ArtistX: The Linux Distribution Tailored For Any Artist, Whether Graphical or Musical

Danny Stieben 30-08-2013

There are custom Linux distributions that are made for everyone imaginable. Students, scientists, and even various artists can enjoy special Linux distributions made just for them.


The joy of the flexibility Linux provides is that any person with the right skills can take an existing distribution and change whatever they want about it to release their own one. While there are a few distributions which make some major technical changes from the distribution they’re based off of, a majority of them are simple remixes — distributions that are technically identical to the one they’re based on, but they just include different software that is included by default. However, that’s not really a bad thing when it saves you a lot of time and energy to set up a Linux installation the way you want it to be.

About ArtistX

ArtistX is an Ubuntu-based distribution that is aimed at artists looking for some free software tools to work with in order to make their work easier. The latest release of ArtistX, version 1.4, is based on Ubuntu Ubuntu: A Beginner's Guide Curious about Ubuntu, but not sure where to start? Everything you could possibly need to get started with the latest version of Ubuntu is right here, written in easy-to-understand, plain English. Read More 12.10 and uses the exact same repositories that vanilla Ubuntu 12.10 uses. For those who don’t require the absolute latest versions of software, this isn’t a deal-breaker; otherwise, you may have to just install the latest release of regular Ubuntu and install all of the desirable software yourself. Whether that trade-off is worth it is completely up to you, your preferences, and your needs.

Similarly to Ubuntu, once you’ve downloaded the 3.8GB DVD ISO image, you can burn it onto a DVD or USB stick How To Install Linux With Ease Using UNetbootin We've already talked about Linux and why you should try it, but probably the hardest part of getting used to Linux is getting it in the first place. For Windows users, the simplest way is... Read More and boot from it into a live environment where you can “test drive” the distribution before you actually commit it to your hard drive. Remember, if you find any packages made for Ubuntu, they’ll automatically work on ArtistX, no questions asked.


ArtistX, despite being based on Ubuntu, doesn’t use Unity. Instead, it focuses on the Classic Desktop mode of Gnome 3. This avoids using both Unity Ubuntu 11.04 Unity - A Big Leap Forward For Linux It's here. The newest version of Ubuntu sports an entirely new user interface: Unity. It also includes a much-improved Software Center, alongside the usual updates for the thousands of free programs Ubuntu offers. Canonical decided... Read More and Gnome Shell GNOME 3 Beta - Welcome To Your New Linux Desktop Read More , and instead offers an interface similar to Gnome 2 which is often more familiar for Windows users. Besides the desktop environment, the distribution includes an interesting mix of Gnome and KDE applications, and it uses the KDE icon set. Some defaults also include the Aurora web browser (the nightly version of Firefox) and the Caligra office suite. These are interesting choices, but at least there are tools for everything so you can do whatever you need to. If you’d rather prefer a different tool, you can always install the Ubuntu package for that application.

As I mentioned above, ArtistX targets virtually every artist imaginable. You don’t just have to be a graphical artist, though, as the distribution also includes audio, video, and modeling software. The full list of featured applications is as follows:

