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to give my personal review of CrunchBang Linux.

Lets start by saying that I’m a big fan of live distributions. The reason I love them so crunchbang-logo.jpgmuch is because you drop in a CD and you have a running Linux system in seconds that doesn’t have to touch the hard drive of the existing system. I know that CrunchBang will have a booth at SCALE and I’d never heard of it so I thought I’d give it a try.

Let me let the cat out of the bag from the start. This is such a fantastic distribution screenshot-default-desktop.pngthat I will definitely be using it for systems that are slow or that I might just want for basic things like web browsing or standard desktop work. I’m not the all knowing computer genius but I do like when a distribution thinks and works like how I want to work so I test things by just trying to do things that I’d do on a casual day.

Before I go into what features it has let me tell you a little bit about what it’s working with and it’s look and feel. Starting this system up you’ll feel like it’s really going to be a minimalist experience and maybe a little too bare bones but you’d be wrong. It’s running of the stable branch of Debian Linux runs with the Openbox window manager. This thing is LIGHTNING FAST! I can not say how impressed I am at how fast and clean this system runs and I’ve run many an OS on this computer. Best thing about it is that it’s ready to go right out of the gate.

Now what do you usually do? Well, I started out with the scenario in my head that I’m having a little trouble with my original system or that it’s a computer with a hard screenshot-iceweasel-6music.pngdrive filled with corrupted data. I booted this up as I described above and came to a very grey bland screen with data on the desktop of memory, cpu usage and some other little handy things. Right click and a menu pops up and accomplish the following steps with ease: Go to the web (Iceweasel browser), play some Youtube videos, type up a document (Abiword), look through the files (Thunar), download a pic of the web and edit/resize it (Gimp), and watch a video file off of my USB stick (MPlayer). Fast and easy.

Ok, let’s make the test a little harder though because I’m going to need this computer to still operate as a print server to other computers and do a little serious work on it at the same time. Well, options on the menu such as LibreOffice and printer support are one more click away and it actually lets you install the software while running from a CD. I go ahead and click it and next thing you know instead of the menu saying to install it has it available to me so I set up my printer and get to typing in LibreOffice. Next I pull up a terminal and I don’t expect this to be a already installed software choice but I like to use sshfs to mount a remote system and mount the hard drive and I can copy the data off and send it to the remote system. This worked right away without hesitation. Beautiful! I even decide I’m going online and blog about it which is where this post is being typed up.

I can’t say enough about this distribution. It is well thought out, fast and very customizable. Definitely going to be a tool in my bag of tricks.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

LibreOffice… Because Office 2013 told you to do it. (Day 12 of 20 days of SCALE)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to crack open a huge whole that Microsoft is opening for open source software and Linux in general. Desktop application suites such as LibreOffice.


Recently Microsoft released it’s new plan for pricing and implementation of it’s Office 2013 software suite. For those that don’t know when I say suite I’m talking about one package that has a couple different pieces of software in it: Word processor, spreadsheet, slide presentation and sometimes email and database programs. Traditionally people have heard of Microsoft’s Word, Excel, Powerpoint, Outlook and Access programs that fit these needs respectively. However, Microsoft is changing the game this time with the purchase of these programs that I think is going to go the route of the change to New Coke if anyone remembers that disaster.

The new Office 2013 licensing will be a lot different because they’re only going to offer it online. The new software will have to be purchased online and they will not offer any offline media to install it and it has to be connected to a Microsoft Live online account. Installs for the software will have to come from a link that will install it on your computer straight from a server online. This is supposed to make it harder for hackers and people reselling licenses through nefarious means. Oh, and did I mention it’s going to cost a WHOLE lot more? It’s really going to open up the biggest door that other software packages have to the home or office and no software is more primed and ready to take advantage of this opening than LibreOffice.

