Open Source Workstation for Graphics and Video: Review of Linux Distributions Print E-mail


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When you are going to create graphic workstation, one of the most important questions arises - "What to take as a basis?". At first sight, two variants exist: either to buy a specialized workstation or install OS Windows and buy necessary applications for it. Both these variants are easy and well-known, but, firstly, this pleasure is not free of costs, and, secondly, it needs time for purchase, installation and training. Let's try to depart from patterns and assemble graphic workstation, if not on essentially new basis, then having excluded from charges at least one clause - payment.

As you have already guessed, we'll take as a basis software products with open source code and widely known Linux distributions. For easy orientation we'll make small review of Linux distributions.

Among plenty of Linux distributions, in whole four trends exist: Debian-like, Redhat-like, Slackware-like and Freebsd-like. Taking into account that we lay stress on installation speed and user-friendliness, two last variants won't be discussed - let's leave them for enthusiasts.

In its time Redhat became the model for other Linux distributions. It has always had pleasant themes and excellent quality of assembly. But times change and now Redhat moves away from free-of-charge to paid more and more, though you are still able to download free distribution version - Fedora Core/Fedora. The amount of packages for this distribution is big and it updates rather often. Generally speaking, if we would have chosen this distribution for a basis, we wouldn't have been mistaken, but, there's one disadvantage - the RPM package management system is not quite succesful. This system considerably concedes to package management system in Debian-like distributions.

Debian - is the model of Open Source distributions, it consists of programs with open source code. Nevertheless a lot of companies create packages for installation into Debian. The Debian distribution contains many packages (programs and libraries), more than any other Linux distribution. Such a variety combines with high reliability and quality. It is even possible to tell such phrase concerning this distribution: having installed once, works always. Here you will have almost all basic elements of the system that we are going to build. You can think, that such reliability and completeness in a greater degree correspond to a server. Well, you are probably right, but let's not forget that confidence in reliability and safety of systems will allow to turn one's mind to work and not to distract on extraneous things. Yet another advantage of Debian - installation and management of programs is easy and convenient, it's much easier than in Redhat and Windows (honestly speaking, only in that case when it is not necessary to install unsupported programs by Debian). Among conditional disadvantages - rare releases of new versions of the distribution. On the other hand, through personal experience we can say that having installed the system once, you will hardly like to make full-scale system renovation in the nearest one or two years, as all basic graphic applications can be easy updated by you without any full-scale system renovation.

Ubuntu - is a child of the Debian distribution. It has the same applications' management system which is the basis of any Linux distribution. Thus, all advantages of Debian are present here, maybe with the exception of high reliability, but it has its own reasons and we'll talk about them a little bit later. Indisputable advantages of this distribution - qualitative support service and rather frequent releases of new versions. The Ubuntu distribution is probably not so well debugged and so reliable as Debian, but margin of strength is present here and in whole it is ideally fits as a workstation. Another advantages - simplicity and convenience, that is also of great importance.

So, we propose to decide in favour of one of two Linux distributions (Debian or Ubuntu), that we will use as a basis for a graphic workstation. To avoid possible problems we'll give instructions on installation of graphic workstations both on the basis of the Ubuntu distribution and on the basis of the Debian distribution, as we don't want to narrow the user's choice excessively. More experienced users can take advantage of our instructions even for creation of similar graphic workstations on the basis of other Linux distributions.

In conclusion of this article we would like to note, that despite all efforts we can overlook something and unforeseen difficulties may arise. They can be easy solved if you use the forum of this site.