Zyn-Fusion

Kxstudio has added Zyn-Fusion to their repo’s, what joy!

I highly recommend you try this new gui to Zynaddsubfx, it really is nice!

Screenshot of ZynFusion gui

This latest version of Zynadd’ works as a stand alone synth or as a plugin. It integrates beautifully with Ardour!

If you haven’t installed it already, just ‘apt-get install zynaddsubfx-git’ (assuming you have the Kxstudio repo’s enabled (see my build page).

Preparing Images

I often have to manipulate images for a few reasons, mainly for uploading to websites. But also for sending via e-mail and for my own collection of photography.

What follows is what has become my usual process for optimizing images quite quickly, using GIMP (GNU Image Manipulation Program) a free and Open Source application available for all platforms.

Crop and scale

If I am processing for my collection, or some other form of archive, I might crop, but I wouldn’t scale. I’d want the highest resolution image in the archive.

However, for uploading to a website I would at least re-size.

To what size depends on a few things and is always a compromise between size (both pixel and file size) and quality, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ in the way of settings.

Given the current size and more importantly resolution of screens, I tend to go for between 1200px and 2000px wide (constraining proportion and accepting whatever height that yields) and a file size of no more than 500Kb if possible. I also like to have a D.P.I. of between 70 and 150.
As you can see , there are a few things to juggle!

Crop first, as you can then scale to the final size, rather than scaling first and then finding your cropping makes the final dimensions too small.

Cropping and scaling before anything else also means you work your computer less, which may be a help on lower powered computers.

Levels

This is where the magic really happens, where a dull image can come to life! This may be the only process you do.

In the fist image below you can see the photo we will be editing. It looks somewhat washed out and dull. The next image is after we have processed it.

In GIMP, select ‘Colours’ and then ‘Levels’. This will bring up a dialogue with a histogram which will show us where we can make improvements.

In the next image you can see the levels dialogue open (It helps to enlarge the dialogue by left clicking one of the corners and dragging).

The histogram shows you how many pixels there are at any given brightness from black (no colours) through to pure white (all colours). I like to position this dialogue box to one side, in order that I can see the image, or at least a good part of it, whilst I change the ‘Level’ settings.

You can see nice gentle curves except for a few tall lines towards the right. These will probably be the right hand goose, as you can see from the image the goose is bright white (though not pure white) and quite over exposed.

As well as the gentle curves you will see that there are two areas either side of the curves, (see the two arrows) these are the black and white ends of the spectrum and have no data in this image (a well taken and well exposed image wouldn’t have these gaps – generally speaking). We need to remove these gaps by moving the little arrows below the histogram, (see the three small circles) in wards towards the curve, (see second picture).

If after adjusting the two outer settings, you find the image a little too light or dark, try moving the center control one way or the other. This is a better way of adjusting the image than using brightness.

You should have seen quite a difference as soon as you moved the first level control and now see a significant improvement.

You could leave it at that, but you may feel it needs a little extra work…

NOTE; If you do leave it at that, make sure you jump to the bottom of this tutorial to see how I save and export – this is an important part of the job!

Saturation

Should you feel the need for more vibrant colours, you can increase the ‘saturation’ a little. Don’t go over the top, as I often do!

Select ‘Colours’ and then ‘Hue-Saturation’.

Other Effects -Sharpen

A final thing you can do (apart from serious post production techniques) is to ‘Sharpen’ the image a little. A bit like saturation, you can over do sharpening quite easily. But on some images, it can make a significant difference. Select an area of the image in the preview window that shows some fine detail in the image and play around with the settings. I find anything over 50 is too much.

Select ‘Filters’ then ‘Enhance’ and last, ‘Sharpen’.

Save – Optimise file size vs quality

This step is an important part of this process as there is little point in just making the image look better if it is then too big (file size) or too low a quality.

As it is a balance of things, this will take a little practice to get right and of course, different situations will call for a different group of settings, but you should get the hang of it after only a few image exports.

The first thing to note, is that to achieve the final image you want, you must ‘Export As’ not ‘Save As’. If you want to keep the GIMP project for further editing later, then use ‘Save As’ (this will give you a file with the extension ‘.xcf’). But in this case, we want the finished image, so we ‘Export As’.

After clicking the ‘File’ button at the top, select ‘Export As’ which will bring up the export dialogue. Give the file a name and make sure you have selected, or checked that it is going to be saved to the location of your choice. Click ‘Export’.

The next dialogue box that pops up gives the options that will need some trial and error to get right.

The upper most control is the ‘Quality’ slider. As we are processing this image for the web, we will want to take the size down a bit by lowering the quality. I tend to go for about 90%. Any lower can look bad, so be careful.

Make sure the ‘Show preview in image window’ check box is checked, as this will show you the final file size. You will want to get the file size low, whilst keeping the image quality up – a balance! For the web, I would say that 500KB is as big as you would want to go, but you can experiment. The file size will effect the page load times and ultimately the S.E.O. quality and the user experience.

You’re done! I hope that helped. If you have any questions or noticed anything I have missed, please contact me.

Build Page Now Populated!

I’m please to see that the KXStudio repo’s came back online this afternoon and so I have published the build information on the Build page.

I haven’t yet tested the published version completely, though it worked for me when installing my development environment, so fingers crossed! I will fully test it in the next day or so.