LibreOffice is actually a fork from the OpenOffice programs. This means that many of the developers of OpenOffice left when Oracle bought the rights to the software and started making it under a different name in case Oracle decided to take it in a different direction. LibreOffice is the most developed office suite out there and the best part about it is that it is absolutely free. I changed over to it years ago and completely dropped Microsoft Office but I still have to collaborate with many people that work with Office. What did I have to change? Almost nothing. That’s because LibreOffice works on all the Office files without a glitch. Only change I have to make is saving files you will have to say, “File” “Save as” and change it to a Microsoft usable version such a .docx or .xlsx for your collaborators to see the files. This is because by default it saves in a free/open format called Open Document Format (just FYI Office 2010 on supports ODF).


“Ok, so how is LibreOffice ready to fill that gap?” you may ask. First is the last thing I mentioned: ODF. The best thing in the world about open standards is that they are free to be implemented by anyone. What that does is makes all of your data free to be transported anywhere.  When Microsoft decided to change it’s format to .docx a couple years ago it really threw a monkey wrench into the system. Older versions of Office and many other software packages could no longer read it until they created a downloadable conversion extension. Could this happen again? YES. ODF makes it so 15 or 20 years down the road if you had to open a file off some form of backup media (assuming it survived that long) you could because the format is open and even if development stopped on it there would be available conversion programs, such as convert jpg to pdf, because the code is out there.

The second way LibreOffice is able to take advantage of this is because, let’s be serious, very little has changed in the Office package except the package. I sometimes have to work at offices that are using Office 2003 and guess what? It does the same exact thing that the newest version does less a couple little tweaks hear and there. I’m not going to lie. I have had the rare occasion where a little bit of the layout of a document (say a resume because of all the changes in the layout) have come out a little bit off. This however is easily corrected.

Now here comes the best part of all of this though. LibreOffice runs on Linux, Mac and Windows. At one time I was at a company where we paid $50,000 to get all the licenses for all of our Office products for the entire company. At the time this product (then OpenOffice) was not as mature and with minor testing my company decided to pay the money. Now, imagine the same scenario. We have to purchase tons of Windows licenses and Office 2013 licenses. My company has to come out of the pocket $100,000 OR go to Linux and LibreOffice for next to nothing (I say next to nothing because I do encourage donations and paying for support to keep these great packages being developed). Hmmm… If there are no other Microsoft specific applications that the company is running then this is a no brainer. LibreOffice it is!

Check into it yourself and you’ll see why this new licensing is almost like Office 2013 is saying “Don’t buy me!!! Go to LibreOffice!”

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.


CUPS: more than a scoop of printing goodness (Day 11 of 20 days of SCALE)

Tuesday, February 19th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of one of open source unsung superhero’s. Common Unix Printing System a.k.a CUPS.

Today’s blog post is covering one of the unsung heroes of open source software that people may not think about. CUPS is the backbone for printing in almost all Linux, Unix cups_left.pngand Mac computers. This might shock most people but CUPS is actually owned by Apple but here’s the reason why. Development started for it in 1997. If you were using Linux back then like I was making a Linux computer print was a little bit of a thing to do and make it look really nice. Linux Printer Daemon (LPD) was the best way to get things to print and it didn’t recognize a whole lot of printers or may have taken a little tweaking. I definitely remember when CUPS came along because of that. In 2002 Apple went over to CUPS for all its printing services and in 2007 the hired the chief developer and purchased the source code from Michael Sweet. So, like it or not, if you’re running a Mac computer you’re running CUPS in the background. Want to see? On any Mac or Linux computer go to the following link and see if the CUPS screen comes up and tells you about your printers (http://localhost:631).

The reason that today’s blog post jumped to the front of my list is because of having to use CUPS tonight. I bought a new printer for my kids’ room and set it up on wireless. Thus, I went to all the computers in the house to tell them that the new printer was there. We have a couple Windows machines here and for those selecting a network printer meant going through the printer wizard which sets up things in the Windows Print Spooler. However, going over to the Linux and Mac computers meant going to CUPS and setting it up. There in lies a little bit of a hiccup but it was easily solved. The Mac saw the network printer right away and went out and grabbed the drivers for it like the Windows machine did. However, on my Linux Mint laptop it saw the printer but gave me a list of drivers and the specific driver I needed wasn’t there. Hmmm. What to do?

