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Neuralyte.BristolMorphixr1.17 - 18 Feb 2005 - 11:48 - TWikiGuesttopic end

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If you are reading this having just booted BristolMorphix, but you are online, you may prefer to read the latest version of this page.


  • You can download the latest release of BristolMorphix from here but using one of the following p2p clients will be much faster:

About BristolMorphix

  • The BristolMorphix CD is a customised bootable Linux CD which has been designed so that you can run various multimedia software, including the video-editing suite Cinelerra.
  • BristolMorphix version 0.38 was released for Bristol Community News Day, held in the Cube on the 12th June 2004.
  • This page is meant for documentation and public discussion of the BristolMorphix CD, so users can help each other, and I can provide a bit of support to them. It lives here:
  • I hope you find this CD useful.
    • BristolMorphix comes with no warranty whatsoever. No-one but the user can be held responsible for any disasters which occur from the use of this software. If in doubt, make a backup! If not in doubt, get in doubt (i.e. make a backup anyway; now!).
    • BristolMorphix is currently in the early stages of development, and since it hasn't really been tested, should be considered experimental. If you provide bugreports or feature requests, your needs may be met in later releases.
  • Feedback and questions: or just add to this page.
    • I'm sorry this page is a bit of a mess. Please feel free to do some tidying while you are here!

Using the Software

  • You can run Cinelerra, AvideMux, Kino and CinePaint from the Start Menu in the bottom left. * Cinelerra can be found in the Video Editing menu (under "Programs" if you are using IceWM instead of KDE). There are links to more documentation there.
  • There are also some of my own scripts installed (which come from ProjectJsh):
    • prepare_video_for_cinelerra -foolproof : prepares a video file for input to Cinelerra. (Cinelerra can be a bit picky about which formats it will read.)
      • To run the script from the Konqueror file manager, right-click on a video file and choose "Open With -> Prepare for Cinelerra (foolproof)".
    • extract_clips_from_video : extracts smalls clips from a large video file, at points which you mark by pressing to PAUSE and unpause. (This is useful, for example, if the video is too large to import all of it into to Cinelerra.)
    • rip_realplayer : another script which downloads RealPlayer streams for offline viewing or editing, but it doesn't yet have a GUI.
  • TODO: I intend to release a (series of) videos demonstrating how to use BristolMorphix and Cinelerra.
  • If you want a file explorer which is faster and lighter than Konqueror, try XFileExplorer, in the "File Management" menu.
  • To access the hard drive of the machine you are using:
    • Browse to the directory "/mnt/hda1".
    • If you are using XFileExplorer, right-click to "mount" the drive, so that you can access its files.
    • If you have more than one drive or partition, then they will be labeled "hda2" "hda3" ...
  • To shutdown the machine, press Ctrl+Alt+Backspace to quit XWindows. Then type "shutdown -h now". Alternatively, the KDE logout/shutdown option is probably OK too (does it unmount drives?).
  • TODO: add links here to other documentation resources for the various packages installed.
    • eg. has an ancient database of GNU software.


  • KNOWN BUGS (better the devil you know)
    • In all versions:
      • There is a yes/no choice offered between the KDE (heavy+shiny) or IceWM (light+simple) window manager at the end of bootup. If not clicked the choice defaults to whichever is window manager is most suitable for the computer's available memory. Hence on different machines, BristolMorphix may boot a different window manager, which you might find confusing! Furthermore, a bug in version 0.37 means that the choice is hidden behind the popup containing this page.
        • FIX: If BristolMorphix boots a window manager you don't like, just try logging out, and it should switch to another window manager. (If you logout too many times, it will eventually drop you out of graphics mode altogether, but you can type "su - morph" then "startx" to get back.)
      • Shutting down: Do not use the menu option for shutting down in the IceWM/Debian menus. It doesn't unmount your drives which is mildly unhealthy! See below for recommended shutdown method... (I think KDE's is OK.)
    • In version 0.37: (sorry rushed release!)
      • If you don't like "mplayer" going fullscreen and lowres, try "mplayer -vo x11".
    • In versions 0.35 and 0.36:
      • Those few of you with version < 0.37 may find that "prepare_video_for_cinelerra" fails or works poorly on some video types.
        • FIX: use "prepare_video_for_cinelerra -foolproof" instead.
      • If "mplayer" will not display videos, then try "mplayer -vo x11" instead (or for slow machines "mplayer -vo sdl"). This problem also affects the extract_clips_from_video script.

