Top 10 Linux Video Applications – NOT! 05/21/09

I recently read a Digg post “10 Free Apps that Turn your Ubuntu into a Video Studio” and it annoyed the heck out of me! Maybe I’m being too critical, but I don’t see 10 top video applications in Linux (I’m an Ubuntu user). In fact, I don’t even see ten productive, functional, Linux based video applications that I would use in a production environment. Maybe I’m a bit too outspoken, but in my opinion, the article that Digg post points to is not worth the pixels it’s displayed with. Based on the numerous comments from diggers, I’d have to agree that they rightfully consider that post lame. Okay… Personal opinion rant over. :)

Criticism aside, I just wrote a couple posts about turning your Linux (Ubuntu) computer into a multimedia system, which touched on the topic of videos:

Build a Web Developer PC and Enable Most Media Playback Using Ubuntu Linux

Building a Web Developer / Designer PC Using Ubuntu Linux – Revisited

While the focus of the above posts leaned more towards playback and web development, I did mention at least a couple video applications. In my opinion the state of video application development in Ubuntu Linux – For that matter all Linux distributions has a long way to go. In most of the current video application, I’ve found that the functionality is lacking, or that the user interface (UI) is so complicated that it makes the application a labour to use. I’m more familiar with applications such as Adobe After Effects which is Mac and Windows based (where are the Linux versions of your products Adobe? ) and I use it in a production environment. Additionally smaller “quickie” applications such as “MPEG_Stream Clip” or quickie video converters are not available in Linux with the same ease of use and functionality.

I appreciate that some may argue that After Effects is complicated. In the beginning, when learning, it is. But after you’ve been using it for a few years, it’s not as complicated. In all honesty, I use applications (such as After Effects) as my guideline to compare. There are so few available, and in my opinion, not one of the truly provides an adequate, complete production grade video application.

Video Conversion:

I operate several video streaming sites. These are sites with similar functionality to Youtube. They allow users (my clients) to upload their videos and the videos are converted by the server to flv files for streaming across the web. To accomplish this, I install various codecs and other tools on the server, most importantly ffmpeg.

ffmpeg means “Fast Forward MPEG”. It’s a command line application that is built and uses open source libraries and software. It also uses the installed video (and audio) codecs, mux/demux library, etc. to convert video’s from one format to another. As such, I’d highly recommend installing this in a Linux PC, if you’re using that box for video work.

It’s easy to install via aptitude (or apt-get):

sudo aptitude install ffmpeg

or: apt:ffmpeg

PHP scripting on the server uses much the same similar commands that we would use on our computers. Here’s a quick command (to get you going):

ffmpeg -i -vcodec wmv2 -sameq -acodec wmav2 -f asf testvideo.asf

The above command specifies:

  • Take my “” file  (The “i” switch means “input file”),
  • Convert it to the wmv2 video codec (“-vcodec”) and the wmv2 audio codec (“-acodec”),
  • Use the same quality as the original video file (“-sameq”),
  • Force the converted (output) file to asf (“-f asf”),
  • Name that converted file “testvideo.asf”

The MAN page for ffmpeg allows you a more detailed explanation of the switches and other that are available for use.

I did a search on Youtube and found a great ffmpeg video (below):

Video Applications:

AvideMux is okay for cutting existing videos, stripping audio or video, capturing video, etc. It does not provide the functionality that some of us are familiar with in applications such as After Effects or Final Cut Pro. More information can be found on the Avidemux wiki-documentation site.



sudo aptitude install avidemux

or: apt:avidemux

Cinelerra-CV is (the UI) closer to what we’d expect in a video production application.The functionality is much closer to those of the professional production environments, but in my opinion, it still needs work. I’ve tried Cinelerra three times now, and I don’t use it. Why?:

  1. It’s a pain in the rear to get installed and working properly (at least it was for me).
  2. The interface, while it does have better functionality, is still horrid (VERY ugly and not intuitive) to try and work with (which takes more time).
  3. When I last tried it, Cinelerra used the “floating windows” interface (like GIMP does), which was horrible to work with (as there was no locked parent window).

However, it may work well for your environment (they way you work), so you should give it a try. To install it via aptitude, you’d need to add the appropriate repositories to your sources.list. For installing on Ubuntu Hardy (8.04) – The following is directly (Copy & Paste) from their site:

For all x86 (full working on 32 and 64 bits), by Paolo Rampino:
deb akirad-hardy main

Installation notes:

  • For your convenience you can install a package for detecting your version of Ubuntu, installing akirad repository and keeping it updated.
  • Just double click on the link and install it with GDebi Package Installer.

