2D/3D Workstation on Linux?

polycounter lvl 7
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Noth polycounter lvl 7
I googled around a bit, looks like some stuff works on Linux. Just curious if anyone here uses Linux as their main OS on a workstation PC, or know's if it's possible? Not seriously considering it, but am curious.

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  • ZacD
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    ZacD polycounter lvl 7
    The main issue is software. There's a few programs that work on Linux, but not the majority of programs. At least Unreal Engine 4 and Unity are supporting Linux. 
  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty polycounter lvl 8
    I was going to give it a go over the summer, but the big killer for me is Photoshop. I've seen people run it with varying success in a VM or Wine, but if you're going to use PS often, there's no real sense in hurting your performance/usability. But if all your software does run natively, then go for it, you're likely to have less overhead.
  • Bek
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    Bek polycounter lvl 4
    My next build will be linux, though I'm not in a rush to upgrade just yet. The main problem as ZacD says is software compatibility. However, you can overcome this by spending a decent amount more on your build so you've got the overhead to run windows in a VM, and then pass through the physical GPU (you'll likely want two, one for host and guest) to that VM for native 3d performance in the VM. Then you can run whatever windows applications you want while containing windows in the VM. There's a general overview of this process in this video (though it's already become somewhat easier to do this since that was made). There's a more up to date text guide here. This method obviously isn't for everyone as it's complicated (unnecessarily so for most) and requires extra hardware just to get the equivalent performance (since you need adequate ram, CPU cores etc for each OS) but if that's the cost of having complete control over your system and more freedom to use your PC as you see fit (rather than as MS or apple) so be it.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 12
    i would love to switch to linux really. the development direction of windows is about the opposite of what i'd like to see. free and customizable and being able to maintain the thing without an ever growing cancer of a registry would be very welcome indeed.

    however, i don't think running zbrush and photoshop in a VM is really going to cut it and while there are alternatives available, i'd put priority on tools, not the flavour of the underlying OS at all times.

    one issue i can see with linux though is that it is very fragmented and always evolving at a rapid pace. locking down software versions that do the job for you while adding new toys to the toolset does not look to be easy. you'd also be a bit limited in choice of linux flavour. e.g. running commercial software targeted at redhat on ubuntu does not seem straightforward at all.


  • Bek
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    Bek polycounter lvl 4
    Zbrush is cpu based so I imagine it would work fine in a regular VM; if so that's something anyone could do. For everything else, there's hardware passthrough. If you've got the time/hardware you can absolutely get everything working on linux + windows vm.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 12
    well i've used VMs before and actually do so for non work related things and i cannot say that they match the performance of an application running natively, same experience with parallels, vmware and virtualbox alike. graphics acceleration is another factor that in this case that may affect photoshop.

    getting things to run, sure. run fast/handle large files so it's up to scratch with a windows/mac version and not bump into random compatibility issue? i have my doubts.

  • fmnoor
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    fmnoor polycounter lvl 10
    Is there any reason you would want to use Linux and not say OSX? (edit: ah it seems you want to install it on regular hardware - my bad) 
    I know you can install Mudbox on Linux, so outside of Zbrush and I guess 3ds Max (and maybe a few other tools) I can't imagine switching over would be too bad. It really depends on the tools you use - but chances are if they're used in a VFX / animation studio there's probably going to be a linux version available.
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 12
    the issue with OSX (which indeed is lovely and probably the nicest unix out there for a non-techie end user) is that it's locked into hardware. and apple isn't exactly very pro-user oriented. if it's not a phone they don't seem to care much. while i'd fancy the mac pro myself i cannot see that as a reasonable investment given their track record. it's also not very expandable, many pro users are running the old style cheesegrater mac pro's to this day if they require add-in cards and the like.
    and running the OS non-officially on a bog standard PC seems like a gamble if you want stability and features working. besides the legality of things.


