Linux Setup For Software Installations

The Mac OS is great for creative production, but for computers embedded in new media software installations, Linux gives a lot more flexibility and control, ranging from the ability to schedule automated tasks to the full-on tweaking of most every part of the operating system.

The price you pay for that control, of course, is in complexity. Setting up Linux machines can mean hours of spent in forums and lots of trial and error. This tutorial is meant to save some of those headaches. It explains how to set up a Linux computer for running software installations, and some settings that will make maintaining them easier, too.

Below are some things I’ve found helpful when setting up Linux computers for this purpose. Casey Reas has some great tips for OS X users, and Rafael Lazano-Hemmer’s best practices for new media artworks is also very useful.

We’ll cover two common Linux distributions, though this may work on other versions as well:

  • Raspberry Pi computers running Raspbian – great for low-power needs, when a cheap, small computer will work
  • A “regular” computer running Ubuntu – I often use old Mac Minis for this, for when you need more computing power or a more fully-featured OS

This tutorial assumes you know the basics of the command line (but really, if you don’t know how to do that, using Linux for your project might not be the best choice anyway) and that you can figure out how to install Linux on your machine.

Above: a dissected Mac Mini running Ubuntu. Less overheating = less fan noise, and looks super cool too.

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