Alternatively, use the following terminal command:

wget -c && sudo dpkg -i addakirad.deb

To update the repository information press Reload in Synaptic Package Manager (Adept for Kubuntu) or use the following terminal command:
sudo apt-get update

7 are the packages available in the akirad repository:

  • cinelerra (x86 and x86_64 without opengl 2.0 video card)
  • cinelerra4-repack (Heroine Virtual version)
  • cinelerra-generic (all x86 and x86_64 with opengl 2.0 video card)
  • cinelerra-k7 (amd32 without opengl 2.0 video card)
  • cinelerra-k7gl (amd32 with opengl 2.0 video card)
  • cinelerra-k8 (amd k8 optimized with opengl 2.0 video card)
  • cinelerra-swtc (extra Shape Wipe Transitions)

Ubuntu Hardy moved to Pulse Audio Sound driver. Since it comes with a PulseAudio ESD compatibility layer, Cinelerra can be set to work with PulseAudio. Simply open Cinelerra and go to:

Settings->Preferences->Playback->Audio Driver

Select ESound and set the following parameters:

Server: Port: 7007

  • These packages set shmmax to 0x7fffffff and add non-English language support for Cinelerra.
  • Please, report any package bug to akir4d at gmail dot com

for i386 (not working on amd 32 bits), by Valentina Messeri:
deb ./

Installation for other systems:

Video editing in Ubuntu Linux using Cinelerra (below):

If you’d like to see the full series of the above video here is Part 1 and Part 2.

Side note: Speaking of PulseAudio (above), this is what caused my 5.1 surround sound not to work. But I posted a fix: Enable 5.1 Surround Sound on Linux – Ubuntu 8.04 Hardy.

Kino, I use more for video capture than anything else. I wouldn’t really call it a video production application. It can export different formats and has some effects. You can stich video files together. You can use it to render a dv file as well as a few other features.


To install:

sudo aptitude install kino

or: apt:kino

I think Kino is great for putting together a medley of clips with nice transition effects between them. Check out the how to video below:

The above video is using Kino in a KDE environment.

KDEnlive, I think is another great potential (I’ve not used it as I’m in a Gnome environment). Don’t get me wrong, if you’re also using Gnome, you can still try KDEnlive as all the KDE dependencies will be installed – And quite frankly, if you’re going to do that, it may be better to simple use KDE (such as Kubuntu). If you already have tools like ffmpeg installed, this one can be a bit tricky to install. Either way, here a preview video below that shows some of the features:

Realistically, the state of video development (at least on our Linux desktops) is still in its infancy. We’ve got a long way to go before we have an open source application that rivals the likes of Final Cut or After Effects. For those interested in experimenting further, one promising distribution is worth looking at: Ubuntu Studio. From their site:

…is aimed at the GNU/Linux audio, video and graphic enthusiast as well as professional. We provide a suite of the best open-source applications available for multimedia creation. Completely free to use, modify and redistribute. Your only limitation is your imagination…

I certainly hope that this multimedia type distro can spearhead and pave the way to better video editing applications in Linux. I’d love to write a post about the Top 10 Video Applications, but right now we don’t really have 10.

Feel free to include any video applications or solutions you use, in the comments. :)

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7 Responses to this article

GregE May 21, 2009 Reply

I am a Gnome user and I have Kdenlive installed and it is a great leap forward. Still a long way off Adobe Premiere, but last time I looked real Premiere was more than a thousand bucks.

Another is OpenMovieEditor. It also shows promise, but last time I tried, it lacks support for formats other than Quicktime.

For me, Kdenlive is the best option for now and it works just fine under Gnome.

UbuntuLinuxHelp May 21, 2009 Reply

@GregE – Thanks for the great input! For those who have not heard of Open Movie Editor (I had not), here’s a link to the download. It looks like it’s going to be cross platform (which I think is smashing). Thanks too for the input on KDEnlive – Perhaps I should give it a go then as well.

GregE May 21, 2009 Reply

Your article is linked to TuxMachines along with another extolling the virtues of PiTivi.

A new developemnt version of Pitivi is available.

Also for conversion Handbrake is a must. I use it to convert my old 80s camcorder stuff to 16:9


UbuntuLinuxHelp May 21, 2009 Reply

@GregE – Just installed handbrake recently – And you’re right… It’s a great app! For those interested, I found the Ubuntu Hardy (8.04) .deb file here: The ones that worked for me were:


Didn’t know there was a new version of PiTiVi, so will give that a spin too.

Love TuxMachines, very cool. Thanks!

UbuntuLinuxHelp May 28, 2009 Reply

I bumped into a nice app “DeVeDe” aptitude install devede. More info here:

achintha October 15, 2009 Reply

i;m still new for ubuntu linux.i installed ubuntu 9.04 version.but canot play any videos.what is the suitable player for that.

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