Ubuntu Studio is the Linux distribution for audio and video creators

Here's a quick tour of a Linux distribution built specifically for those who create audio and video content.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer
Woman working on a laptop with an external monitor to the side
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There's very little Linux can't do -- powering everything from enterprise solutions and social networks to IoT devices and even automobiles. 

But Linux isn't just for the business of business. Thanks to several brilliant desktop distributions, there are plenty of options to help you get productive and creative on the desktop.

One such distribution is called Ubuntu Studio, made specifically for creators of audio and video content. 

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution

This desktop operating system comes with a very good mix of applications for audio and video productions. Within the desktop menu, you'll find launchers for the following audio tools:

  • Ardour6
  • Audacity
  • Echomixer
  • Fluidsynth DSSI
  • Guitarix
  • Geonkick
  • Hydrogen
  • JACK Keyboard
  • LMMS
  • MuseScore 3

For video production, you'll find apps like:

  • Kdenlive
  • OBS Studio
  • Subtitle Editor

For graphics production, you'll find the likes of:

  • Blender
  • GIMP
  • Darktable
  • Hugin Batch Processor
  • Inkscape
  • Synfig Studio

You're probably thinking, "But I can install all of those applications for free on any Linux distribution." Of course you can, but why bother doing it all manually, when you can have them all installed for you?

But that's not all. One of the issues serious creators experience on Linux is latency, which is (simply put) the amount of time it takes for a data packet to go from one place to another. This can be very problematic with both audio and video in that with higher latencies, you can experience things like audio and video getting out of sync or stuttering. To get around that, Ubuntu Studio uses a low-latency kernel, and it works like a charm. Unlike some Linux distributions, I've never experienced latency problems in Ubuntu Studio.

Also: The best lights for streaming on Twitch, YouTube, and TikTok

The latest release of Ubuntu Studio is based on Ubuntu 22.10 and introduces some really important new features. One of the biggest additions is the Q Light Controller Plus, which makes it possible for those who do live performances to control house and stage lights across multiple types of light fixtures. So, no matter if you have complex stage lighting setups or simple, programmable RGB lights, QLC+ is a great option.

KDE simplicity and JACK complexity

I think the Ubuntu Studio developers were smart to go with a KDE Plasma desktop, as that makes it very easy for anyone to get up to speed with the interface. KDE Plasma is immediately familiar and offers a very stable and friendly desktop environment.

The default Ubuntu Studio desktop.

Ubuntu Studio is powered by the KDE Plasma desktop.

Image: Jack Wallen

There's very little to say about the KDE Plasma desktop found in Ubuntu Studio, other than it's incredibly easy to navigate. However, the simplicity ends when you start fooling around with JACK. 

JACK is a professional sound server API and daemon implementation that makes it possible to create low-latency, real-time audio connections between audio devices and applications. Anyone who's ever taken their first steps with JACK understands how challenging it can be. Fortunately, Ubuntu Studio does include a tool called Studio Controls, which makes managing JACK a bit simpler. So, even within the complex realm of JACK, Ubuntu Studio makes things considerably easier for creators.

The Studio Controls app on Ubuntu Studio.

Ubuntu Studio makes working with JACK much easier.

Image: Jack Wallen

Is Ubuntu Studio for you?

Many creators opt to head straight for MacOS for their audio and video needs. I'll be straight up with you when I say Linux isn't quite on par with MacOS for video editing. And although Kdenlive is a solid editor, Ubuntu Studio might want to consider something like DaVinci Resolve to really give the distribution more credit within the realm of video creators. Of course, you can always install DaVinci Resolve manually (it even has a Linux installer), but having this installed out of the box would bring Ubuntu Studio to a much higher level for video editing.

Also: The 4 best free (but powerful) video editing apps

With that said, if your goal is to create audio and video content, you would be hard-pressed to find a more flexible and powerful operating system than Ubuntu Studio. Sure, such a distribution has been slightly niche for some time, but given how widespread audio and video content has become, it's pretty safe to say "niche" is no longer a valid label. To that end, if you're looking for a great platform to help you create audio and video content, you would be remiss if you didn't give Ubuntu Studio a try.

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