As this is a media related project, and we have supplied the fellows with media production equipment, we have also needed some media editing software. Keeping in mind that we wish to use Open Source software when possible, we loaded Audacity onto the netbooks and tested some video and image editing software.
Audio: We used audacity as noted above and gave the fellows some training on editing audio in Audacity. I had been familiar with Audacity before, having used it in a radio station I worked for previously for recording and editing purposes and knowing some people who have used it for some music production purposes. Overall we were satisfied with the capabilities of Audacity and how well it could run on the netbooks despite the low power of the netbooks. No real anecdotes so far about using it with this project. I do recall a time in previous experience though where I found audacity running under linux rarely crashed even on a very low powered old system, though when it did recovering projects was a breeze, while on a newer system under Windows recovery could not be done automatically in the only instance I saw it, but I was instead left with 2 hours worth of 10 second clips in random order that audacity was unable to put back together. Thus, while its always a good idea to save your projects early and often, I would say if you wish to use audacity under windows you REALLY need to save your projects early and often.
Video: Here we had some issues. While we could get some video software running on the netbooks like Kino and OpenShot, the programs are rather intense and thus ran slowly on the netbooks, to the extent that we decided not to bother with much video editing on the netbooks. Kino, I should note, seemed to run a bit smoother for very minor tasks anyway.
Hooking up our flip video is still an issue, as Flip Video apparently saves into an odd version of .mp4 (yes, there seemes to be different forms). While the netbooks play other .mp4 files just fine, the Flip Video formate was very choppy with video (though audio ran fine). I testing things and found it wasn’t due to the capabilities of the netbooks (they could run the videos under windows decently) and as far as I can tell versions of Ubuntu (other than Netbook Edition) ran the files fine as well.
I did find a workaround, however. Using Kino, I could import the Flip Video files and convert them into a .dv format or either NTSC or PAL and, once converted, the files could be played smoothly in Ubuntu Netbook Edition. This can take some time of course for long video clips, so we are still looking for a better solution.
Photo: F-spot seems to allow us to view photos just fine. We decided against trying to do much photo editing on the netbooks given the issues with video editing and knowing that photo editing is usually a hardware intensive project as well.
Soon we hope to have a Media Center in the office which will be loaded with Ubuntu Studio and be capable of all the video, photo and audio editing and hopefully more. I’ll let everyone know what software we test out and how it works when we get to that.