Please contact me if you find any issues with the information.

About Page Looking Better!

The basic details are now on the about page… yay! 🙂

I have to admit, I struggle with the blurb and wonder if it isn’t way too cheesy and/or over the top. But I have to showcase my little re-spin.

I feel now the website is looking better, I can start to not only add content, but get on with the main job of configuring my re-spin.

But first, maybe another post and that will be about post production of photographs. I always like to do a few little tweaks to images before I use them anywhere, particularly on websites. You can improve an image a lot with very little effort.

 

KXStudio Repo’s Down

KXStudio Repositories Unresponsive

The wonderful KXStudio repositories have been down for a few days now and it seems they’ll be down a bit longer.

According to the Linux Musicians forums, they have been hacked and are trying to restore the systems.

I hope they can get back online ok, and that their packages haven’t been compromised.

Update 2:

The KXStudio repo’s are now back up! 🙂 as of approx’ 03/02/2018 – 15:00hrs.

Update:

It seems all official information about this issue is to be found here.

Jeremy of LinuxAudio.org has announced…

January 29th the linuxaudio.org was compromised. Someone managed to pull in a privilege escalation exploit, probably through a reverse shell and got root. This was discovered by the Virginia Tech IT department and they cut the server off from the network. Their policy dictates that compromised servers have to be wiped and reinstalled. Because we didn’t have an option to try cleaning up things we have to build everything up from scratch again. Since it’s a very small team that keeps this server up (basically 2 persons including myself) rebuilding is going to take some time. Data loss should be minimal as we have backups. So please bear with us, I will keep you posted on the progress.

and…

I’d like to point out that information in this thread on the outage of linuxaudio.org is leading. So please refrain from speculating, thanks in advance!

Current status is that we have access to the current server again so we can start recovering data. Hopefully we can make some good progress this weekend. Priorities are mail and LAC2018 submissions. Then Libremusicproductions.com and kxstudio.linuxaudio.org (including the repo’s). More to come so keep an eye on this thread!

And if there are any questions, PM me on IRC or send me a mail.

 

Linux Media Studio

I've decided that as I am (again) working on a re-spin of my favorite operating system, I would document it in a blog and for two main reasons...

  1. I would like to share the knowledge I have and will gain.
  2. I was so terrible at documenting the process last time I will need to re learn a lot of stuff, and I don't want to have to find out how to do the stuff again and not document it properly another time!

 

What is Linux Media Studio I don't hear anyone say? It's yet another Linux, re-spin. Like we need another one!

Well, maybe we do need another one, as I have been looking for my ideal Multi Media distribution for years, many years and I have never found anything that I like enough to stick with.

This has resulted in me essentially building my own, but without realising it until a year or so ago when I figured rather than have a list of stuff that I needed to do each time I installed my machine, I would 're-master' my system so that I had an .iso to use for the next installation, thus saving me the time I would spend installing, uninstalling and reconfiguring. Not to mention avoiding doubling up on the updates each time.

I would install my Linux distro' of choice and then set to work removing apps I didn't want or need and then installing the ones I did. Getting the look and feel of the U.I. right and my work flow sorted. But then, and this is why I thought about sharing the work I have been doing, the more painful job of getting things to work as they should do.

For instance, 'out of the box', we can get 'xruns' when recording in Ardour, as well as needing to add or selves to the 'audio' group, something not mentioned when you install Ardour. Now I know I can fix this problem, but why was it a problem in the first place I ask? Yes, old hardware didn't help, but the fix is easy, despite requiring we delve into system files.

Then there's Kdenlive. A great video editor, but it comes with a few things missing, and to fill that hole, all you need to do is install one package! Why wasn't this a part of the initial install of the app? NOTE; it appears that the latest release of Kdenlive does include these things, but we don't get the latest release in 'stable' distro's.

There's also Easymp3gain available in the repo's, but relies upon the library 'mp3gain', which is not available in the repo's! I have still to get to the bottom of why this is the case, but I have managed to find and install the library - Thanks Mr M Wimpress!

In this new blog/site, I hope to explain these things as I have figured out many and want to sort out the rest if I can.

I want to make it clear from the start, I am not really looking to distribute my own O/S, not in the long run. The main part of sharing will be to show what I have done and if that's of any interest to people then great, they can take my advice from these pages and apply it to their systems as they want.

But I am hoping that if what I am doing does have some fans, then maybe LinuxMint will consider doing a 'Studio' version of their great O/S them selves.

I will be sharing the O/S in .iso form at some stage, for those that are interested. Hopefully in the next month or so.
The new greenpete.co.uk...

... will be a document of the journey I take (and have already taken) towards getting the Linux distribution that I want and using it along the way.

Screencast videos, blog posts, podcasts, photography, graphics, desktop publishing and anything else I can think of to test out the system and have some fun!

The distro is in its second edition (the first I used purely for my self) and has had it's first build (I'm using it now) but is not ready to go live as yet.

Logo's and other graphics need to be designed and made as well as finishing of the smaller details on the distro'. The latter seems harder than the building!

I do have a prototype of the logo, you can see it in the header.

Please join me! 🙂

A little sneak peek...

A (unusually) clean desktop showing the dock and top placement for the task bar.

A populated desktop.

A populated desktop with app' full screen showing the 100% screen utilisation achieved using 'intelihide' for both the dock and the taskbar.