CUPS prints through many protocols to printers like IPP and has a nice web based screen to walk you through managing the printer, protocols, trays on the printer, resolutions and all kinds of crazy settings. Well this time none of that would help had it not been for the manufacturer of the printer (Lexmark) supplying drivers for Linux, Mac and UNIX by the use of PPD files. These files store all the relevant information about the printer so you can use it to it’s fullest capabilities.  THANK YOU LEXMARK. I will consider buying printers from them again.

Printing isn’t the coolest subject until you delve into all the settings and ways to share it with other computers even over the internet. Get that up and going by playing around with the coolest thing going on in the background CUPS.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Firefox: Making foxy mean sexy again (Day 10 of 20 days of SCALE)

Friday, February 15th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of one of open source’s poster children. Mozilla Firefox! header-logo.png

When I started this series I had a different audience in mind initially. I was going to aim at a more serious hard core techy crowd and I have for a couple of these but I also realized that people don’t seem to be able to connect with a subject if they feel like it doesn’t effect them. Well people it does. That’s because of my favorite browser Firefox. If you are on the internet regularly it’s a word you had to have heard. Linux machines mostly have it by default. I must also admit that I don’t tend to nudge people on Windows or Mac in a particular direction when it comes to software but the one thing that I almost always install on one of these machines is Firefox. It has just become my standard and that’s mostly due to the cool plugins you can get and the familiar face on every operating system (don’t slow down though because Google Chrome is running up fast).

How you get people to realize what is and isn’t open source is you start from home. Many people are so involved in the evolution of this browser that it stays ahead of standards in most cases I know of. I’m even a bleeding edge user (the guy that gambles with the software before it’s totally tested) and have the nightly builds of Firefox on my laptop and desktop and use them regularly. The only side of Firefox that just might bother some a little is that it uses up a decent size of memory especially with plugins but I’ve only video-downloadhelper-464-firefox-plugin.gifseen that be a problem with really slow low memory machines.  I’m not going to bore you talking about a browser because I do have some people who will tell me they’ll stick with Internet Explorer or Safari and I say to them it’s their choice. There’s always the freedom to choose and I love it.

One area that I am going to talk about Firefox is the one place that I started to uninstall it. My phone. For some reason on my last phone (Android) I was having problems with Firefox making it really slow or from time to time crashing. Plus, I love to use a program called Xmarks to sync up my bookmarks on every computer in the world that I used. So reluctantly  I did a little searching left my beloved Firefox behind. Fast forward to the present for the article I had finally gotten fed up with the CONSTANT and FRUSTRATING crashing of a browser called Skyfire. It literally crashed every other time you open it and when you open it again it would work fine. When I found out that this was a known bug and that the 10 month old article said they planned on fixing it soon I was out! Let’s go back and give my old love a try.

Technology can be sexy. Foxy in the 80’s meant sexy. Hot also means sexy and fire is hot. So according to it’s name. Firefox is just some sexy software. I went back and installed it on my phone and it seems so far like all the things I used to worry about are gone. It’s only been a couple days but I’m already loving it again because I live off my phone. The plugins are crazy cool and most are the same as the desktop version. One bad spot is that I can’t seem to find the Xmarks plugin for it but I do notice that Firefox is trying to promote it’s on syncing feature that’s built in. I’ve got to spend a little more time researching that before I go ahead and set that up to replace my Xmarks because it also syncs your tabs in use. I’m really not sure how much I need that but it may come in handy after I give it some thought.

