An Alternative to OpenShot under Linux

In the past, I used to be a fan of the non-linear video editor named “OpenShot”. It is the kind of editor which allows for multiple source clips to be added to multiple, parallel timelines, and for transitions and effects to be added, to put those together into a longer video presentation. One could say that OpenShot was a software-end to the process of compositing. In the past, I had even custom-compiled version 1.1 of OpenShot on the Linux computer I name ‘Walnut’, and gotten that into a state in which it could be used. This means that I did not write the source code in any way, but that I did overlook a lengthy process, by which this source code could be translated into an executable program, on a platform which would not ordinarily have supported it. However, v1.1 still lacked many of the features which later versions claim to have, and that eventually become necessary. V1.1 did not have the Blue-Screen or Green-Screen, Chroma-Key effect.

These days, OpenShot v1.4.3 is directly available through the (Linux) package manager under Debian / Jessie. But I don’t use it, mainly because I cannot. I seem to have discovered that there are major stability issues with recent versions of this video editor. On my Linux box named ‘Phoenix’, this video editor actually caused my desktop to freeze – not once but three times. Almost all my other, package-installed software, is comparatively well-behaved, and I have no other reason to think, that my graphics chipset is in any way faulty.

Under Linux, even a defective application run in user space, should not be able to get the desktop to freeze.

There is also a Windows version, v2.0.6, which I next tried to install on the Windows 7 computer named ‘Mithral’. I did not like the fact to begin with, that this is the type of install which asks the user to reboot Windows for the changes to take effect. But then I also found that the Windows version would constantly crash. Next, having OpenShot v2.0.6 installed under Windows, actually prevented a ‘GPG4Win’ application named “Kleopatra” from working on ‘Mithral’. This last detail worries me.

Yet, after I uninstalled OpenShot from the Windows computer and rebooted again, Kleopatra was working again.

And so the bottom line for me is, that this once-great video editor is now too unstable to be used.

On the Debian / Jessie, Linux computer named ‘Phoenix’, I can use “Kdenlive” instead, which does more or less what OpenShot was supposed to do, and which does these things without crashing. Kdenlive also offers the user to place video clips he supplies into multiple timelines, and to apply transitions and effects, and does include the “Blue Screen” (alpha / translucency) effect.

But under Windows, I can still only see paid-for solutions to this need.

Dirk

 

Printing Legal-Sized on a Canon MX922

Currently my printer is a “Canon MX922″, and perhaps it would be a good subject for a later posting, how I installed the CUPS device drivers to use it under Linux. Being a WiFi-printer, it is also shared by my two Windows machines.

In keeping with modern times, my bank only sends me certain forms in electronic form, that used to be mailed to us in their entirety, on paper. And some of the forms, which I need to submit along with my Tax Declarations each year, are in Legal-Sized format, which in Canada and the USA means 8.5 x 14 inch paper, instead of a 8.5 x 11 inch format.

I had never realized that this printer is capable of receiving paper in the 8.5 x 14 format, until today. Basically, my Linux and Windows software have two different behaviors, when told to print an 8.5 x 14 PDF on 8.5 x 11 paper, but both of those behaviors is wrong. Under Linux, “Okular” tends to resize the document to fit, while the Windows software tends to write past the end of the sheet. A resized document will not get scanned correctly by the Revenue Agency’s machines.

On the MX922 printer, there are two paper trays. The upper tray is for smaller formats of paper, as well as having interesting features that seem to allow printing directly onto Blu-Ray discs.

The lower tray accepts the 8.5 x 11 sheets. But if we take out the supply of 8.5 x 11 (Letter-sized) sheets, we see that underneath there is a slight feature in the plastic of the tray, which seems to lock into one of two openings. Between the two openings there is labeling stamped into the plastic, which has the letters “LGL” and which seems to point between the two openings.

What one needs to do, is to depress the button which seems to fit, with our thumb, not to pull on that part of the tray, but to pull on the outermost edge of the tray, so that the button we’re holding down slips out from under the visible surface of the tray, and then slides into the second opening, which is located in the tray facing down, further away from the body of the printer, next to the first opening. Once the button clicks into this second opening, the tray is able to accept 8.5 x 14 sheets.

One needs to be careful though, not to apply brute force if something doesn’t move, because this mechanism looks fragile, and could easily be damaged if force was used.

Also, one needs to remember that after we have extended the tray and fed in Legal-sized paper, we still need to slide the tray back into the printer, so that the printer will register the fact that paper is available. At which point in time extra length of tray will be standing out from the printer, where the tray was flush when accepting 8.5 x 11 paper.

Next, our software needs to be told that it is printing to 8.5 x 14 sheets, so that this software does not decide to resize, or otherwise to mismanage the print job.

Once the correct paper-size is set up on the printer, my Linux “Okular” program is as able to print the tax documents, as the Windows “Acrobat Reader DC” is.

Dirk