So you are a creative professional and are tired of all the ransomware, security vulnerabilities, and daily mandatory Windows patching to fix said issues. Then there was that rumor that Windows was going to go to a subscription model and you have had enough!
But what can you do? Sure you could switch to macOS but that incurs buying all new hardware and you just spent $3500 on that killer production machine. Well have you thought about wiping your current system’s SSD clean and installing Linux? You should!
Linux is very painless to install so we won’t bore you with how to do that (there are countless written and video tutorials on the interwebs already) but I do recommend Ubuntu for its ease of use and effortless installation.
Caution: We do not recommend this for the complete novice but if you are comfortable installing a fresh copy of Windows then you should do well.
Read all about it and download the latest ISO over at the official website.
Ok let’s assume you have you your Linux distro of choice installed and all up to date, now what? It’s time to get some software son! I’m going to break it down, digitalSoup style, and give you my top choices in free software that does the same things you do in Windows! Let’s get it on!
(cue Marvin Gaye)
In the Windows and macOS worlds, Microsoft’s Office line still rules the roost (although many will argue Google’s G Suite is closing in fast and works in Linux too) but Office 365 doesn’t work natively in Linux. So how are you going to create those sweet PowerPoint presentations now? Check out these free alternatives!
The first fully Microsoft Office compatible option is Libre Office (currently v6.1.0). To be fair this isn’t a Linux exclusive piece of software, it is also available for Windows and macOS, but in the Linux world it is the gold standard. It is fully compatible with Microsoft Office meaning you can open and edit any document created by Microsoft’s behemoth. Reversely, documents first created in Libre Office can either be saved in the native Libre Office format or in the Microsoft format. How cool is that!
The second alternative I would like to talk about is WPS Office (currently v10.1.0.5707). Like Libre Office, this is fully compatible with Microsoft Office so you can get right to work. There is a free version and a $30/year subscription version (we love our subscriptions) that add some more features but the free version is all you really need.
Even though there are many more options, the final one I’ll mention here is FreeOffice 2018. This one works very similar to the others but it has a grace about it that makes it stand out. For those of you that hated when Microsoft introduced ribbons to it’s Office Suite you will be happy to know that in FreeOffice 2018 you can toggle between ribbons and classic. Boom, now everyone is happy.
Photo Editing Software
When you think of Photo editing software you can’t help but think of Photoshop for the Windows and macOS worlds. But now that Adobe has it’s head in the clouds you can no longer WINE a stand alone version like you used to with CS6 and below. So what to do? Here are some stand outs in the world of free, open source software for photo editing!
When you are talking free, open source photo editing software the biggest go to program is GIMP (currently v2.10.6) which stands for GNU Image Manipulation Program and was originally part of the GNU Project. Yes I know, boring if you are not a nerd. Just know that GIMP is a photo editing program in the same caliber as Photoshop. Just about anything you can do in Photoshop you can do in GIMP. Now the interface is quite different so there is a slight learning curve, but isn’t THAT different. You will be putting extra limbs on celebrities in Vanity Fair in no time!
The next great piece of software is LightZone (currently v4.1.8) which is a professional-level digital darkroom that includes RAW processing and editing.
As described on their website “Rather than using layers in the way that other photo editors do, LightZone lets the user build up a stack of tools which can be rearranged, readjusted, turned off and on, and removed from the stack”.
We will need Dave to decipher this for those of use that don’t edit for a living.
The last piece of photo editing software I recommend is RawTherapee (v5.4 ). It is a full fledged piece of editing software that is just as powerful as Photoshop and GIMP. And what is so beautiful about open source software is you can try them all and see which one you like the best!
Audio Editing Software
Being a podcast we here at digitalSoup do a lot with audio, from creating music segments to editing the weekly show. These, in my opinion, are the best that Linux has to offer!
Of course your first stop should be Audacity (v2.1.2). It is exactly like the Windows and macOS versions so you know what you are getting with it. For the first six months of digitalSoup this is what I edited the show on and it can do almost anything a paid editor can do, but completely FREE!
Reaper (v5.941) is another application that is on Windows and macOS and is a huge step up from Audacity. It is feature packed, has a beautiful interface and has a trial that is the full version, not time limited, you can use it all you want. Of course they would like you to buy it for $60 if you enjoy it, and I agree.
Video Editing Software
One of the most demanding tasks you can do on your system is editing video, so you always want a combination of power hardware and software. Here are some great options for getting some video work done in Ubuntu!
Davinci Resolve (v15) isn’t exactly open source but there is a free version that is full featured and might be all you ever need. This editor is packed full of features so it does have a steep learning curve but once mastered you will be able to do anything. This is literally Hollywood level software.
The next option is Cinelerra (v7.0) and is completely open source. This is full featured with a nice split screen mode but it does have a learning curve like Davinci Resolve so it is not for the beginner.
The final piece of software I am recommending here is for the complete novice who just wants to edit a family video. Vidcutter (v6.0.0) has a very simple layout and basically just trims and merges video clips. You can’t get any more basic than that, but it does get the job done!
Switching to Linux will not hinder your creativity at all (and could probably save you hundreds of dollars in the process) as you have even more options than listed here. This article was written to get the creative professional started in the Linux world but with a little research you will find even more awesome software to help get your work done.
And if you are already in this world and have your own recommendations please comment below, this community loves knowledge!
Thanks for reading.
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