ArtistX running on a WM. There's some surprising bundled packages (for a creativity distro) that being emulation.

Ubuntu is probably the most common for distro’s to derive from, the number of Ubuntu variants is staggering and whilst many can share aspects rendering them virtually identical, the one thing about a distro based on Ubuntu is that there is an accepted (high) level of functionality you can expect out of the box.

ArtistX is no exception to this continuing trend and here we look at a distro aimed at the creative souls amongst us.

The LiveCD comes in at a whopping 3.5gb, which may be a slight deterrent to some prospective users on limited data plans or slow connection speed, with that in mind though ArtistX comes with a wealth of creative apps that pretty much cover every task you would wish to perform (and some surprising extras which I will cover later.)

The test machine for this review is currently running Mint 11 (again based off 11.04) so in this reason ArtistX will be examined via a VM.

First impressions were that as an Ubuntu variant, boot-time, hardware recognition were flawless.  I was surprised that the devs being ArtistX had not changed the boot loader to personalize their distro, which still proudly displays “Ubuntu 11.04”

As already mentioned, ArtistX has its roots in 11.04, Kernel 2.6.38 with Gnome 2.32 / KDE 4.6and Firefox as its pre-packaged browser, as you would expect Libreoffice is here too.

The “meat” of ArtistX is in the packages included which really do represent a massive selection of the best free software.  From the site (a tiny example of the total included packages):

  • 2D Graphic Software: Gimp, Inkscape, Nip2, Krita, Synfig, Rawstudio, Skencil, Hugin.
  • 3D Graphic softwares: Blender, Wings3D, K3D.
  • Video softwares: Cinelerra, Openshot, Kino, Openmovieeditor, Kdenlive, Pitivi, Avidemux, Devede, and many others.
  • Video and Music players: Mplayer, Videolan, Xine, Kaffeine, Kmplayer, LastFM and many others.
  • Music software: PD and externals, Rosegarden, Ardour, TerminatorX, Cecilia/Csound.

I looked at 11.04 recently, albeit with a Unity focus.  You can read that article here.


Any review on 11.04 will represent (more or less) ArtistX, though its the software pre-packaged which will be the draw here.  It’s often very interesting to see distro’s such as ArtistX because the pre-packaged software (presumably chosen by the devs on recommendation) are someone else’s views on what is the best application for a specific task.  Often I discover new software as a result of this and I think its safe to say that when choosing the application for you, its best to get any many different alternatives as you can to make a balanced choice.

I mentioned earlier that there were some “extra’s” and it was these extra’s that came as a surprise to me.  Readers of OpenBytes will know that in the past I’ve covered many emulation projects in varying stages of development.  ArtistX, amidst is creative frenzy also caters for a few old platforms such as Amiga and various machines in the Atari family of computers, which was surprising but very welcome.

Unity, which has caused so many differing opinions is absent upon boot from ArtistX, however this I think would be expected as ArtistX is probably more geared towards existing Linux users or people with a specific purpose for the ArtistX distro.

Audacity presence is a welcome familiarity for me, with TechBytes and the soon to be released Byte.Me facilitating its powerful yet simple features for audio editing/remastering.  With so many other packages offered it affords me the opportunity to try out other alternatives, a few of which will be covered in the future on OpenBytes this is one of the advantages of running someone’s realization of Linux – the introduction to new packages.

Built on the strong foundation of Ubuntu 11.04, ArtistX will blow you away by the sheer choice in its pre-bundled creative application.  There is everything here you could conceivably need to be creative – and who knows, amongst this plethora of choice you may discover the killer app you have been looking for.  I only hope that the large .iso filesize doesn’t turn some users away.

You can visit the ArtistX homepage here: http://www.artistx.orgl

Tim (Goblin)

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