More specialty Linuxes to the rescue

Whether your focus is security, storage, music, or religion, there's a flavor of Linux that fits the bill

You also have the ability to configure volumes. Here you identify the attached disk drives, select the file system type with which they will be formatted (XFS or ext3; future versions hope to provide ext4 and btrfs), define volume groups, and -- finally -- create actual volumes that users can access.

Additionally, you can configure quotas, which control user group consumption of disk resources; you can establish shares, which makes named file system locations accessible by SMB and NFS; and you can manage mirrors, backups, and snapshots.

There's much more; consequently, OpenFiler's administration and management system requires some learning time. (This is less a fault of OpenFiler and more the simple fact that OpenFiler can support so many different configurations.) The online installation instructions will get you started, but if you don't feel up to a bout of self-education and need additional guidance, you can purchase an OpenFiler support package from the product's Web site. In any case, if you need either a SAN or a NAS system, OpenFiler is well worth the time you'll spend getting it installed and tuned.

Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu Studio targets three broad categories of media support: audio, graphics, and video. During the installation of the system, you choose one or more of those three categories. So, for example, you could have an installation of Ubuntu Studio geared solely to audio -- the configuration I chose -- or you could install a mixed audio/video workstation.

Installation of Ubuntu Studio is identical to the process for standard Ubuntu Linux. Online documentation provides some instructions, as well as information for upgrading from earlier versions of Ubuntu. You can, for example, install Ubuntu Studio over an existing Ubuntu instance by using the APT application to pull in packages over the Net. However, Ubuntu Studio's documentation is spotty and appears to be a work in progress. Several links led to "not yet written" pages.

There is no LiveCD installation option for Ubuntu Studio, so you cannot try it before you commit it to your system. (According to Ubuntu Studio's project lead, the system is far too memory-intensive to allow for a LiveCD version.) You can, however, install it on a virtual machine, as I did using Sun's freeware VirtualBox. This was sufficient for tire-kicking only, as high-throughput video and audio suffer noticeably on a virtualized system.

Though I created an audio-only instance of Ubuntu Studio, applications in the other two categories (graphics and video) are worth mentioning. A graphics installation gives you the celebrated GIMP image-editing application, the equally well-regarded Blender 3-D rendering system, the InkScape vector graphics editor, the Scribus desktop publishing application, and others. Choosing the video category gives you PiTiVi video editing system (which is actually a Python front end to the GStreamer collection of video processing modules), the Kino nonlinear video editor, the Stopmotion movie creator, and more.

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