Linux goal for the day: iMovie replacement!

I tried KDENLive. It was too much — so many quirks and clumsiness, perhaps because it was just trying to pour every single video editing option possible in willy-nilly.

Today, I’m experimenting with Shotcut, on the recommendation of a reader. It’s simpler, so not quite as overwhelming. I might be able to work with this.

A couple of common problems I run into everything Linux. With no universal interface guidelines, every program seems to want to do everything their own way. I appreciate how the programmers can find that liberating, but in the absence of constraints and standards, they always seem to make bad choices, and you have to just stare in wonder at how they’ve decided to arbitrarily fuck up their own work. It also means that using the thing is awkward and not at all fluid, at least not until the user develops their own novel workflow. It also means the user has the power to make the most godawful ugly videos ever — I was testing various things out and made this nightmarish thing with purple 3-D titles and funky video effects and random stuff appearing in spectacularly elaborate ways that will never be seen by the eyes of any other human. I’m about to take it ’round back, shoot it, throw it in a hole, and set it on fire. But I figure out how some things work while building that monstrosity!

Bottom line: Shotcut might be my replacement for iMovie, as ugly as it is. I might just have to become insensitive to non-Mac ugliness. I know, I shouldn’t complain, it’s free software…but iMovie is also free.

First try:

Also, I’ll be on this channel at 3pm tomorrow (9 June) for a free-for-all rant about Kent Hovind and other creationists.


  1. Rob Bos says

    I’ve used shotcut for super basic video editing. It’s not bad.

    If you’re comfortable with a commandline approach, it may be worth some time investment to learn “ffmpeg”, which does some pretty cool stuff entirely with commands. It’s a boon for automation. If you ever need to do something to a hundred videos, ffmpeg is a great tool. For instance, here’s a command to convert video files from one format to another, changing the video format to h.264 and copying the audio stream.

    ffmpeg -y -i “$infile” -c:v libx264 -preset slow -crf 22 -c:a copy “$outfile”

    The UI thing is a fair cop! There’s no centralized API, there’s no organization imposing its UI standards on the entire body of software. What standardization exists is largely there through consensus and long, frustrating selection and elimination.

    Going from MacOS to Linux is a bit like going from Catholicism to atheism. You’re going from a place where everything has a script and follows expectations, to a total anarchy where you have to make your own maps, and the guideposts are difficult to read.

  2. F.O. says

    The culture of Open Source and development in general is utterly devoid of empathy.
    Asshole programmers make asshole programs and fail at basic collaboration.
    I blame the wider society that glorifies assholes and doesn’t teach us how to collaborate, listen, and behave in non-asshole ways.

  3. says

    Have you tried DaVinci Resolve? It’s free and available for Linux. I use it on Windows, so I can’t vouch for its usability in Linux, but it’s an option and there’s LOTS of tutorial material available.

  4. whheydt says

    Well… IMovie is free to the extent that you have to have already paid your pound of flesh to Apple…

  5. Rob Bos says

    @#2 F.O. – If the existence of assholes is enough to make you stop using a class of software, I have some bad news for you!

    Honestly if you’re looking for a culture of collaboration and cooperation, you want open source software. Yes, there are assholes, but I think in terms of assholes per line of code, you’re better off avoiding “my way or the highway” systems like Windows or MacOS. Free software bends over backwards to enable collaboration and cooperation.

    You will absolutely find assholes in free and open source software communities. Ego kinda goes with the territory, because it takes a pretty egomaniacal, and sometimes a very determinedly egomaniacal, person to look at a body of software and try to improve it. :)

    May I humbly suggest Eric Raymond’s paper, “The Cathedral and the Bazaar”?

  6. waydude says

    PZ I don’t know if you got my email but I have a Macbook Pro that I could get to you.

  7. revmatty says

    I’m a fan of linux and have been running linux servers for 25 years now. I tried real hard to run linux desktop for about a decade and kind of sort of made it work except for anything to do with audio/graphics production work. Then I had kids and the phrase “Linux is only free if your time has no value” suddenly made sense.

  8. René says

    @2 F.O.

    Asshole programmers make asshole programs and fail at basic collaboration.

    True, that.

    I’ve been introduced to programming (8080, 80286, edlin, papertape, punchcards) when studying Castellano and General Linguistics, and the guys across the hall had a mainframe the whole width of the wall. (Economics. Just another irrational religion, if you ask me.)

    Programmers are the worst know-it-alls. I had to deal with them for most of my professional life. Some your prototypical incels, some maladroit geniuses. Some quite friendly chaps. But almost all, ‘assholes’ w.r.t. user-friendliness. Clumsy.

  9. Elladan says

    Linux does have consistent user interface guidelines!

