Screenshot from Lightworks website

It seems, lately, that Linux is starting to gain a ton of momentum on the desktop. Although the kick off for this seems to point to Ubuntu Linux, it’s only been recently that a serious shift has occurred. Most would agree that shift is thanks to Steam. Nothing has managed to bring out the thrill and excitement from the world of Linux like a good blast of Steam. And deservedly so. For the first time in the history of Linux (though I do tip my hat to Loki Games and their brave attempt at bringing native game ports to the platform), games are getting serious attention.

Pro-quality video editing

Another type of software that is necessary for Linux to cement its place in both individual and business environments is a solid video editor.  As an author of fiction, one of my jobs is to market not only myself, but my books. There are many ways to do this, one of which is video. To this day I have been using OpenShot for the editing of those videos. But lately, OpenShot isn’t cutting it. Yes it does a fine job with very simple edits and even offers some nice effects (though the animated titles, for some reason, no longer respect the Alpha channel, so I’m getting a gray background when it should be transparent). The truth is, however, if you were looking to do some seriously professional video editing on Linux…there was really no where to turn.

Until now.

Lightworks decided to port their software to the Linux platform a while back. I’ve installed the beta, and I can tell you I haven’t been this excited about a piece of software in a long, long time. I have to warn you, it’s labeled ‘beta’ for a very good reason. As of now, the Linux port has serious trouble handling the H.264 codec and the MP4 container. This is a big problem, because so many devices record with that particular codec/container combo. But even if you throw in the .MOV container…you’re still going to have problems. Yes, you can try to transcode the clips — but it’s still a bit tricky.

However, if you have any need for video editing software on the Linux platform, you need to go ahead and install Lightworks to get up to speed with the interface. Why? Lightworks isn’t OpenShot — there’s actually a learning curve. This learning curve is well worth the trouble.


In order to install Lightworks beta on Linux you have to first sign up to be a beta tester. Sign up on the Lightworks site and then head over to the Linux beta downloads page. It’s only available for 64-bit architecture. Also know that:

  • There is no Fedora support
  • Lightworks has only been tested on Ubuntu 12.04, 12.10, Mint 13, Mint 14, Lubuntu 13.04. Other distributions may work, but have not been tested.
  • ATI and Nvidia cards are supported. EditShare recommends Nvidia for the best performance.*

* My initial install was with an NVidia GeForce card, but I pulled out the card to see if the i5 Sandy Bridge Intel graphics chip would work — it works as well as the NVidia card.

You should also read through the lengthy list of Limitations and Known Problems (on the download page).

When you finally click Download, a lwk-XXX.amd64.deb file will download. You can install the application with the following command (run from within a terminal window):

sudo dpkg -i ~/Downloads/lwks-XXX.amd64.deb (where XXX is the release number)

Figure A

Click to enlarge.

Once Lightworks is installed, you will find the launcher in your menu (depending upon which desktop you use). When you fire up Lightworks, you’ll be presented with a sweet looking desktop where you can begin working (Figure A).

I won’t go into the actual process of editing here. I do, however, highly recommend you watch each of these tutorials that explain the very basics of Lightworks. Without watching those brief videos, you’ll most likely be lost. They cover: Creating a project, importing media files, organizing and searching your project, playing media, basic editing, trimming on a timeline, simple transition, working with audio, and exporting your work. Once you’ve walked through those, you should have a solid understanding of how to create a simple project.

Of course, Lightworks does much more than “simple.”

A new beta (that fixes a ton of issues — including the H.264 issue) will be released for Linux very soon (hopefully this week or the following week). If you (or your company) are  looking for an outstanding Video editor, and want to keep it on the cheap (a Lightworks license is only $60), Lightworks is the solution. And know this, the more people that actually purchase Lightworks, the more likely they will continue supporting our favorite platform — and hopefully convince other companies along the way.