Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ Category

How To Find Open Source Alternatives

Thursday, May 13th, 2010

Now that this blog has been up for a couple months, I’m starting to reconsider some of my initial assumptions.  One of those assumptions was that having software specific tutorials would be really helpful as newbies embark on the journey into open source software.  While that might be the case, I think it might be more helpful to hit some general topics before we start drilling down into specifics.  It seems to me that many people don’t even know where to begin.  To help with that, I’m going to do a few tutorials on non-software-specific topics to help you get assimilated into open source culture.  This blog post is the first try at doing that.

One of the first things you need to be able to do to start using open source software is to actually know there is an open source alternative out there.  While googling “open source blah” to find an open source alternative to “blah” might work, sometimes you don’t even know that “blah” exists!  The fact is sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you find it.  Here are some tools I’ve found helpful in finding out what open source possibilities are out there even when I’m not quite sure what I’m looking for:

  1. Wikipedia Open Source Software List – a list of links grouped by function/genre
  2. osalt.com – A site dedicated to following open source alternatives; has many open source software packages grouped by function/genre
  3. FSF Free Software Directory – the directory of not only open source, but free (as in freedom) software
  4. ostatic.com – similar to osalt.com

The number of open source alternatives out there is mind-boggling!  Check out some of the projects that are out there in the subject area you’re interested in.  Some are more mature and cross platform than others, but that will be the next topic I tackle…how to find out if an open source project isn’t just a waste of time and will actually work well for you as a newbie.

Creative Photo Editing With Gimp

Saturday, May 1st, 2010

A few months ago I did a couple presentations at the Colorado Springs Open Source User Group about Gimp (GNU Image Manipulation Program) that were just posted online for the group.  If you haven’t heard about or looked at Gimp yet, it is a free open source raster image editor similar to Photoshop.  It is extremely powerful and feature-ful program.  For these presentations, I tried to just focus on creative image editing techniques to focus the discussion and hit the features that are most useful for most people.  The first presentation is just an overview of Gimp for doing basic photo editing and get you familiar with the user interface.  I wish I would have known about Gimp Resynth before as it would have helped a few of the things I did!

The second delves in to more advanced techniques such as text, paths, selections and filters to really give your image that creative POP!

They are really presentations and not really tutorial format, but I think there’s a lot of stuff to learn from both presentations.  Let me know what you think!

Installing Gimp Paint Studio on Windows

Saturday, April 24th, 2010

So, it’s been a very busy week.  I haven’t had the time I want to start working on several tutorials that are on my list.  I did run across this tutorial from David Revoy though.

David is the concept artist for this year’s Blender Open Movie, Sintel.  If you have a creative community at your church and they haven’t checked out Blender or Gimp, they should.  Both are highly capable media and graphics packages with a huge feature set.  Both also have the main complaint being that the user interface is hard to use.  Both are doing huge user interface redesigns this year to help remedy that.

Gimp Paint Studio is really just a add-on set of tools for Gimp to help make it more like Corel Painter.  David does some amazing work with Gimp and Alchemy.  He also used to be a Photoshop user which is proof that you can make the switch!  He also created the content for a Blender training DVD that shows you the professional workflow he used to create his art with all open source software.  You can support the Blender Foundation by purchasing it, but like all Blender Foundation training DVDs it is released under a Creative Commons licensing so downloading a copy is completely legal.  You don’t have an excuse not to check it out.

Anyway, if you are a creative type and are tired of paying through the nose for your software, I can tell you there is a ton of professional level open source software and Gimp Paint Studio is one of them.  Hope the tutorial is helpful.

Kdenlive Quick Start

Monday, April 12th, 2010

Today is the day I deliver on my promise to post tutorials for the first time.  This weekend I did a quick recording about Kdenlive to match a similar post about Final Cut Pro on the ChurchCreate blog.  It is basically just a Kdenlive Quick Start to help you, um, get started quickly using Kdenlive.

If you are not farmiliar with Kdenlive, it is a non-linear video editing application similar to Final Cut Pro, Vegas, Premiere, etc.  It currently is supported on Linux and Mac only, however, using VirtualBox you can run it on Windoze.  Kdenlive even has VirtualBox images already set up and created for you to use.

Why use Kdenlive?  Besides the prohibitive cost of most commerical non-linear video editors, Kdenlive is not only free, but also very full featured, has a great workflow, and is fairly stable. In fact, you’ll see the Kdenlive’s setup is actually pretty similar to FCP in it’s layout.   Some of the more advanced features are still being incorporated or are a little clunky to use.  On the other hand, Kdenlive will be able to handle most any standard editing task you can throw at it.