  • Bek
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    Bek polycounter lvl 4
    @thomasp read my first post (specifically the linked video) as this isn't an issue anymore; you can get native 3d acceleration in the VM if you have the hardware/time/motivation to set up a hardware passthrough. Admittedly that's a pretty big "if" — there are some considerable downsides but it's a very promising solution. I hope that this virtualisation technology quickly reaches the point where the every day user can setup such a passthrough on a wide array of hardware without hassle.

    @fmnoor, Modo has a linux version too. But I imagine in most cases (since we're likely gamers as well as artists) there would either be some windows program or game that we cannot live without. And since no one wants to dual boot and be forced to restart every time they want to play a game, a hardware passthough might be the answer a lot of people have been looking for (or so I hope).
  • echofourpapa
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    echofourpapa polycounter lvl 2
    Photoshop is the only program that I need that keep me from using Linux 100%.  Between Blender and Modo you have everything you need(or at least I feel like it), and Unity has a Linux client too.  But GIMP is no replacement for PS, and PS's performance and stability in Wine, for me at least, has been less than ideal.
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    I'm starting to use Krita as much as possible to be able to switch to Linux (Manjaro XFCE) in the near future and be Photoshop independent. There are many cross platform opensource applications that you can test on Windows, for example, for 2D artists, MyPaint has some really cool brushes.

    The idea is to have most of the tools to be opensource or free, and only buy licenses for the essential one, which offers Linux support, obviously.

    Allegorithmic, are you going to support Linux? I loved using Substance Designer :blush: 

    But then you think "there is this application that I use often, only available on Windows", the Linux alternatives are not that much, for example, finding a decent and lightweight audio player is almost impossible, also XMPlay tracker modules playback is unbeatable even on Windows; it do works on Wine but the UI gets glitchy quite easily.
  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    I find Krita, Blender, and 3d Coat to cover all stages of the process pretty adequately. Krita generally works better and has fewer rough edges on Linux because it's easier to build there. Zbrush runs very well in a VM without a ton of effort (CPUs can reach 99% effectiveness in a VM if used correctly and HDDs can reach over 100% effectiveness with some qemu finagling), although I do most sculpting in Blender and 3d Coat because Blender has good snapping for polygon modeling and Zbrush, well, doesn't. Plus it's native which is nice.

    If you need simulations for VFX beyond what Blender offers, Houdini's there for that.

    UE4 can be a little weird about compiling depending on your distro and distance field AO doesn't work, but Unity works pretty well, except for a few things like MSAA but for portfolios you're better off using supersampling and/or SMAA. Hopefully Unity will get good temporal antialiasing eventually. Nice thing about Unity over UE4 is that you can still define custom lighting models for nonphotorealistic stuff in a relatively straightforward way.

    I wouldn't mind Marmoset Toolbag 2 for Linux and since there's an OpenGL renderer there already I think it wouldn't be too hard to port. Earthquake if you're interested in making a port happen let me know, you'll find my terms quite favorable.

    As audio players go I like Clementine. Don't know if it plays tracker tracks though.
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    Most players do play .xm, .s3m, .mod and .it files, but they approximate the sound, wrong ADSR envelopes, etc. This was just an example of how a normal things you do could go wrong while switching to Linux. Better be prepared and test it on Virtual Machine to be sure, usually Nvidia cards works straightforward (better use Nvidia official drivers), so that shouldn't be a concern for compatibility tests on a VM.

    Is not that fun to format, install Linux and then having to reinstall Windows because you can't figure out something.

    Otherwise, wait till ReactOS is ready ;D
  • Jerc
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    Jerc polycounter lvl 10
    Allegorithmic, are you going to support Linux? I loved using Substance Designer

    Yes we are currently working hard on both Painter and Designer for Linux.

  • Bek
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    Bek polycounter lvl 4
    @Jerc Fuck yes! You made my day. Allegorithmic are doing so many awesome things as a company, I love it.

