AV Linux 6.0.1 Review – Audio Visual Perfection
A highly customised Debian designed for video and audio professionals, how exactly does it differ from other distros, and does it deliver?
AV Linux 6.0 came out towards the end of last year after an apparently difficult development period. AV Linux does take a while to iterate though, and there were some big changes from version 5 to 6, such as switching from Linux Kernel 2.x to 3.x for better hardware support. A point update has been released for 6.0 now, which includes some minor upgrades and bug fixes throughout the distro and its apps.
AV Linux comes as a fully functional, live booting OS, perfect for using with a USB stick or live CD and using it where you can. It does also include a fairly basic installation function, which gives you just enough control to partition your system and then install it. While it isn’t as pretty or user friendly as some of the major distros, it does the job and explains what you need to be doing at each of the steps. The biggest hassle during installation in general is changing locale and keyboard if you’re not American.
One of the things that make it great as a live distro is its many extra drivers for a lot of proprietary audio and video hardware, such as sound cards, graphics cards, midi controllers and more. This is carried over through to the installed version, and you can then start customising which versions of the drivers you want to use so that you can get the most out of your system for AV work. This also includes a lot of soundcard utilities that allow you to edit the levels through a variety of different applications with different effects to the sound input.
Speaking of sound input, AV Linux’s real time kernel is one of AV Linux’s best features for professional audio engineers. The real time tag on boot allows for a much lower latency while recording audio, keeping things a lot more accurate than the standard Linux Kernel. You can remove this if needed though, as the real time kernel does take up a few more resources than usual. There are several boot time cheat codes that you can apply on boot though, one of which is the -rt option that enables the real time kernel.
One of the upsides of AV Linux is the sheer amount of audio, image and video editing software pre-installed onto the distro. This is especially helpful for the live version of the distro, as it’s all there without pre-configuring, and there’s a lot of extra utilities and tools that would take a long time to set-up and customise to this extent. However, you can create hybrid bootable USB key using current system settings to create a more personalised version of the live distro, with software installed or removed using the standard Debian packages it’s based on.
It’s generally a fantastic editing suite. The use of LXDE and its policies on screensavers means it can eke every bit of power from your system to make sure latency and rendering are the best possible. It does use a lot of nonfree software though to achieve this – unfortunately this is more of a problem with the entertainment industry than anything else, and allows people to do the kind of work they want to use AV Linux for.
Possibly the perfect audio editing suite based on Linux, especially for one that’s ready out of the box so to speak. The real time kernel option is a great feature for sound engineers, reducing down on audio latency, and there’s a lot of driver and hardware control for everyone else.