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The big ones need Linux

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The big ones need Linux

As many of you interested in 3D may have noticed, a number of the big companies (ILM, Weta, Blue Sky, etc.) would love for you to have some experience with Linux/Unix. It isn't usually a deal breaker if you're good at what you do, but it doesn't hurt to be able to claim it on the resume.

The problem is, how do you get experience with it when you don't have the desire or technitude (geekfortidness?) to install it on a partition of your home computer, you don't own/want a Mac with OSX or your school doesn't use Linux?

In my searches for MythTV advice, I came across a distribution of Linux that can be run off the CD and doesn't require you partition your drive or anything risky like that. You just need a computer that can boot from a CD and it will run the whole OS off the CD as well as a number of programs like Open Office (a free MS Office equivalent) and Gimp (an image editor similar to a stripped down Photoshop). I just tried it last night and it worked and didn't mess up my computer.
They have a bit torrent for download, too. And it's free. Download the gnoppix-1.0 disk image for your machine type and burn it to a disk (ie. i386 for Pentium based machines). I'm actually not sure if they have disk images for other machine types. I imagine they do, but it may take some searching.

There are some flaws in this as far as I can tell (I'll update if I find I was wrong). One being, unless you have a partition on the drive to save stuff, you won't be able to install stuff or save anything. But if you just want to go through some Linux shell tutorials or use a free word processor or image editor it will work fine.

Two, since it runs off the CD it requires about 128 MB for the OS (compared to 96 for WIndows that isn't on a CD, that's not TOO bad), and it's a bit slower than if you actually had it installed.

Three, I don't know enough about it to help you out if you have questions. But there is a pretty good user base with Linux that probably can help.

And if you do like it, you can install it on your system as a dual boot OS (sorry I don't have any info on this one at the moment).

I'm not trying to sell anything. I really like the potential of Linux, but still find I need a PC to use Photoshop, Flash and Maya, so I'm not trying to start a Linux Rocks/PC's suck argument. I'm just trying to help out people who may be in the "how do I get experience in this?" stage of looking for work.

Good luck!

kdiddy13's picture
Producing solidily ok animation since 2001. Now with more doodling!

Producing solidily ok animation since 2001.

Now with more doodling!

Thanks for that resource. We use Linux at DreamWorks Animation, and like you said, while it's helpful to know it, for some positions it isn't necessarily a deal breaker (unless you're applying to be a software developer ;-D).

Anyway, for those of you who might want to learn this, I would say that you should get comfortable with at least the following:

- basic commands and options (using "-r" for example)
- basic file structure
- moving around the file structure (cd, ls, mkdir, rmdir, etc.)
- copying/moving/deleting files (cp, mv, rm)
- aliases
- .cshrc
- man pages (extremely helpful)
- permissions (maybe not as needed as others, but still useful)

That's about all I can come up with off the top of my head, but if I think of other important ones, I'll try to add them. Anybody else have some suggestions? These are most of the big ones I teach to incoming artists with little or no Linux background.

- Jason Scott

I second those, Jason. Basic file management and navigation is probably the jist of what most will encounter. Also, learning just how big a pain in the butt it is when you use spaces in file names.

If you were comfortable getting around in DOS, then it won't be much of a problem for you. For many adjusting from a point and click windows based OS to a shell based one is difficult. On the other hand, I've found that I can now get around faster in a shell than clicking through windows.

Practicing getting around via the shell/terminal will ease your transition into one of the big companies, and given the choice between equal animators it may (big may here) be the straw that tips them towards giving you the interview. In any event, it doesn't hurt to know it...

Producing solidily ok animation since 2001.

Now with more doodling!