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Editor's Note: Saffire on Linux, KDE on Windows, No Gimp in Ubuntu

Nov 25, 2009, 23:03 (26 Talkback[s])

by Carla Schroder
Managing Editor

I wrote a little bit a couple of weeks ago about getting a nice new Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 I/O to do multi-channel recording on my 64Studio Linux box. Since then I've hooked it up and gotten it running, but not on 64Studio. It doesn't include the all-important FFADO Firewire drivers and user interface, and I couldn't build them from sources due to a weird dependency conflict that wouldn't even let me install a build environment.

So. On to Plan B. I installed Ubuntu Studio 9.10 because it includes FFADO. It took a few tweaks to get things working, but working they are and I have made some good test recordings in Audacity. Haven't gotten Ardour working with the Saffire yet as there seems to be some sort of issue with JACKD, the wonderful low-latency audio server and router. High-end audio production on computers is still very much in its infancy so don't be surprised at running into a few speedbumps. Windows supports more devices, sort of (a lot of them not very well, and it is a complete mystery to me why any hardware vendor would be happy with crappy drivers for their products), but Linux is way more stable, reliable, and efficient of system resources. Audio production is CPU-intensive so you don't want an OS that needs a dual-core just to get out of its own way.

KDE on Windows

I think this is a marvelous thing. It has a ways to go and is still very alpha, but it's a move in the right direction. The more bridges we build away from Windows the better. Yeah, I know, people who aren't willing to leap in headfirst and enthusiastically are all defective and everything, but in the real world bridges work better than carping. The applications and interface are more important to most users than being system administrators, and delivering a usable system that they can start playing with immediately is a good way to get them excited and interested.

I think every computer use should know some basic system administration for their own systems, just like car owners should be able to check oil, water, and air, and notice obvious problems like shredded fan belts and smoking wheel bearings. But first we learn to drive, and with computers the path starts with a usable system full of appealing apps. Later come the explorations under the hood. Which brings me to...

Evicting Gimp is a Big Ubuntu Mistake

This has been generating a lot of discussion this week-- at the Ubuntu Developer Summit it was decided to remove Gimp from the LiveCD. Supposedly they think the F-Spot digital photo manager is a good enough replacement.

Bad move, Ubunterites. F-Spot is not an image editor and drawing program, it's a photo manager, and not a very good one. Even if you like it as a photo manager let me repeat it is nothing like Gimp, or even the simplest image editor and drawing program. It has very limited editing capabilities, and you can't just open an image and edit it, you have to import it into an album. Oh yeah, and it's not an image editor/drawing program, in case anyone forgot.

The rationale for dropping Gimp is it's too hard for the "average user." Here we go again with the mythical Average User who is too stupid to do anything. As a commenter on LXer.com noted, Gimp is one of the flagship FOSS desktop applications, along with Firefox and OpenOffice. LiveCDs are Linux ambassadors; many users have their first Linux experience with a Linux LiveCD. Leaving off our very best is a mistake, especially when it's to make room for the likes of F-Spot and Tomboy. Give them GQview and Gnote instead, though I don't see a note-taking app as a must-have.

I have a suspicion that this demonstrates how deeply Mono has become entrenched in Ubuntu. Gimp critics like to complain that it's not Adobe Photoshop. True, it lacks CMYK support and other features essential to producing very high-quality professional color prints. For everything else it's great, it makes excellent Web images and darned good color prints.

How different is Gimp? Not very, I think the critics have never touched it. Virtually all image editing programs have similar toolsets, the brush, pencil, airbrush, bucket fill, crop, eraser, fonts, and so on. Higher-end ones support layers and bales of plugins and add-ons. I think what the critics really want is Photoshop for free just because it is expensive, like the trendy folks who only wear brand-name apparel with high price tags. Like paying more makes those denim jeans that came out of the same factories as the cheap ones wear better. At any rate anyone who has touched a decent image editing/paint program before will do fine in Gimp, and someone who has never used one has some learning to do. Requiring a user of a product to learn anything seems to be a criminal offense anymore.

Forgot to complete the cross-platform thought...Gimp is popular on Windows, so that's another reason to include it on a LiveCD along with other familiar apps like Firefox. Familiarity = easier migration.

Best of Breed Ambassador Linux

There are some of the apps I would put on a Linux LiveCD to show off some of the best desktop apps, in no particular order or master plan: Digikam, Kmail, Thunar, Firefox, Abiword, Krita, GFTP, K3b, Pidgin, Gimp, Kooka, Kate, OOo, Gimp, Audacity, Ardour, ImageMagick, VLC, Amarok, KolourPaint, Tuxpaint, Gparted, and WICD.

What gets your vote for best-of-breed?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Everyone who celebrates Thanksgiving I wish a wonderful and excellent holiday, and for everyone who doesn't I wish a wonderful and excellent day!

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