In the past in order to make good home movies one needed either a Mac or a Windows PC. There were no good video editors for Linux in the past. Today with Jahshaka and Main Actor the things that could only be done on a Mac or a Wintel machine can now be done on a Lintel machine as well. I use these tools now and I find them to be excellent for what I do. I am not however into professional animation, film production or any other type of multimedia authoring so I cannot speak on how these tools will work or how they compare to the tools that professionals use. This review is done from the perspective of a home desktop user.
Jahshaka is a real time editing and effects program. It is comparable to Apples Final Cut Pro and Adobe After Effects and is located here. It is still in its alpha stages and is nowhere near the finished line, but, my experience with it is that its a pretty solid project even in Alpha. With this you can add music, add special effects if you want to put in subtitles and credits and subliminal messages this is the program for you. It is written in the excellent QT crossplatform development environment so it has a very attractive interface and it it not GNOME like at all. The interface on Jahshaka reminds me of Shake. It features a Desktop that you can use to put all your clips and materials on and use the drag-drop-fuctionality, it also includes a painting program. The tool layout is quite good and something I would consider on par with most commercial products, it can be understood by a novice like me and and is quite intuitive. This program was founded and is maintained by a man in Jamaica. It is licensed under the GPL and is freely available for download. This is one project i will be taking on to help them make it better.
MainActor is a video editing tool similar to Apple iMovie, its not quite as intuitive as Jahshaka but for the job it needs to do it is excellent. MainActor can be found here. MainActor comes free with SuSE Linux 8.2 and right now a preview is offered on their website for users of other distributions to try out. The interface on this application looks like it may be QT as well. It also is good but for a person not used to working with it may have some trouble navigating it, and a iMovie user will have to retrain himself on how to use this Application. This product is made in Germany and that may explain why SuSE got it before anyone else did. It is very easy to use and works with most codecs and Digital Camcorders. If SuSE continues to offer this application for free with its OS, this application might make buying SuSE just enough reason. This application for other distributions is only in preview as I said and this application is a commercial product, meaning you have to pay for it and the source is not available. Pricing to be announced soon according to MainConcept.
SuSE is an excellent operating system even at 8.2, it beats other Linux distributions in ease of use, functionality and stability. The YaST configuration utility is light years ahead of other conventional system tools and makes the days of having to edit config text files a thing of the past. In my opinion, SuSE is easier to use and configure than Windows XP and is almost right on par with Mac OS X, in fact if a Mac user has to jump on the PC side I would reccomend SuSE more than any other distribution. It has its flaws and by all means is not a perfect OS, but its benefits outweigh any faults SuSE may have and I have never had a SuSE Linux distribution leave me with an unusable PC, Red Hat has left me with an unusable PC and it happened with Lindows. Unlike Lindows, SuSE in my opinion, has more choice and has the utilities to delight the geek and the home user alike. They ship more than enough end space user applications to make any user feel like a kid in a candy store. Its technical merits are also noteworthy, unlike other distributors, SuSE is actual plug and play. All my external devices, Camera, Camcorder, MP3 player and FireWire drives work, and since we are talking about movie making, my camcorder works flawlessly with FireWire, with Red Hat I had to go retrieve all these tools and software stacks in order to get my FireWire devices to even be seen with Red Hat 9, SuSE was just plug in and let it go. Now, no name brands of devices may not work with SuSE or it may load the wrong driver but to the point that SuSE just works, the rest of it is negligible. SuSE is very excellent quality.
SuSE has a free version of its Linux, installable over FTP. SuSE is a very good product and I hope they do continue to sell a product this good because I for one will continue to buy it. No one gives anything away for free. You either pay $79.95 for outstanding quality and service, or you get just “good enough” for free. Plus you are supporting their developers and making sure they have enough cash flow to keep operating. Besides, when price compared to Windows XP and even Mac OS X SuSE’s price is really small. And find me a version of Windows XP where you get over 3,000 applications and a free Office Suite that is comparable to the best Office software out there in the world today.
I would suggest these tools to anyone. Installation is done by RPM and compiling, for someone who doesnt know how to compile an application I suggest you either learn how to do it or get someone who knows what they are doing. Linux is catching up to the rest of the Operating Systems of the world today. I firmly believe that if developers keep developing quality applications we will see a significant number of Linux desktops in the next couple of years, regardless of what MS says. With ease of use in place and applications becoming more available for the Linux platform, people will have more choice than they ever dreamed possible.
About the Author:
Roberto J. Dohnert is a Unix/Linux Consultant and software developer. His first introduction to UNIX based systems dates back to NEXTSTEP. He is a member of the GNU Darwin Distribution and has made several contributions to that and other projects. His personal webpage is here.