Getting to know Linux [Ubuntu]

[I’ll be focusing on Ubuntu 10.4 with Gnome]

Linux will be frustrating at first for Windows and Mac users but it’s ok, the greatst journey it’s not the easiest journey.

So what are some basic things to get you going with Linux?

Most used applications/alternatives:

Windows Explorer / Find – Nautilus

Winamp or iTunes – Rhythmbox / Amarok

Internet Explorer / Safari / Opera / Firefox – Firefox / Opera

Windows Media Player / bsPlayer etc. – VLC or any frontend to MPlayer

Microsoft Office – Open Office (can edit MS Office files)

Yahoo Messenger / MSN Messenger / Facebook – Empathy / Pidgin

Skype – Skype for Linux or Empathy or Pidgin via plug-ins

Photo organize/view like ACDsee / Irfanview – F-Spot / g-thumb

Nero burning ROM – K3B / Brasero

Specific applications/alternatives:

  • The mighty and cried for Adobe Photoshop – The GIMP (it’s very powerful and if you’ve worked alot with Photoshop around version 7 and CS1, GIMP will be child’s play) – can edit .PSD files.
  • Corel Draw / Adobe IllustratorInkscape / Xara LT – can export / edit .CDR and .AI files.
  • Adobe Lightroom / Aperture – darktable (still in development but very very promissing)
  • MAYA, Softimage XSI, 3d Studio Max, Houdini, Lightwave, Cinema 4DBlender / Maya, Softimage XSI, Houdini and we hope for Lightwave CORE
  • AutoCAD – QCAD, VariCAD
  • Google Earth – Google Earth for Linux
  • Picasa – Picasa for Linux
  • There are many more Windows apps that can be run on Linux with WINE from www.winehq.org

You can do almost anything you can do on Windows or Mac OS with the same ease. One common thing to Mac OS is that it is build on Unix so the terminal (command prompt) and commands are the same like Linux.

Lots of people are scared about the Terminal and the fact that using Linux is like knowing tones of text based commands and arguments to do even simple tasks like watching a movie but this is not true; one thing i really don’t understand is that even now, on the internet, you will get instructions how to do tasks that you can do visually, only by Terminal.

I mean, why if you have a .targz archive, you open up Terminal (Linux Shell), navigate to the location or the archive using cd /path/to/archive and then doing tar [flags] [tar file], when you can simply open Nautilus File Browser, go to the folder wjere the archive is, right click and Extract Here.

Stay tuned …

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Getting started with Python

Tutorials

There are very good books on Python out there but as well free/online material but keep in mind that there are tones of it and can be overwhealming and confusing and maybe it’s not clear where to start for a beginner.

In general, the official Python documentation and more specific the Official Python Tutorial (the first tutorial about Python that i’ve read) will get you started.

Also i found that a big list of Python resources is located at http://www.awaretek.com/tutorials.html , they say there are more then 300.

To narrow the path, here is what  i recommend:

  1. Learn Python the Hard Way (it’s not hard at all and it makes you learn by typing lots of code)
  2. Learning to program – Python by Alan Gauld
  3. A Byte of Python by Swaroop C H
  4. Dive into Python
  5. Very good for beginners, problems with answers (from awaretek’s list)

There are many many mire tutorials out there, try them, this is just what i’ve started with.

Editors

Choosing a good editor for your Python programs is a matter of taste and looks and likes. I think a good IDE (Integrated Development Environment) should have a built-in Python console, syntax highlighting, project management capabilities etc.

The ones i like:

Hope it helps! Have fun!

About Python programming language

There is a big growth in people adopting Python as a programming language for almost everything from simple scripts to applications to web programming to network programming and many more.

Now, Python is used for scripting in almost all great 3D animation and composition software, like Maya, Softimage XSI, Houdini, Blender, Nuke, Lightwave CORE (soon i hope) etc.

For starters, please go to www.python.org/about/  and read about Python to see if it’s for you.

I am just starting programming and i choose Python because:

  • it’s FREE and Open Source;
  • it’s very easy to learn, it has very clear syntax and reading a Python program is somehow similar to reading plain english;
  • it is used for scripting in major 3D and composition apps;
  • it’s dynamic, high-level, object oriented programming language (for newbies like me this line it’s translated as “modern”);
  • it has a huge user-base so you can find help/tutorials and example code very easy;
  • it’s platform independent so your Python programs will work on Windows, Mac an Linux;
  • it’s portable, just like Linux, people will install it if they could even on washing machines. Python is now ported on Symbian phones as PYS60.

Download Python (Try to stick to version 2.6.x) and use it if you want to:

  • learn programming
  • automate stuff, like, renaming 1000 photos in a directory or making back-ups of your hard-disk at different time frames
  • build applications (also with GUI – graphical user interfaces) and eve games
  • create web-sites with dynamic content
  • create a script to distribute rendering in a network of computers
  • build script/plugins for Maya, XSI, Houdini, Blender, Nuke
  • the list is limited only by your imagination

Next i will point you to where do i think, as a newbie, you have to go to get started with learning Python (i’m sure you can Google out the matter:) ).