If you want to install Linux

  • If you've tried the CD and like the software, you may want to install a permanent copy on your drive. This will make it run faster, and will give you a freely upgradable GNU/Linux system. Windows users do not fear - you can put both Linux and Windows on your computer, and choose which one to run each time you boot up the machine.
  • I have used the installer which is provided on the Morphix desktop, and it works pretty well. But before running it...
    • You will need a spare partition on one of your hard drives with at least 2 Gig of space (because the installer installs everything - I haven't yet worked out how to skip installing unwanted stuff - anyway, why would you want less stuff?!).
    • You will also want a swap partition, somewhere between 200Mb and 600Mb in size. This acts as "virtual memory" and will let you run lots of big applications simultaneously.
    • If you do not have any spare partitions on your hard drive, you will need to resize your Windows partition to create space:
      • Run "sudo parted /dev/hda" to do this, but beware it's a little bit technical. (Make backups first! I have attempted this three times on VFAT partitions without problems. It will not work on NTFS. NTFS might try the "bootit ng" bootdisk instead.)
        • Type "p" to print out your existing partitions. My first partition looks like this:
        • 1 0.031 7999.929 primary FAT boot, lba
        • To halve the size of that partition, and free some space, I would type: "resize 1 0.031 4000", and then go and make some tea. (Type "help" for more info.)
  • OK once you have > 2Gig of space on your hard drive, run the installer. It will run fdisk so you can create partitions if needed (easier to use than parted but still quite technical). Create a large (2Gig) ext2 "Linux partition" (83) and a smaller (300Meg?) "Linux swap" (82) partition.
  • If all this partition business is confusing, then get a tech to help you, or just put in a spare hard drive and install on that ( -> hdb <- not hda )!

After the installation - About your new system

  • It seems fair to let you know what your installed system comprises of.
    • 1) Mainly, you will have a Debian installation. It has a few differences from a default install here and there because it came via Morphix, but I believe they are minor differences, and will be smoothed out when you upgrade your software.
    • 2) I have also installed a collection of my shellscript from ProjectJsh. They live in /usr/local/jsh/ .
    • 3) I have also compiled local copies of some media-editing software which wasn't packaged for Debian at the time of cooking. The source for these should be in /usr/local/src/ , and they are installed in /usr/local/ .
  • You can remove the files in /usr/local/ if you want to get rid of 2) and 3) and obtain a "clean" Debian system.
  • Everything else (1) is maintained by the Debian packaging system. Run the Synaptic program (or KPackage, or "man apt-get" and "man dpkg") to remove software, upgrade installed software, or install the latest free software from Debian repositories on the Internet. Unlike Windows, you never need to buy or install a new copy of Debian GNU/Linux. You can always upgrade your system to the latest available software (usually without rebooting) just using Synaptic.

After the installation - Common tasks / FAQ

  • How do I add or remove software, and keep up-to-date with new versions and security patches?
    • Run the Synaptic program (or KPackage).
      • Be sure to do "Actions -> Refresh Package List" before selecting new software.
      • You need to be on the Internet to do this!
  • My keyboard isn't setup right. How do I change it?
    • BristolMorphix should boot with UK keyboard rules by default.
    • If you are using another keyboard layout, you need to make two separate changes:
      • For XWindows, edit /etc/X11/XF86Config-4
        • Change the value of the XkbLayout option.
        • E.g. for UK:
          • Option "XkbLayout" "gb"
        • Restart XWindows (Ctrl+Alt+Backspace then "startx") for this to take effect.
      • For the console (text only)
        • Make the link /etc/console/boottime.kmap.gz point to your keyboard type
        • E.g. for UK:
          • ln -sf /usr/share/keymaps/i386/qwerty/uk.kmap.gz /etc/console/boottime.kmap.gz
        • Run "/etc/init.d/ restart" for this to take effect.

Technical/historical details

  • Ancestry of BristolMorphix:
    • Debian GNU/Linux is a free operating system created, combined and updated by voluntary contributors all around the world.
    • Knoppix is a release of Debian GNU/Linux that can boot and run straight from a CD, without requiring an install.
    • Morphix is an extension of Knoppix that let's you easily change the contents of the CD to your tastes (so you can reconfigure this CD and put your own software on it, using Trom).
    • BristolMorphix is an adaptation of the standard MorphixCombined-KDE-0.4-1 release.
    • Because this is a media-focused distribution, I have kept in the non-free NVidia graphics drivers. Hence BristolMorphix is not a pure free-software system, it is tainted!
  • You might also want to take a look at Dynebolic, an alternative bootable CD for digital media activists, which also includes Cinelerra.
  • And here is another alternative: MedianLinux
  • There are only a few advantages of the BristolMorphix CD over Dynebolic or a default Morphix.
    • Useful things on this CD:
      • The video re-encoding scripts. (Right click then "Open with" on a videofile in Konqueror.)
      • Some media files to play with.
      • Adapted swap setup to ensure enough memory is available to run Cinelerra.
    • Advantages over a default Morphix:
      • The multimedia software has been installed.
      • IceWM is chosen instead of KDE if memory needs to be conserved.
    • Advantages over Dynebolic:
      • Morphix can be installed on a spare partition on your hard disk and becomes a normal Debian GNU/Linux system.
      • I don't yet know how to modify Dynebolic so that it creates enough swap for Cinelerra, but it should be possible.
  • Apart from shellscripts (which according to my friends "don't count") I didn't really write any software for this CD, I just brought together a bunch of useful things which other people had put together from smaller things made by other people.

-- JoeyTwiddle - 28 May 2004

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