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Linux distros give artists, creators easy access to software

Linux distros are still considered by many as only for nerds. They are not operating systems for musicians, artists, photographers, and creators in related fields.

The major reason for this is that leading software designed for creators, such as Adobe’s products and Avid Pro Tools, only works on Mac and Windows. This gives the impression that Linux distros have been relegated to the operating system for programmers and network specialists.

This belief is false, however.

Software titles, like the ones listed above, are expensive, and they are not flexible. Users can only install each title on one or two computers after purchasing a license from the developers.

There are many alternatives to these titles that are open-source. They can typically be downloaded and installed for no charge, and they can be installed on as many computers as the person downloading them desires. For most of them a subscription is not required.

The open-source software is typically not as powerful and feature-rich as the leading software applications. However, these titles are usually better than the free or inexpensive software that can be acquired through the Windows 10 store or the Mac OS X store.

Some examples of the software are shown in the below image:

The image shows the Software Manager in Linux Mint 20. Simply click the Graphics category of most software stores in any major category, and you will see a similar list of feature-rich applications. Gimp, Inkscape, and Blender are examples. Software stores in Linux distros have many other highly capable applications available for free.

While applications, like the ones in this list, are available on Windows, Mac, and every Linux distro, they are easiest to acquire on a Linux distro. They either come preinstalled on one of the distros, or they can be installed with a click or two through the distros software store or library, referred to as a PPA.

This makes a Linux distro, just about any one, a great tool for creators in various fields:

  1. budding artists

  2. musicians

  3. videographers

  4. just about anyone who needs to create something with their computer from time-to-time.

Preinstalled applications

Several Linux distros come with a few of the creative titles preinstalled. There are a few that include Gimp, for example.

There are two that come pre-installed with many creative applications. Both Ubuntu Studio and Zorin 16 Pro come with about 100 applications already installed, ready to be used to create and edit audio, video, and graphics. There are also tools for photographers and other types of creators.

Ubuntu Studio

This version of Ubuntu organizes its software into three categories that are absent in other distros: Audio Production, Graphic Design, and Video Production. Creators have numerous applications at their fingertips. For many, there won’t be a need to install addition software to complete their projects.

Ubuntu Studio comes preinstalled with many applications for graphic design, audio production, video production, and other types of creative software. The applications are organized into categories seen in the image. XFCE is the user interface.

There isn’t another operating system that offers the number of applications for creators out-of-the-box. Most of them can be installed on Windows, Mac, and just about any Linux distro. However, it would take most users a lot of time and research to curate the same collection of applications.

Most users won’t need this many applications. Musicians, for example, may not need desktop publishing software or a photo editor. However, it would be easier for a user to start with Ubuntu Studio and delete the applications he or she did’t want, rather than start with none of the desired applications and acquire them.

Creators and editors also don’t have to worry about Ubuntu Studio interrupting their work. The light-weight XFCE interface has a menu bar across the top that has a few indicators and an expandable menu through which a user can access all the installed applications and settings. A dialog appears when updates are available, but the dialog can easily be closed and ignored. This is the only distraction the user will receive from the operating system, far less than what Windows sends to its users.

Ubuntu Studio can be installed on just about any computer. The recommendation to run the basics of the operating system is 2 GB or RAM. More powerful computers are required to perform some of the production tasks and run some of the applications, but the operating system’s background functions take up little memory.

Most of the computer’s power can be dedicated the creator’s projects, making Ubuntu Studio an excellent operating system for creators.

Zorin OS 16 Pro

The professional version of Zorin’s operating system was released in August 2021, and like Ubuntu Studio, it comes preinstalled with dozens of applications for creating and editing videos, graphics, and audio. It also has applications for photographers and desktop publishing. It doesn’t have as many titles for these activities as Ubuntu Studio.

Like Ubuntu Studio, Zorin 16 Professional comes preinstalled with numerous applications for graphic design, video production, and audio recording. The image shows the list of applications in the Graphics category. Zorin 16 Pro has eight user interfaces. The one showed above presents the applications in categories. Some of the others do not present them in categories or a Windows-like start menu.

However, Zorin 16 Pro comes preinstalled with applications that other types of professionals use that Ubuntu doesn’t come with. Engineers, for example, can use LibreCAD and FreeCAD for products and other designs they are developing. Zorin also comes with Handbrake, an application for transcoding DVDs and Blurays to digital formats.

Zorin also offers users some additions to the basic office applications that most other operating systems come with. All Linux distros come preinstalled with LibreOffice or another office suite. In addition to these, Zorin Pro notetaking applications, a banking application, and several other business-related applications.

Unlike Ubuntu Studio, Zorin 16 Pro is not free. Those who want to use it need to sign up for an account on zorinos.com and pay $39 to download it. They can install it on as many computers as they want. Corporations and organizations need to pay the amount for every computer they install it on.

In addition to the library of software, those who install Zorin Pro also have a choice of eight user interfaces when they run Zorin. A few are similar to Windows’ and Mac’s user interface. There is a free version of Zorin that has less software and half the number of user interfaces.

There are more features and applications for these two operating systems, than what is covered in this article, that make them great tools for creators. They are, however, not the only operating systems that make life easy on those who seek to make masterpieces out of pixels.

Other Linux distros

The applications that come preinstalled on Ubuntu Studio and Zorin Pro are also available for just about every Linux distro. Most of them make it available through their software store or library. All the other versions of Ubuntu, Linux Mint, elementary OS, and Manjaro are a few examples of Linux distros that have easy-to-use software libraries.

This is the Ubuntu Software, the software store or library that comes with Ubuntu. While the main version of Ubuntu doesn’t come with all the applications that Ubuntu Studio has, many of them can be found simply by browsing through the Art and Design category.

Users can simply search for the desired applications when they open one of these software library applications, or they find them by browsing through the categories, such as art and design. The next steps are simply to click the install button and enter the administrator password.

The Windows and Mac stores have free creative software in them, but they typically are not as good as the open-source software that can be acquired for the same price.

Advanced creative software available in Linux distro libraries, typically is not available in the Mac OS X store and the Windows 10 store.To use FreeCAD, Inkscape, or most of the other titles easily available in a Linux distro store, Mac and Windows users need to download them from each individual creator’s Website. Installing Gimp or Inkscape on Windows or Mac OS, for example, would require the user to go to gimp.org and inkscape.org to obtain them.

This takes more time and research than it does on a Linux distro. Most Linux distros offer their users one-stop shopping for any application they will need.

Conclusion

While open-source applications are not industry standards and may not have as many features and capabilities as the popular software, they are better than most, if not all of the free software available through the Mac OS X and Windows 10 stores.

Professional quality work can be done with the open-source software, and just about every Linux distro offers the titles to users with just a few clicks. Budding artists and musicians, those who need to do artistic work from time-to-time, and professionals in the creative industries who don’t always have access to the standard titles used in studios, can use many of these free applications to make high-quality end products.

They don’t need to know any Terminal commands to install them. They don’t need to know the Websites of the organizations that sponsor the software, like Mac and Windows users need to know. They just need to how to search for the applications in their distro’s software library.

If they are Ubuntu Studio or Zorin Pro users, they most likely don’t even have to do that. They already have the software.

Open-source software on a Linux distro is easy to obtain, freeing the creators to do what they do best: create.

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