I know that it may be just me… No it isn’t. It’s home screen with top sites I use is sexy. firefox-beta-for-android.jpgEven though I usually turn off history and other such things because I’m just not a big fan of a computer looking over my shoulder but I think I’m actually going to leave it for a minute. No crashes and seems to work very quick. Kuddos to Mozilla. Firefox is now officially on all my computers. Well, except my Kindle Fire HD. Amazon doesn’t have a build out there for it’s tweaked Android for some reason or another and I forced a version on to it but it wasn’t stable at all. So GET ON THAT Mozilla!  Tell Amazon they need you because Phillip needs you.

Firefox. Open source that’s just plain sexy.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

To Ubuntu or not to Ubuntu (Day 9 of 20 days of SCALE)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

I’m a little behind in my blogs so I’m doing two today so in today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover with a lot of brevity one of the most popular versions of Linux out there. Ubuntu.


Let me clarify why I’m going to be so brief. I LOVE LOVE LOVE LOVE some Ubuntu. To me, a conversation about Linux that doesn’t include Ubuntu or Fedora/Red Hat is missing a little something. For that reason there isn’t too much I want to say about it because you’ll definitely get an ear full about it in whatever setting you go. Well, on the desktop at least. I don’t want to upset the Ubuntu peeps too much because I’m sure they’re working really hard on getting it into server rooms (I have actually installed an Ubuntu server at a small office with no problem) but it’s most brought up for home use.

If you are going to set up a computer at home running Linux the favorites are Ubuntu, Fedora, and OpenSuse to me. Now let me change my first statement just a little bit. In my opinion the way to install these is using KDE as the display manager. Ubuntu up until probably a year ago or so stopped breaking the version into different names according to how you liked the screen to look. There was Kubuntu (KDE version), Xubuntu (lightweight XFCE version), and I think a couple more. Like I tell everyone though. KDE versus the Gnome, Unity or whatever the flavor of the week is is up to you. I made myself actually laugh a little bit because there is an interface called Cinnamon which actually is a flavor.

Go go go. Get a copy of Ubuntu and play with it. It is also based off of the Debian .deb format that I mention a lot as being one of the easiest ways to install software in Linux even though I’d also advice downloading and installing a program called Synaptic which I always install first to make installs even easier.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Gimp: Photoshop without the branding (Day 8 of 20 days of SCALE)

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of the open source equivalent of Photoshop. GIMP.

In my former all closed source commercial life I used to be quite the master at Photoshop. I could gimp.pngwhip something together in minutes in Photoshop that would look like it was the original image. I did all kinds of photo enhancing and photo retouching that made your head spin. Once about a decade ago I helped a lady by editing her picture to make her thinner and without wrinkles for pictures she was posting on a dating site (definitely not my proudest moment). As of about 4 years ago I’ve totally converted to a software package called GIMP.

GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) would probably be pretty upset with me for the Photoshop comparison but the way I see it it has totally replaced Photoshop for me. Photoshop has become such a well branded product that it’s the equivalent of saying Kleenex when you’re just talking about tissue. I feel sorry for GIMP because no matter what you do in it your results will be called Photoshop. Oh, the sadness of not having great marketing companies behind you.

Marketing aside this program is all that and a bag of chips. I had been thinking of changing over to it quite some time ago but I decided to wait because the interface looked a little different than what I was used to so I just didn’t want to take the dive. However, after meeting the author of a book on GIMP and talking to her for bit (Beginning GIMP: From Novice to professional by Akkana Peck) a couple years back I said to myself that I was going to take the leap. A little reading and some Youtube videos and I was completely off my Photoshop addiction.

Once you get used to some of the small differences in the interface you’ll be cooking up some works of gimpshot.jpgbeauty like me. Now I look at it and the interface is completely understandable and I wondered why I ever thought it was going to be a challenge. Now I have the next generation working on GIMP as my 10 year old daughter who is really into the game the Sims has found videos on Youtube that help her with doing green screen techniques that she’s using to make her custom designed Sims clothes and characters (Please look at the website for details on her first presentation at SCALE callelogo.jpgd “Are you smarter than a 5th grade open source user?”).

