Ubuntu and Linux, in general, are not known as the go-to platform for multimedia production. Instead, Apple Mac systems are the most popular among graphic designers, video editors, and music production specialists, with Windows PCs closing second.
Linux also has a lot of good stuff for video editors; it’s another thing that most people don’t know. So here is a collection of the best video editing software for Linux in 2023.
Table of Contents
Why Video Editing on Linux?
Why should we be looking for Video editing software for Linux? Marketing aside, Ubuntu (or any Linux distribution) makes perfect sense. It is cheap (most distributions are free of charge with free community support), stable and secure.
So, a good case for using Ubuntu, yet the market penetration and all Linux distributions remain low. Again, why?
The easiest answer is the lack of commercial applications for desktop Linux, even for a popular distribution like Ubuntu. There is no shortage of quality desktop apps like LibreOffice, Firefox, GIMP, and VLC – even Minecraft runs perfectly well with OpenJDK Java. However, when it comes to multimedia creation, Linux desktop distributions are still left behind.
We have to turn to alternatives with no Photoshop, After Effects, Ableton Live, or Premiere Pro for Linux. GIMP and Inkscape have Linux pretty well covered for image editing, while Bitwig and Ardour meet most Linux audio editing needs. Thus, here follows my review of a few available Linux video editing software.
I tested video editors on Ubuntu. This list is not in order from best to worst or vice-versa. As I completed the test for one Linux video editing software,
I wrote it down and ranked it based on my experiences.
Best Linux Video Editing Software
The most promising or also often called the best Linux free video editor of all, OpenShot has a long history of development and should be mature and stable. I downloaded the latest Openshot from its PPA since the one in the main Ubuntu repositories is, rather perplexingly, a very old and outdated version.
Once OpenShot opens, the interface is very user-friendly. The default layout is simple and intuitive, and there are even hints that pop up the first time you use it. I drag-and-dropped a few videos I had taken in preparation for this post, and boy, was I disappointed with this so-called best Linux video editing software.
Far from the “it just works” dream, this program just does not work. I have a relatively fast i7 laptop with plenty of RAM, but OpenShot slowed my entire system to a crawl as soon as I started to edit some video. Firefox became unresponsive, and OpenShot crashed or at least appeared to do so since a crash report window opened, but OpenShot did not close.
An update on OpenShot Video Editor
The video opened and crashed after a few seconds. I reopened it, let it load (frozen), and opened the editor to write down my experience. Guess what? The PC crashed. I tested it on an i7, 40GB RAM, and 4GB Nvidia 1050 Ti.
I had to restart the computer to update this article. I also noticed that the last OpenShot update (OpenShot 3.1) came out exactly 10 days ago, on 6th April 2023. The video editor continues to get updates, but the crashing and bugs remain practically unchanged.
Pitivi has been around for a few years too. This video editor for Linux is a GNOME application designed to fit into the GNOME desktop (I believe it will work fine in KDE or XFCE too). Installing it requires Flatpak, but they give easy-to-use instructions on the Pitivi website, and I had no problems.
Drag-and-drop is well supported, and it first transcodes videos before they can be used, which takes a few minutes or seconds, depending on the size of each. But the videos can still be used during this process.
The layout of the Pitivi window is simple. Moving clips around are easy and most basic functions are done without hassle. Creating a new layer is the only difficult thing, but I figured it out in less than 2 minutes.
Adding and removing effects is done in a way I’ve not encountered before, and it isn’t very intuitive, but the transitions are a dream to use. Titles are also done in a way I’ve never seen before and are very easy to use.
There aren’t any advanced features but this video editing software is great for simple home videos!
Shotcut is open-source video editing software for Windows, Mac, and Linux. Its user-friendly layout and many capabilities make it popular with beginners and pros.
Shotcut supports 4K and ProRes, among other formats. It offers many video effects, filters, and color-grading tools to improve quality. The software mixes and edits audio in multiple formats.
Shotcut’s dockable panels allow users to customize the interface to their needs. Multi-track editing simplifies big projects with several audio and video tracks in the software.
Shotcut is versatile. It can operate from a USB disk without installation. It can also be customized using plugins and scripts.
Shotcut may lack several professional video editing software features. Its reliability and versatility make it a fantastic video editing software.
Shotcut is a sophisticated and easy-to-use video editor for Linux users.
LiVES is supposed to be mature, feature-rich, and ready for more professional use cases and even video jockeying. The official website and the Wikipedia pages seem promising. I could install and open it just fine, but it refused to resize properly and did not import a single video (If there is a “proper” way to import videos, apart from how the program makes it possible for users, then I could not find it).
Linux video editing software Flowblade is free and open-source. It is a non-linear editor that supports many video formats and lets you trim, chop, and combine clips.
Flowblade’s user interface makes video editing simple. The software has a multi-track timeline, video mixer, and video and audio effects.
The video editor supports different resolutions, color correction, and chroma keying to replace a green or blue screen with another video or image. The editor can be enhanced with plugins.
Flowblade’s technical requirements may make it less beginner-friendly than other video editing applications. It is a sophisticated and flexible video editing software for anyone eager to learn it.
The ubiquitous Kdenlive strikes again. It has been around for years and is used by many people. I tried to use it a few months ago, but it was completely unusable. It often didn’t start; when it did, it crashed and refused to export properly. However, I installed the latest version from the Kdenlive PPA for this article and tried it out. Things have changed. Oh my, how things have changed.
It is much more stable and can handle almost anything I throw at it. Videos are imported instantly via drag-and-drop, effects work well simply, and larger files no longer crash my computer.
The main window’s layout is rather simple, but things don’t seem to scale well and overlap at medium and small sizes. You will probably need a big screen to use it effectively.
For most cases, however, it seems to “just work”. There are a lot of options and many advanced features.
The only criticism I might have for Kdenlive is that it looks like an open-source program. It isn’t the most user-friendly application to work with and appears to have been programmed by someone who knows what they are doing but expects you to also know what they are doing. Kdenlive isn’t the most polished experience, and some things seem to be a bit obtuse to do.
It also isn’t smooth. At all. Playback during editing judders and anything more than one track at a time really slow everything down – a whole lot.
But the most important thing is that it works and works well. I haven’t done much heavy-duty film editing and compositing but throwing a home movie of one of my cats together was rather simple.
So, there you have it. After using this many video editing software on Linux, things are improving quickly. Now which video editing software you want to use depends on the specific type of videos you edit.
If you just want to throw a small home video of your cat together, I suggest you use Pitivi, and if you really want to go at it, try Kdenlive. Either way you should be just fine. But, to answer the real question, “Which is the best video editing software for Linux?” I would probably have to say Kdenlive. Pitivi is a great Linux video editor, but Kdenlive is a little better. It has great features and its stability increases with every release.
Verdict: Try Kdenlive!
If you think I missed something, please let me know in the comment section below. Also, if you like this article, don’t forget to share it with your friends on your social media pages.
Frequently Asked Questions by New Linux Users
Does Linux have video editing software?
Yes. It has a lot of video editing software. OpenShot, Pitivi, LiVES, Kino, and Kdenlive are a few video editing software for Linux.
What is the Linux equivalent of iMovie?
Kdenlive is a popular alternative Linux video editor to iMovie.
Which video editor has no watermark Linux?
Almost all Linux video editors has no watermark on compiled videos.
Is OpenShot really free?
Yes. OpenShot is a free and open-source video editing software for Linux.
Does Ubuntu have video editing software?
No. Ubuntu does not have pre-installed video editor. However, users can install one from Ubuntu repository.