Open Source

Why video editing forced one Linux devotee to buy a Macbook

What happens when a devout Linux user sees a light they'd been denying for years? Jack Wallen explains why he had to break his Linux-only rule and buy into the cult of Mac.

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Image: Jack Wallen

I've been using Linux for nearly 20 years. I do everything I can to spread the open source word on every possible occasion. I've written countless articles extolling the value of Linux on both the server and the desktop. But every so often I run into an issue that I feel needs to be pointed out to the Linux community and the countless developers that make Linux possible. I feel this is a necessary evil, in order to help Linux grow and become the best possible platform on the market.

Recently, one such issue reared its ugly head—an issue I had been denying for years. With much trepidation, I finally had to capitulate and accept the fact that Linux did, in fact, have a weakness. The weakness in question? Video. I'm not talking video in the way of watching movies, playing YouTube videos, or even gaming. I'm talking about video editing. I've been creating YouTube videos as promotional materials for years. Since I started working with the medium, OpenShot has been my go-to tool. This was not so much by choice, but because it was, for a long time, the only viable option. It offered everything I needed—easy timeline editing, animated titles, chroma keying, a smattering of effects and transitions, and (more importantly) it was available on Linux. I knew there were alternatives (such as KDenlive, Pitivi, Blender, and Lightworks); but those options either fell short on features, were unstable, had a crazy steep learning curve, or failed to perform (due to video driver issues).

And to be quite honest, OpenShot performed well, for a time. And then it broke. Animated titles no longer functioned properly and the application would randomly crash, causing me to lose work. The developers were diligently developing the new version, so I held off on making any change. When OpenShot 2.x finally arrived, I anxiously installed it and, with breath bated and fingers crossed, started using it.

For about a week.

It became all too clear that the new OpenShot had regressed in functionality. Animated titles still refused to function properly, the new timeline editor wasn't nearly as intuitive, and the stability had taken yet another step backward.

At a loss

Earlier in the year, a company reached out to me to do videos for them. I agreed to take on the project and hoped I'd be able to solve my video issues with Linux before it came time to begin the job. I scrambled and searched for a solution, but none came. I was at a complete loss. I didn't want to give up on the platform that had been my bread and butter for over a decade.

In the end, however, I realized the one truth that mattered more than ego or adherence to an ideal. That truth? Whatever tool gets the job done. With that understanding in check, I realized the platform had to take a back seat to the job; and in this instance, I had to have a platform that could handle video editing like a champ.

The solution

Based on my requirements, I couldn't place my trust in the unreliable, unpredictable nature of Windows 10. I'd used it just enough to know it felt like little more than a toy. So that left macOS. Everyone I knew that had anything to do with video used Macs. And so, I went against my nature and purchased a Macbook Pro.

It took about 10 minutes (upon unboxing and getting the laptop ready to work) to realize I'd made the right choice. Linux cannot, in any way, compare to the ease and power that macOS offers, when it comes to video editing. Yes, there are still LOTS of things Linux does better, but video is not one of them.

I'd found my solution.

SEE: Boost your Mac productivity with these 10 techniques (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

An interesting possibility

After making my purchase, I was chatting with a video pro about options (Final Cut Pro X vs. Adobe Premier). That person happened to mention another possibility I hadn't heard of—Davinci Resolve. The big selling point was that the company offered a free version. So with much excitement, I went to download the software, only to find out they had a Linux version.

Ho-lee-cow! Did I pull the trigger on a Mac when it wasn't necessary? I had to find out. After downloading and installing Davinci Resolve, I clicked on the Elementary OS menu, typed in "davinci", click on the icon to launch the software, and waited anxiously.

Only to find the software failed to start.

After quite a bit of digging and debugging, I discovered libssl-dev had to be installed and links created. So I ran the following commands:

sudo apt-get install libssl-dev
​sudo ln -s /usr/lib /usr/lib64
​sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libgstreamer-1.0.so.0 /usr/lib/libgstreamer-0.10.so.0
​sudo ln -s /usr/lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libgstbase-1.0.so.0 /usr/lib/libgstbase-0.10.so.0
​sudo ln -s /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libssl.so.1.0.0 /usr/lib/libssl.so.10
​sudo ln -s /lib/x86_64-linux-gnu/libcrypto.so.1.0.0 /usr/lib/libcrypto.so.10

The app would finally run!

And immediately crash.

So an app that showed promise on Linux failed as well. Which only served to help reiterate the "whatever tool gets the job done" mantra. With macOS, within 10 minutes I was up and running with a powerhouse video editor. I needed that efficiency in my life.

My new world order

Don't get me wrong, Linux is still my daily driver and will always be. I depend upon it every single day. Outside of video editing, I have yet to find a platform that offers nearly the ease of use, stability, and security to be found in Linux. I'm using it now and will continue to use it. But my new world order demands that when video is the job to be done, macOS is the platform to handle the task. I'm okay with that. I also know that, should a company finally deliver a piece of software comparable to the likes of Final Cut Pro X for Linux, you can be sure the Macbook Pro will start collecting dust.

Also see

About Jack Wallen

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website jackwallen.com.

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