I will go ahead and apologize ahead of time for meandering a little too much and not being a little more focused.  I’m sure I’ll improve the quality of the video tutorials as I do more of them.  I hope it is helpful all the same.

Also, if you’re interested in other video tutorials.  Kdenlive has several video tutorials on their site already.

Enjoy the introduction to Kdenlive.

Kdenlive Quick Start from Open Source Church on Vimeo.

Open Source Church???

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

Most beginnings start with an introduction, so here is mine.  My name is Kevin and I’m a software developer in Colorado Springs, CO.  I was initiated into the use of open source (OS) software through my job.

It wasn’t until I was married and made a budget, however, that I really delved fully into OS software.  I have many hobbies including graphic design, music, and video/audio production, and as a single guy I sunk all kinds of cash into them because I enjoyed them.  It wasn’t too long after my wife and I were dating more seriously that I was, um, educated in the wastefulness of my financial ways.  So, I got on a tighter budget and being already familiar with OS software, I started looking for projects that supported my hobbies.

As time went on I gradually replaced all of my proprietary (and partially pirated) software with OS alternatives.  As I got further into OS, I realized just how powerful the tools were.   I also realized some of these tools could replace some of the software my wife was using (Oh, how the tables turn!) and also that Windows and Mac aren’t the optimal platforms for most OS projects (even harder for my wife to swallow than the suggestion that Gimp replace her beloved Photoshop).  Then began the slow, prodding process of trying to convince her to “OK” conversion of all of our home computers to Linux.  Of course, she finally saw the light – or at least a small flicker – and let me take the plunge.  I moved everything to Fedora 8 a few years ago (which is what I used at work at the time) and immediately danced the jig of open source independence.

Since then, I’ve tried out, championed, fought with, and given up on a plethora of projects and distributions.  The ride wasn’t without it’s speed bumps, but as time has gone on I (and my wife too ;) ) have grown to love the freedom and community of using, supporting and being a part of OS projects and OS culture in general.

But that’s only the OpenSource part of this blog.  There’s also the Church part…which may, admittedly, seem a bit orthogonal.

First of all, let’s talk about what this Church thing is not.  This isn’t a church of Linux where we worship the software gods and sacrifice on the virtual alter of ones and zeros…or a community created religion where everyone gets to contribute to a hodge-podge belief system that is in the end completely worthless to anyone.

While those things might be interesting to some people, I’m simply just interested in helping churches and non-profits by advocating the use of open source projects and concepts to help them accomplish their purposes and day-to-day mission.  Let me give you a little background on why that’s interesting to me.

I was raised in church by my parents and have continued in the Christian faith my whole life (although my faith in Christ has taken a somewhat windy road and is much different than my parents’). In my life, I see the Christian community always lagging behind the rest of the world in many different ways.  Whether music styles or marriage advice, it seems that about 20-30 years after things have gotten popular in mainstream culture that “the church” finally figures out (if they ever do figure anything out) that many things aren’t as non-Christian as they originally thought and are then embraced and subsumed into church culture as the “new way to realize God’s potential for you so that you have a better Christian __fill_in_the_blank_here__”.  While this can be a good thing, let me stop and say that this bothers me a lot for many different reasons.

The main reason is that it seems from my perspective that church culture is more often shaped by secular culture rather than Christ and his teaching.  It also bothers me that church culture is following and not leading the way in many avenues of secular culture change.  One of these areas is open source culture.  As a part of this blog, we’ll discuss and decide how well OS culture matches with Christian teaching and why it’s very ironic, at best, that OS culture is being driven much more from “secular” geographies than our “Christian nation” of the U S of A.  In contrast, I want to see the church not only effect, but also directly drive culture in many positive, Christ-centered ways.  I believe OS culture can be one avenue to do so.

I’ve had the idea for this blog (and many related projects that will hopefully follow) for 3-4 years now, and I’ve finally decided to put my money (and time) where my mouth was…and is.  So, here I am at the edge of the cliff.  I hope that we can not only come together to help our churches and non-profits, but also that this is just the beginning of something I can’t even possibly imagine.

Most of all, I want to say “Welcome to the conversation!” I hope you enjoy everything to come about the intersection of open source culture and the church and that you’ll join me in making this a successful community.

ps.  Many thanks to Hope Presbyterian Church (http://hopepres.com/) for transferring the opensourcechurch.com domain to me.