  • 3D Engine and Development Software: Meshlabs
  • 3D Modelling and Animation Software: Art of Illusion, Ayam, Blender, Equinox 3D, K3d, Make Human, Moonlight3D, Sculptris, Wings3D, SweetHome3D, Y.A.P.R.M
  • Audio DJ Software: Beatport SYN, Freecycle, Freewheling, Mixxx, QSampler, Smasher, Tactile 12000, TerminatorX
  • Audio Synth Software: amSynth, Freebirth, Horgand, Hydrogen, Ingen, Mx44, Psychosynth, Qsynth, Rakarrack, SetBfree, Sineshaper, Yoshimi
  • Audio MIDI Tools: Arpage, MusE, Patchage
  • Audio Sound Editor Software: Audacity, Kwave, Rezound, Sweep, Wavesurfer
  • Audio DAW and Tracker Software: Ardour, Jokosher, Lmms, Rosegarden, Traverso, Wired
  • CAD Software: FreeCAD, LibreCAD
  • DVD Mastering Software: Bombono DVD, KMediaFactory, Mistelix
  • Font Software: FontForge, FontMatrix
  • Fractals Software: Fractalnow, Fraqtive, Mandelburber
  • Image and Picture Editing Software: GIMP, Krita, Pinta
  • Image and Picture Viewer Software: ImgSeek, Fotowall
  • Image Synthesis Software: Evolvotron, JavaMorph
  • Optical Caracter Recognition (OCR) Software: YAGF
  • Radio Software: Darksnow
  • Renderer Software: Aqsys, Kerkythea, Sunflow
  • TV and Recording Software: TV-Maxe, VLC
  • Vector Software: Delineate, Inkscape, SK1, Xara Xtreme
  • Video Editing Software: Avidemux, Cinelerra, Cinepaint, Jahshaka, Kdenlive, Lives
  • Video Encoding and Decoding Software: Handbrake, Mobile Media Converter, Transmageddon
  • Video Animation and Cartoon Software: Animata, Flash4Linux, Luciole, Synfig Studio, Toonloop
  • Video VJ Software: DelVJ, FreeJ, FreeMix, Gephex, OnyxVJ, Veejay, VSXU

(Kudos to the team behind ArtistX for this extensive, alphabetized list!)

This list is highly impressive because I haven’t even heard of half of the applications that are included. However, just because an application isn’t well-known doesn’t mean that it isn’t great at what it’s aimed to do. There has been a lot of effort put into adding applications that can cover every artistic base, which is simply fantastic. Even if you prefer not to run this distribution either because it’s based on Ubuntu 12.10 or that it includes a lot of software that you don’t want, it’s still a great way to boot into a live environment where you can test out the applications you’re interested in.


Overall, ArtistX is a highly interesting distribution for artists of every type to make use of. Best of all, it’s based on Ubuntu, one of the most popular desktop Linux distributions out there, and it’s completely free. So there’s absolutely no reason for any artists out there to not check it out.

Which remixed distribution do you like the best, Linux Mint excluded? Do you think they serve a purpose or should distributions just be limited to one and/or the major players? Let us know in the comments!


Image Credit: Skley

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  1. Starcom
    January 15, 2016 at 5:37 pm

    In my opinion this distro was made to be used as livecd.

    For those using periodically artists software, but not every days, It was great to be able to found these in a dedicated system needing no installation and preserving the main OS.

    Unfortunately, the author is died and this distro with him.

    If someone is interested to fork it, the author wife was agree to share its husband work.

  2. deric
    October 28, 2013 at 5:12 am

    Do you think they have a script to add these packages to a currently installed ubuntu os with plenty of drive to spare?

  3. dloburns
    September 9, 2013 at 3:15 pm

    oh good, I've been getting fed up with Ubuntu studio. that shell it runs on just rubs me the wrong way

  4. Myself
    August 30, 2013 at 9:43 pm

    No DTP software included? At least scribus should have been part of it imho.

    • dragonmouth
      August 30, 2013 at 11:59 pm

      The developers can include only so much on a DVD. You probably can download/install Scribus from the the standard repositories.

      • Danny Stieben
        August 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

        I'd say it depends on how big Scribus is. The ISO file is indeed DVD sized, but it's still ~1GB short of the 4.7GB limit.

        • dragonmouth
          September 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm

          There are probably other packages besides Scribus that some users consider important to them that are not included on the Artistx DVD.

          My point is that no matter what packages the developers do include on a DVD, there will always be somebody asking why wasn't XYZ package included.

          Debian has something like 34,000 packages in its repositories. They offer, or at least used to offer, a DVD version of Debian with all those packages included. It comes on 6 or 7 DVDs. I would not be surprised if somebody got this version and still complained that some obscure, esoteric package is missing.

          We are not talking a complete Linux novice here. When one is Linux savvy enough to realize that Ubuntu just will not serve one's needs, one is savvy enough to download missing packages. Scribus can be downloaded from the repositories quite easily.