    @Sonicblue, heh manjaro w/xfce is what I'm testing at the moment (have it installed on my laptop and a VM on my pc). Seems to be a good blend of simplicity and performance.
  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    @SonicBlue, have you tried Renoise to play your tracker files? The demo version might be right up your alley--it has no limitations for your use case and it's Linux native, and it's a DAW so it should be able to render the envelopes right.
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    @Jerc That's awesome!

    @Bek If you have window tearing problems, disable the Composition Window Manager and install Compton instead.

    @JedTheKrampus Renoise demo doesn't allow to render the files (even if on Windows I can record the audio that is being played by the system), also it has to be manually configured to play every sample without interpolation, and many commands are not interpreted correctly.

    Example:

    Renoise

    XMPlay

    I have to test on an actual Linux installation if they updated the MODPlug engine (which is now a legacy version) that is being used to play modules. OpenMODPlug does play them good, but it's a Windows only application, and if I have to use a Windows application I can use XMPlay through Wine with some workarounds.

    This looks like a small issue, but imagine not being able to use your standard software, and then find out you can't listen to your favourite music too.

  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    Just how many of these files do you have? Is there a reason why you couldn't just batch convert them all to .mp3 on Windows and move them over to the Linux installation?
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    I have, one or two...thousand modules:


    As I said, I can get it to work on Wine, but a native support would have been better, I'm still trying various solutions that doesn't involve Wine :smile:
     


    Anyway, I've found a nice script that adds High Pass Filter capabilities to GIMP, even though is not real time, it works very well.

    Copy the .scm file in:

    On Windows (the folder is hidden)

    C:\Users\USERNAME\.gimp-2.8\scripts

    On Linux

    /home/username/.gimp-2.8/scripts

    Then in GIMP, from Filters--->Script-Fu--->Refresh Scripts, it doesn't need a restard. The filter should be now visible in Filters--->Generic

    At this point you can select all, copy and past back to Krita, lol.

  • Noth
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    Noth polycounter lvl 7
    This thread is going to be great for when I try out Linux on my laptop. It's a shame about Photoshop though, Adobe doesn't plan to support it in the future do they? If that's the case, it's unlikely it'll ever have a Linux option then. I've checked Krita out before it's got some nice symmetry options that I wish were in photoshop. Is there anything Krita fails at that photoshop does well? That's the sort of scenario that would prevent me from switching, you sort of need new software to do everything you're accustom to.. and then more. No compromises.

    All the VM stuff sounds a bit too complicated for my everyday use.
  • throttlekitty
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    throttlekitty polycounter lvl 8
    No, Adobe flat out said that their research showed that nobody on Linux would be willing to pay for it. (despite the many who say that PS is the thing holding them back from switching...)
  • Noth
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    Noth polycounter lvl 7
    Why would people on Linux be any less likely to pay for software than people on any other OS?
  • thomasp
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    thomasp polycounter lvl 12
    because they are used to getting most everything for free on linux. user attitude seems different. if adobe said that they most likely were not talking about a tiny number of film or game studios and related users but the broader user base.

    adobe had photoshop and a few other things running on unix in the 90's. horrible ports done with some emulation layer as i recall. do not want things like that ever again.  :# proper version or skip it alltogether.
  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    Well, I am probably an exception to the rule but I'm much less likely to buy software licenses if the software doesn't run on Linux. I will occasionally make exceptions for software that's unique like Zbrush, IPackThat, Toolbag, or Substance Designer (both of which I have a license for) but otherwise I almost never buy software unless it runs on LInux. For instance, I would be much more likely to rent Maya LT if it ran on Linux, which seems like it should be doable since the main package runs on Linux. Also I haven't upgraded SD from 4 to 5 yet because I don't use it enough to justify that buy. I'd probably rent Mudbox too if it didn't leak memory and crash so much back when I was using my student license for it and if it were more straightforward to install on Debian-based distributions. For now I'm happy to run Zbrush in Virtualbox passing my Wacom tablet through when I need heavy duty sculpting, otherwise I use 3D Coat for concept sculpts and Blender for retopo and finishing.