To the right is a picture my daughter created in GIMP for her website (not sure where the name came from but when your daughter asks for a domain name for her 11th birthday you’re a pretty proud tech dad).

There you have it. A powerful graphics/image manipulation software that can take on the big boys but so easy a child can put out some powerful image.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Books to your tablet with Calibre (Day 7 of 20 days of SCALE)

Wednesday, February 13th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of my favorite ebook delivery/conversion software: Calibre.


A lot of software that people use that is open source seems to end up fitting in the same old mold. I however use it for my life. Anything and everything I do I used a computer as a tool to enhance that experience if I can. One thing I do a LOT is read. As of last year I’ve started a new thing. I’m eleminating my physical books and I’m going all ebook. I’ve actually scanned in all my bookshelves into Amazon‘s wishlist and if anything should ever Kindle Fire HDhappen (think natural disaster) I could fill a bookshelf with the same books in a matter of minutes or just pay for them and download them into my favorite device. What is that favorite device you ask? My Kindle. We’re a Kindle family. I have 4 Kindles in my house my newest baby being the Kindle Fire HD. The Kindle Fire line is more than just an ebook reader like the others. It’s an Android powered tablet computer that Amazon has tweaked for their purposes and to log right into their store.

Before I become a complete Kindle fanboy on you I want to get back to how we got there. The ebook readers have opened up a space where people want to just read Star Trek style… but how do you get content onto the ebook reader? Amazon will allow you to convert word documents or email pdf files to them and for a small fee they’ll convert and put them on your device. This is really cool and only pennies per document what about having that power for yourself for almost ANY tablet device or pdf reader? That’s where Calibre comes in! It’s the complete solution for sending ebooks, pdf, web pages, news, etc. to your device and I LOVE it.

Calibre’s interface is so dead easy to learn and it’s that thing I love… cross platform. Once calibre1.jpegcalibre2.pngcalibre3.png

again that means it’s on Linux, Mac and Windows. I’ve run it on all 3. What I love about using Calibre is that it keeps a huge catalog of the books you own. Even proprietary formats like .AZW which Amazon uses to deliver it’s books to the Kindle are supported. It can convert these books to different formats like .pdf, .mobi and .epub which almost all tablets can read. Transferring the books to your device is a great thing too. I keep the device email settings (since all Kindles have an email address associated with them) and can email things straight to my dad and my kids’ Kindles all in a couple clicks. You will have to go to Amazon’s site for that.

What about other tablets and e-readers you ask? Calibre takes what they do seriously. The list of formats this program can convert to is very impressive. I do some volunteering at book expo’s and a couple years ago I had a lady that had a New York Times best seller cowritten with a extremely well known celebrity. I told her I’d by her book but really wanted an ebook version if I bought it. She really didn’t know much about this but since I was going to be her computer guy I should teach her a bit. She sent me the original manuscript in a Microsoft Word file and I converted it to the formats she wanted so she could read it on her devices. Talk about ecstatic! She sent it to her agent in .epub. I used it on my older Kindle in .mobi and viewed it on computers and my wife’s iPad in .pdf.

So go ahead. Write your soon to be ebook or just put all your books on all your devices with Calibre.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

Arch Linux (Day 6 of 20 days of SCALE)

Thursday, February 7th, 2013

In today’s post in my prep for my yearly weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE) I’m going to cover the subject of Arch Linux.

I’m going to have to admit to a little bias on this one. I’ve never really cared for Arch Linux. I gave it a try when I used to listen to a popular Linux podcast I liked called the Linux Link Tech Show. They loved this Linux distribution and I felt exactly the opposite. I discussed in an earlier blog post what a package manager is. Well, this one uses one called pacman. I can not show how much I don’t like this package manager. I had to struggle with a media system I had hooked to my computer that I absolutely loved. Mythtv (well actually a MythTV variant call Linhes). Don’t get me wrong. I really liked that system a lot HOWEVER, whenever I tried to go deep into the guts and update stuff it would either make it crash or break. I hated that. I had to backup often. I ended up just not trying to add features to it because I was scared to touch it. I’m not one to be scared of touching any technology.

