Ubuntu and Linux, in general, are not known as the go-to platform for multimedia production. Instead, Apple Mac systems are probably the most popular systems among graphic designers, video editors, and music production specialists, with Windows PCs coming a close second. But Linux also has a lot of good stuff for video editors, it’s another thing that most people don’t know it. So here is a collection of the best video editing software for Linux in 2023.
Why is this? Marketing aside, Ubuntu (or any Linux distribution) makes perfect sense. It is cheap (most distributions are free of charge with free community support), it is stable (Ubuntu is rock-solid), and it is secure.
So, a good case for using Ubuntu, yet the market penetration and all Linux distributions remains low. Again, why?
The easiest answer is perhaps 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 – but when it comes to multimedia creation, Linux desktop distributions still left behind. With no Photoshop, After Effects, Ableton Live, or Premiere Pro for Linux, we have to turn to alternatives. For image editing, GIMP and Inkscape have Linux pretty well covered, while Bitwig and Ardour meet most Linux audio editing needs. Thus, here follows my review of a few readily available Linux video editing software (I tested them on an up-to-date Ubuntu 18.04 LTS 64-bit system.) This list is not in order from best to worse 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 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the latest Openshot from its PPA since the one in the main Ubuntu repositories is, rather perplexingly, a very old and outdated version.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.
Verdict: OpenShot video editor opens just fine and looks good, but it is completely unable to effectively edit any video.
Pitivi has been around for a few years too. This video editor for Linux is a GNOME application and is designed to fit into the GNOME desktop. (I assume it will work just fine in KDE or XFCE too.) Installing it requires the use of Flatpak, but they give rather easy-to-use instructions on the Pitivi website, and I had no problems at all. Drag-and-drop seems to be 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 it appears 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. The only thing that is a bit difficult is creating a new layer, 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 they are also very easy to use.
There aren’t really any advanced features, but for simple home videos, this video editing software is great!
Verdict: Mostly stable, good-looking, with many built-in effects, but is lacking advanced features.
LiVES is supposed to be mature, feature-rich, and ready for more professional use-cases and even video jockeying. Both the website and the Wikipedia pages seem promising. However, although I was able to install and open it just fine, it refused to resize properly and did not import a single video. (If there is a “proper” way to import videos, apart from the way the program makes it possible for users, then I was unable to find it.)
Verdict: Does not import videos to edit.
This Linux video editing software is an interesting one. Kino is not your typical iMovie-style non-linear video editor. It appears to have been created to primarily cut a single video, or maybe a couple of videos to make a home video. It works pretty well but it requires one to use only standard NTSC or PAL formats with their respective framerates and video sizes. All in all, the video editor is stable and easy to use, but very limited.
Verdict: Nice to use, but severely lacking useful features.
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, and when it did, it crashed and refused to export properly. However, for this article, I installed the latest version from the Kdenlive PPA and tried it out. Things have changed. Oh my, how things have changed.
Read More – Kdenlive Easy To Use Video Editor Review
It is much more stable and appears to be able to 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 layout of the main window 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 if you want 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 seems to work well. I haven’t done too much heavy-duty film editing and compositing, but throwing a home movie of one of my cats together was rather simple.
Verdict: Much more stable, with advanced features. UX and stability could both use work, however.
So, there you have it. After using these many video editing software on Linux, no doubt things are improving fastly. Now which video editing software you want to use depends on your 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, “Which is the best video editing software for Linux?”, I would probably have to say Kdenlive, overall. Pitivi is a great Linux video editor – really great – but Kdenlive is a little better. It has great features, and its stability is increasing with every release.
Verdict: Try Kdenlive!
If you think that I missed something then 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.
Completely agree with your comments, especially about Openshot, it is completely and utterly useless.
In fact I would have to rate it as the worse software (any software) so far of 2019.
Hey thanks for this, I was going crazy trying to find something. Kdenlive kept messing up when I was chopping up my clip and repeating the same bit twice!?!?! But thanks to this list I found Pitivi, which is working a treat
Kdenlive is a good choice but there is ShotCut as well.