    I can kind of understand where Adobe are coming from not wanting to port to Linux. Photoshop and the rest of CC probably straight-up don't work on case-sensitive file systems which would take quite a bit of work to rectify. Once they finally manage to get it working, they have a couple of different potential markets. First there are big VFX studios running Red Hat workstations, which are probably using Mari for texturing and matte painting and perhaps some kind of free software for concept art painting. There are of course virtually zero game studios because for the most part the engines didn't run on Linux until recently, so they won't be buying more Photoshop licenses. And finally, there are the general users, most of whom have been chugging along just fine using GIMP and Krita for whatever they needed to do, and many of whom correctly find the idea of subscription software that refuses to start if the authentication servers are down reprehensible. The vast majority of these users are probably going to either pirate Photoshop or ignore it altogether, and the second is a little more likely in my mind.

    Interestingly enough there is Photoshop Touch for Android, which is technically Photoshop running on Linux albeit a little stripped down and not running on the GNU userland. So I think if there's enough adoption they should be able to put out a Photoshop release for desktop Linux too.

    As for things you might miss going from Photoshop to Krita, there are several filters missing like a good high pass. However there's also a lot of ground that G'MIC in Krita as well as GIMP can cover in that regard if you're willing to work a bit more destructively (and, for that matter, use GIMP.) For example G'MIC has an inpaint filter which can be used to bleed texture seams. I recommend scaling your texture down by a factor of 2 before using it as it's quite slow. You can scale back up after it's done and put it at the bottom of the layer stack for that channel of your texture. Krita also doesn't have super advanced image processing features like content-aware patch, but it does have the basics like a clone brush which can often do an adequate job. Krita also has no heightmap to normal map filter, so you have to do that in Blender instead with a plane and a displacement modifier. (Personally I never liked the results of these filters except for Knald--I prefer to make the image tilable if necessary, adjust the image's values a bit, use it as a displacement map, and then sculpt over it a little as needed which gives much better results IMO.) Also Krita's layer style implementation is really slow so if you rely on that you're definitely better off with Photoshop right now. Basically, you will need to pop over to another program (e.g. GIMP which is specialized for image manipulation) from time to time to prepare a photosource or do some advanced filters or compositing.

    There are also many features that you'll probably miss going from Krita back to Photoshop. In Krita you can export all top-level layer groups which makes it really quick to preview multi-channel texture sets as you build them up like the qSave plugin. (This never worked for me in Windows but I'm not smart enough to be able to figure out how to build Krita on Windows so I am probably not going to ever fix it.) I also prefer Krita's inherit alpha to Photoshop's clipping masks as it's a little bit more flexible. Photoshop has adjustment layers which are great, but it doesn't have filter layers so you can't e.g. nondestructively add noise or do a Gaussian blur. Photoshop also doesn't have wraparound mode or the tangent normal/flow map brush engine or reoriented normal mapping as a native blending mode or all the filters working outside of a byte color space or RGB floating-point painting over latlong skyboxes or HD index painting or the Copy Red, Green and Blue blending modes for easily and nondestructively channel packing a masks texture. Also Krita has 91 blending modes. That's about four times as many as Ps has and more than twice as many as Mari has although many of the Krita blending modes are redundant. I also greatly prefer Krita's color management and I occasionally miss being able to paint with filters in Ps--in Ps you have to make a merged duplicate that's had the filter run and then erase it, which is pretty destructive. Ps doesn't have color history as well which means you have to paint in a more heavy-handed manner and then lower the layer opacity in order to be able to get the layer color back later. I also really enjoy the popup palette and often wonder why we can't have something similar in Zbrush or Photoshop. And the brush editor and engines are the most powerful I think I've seen, bar none. You can do some pretty wacky stuff with the brush editor, like making any brush 100% sharp around the edges for pixel art purposes.

