December 29, 2009

Wiki while you work

Many moons ago I was involved with a project of creating an internal wiki to host an internal document and solutions guide for the I.S. department I worked for. I wanted to use MediaWiki or MoinMoin but was challenged to create a LAMP, WAMP OR WIMP stack (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP / Windows, Apache, MySql, PHP / Windows, IIS, MySQL, PHP) and was unsure how all these were setup. As a result we used instiwiki and got by, but I was never satisfied with our result.

Fast forward more than a year and a half and... I still am unsure how to compile a stack from scratch mostly from lack of time since I'm not working with anything that requires these servers.

For people like me the people at Turnkey Linux have created a host of virtual appliances including the object of my search which was turnkey mediawiki. At turnkey they provide an image that includes a minimal version of Ubuntu's LTS (long term service) operating service and every application required to have your application server operate "out of the box". For me that included the whole LAMP stack, mediawiki and the webmin tool for remote administration.

What I did was copy the ISO file which I could have burnt on a CD, but I decided to install the ISO directly to virtual box. I don't have a dedicated box to create a server with at this time, and with such minimal resource needs I can't see wasting a box for this one application. See my article on reducing fear during the switch for a very short write-up on virtual box.

So far, out of the box, I have been able to look at the wiki home page, and log in as the web admin. I need to get java installed on my browsers so I can continue to look at all the web admin tools, but so far I've invested 30 minutes of time and of course zero dollars. If turnkey mediawiki works for me the way I'm hoping it will, you can expect to see other write-ups on other turnkey virtual appliances.

If any of my readers have used other turnkey Linux products or any other virtual appliances, feel free to drop me a line at and get your article included in a possible follow up article.

December 16, 2009

...and getting the video editor to work is priceless

So after a disappointing run with Kdenlive I next tried Cinelerra. I originally did not go with cinelerra because it wasn't in the package repositories for Ubuntu. I tried to install the package from source code, and to be honest I'm not at the level where I can successfully install from source and track down all the dependencies needed.

I followed a video by mstjohn33 on how to install cinelerra in Ubuntu 9.10 and it worked. Thank you to mstjohn33 for such a clear walk through.
Now before I gallop off into the sunset with praise to the hilt for cinelerra, I have to be honest. Cinelerra is not an entry level video editor for the weekend warrior. You will have to do your homework to make this software work. For example I spent three days searching forums and trying to make sense of the instruction manual to get a simple blur box to work for me.
I also spent almost a week trying to figure out how to render a video to play in Windows Media Player.
I am in no way an expert in cinelerra, but the price is right (hee hee) and I got the job done.

As a side note, to convert a video to WMV for Windows media player, there is no settings inside cinelerra that do this automatically for you. You will need to render it in the least lossy format possible and use the following command line to convert it...

ffmpeg -i "sourcefile.avi" -s 320x240 -b 1000k -vcodec wmv2 -ar 44100 -acodec wmav2 -ab 56k -ac 2 -y targetfile.wmv

You will need to change the sourcefile.avi to what your original video is and the targetfile.wmv to what you want your file to be named.
I also edited the 320x240 to be 800x600 because that was the size my source file was created as.

I wish I could elaborate on the other settings in the command line, but I found the code on another site and copied it and edited what I knew and let it fly and it worked.

December 07, 2009

If a picture's worth a thousand words, what's a video worth?

Getting back to my love for video creating, I started a task of making a video documentary on using the ebrary reader or Adobe digital editions in Linux (see article back to school and going linux). I almost tried doing a video capture from a virtual Linux machine inside Windows, but then I had the idea to try to create the whole video and edit it using open source software in Linux. I started by using xvidcap to capture screen clips and then instead of going back to AVS to mix the video in Windows, I installed Kdenlive.

Now I will be the first to admit that this program is fairly new, the documentation is about on par with open source projects which is to say almost non-existent, and the program itself crashed multiple times.

On the plus side though this program has a fairly large set of features which are comparable to many entry to mid level video editors. The forums at their website are a great resource like many other open source sites with a following of helpful and friendly users. Also, it goes without saying that the price of $0.00 is very attractive since I've already paid over $50.00 per year to use AVS to create my videos in the past.

I was able to complete my video, albeit without an audio track yet (because I'm not sure if I want an audio track with it yet) and I will be showcasing the video later this week at work.

Thank you to the developers at Kdenlive for your hard work and I hold high hopes for your project and await the day that you are a major competitor in the world of video editing.

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