All that said, I decided to give Arch a try again and force my sour feelings to the back. Spoiler alert: I still don’t like it. First I realized that it only runs on a certain specific types of processors. Ok, I can live with that. Then I got the bootcd and was very disappointed. It wasn’t a Live CD where I could just throw it in and run it. Wait, let me correct that. It wasn’t a Live CD I could get a graphical interface from. I seriously thought the thing crashed when I got a command prompt. Not only did I get a command prompt but it had system log stuff showing up on the prompt so I had to hit enter again to get a real prompt. is where I go to keep up on what’s new with Linux distributions and they have it labelled as a distro for advanced Linux enthusiasts. I think that’s serious peer pressure to make you like it more. I live on the command line but I just don’t care for this one too much. I’d love for it to be simpler and if others can make it so I would love to hear it or why they like it.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.

OpenShot: Linux in video editing (Day 4 of 20 days of SCALE)

Wednesday, February 6th, 2013

Today I want to talk about a project that really is a quality piece of software that doesn’t get enough attention. The software I’m talking about is a video editing software package called OpenShot.

Let me take you back and tell you why I know about this software. Many years ago I used to have a dual boot system. That means my computer could boot into Microsoft logo.pngWindows and it could also boot into Linux. I was tied to a couple programs in the corporate world that I couldn’t live without. One year I finally said I was going to cut the cord and so I told myself I’d find Linux equivalents of everything I used. This was about 6 years ago and it was hard to do back then. I had my whole life in Outlook and had to get rid of that (Mozilla Thunderbird). I was a Photoshop wiz (now use Gimp). I sometimes had to edit audio with Adobe Audition (now use Audacity). Web design with Dream Weaver (now use Kompozer). The biggest thing I couldn’t settle on though was video editing because I was from a media company before I started consulting so was very used to helping out with my skills in Final Cut Pro on the Mac and Adobe Premiere on Windows. So much so that I was doing videos for weddings, proms and funerals to make some easy cash and threw down $400 on a video card to speed up the render times by like 20x’s. Nothing good seemed to catch my attention. This was a problem because it stopped my total conversion. I had to go over to my Windows login to do video 3 or 4 times a year.

The problem wasn’t that there were no choices in that area. Cinalerra was one program that people on Linux tended to use but I found the interface so extremely difficult that it gallery1.pngstopped me from wanting to learn it. Thus I ended up using another good program called Kino. Now Kino was good for me for a little while until I started having problems with it crashing dead in the middle of a huge project that was always last minute. Then came OpenShot. Very easy to figure out and use. Took so little for me to get adjusted to it I actually had a video to get out in 3 days and learned OpenShot just before kicking this thing out ahead of time. In combination with VLC (refer back to my previous article) to capture video from a video tape and then cut in music, picture montages and transitions similar to what I was used to with Adobe Premiere and I was in business.

Let’s jump forward and tell you how this works for you. My 15 year old son had a project to do last year just before his finals. His teacher wanted them to put something together for a presentation and he (like a lot of kids do) springs this on me at the last possible second. I had him draw out a plan for how a video would go and dream big. Then I gallery3-small.pngfigured I’d teach his 10yr old sister as well since she was getting into software and this was an easy one to learn. He had to stay up till about 1 am that night but the result was a video that absolutely WOW’ed his teacher and got him an A. If those two kids could just pick it up, edit and finish a project like that then most people can with a little bit of effort.

Come out to SCALE Feb. 22-24 and find me giving the SCALE tours (Phillip Banks) or follow me on Twitter and Facebook and I’ll give you a couple other ideas from what you do everyday.