    I've found Krita+3D Coat to be a ridiculously powerful combination too, especially once you get used to the tangent space normals brush engine in Krita which is a lot more straightforward to use than the heightmap painting in 3D Coat.
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    Krita also has no heightmap to normal map filter, so you have to do that in Blender instead with a plane and a displacement modifier. (Personally I never liked the results of these filters except for Knald--I prefer to make the image tilable if necessary, adjust the image's values a bit, use it as a displacement map, and then sculpt over it a little as needed which gives much better results IMO.)

    Actually you don't need to that in Blender, with GIMP and the help of the Normal Map plugin you get a pretty nice normal map:




    Convert the Greyscale into an RGB file before doing this, otherwise you'll find the plugin locked



    It comes with a 3D preview window, you can open it by pressing the appropriate button




    Is it also possible to generate an heightmap from the normal map, although it introduces some artefacts, that I don't know how to get rid of





    I also really enjoy the popup palette and often wonder why we can't have something similar in Zbrush or Photoshop.

    You mean this? (Photoshop)

    ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+RMB

    Keep the RMB down and you can leave the ALT+CTRL+SHIFT, if you want to change the HUE value, press and keep it pressed the Spacebar to lock the colour circular manipulator in position.


  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    Well, sure, but it doesn't change brush presets now does it?

    That normalmap plugin looks like it could be handy but I like the results I get from a displacement modifier + multires sculpting in Blender. It takes more time and situationally it is still useful to use that plugin or Awesomebump (a Crazybump knockoff that runs natively on LInux.)
  • Noth
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    Noth polycounter lvl 7
    Woah, did not know about that ALT+CTRL+SHIFT+RMB in photoshop. Very cool. Lol @ awesomebump.
  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    It's GPU accelerated and it's got a little bit of a fiddly interface but the results are decent (though not as good as Knald.)
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    Well, sure, but it doesn't change brush presets now does it?

    Obviously not, right click does that.

    That normalmap plugin looks like it could be handy but I like the results I get from a displacement modifier + multires sculpting in Blender. It takes more time and situationally it is still useful to use that plugin or Awesomebump (a Crazybump knockoff that runs natively on LInux.)

    Doesn't Blender have a node to generate normal maps from a picture?

    Last time I tried AwesomeBump, it froze my Windows, I have to try it on Linux but since it's GPU driven I doubt it will work on a VM, at least they had the decency of making it in Qt.



  • JedTheKrampus
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    JedTheKrampus polycounter lvl 3
    It sure does but I think it's pretty easy to see why I would rather have this:

    than this:



    The second one is the one I generated from the GIMP plugin, while the first is the one I sculpted. I did make a few mistakes in the sculpting process that I could fix with the sculpt UVs tool but the end result is definitely better on the first image, especially when the camera is further away from the mesh.

    Finally here's one from Krita. I only painted one leaf but it's the cleanest-looking of them all IMO and reads the best from a distance too. If I didn't need to go to sleep I'd finish it. Spent about an hour on this one but I'm sure if you spend a long enough time doing normal maps in Krita you could get it down to 30-35 minutes.



    Doing a simple conversion with Blender's bump mapping or AwesomeBump or the GIMP plugin is fine for a quick result and it can really bring out some nice details if you put it on a Combine Normal map layer and erase where the results aren't appropriate, but it's usually not the quickest way to the best possible result. It's usually better than nothing, though, that's for sure. There are only two things about doing the normals in Krita: first that it doesn't get you an AO map "for free" but in most foliage cases you want to do most of that with vertex colors anyway, and second that it's easy to make normals that are wrong, too hard, or overblown especially if you have too many combine normals layers.
  • SonicBlue
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    SonicBlue polycounter lvl 4
    @JedTheKrampus, that's a really nice result, I'll remember to test this technique, thanks!
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