Who would have thought that with Windows Vista fast going down in history as the slowest, most cumbersome and least intuitive operating system, that a solution was right under my nose all along? Up until last weekend, I’d long since known about Linux, but had put off giving it a try – making every excuse from concerns about navigating through the technical difficulties of installation, to my rustiness with unix commands, to finding enough space on my PC hard disk.
But finally, my moment arrived and I took the plunge. The final incentive? When browsing a wikipedia page on one of the most common distributions, Ubuntu, I discovered a spin-off distribution by the name of Ubuntu Studio. For anyone unfamiliar with this distribution (or with Linux in general), Ubuntu Studio combines a very formidable set of open source audio and video applications, allowing the user to do just about everything: score-writing, accessing software instruments, sequencers, multi-track recording, along with image editing and video production. Best of all, the whole operating system is designed for audio/video production, which means that applications have CPU priority where they wouldn’t in other OS environments. Once I took a look at all the applications available from the start menu straight after installation, my eyes glazed over. Scary to think of all the possibilities, isn’t it?
As a humble teacher (and part-time bedroom musician), this will take some time to get my head around, both technically and conceptually. Audio/video software has long been the domain of companies with extremely wide profit margins, pushing many would-be students, musicians, small-time producers and artists into obtaining pirated software via torrents and in copyright-lax countries like China and Indonesia (leaving aside the issue of the average Indonesian needing to sacrifice an entire six-month salary to afford legal software for themselves in the first place).
Open source is fast taking over the world because its simple democratic principles of free-choice and freedom of speech mean that the operating systems and applications just keep getting better and better. The big question to ask now is – how can I use this in the classroom? Any thoughts?