Learn animation (and VFX) with Houdini Apprentice

Today i present you  Sidefx HOUDINI Apprentice, the FREE learning edition of Houdini (Linux, Windows, MacOS). It’s a fully functional Houdini (including import/export from/to many file formats) the limitations being:

  • small non obstructive watermark
  • a render size limit of 720 x 576 for oth stills and animation
  • .hipnc [non-commercial] file type
  • no Torque DTS exporter

I use it on Linux Ubuntu 9.10 and it installs and work like a charm and let’s face it, a fully functional 8000$ worth 3d package PLE (Personal Learning Edition) for Linux is not something you find often (there are no PLEs for Maya(anymore), Softimage XSI, 3D Studio Max, Lightwave(not yet) etc.)

You will think, looking at the interface and intro tutorials you will find on the internet that it’s very hard to learn this software but if you concentrate and think of Houdini in a very logic manner, you will be surprised how great and powerful this software is.

What i find to be very interesting (for me) is the Autorig which you can use for learning how to animate, because it’s a fully functional cartoon character rigged for you just to start animating. Sure this is not all you can do, because Houdini is very well known for it’s procedural approach, nodal based workflow and greatest results (i may say) in VFX – particles, soft/hard body, fluids, smoke.

Check the official website and see what this great software can do and use it! If you’re into VFX you’ll be stunned by Houdini’s power.

So good luck!!!

The VERSUS WARS

All over the internet you can find articles about “this vs that”, like “Linux vs Windows”, “GIMP vs Photoshop”, “Nikon vs Canon” etc. but as a versus searcher i can tell you that this is 80% bullshit written by newbies and insecure people or just people who have nothing better to do than brag about stuff…duuuude 🙂

So let me tell you something about this versus wars based on my experience:

  • Linux vs Windows: none is better than the other if the operating system that you are using just works for you. There are people that use Windows and Windows software and are just happy with that and there are people using Linux and Linux software and are just happy with that! PERIOD! If i’m happy with my Ubuntu Linux, i can do my job, the software than i use works great, why should i kick Windows? Why? Or if i’m a huge fan of Windows, and everything on Windows world is just wonderful for me, why should i say something bad about Linux? Why? Is Linux better than Windows, is Windows better than Linux? The answer is NO with two capitals, N and O in both cases! It doesn’t matter if some things works great, faster, smoother on any OS, if one is happy, so be it! FACTS: Windows has a larger user base, more very well built and used software than Linux, so what? Linux is the best for web servers, it’s open source and free, so what? Both Windows and Linux can work on different hardware configurations, they are stable and in the end can get your job done. There are people who don’t care if Linux is open source, because they don’t need an open source OS, don’t care if it’s free because they can afford a Windows license, don’t need open source software because they just don’t know/don’t need to modify their software. The right OS for you is the one you are using.
  • GIMP vs Photoshop: Or is GIMP better than Photoshop. Another astronomical plain bullshit. Photoshop is the most loved software in the world, not cheap, but i can say is the best for what it can do. GIMP is a free alternative (to some extend) to Photoshop, but IT IS NOT BETTER OR WORSE and trust me i’ve seen both in action. GIMP was not created to be equal or better than Photoshop (the creators of GIMP say that)! There are things you can do in both GIMP and Photoshop (and this is not opening a .jpg file:)), there are things you can do better in GIMP and there are things you can do better in Photoshop. So it’s pure preference. There are no 2 pieces of software that were created to do exactly that another one does. So if GIMP does the job for you, very good and if Photoshop does the job for you, very good!
  • BONUS –  Micro$oft is EVIL: go and ask heavy Microsoft Windows users how they felt the evilness of Microsoft.

The other 20% of the Versus wars on the internet are as they all should be (but please keep it under 10 mils), structured compare over specific tasks, made by people who really know what they are talking about.

So start bragging about it and be constructive about it.

Internet is full of rubbish

The Internet is full of rubbish, and i really mean it! My feeling is that 70% or more of the Internet is pure redundant, good for nothing rubbish.

Did you ever wonder why there are:

  • 12.900.900 results in Google for “how to install ubuntu”
  • 85.200.200 results for “cats”
  • 10.700.000 results for “install apache”
  • 106.000.000 results for “how to download from youtube”
  • 228.000.000 results for “top results in google” 🙂

I will use the Ubuntu example here: Why do you have to put on a website a “how to install ubuntu tutorial” if it is on the Official website, i mean…There is this company “Canonical” that makes the free, open-source operating system Ubuntu, one company, who researches, develop, invest, upgrade this OS and i think that they are the ones to tell you how to install this OS, and if you go to http://www.ubuntu.com you can find install instructions, so why do i nead 12.900.899 more websites to tell me that?

Ok, the “cats” is understandable, because there can be different cats but come on……Apache is just one server and there can be like 1000 different situations based on operating system you are installing, hardware architecture, additional modules, but don’t you think 10.000.000 websites to tell yoy that is a little too much?

Why people can’t get together and put information related to one topic in just one place where can grow and become the ultimate resource center for that topic instead of scattering the same info on million places? (like http://www.wikipedia.org for example)

This website is not intended to be like gazillion+1 website that tells you the same thing instead we will try to give you critical tips and trinks and point you to great existing resources.

So…have fun!!!

Blender Tip#2: Absolute beginner

This tip is not actually a tip, is a link to a website that can get you started with Blender in no time. I’ve used it and i can say that it was a boost in getting to know Blender.

http://blenderunderground.com

The tutorials are simple, clean and very well structured so i don’t wanna hear any complaints 🙂 … so go to work and have fun with Blender!