    You can read them right here:
    Sorry, wait, no, here:

    Wait no, both are correct. ;-)

    In any event, having guidelines in no way forces everyone to make consistent user interfaces. I tried some Windows astronomy software the other day and every single application was completely different. Far more than Linux software!

    What commercial user interfaces tend to be good at is enabling a particular workflow in a streamlined manner, because the company hired a UI designer who worked full time doing tests and use-case scenarios. At the same time, they’re often terrible at everything else — and indeed, any important feature that you need, but the UI designer thought was for nerds, will be impossible. Open source user interfaces on the other hand are optimized for the workflow of the person who wrote the software — and that includes their time in making the interface better for everyone else.

  10. 00001000bit says

    @8 revmatty
    I was almost going to post pretty much that exact same reply, including the quote. Spooky.

    I love Linux as a server. Every year or so, I try it out on some spare equipment for evaluation as a primary computing device. For basic needs, it’s fine. Web browsing, email, word processing, spreadsheets – no problem. I would happily set it up for a machine that someone needs to “be on the internet” without qualms.

    It’s when you get into the “specialty” areas like graphics or video that the cracks start to appear. The “best of breed” software available isn’t all from the same GUI camp, so you end up having to mix KDE and Gnome apps, which just leaves a jumbled, inconsistent UI experience.

    As far as a video editor, Davinci Resolve is very capable (haven’t used it on Linux, but it’s what I use on OSX). It’s not really comparable to iMovie, though. It’s a full featured, professional, NLE – so it’s best compared to Premiere Pro or FinalCut Pro rather than a friendly consumer app like iMovie. Though, you might jump in after a couple Youtube tutorials and get the basic stuff squared away (clip management, timeline, etc) enough to do your tasks, without ever needing to touch the more in-depth features like color grading or match moving, etc. It’s definitely capable of producing anything you’re going to be making, just may be a bit overkill.

  11. billroberts says

    Nothing in the Apple universe is ever “free” and they can take away anything they have provided on a whim.

  12. says

    @#13, billroberts:

    And yet people like you will happily use stuff from Google. Absolutely amazing.

    The best part is how people like you will often claim that Apple isn’t good on privacy, then use Android to order stuff from Amazon.

  13. consciousness razor says

    It also means the user has the power to make the most godawful ugly videos ever — I was testing various things out and made this nightmarish thing with purple 3-D titles and funky video effects and random stuff appearing in spectacularly elaborate ways that will never be seen by the eyes of any other human. I’m about to take it ’round back, shoot it, throw it in a hole, and set it on fire. But I figure out how some things work while building that monstrosity!

    But that definitely isn’t prevented when the systems hold your hand or conceal what’s going on behind the scenes. It’s almost too easy. Just click one of the conveniently located monstrosity-making buttons, and your magical computing box will helpfully make various kinds of monstrosity for you. With a relatively small amount of effort required and with it all happening so fast, you may not fully appreciate how awful it really is, at least not at first. But it isn’t likely to be non-awful, even if you didn’t try too hard to make it awful. You can just rest assured that the magic buttons will reliably do their jobs well, so you don’t have to.

    A nice feature of this approach is that if anyone does criticize the work — despite having no right to do so, obviously — then you can inform this repugnant individual that you just casually threw it together with this simple little program here, which of course absolves you of responsibility. It will still be crap, but since it is true that the program did much of the work, you may blame the program itself. However, the program’s designers and their corporate overlords really should have known better, so they are probably a better target. I mean, why didn’t they create at least some magic buttons that can’t produce garbage? What the hell were they thinking?

  14. nomdeplume says

    Oh, PZ, I did try to warn you. Not buying Apple has always been false economy.

  15. darth314 says

    openshot is a bit user-friendlier than kdenlive. but its has some bugs depending of your linux distribution.
    don’t give up! at some point you’ll never want to go back to Mac.

  16. captainjack says

    The Vicar @ #14
    “There may be said to be two classes of people in the world; those who constantly divide the people of the world into two classes, and those who do not.”– Robert Benchley

  17. John Morales says

    It’s scary leaving the walled garden. But wonders and epic vistas are the reward.

    (I guess some people like being constrained cosseted)

  18. Alt-X says

    I only ever played around around with the Raspberry Pi version of linux, the one thing that stuck out was how difficult the basic things are (like installing drivers for the wifi card and getting software to install and run). I’m not unix guru, just a BBC Micro/dos/win/mac snob, but yeah, wow hehe.

  19. F.O. says

    @Rob Bos #6
    I’ve been using Linux at home and at work for… 20 years now?

    @The Vicar #13
    So unless we can get rid of everything bad, we should get rid of nothing bad?

    Jesus fuck dude, you’re ridiculous.

    @nometheplume #6

    Not buying Apple has always been false economy.