Ubuntu Studio is the perfect operating system for creators

This Ubuntu Flavor is jam-packed with the tools necessary for those who create audio and visual content.
Written by Jack Wallen, Contributing Writer on

Ubuntu Studio is an operating system geared specifically for media creators.

Jack Wallen/ZDNet

Do you create content? Audio? Video? Images? If that's what you spend your time doing, there's a Linux distribution specifically designed for you. That distribution is another official "flavor" of Ubuntu, called Ubuntu Studio, and with it, you'll find nearly everything you need to work on your creative endeavors.

Also: How to choose the right Linux desktop distribution for you

Check out this list of applications you'll find pre-installed with Ubuntu Studio:

  • Aeolus - organ emulator
  • Agordejo - music production session manager
  • Ardour6 - Digital Audio Workstation
  • AT1 - JACK autotuner
  • Audacity - Sound editor
  • DGEdit - DrumGizmo drum kit editor
  • FluidSynth DSSI - SoundFont-playing software synthesizer
  • Guitarix - Mono amplifier
  • Hydrogen - Drum machine
  • JACK Keyboard - Virtual keyboard for JACK MIDI
  • Blender - 3D modeler
  • Darktable - Virtual Light table and darkroom
  • digiKam - Photo management
  • Entangle - Tethered camera control and capture
  • Inskape - Vector graphics editor
  • GIMP - Image editor
  • Kdenlive - Video editor
  • OBS Studio - Streaming/recording software
  • QWinFF - Media converter

The list goes on and on. In fact, you'll find more media content-creation software in Ubuntu Studio than you will on any operating system. As someone who has spent years creating content, I find Ubuntu Studio to be a boon. 

Ubuntu Studio uses the KDE Plasma desktop but opts to go with a single, top-bar panel and a decidedly dark theme. This take on KDE Plasma makes interacting with the desktop as simple as it gets.

Click on the desktop menu button (upper left corner) to reveal all applications, categorized and ready to run. Of course, the interface takes a back seat to the pre-installed software ready to make the process of creation a breeze.

The Ubuntu Studio desktop menu.

Each category includes plenty of pre-installed software.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

The pros of Ubuntu Studio

Simply put, the biggest upside to Ubuntu Studio is the number of pre-installed applications. The development team has thought of just about everything you need to get creative. If audio is your thing, you're ready. If graphic design is your jam, you're good to go. Video? No problem (mostly -- more on that in a bit). 

And, of course, there's plenty of other software to round out the creative tools. You'll find the Firefox web browser, Thunderbird email client, LibreOffice office suite, KDE Connect (to sync your phone and desktop), VLC media player (to play the files you create), and more. Ubuntu Studio has something for every type of creator.

Also: Linux distro hopping is a fun way to find the perfect desktop operating system

But it's not just about the user-facing software that makes Ubuntu Studio a solid operating system for audio and video creators. It also uses a low-latency kernel, which means it is capable of switching tasks faster and more frequently. Because of this, the computer will respond very quickly to your requests. And given how much power audio and video production can consume, this will go a long way to prevent stuttering, buffering, and other annoying tasks associated with such projects. I've rendered thousands of videos over the years and trust me when I say you want all the help you can get from your operating system to avoid frustration.

Another big plus for Ubuntu Studio is that although the developers include the insanely powerful JACK audio system, it's not required that you know how to use it for tools like Audacity. When you open Audacity, it defaults to the Alsa audio server, which is a good thing. Having to get up to speed with JACK can be problematic for those who aren't familiar with the system. Believe me when I say that JACK is complicated. As you get more familiar with the tools of Ubuntu Studio, you'll eventually start poking around with JACK. For those who do not know, JACK is a pro-level sound server API and daemon set that provides real-time, low-latency connections between audio/MIDI data and applications. If you have instruments that you'll be plugging in, JACK is what you'll need. 

Also: This official Ubuntu Spin might just be the perfect intro to Linux

Just trust me when I tell you that you'll spend considerable time getting up to speed with JACK, which means it might be better listed under cons. 

Speaking of which…

The cons of Ubuntu Studio

There really is only one con of Ubuntu Studio and that's the included video editor. Don't get me wrong, Kdenlive is a solid entry into the space. But if you're looking to create very professional videos, most open-source video editors simply won't cut it. I spent years trying to make OpenShot work for me and it was an absolute nightmare.

The Kdenlive video editor.

Kdenlive is a solid video editor for fairly basic tasks.

Jack Wallen/ZDNET

If you're serious about video production, chances are probably very good you're looking more along the lines of Adobe Premier or Final Cut Pro. There is another alternative, one that actually does have a version for Linux, which is DaVinci Resolve. DaVinci Resolve is, hands down, the best video editor available for Linux. In fact, I would go so far as to say DaVinci Resolve is the only pro-level video editor available for the open-source operating system.

Also: How to remove background noise in Audacity for better-sounding podcasts

The one problem with DaVinci Resolve is that it's proprietary, which turns a lot of Linux users off. Even so, if you want to up your video production game with Linux, install Ubuntu Studio and then, immediately, add DaVinici Resolve into the mix.

That is not to say Kdenlive isn't a good editor. It just lacks a lot of features and plugins found in more pro-level editors. If you're only creating videos for family or friends, Kdenlive will be fine. If, however, you're creating content for the public to consume (or even to sell/market), go with DaVinci Resolve.

Who is Ubuntu Studio really for?

Ubuntu Studio is a free, open-source operating system that's good for just about every type of creator. If you're looking to record an album, podcast, or book narration, Ubuntu Studio has everything you need to get started. If you're looking for an operating system for video editing, install Ubuntu Studio, add DaVinci Resolve into the mix and you're ready for your closeup. Just know that the more advanced you get in your efforts, the more work will be required to take it all up another notch. Even so, Ubuntu Studio has you covered.

Also: The best AI art generators: DALL-E 2 and other fun alternatives to try

Editorial standards