If you are an artist or creative media enthusiast of any kind, I would like to recommend the boot-from-DVD Linux build known as Open Artist. They took the kitchen sink approach, throwing in every piece of free and open source software that might be useful, and compiled them into folders organized by the type of task you were trying to accomplish. So if you feel like creating or modifying your own font, there is a subfolder under Graphics with about 5 different font editors, as an example. They have some general category icons across the top of the screen, 2D, 3D, Audio, Video, and so forth, as well as the main menu, to help you jump right into the tool suite you need to create or modify your current project. After booting it a number of times and exploring (and launching a bunch of programs to check them out), I can honestly say I have never seen a more far ranging collection of creative programs. It includes everything I would expect to be in such a tool set, and a bunch of stuff I never even knew existed. It also includes a full range of servers and other distribution tools, plus all the normal software any good operating system should have, so you can surf the web or read your email while working on your projects.

The build is based on Ubuntu 12.04 but they installed a lot of non-Ubuntu programs, configuring them to play nice in the environment, including not just other flavors of Linux but also Windows code running under Wine. One of the most impressive details is they tweaked the GNOME and NAUTILUS interfaces so the key-press shortcuts don’t interfere with most of the program shortcuts; so you wont accidentally launch an FTP program while you were trying to save a graphics image, again as an example. There was a lot of thought put into making the entire package work as a whole, and keeping the fiddly bits from biting you in the posterior while trying to use it.

If you want to make it boot and run faster, update your software packages to the latest and greatest versions, and have space to store your raw materials and project files, but don’t want to impair your computers normal operating system, the 2.5Gig live boot DVD can be installed to a 16Gig USB stick. That gives you 10Gig for the existing software to unpack and install itself to, 4Gig in a separate partition to save all your project files to, and another 2Gig of expansion space to add any other software you think might be useful. It also gives you the option of using a lot of other features only accessible from an installed version, like alternative desktops with a minimum footprint, launching a specific program or set of programs you always work in at boot, and so forth. And let’s not forget being able to set up all your software to load with your own preferences already configured, which is always a plus.

You can also do like I did, and use a 32Gig USB stick, partitioning the other 16Gig in Fat32 (or whatever your preferred Windows file system format is). Then you can use that partition as both still more storage for your project files, and a convenient way to transfer the various media between your two operating systems. The possibilities are limited only by your imagination.

Bottom line, I like this Live DVD build a lot. Download Open Artist, burn the ISO (Image File) to DVD, and start checking it out; you might be just as impressed as I am! Be sure to grab the DVD version, which is a Live DVD, rather than the Base Distro, which needs to be installed to a hard drive before you can add the other programs yourself (WAY too much work for me!).

If you are looking for some spacey ringtones or computer event sounds check out the NASA Sounds page. You can have such classics as One small step for man or Houston, we have a problem. Sources include the Mercury, Apollo, and Space Shuttle missions, as well as the ISS, and even bleeps and bloops from the likes of Sputnik or the Saturn Radio Emissions. They have MP3 and M4R formats, and include some general directions as well.

SF Signal does it again with a listing of 120 more awesome and free SF/F/H stories, culled from the collection linked at Free Speculative Fiction Online. The stories authors include Kevin J. Anderson, Kage Baker, Peter S. Beagle, Michael Bishop, Terry Bisson, Ben Bova, David Brin, Emma Bull… and that’s just some of the authors listed from the first 2 letters of the alphabet. The more is because they previously posted 76 Free SF/F Audio Stories, a direct link to Starship Sofa’s famous Complete Nebula Best Short Story Nominees 2008, and an absolute ton of individual links in their various Free Fiction posts. Be sure to check out Starship Sofa in detail while you are there, since they have a new quality story pretty much every week. Other sites for good stories include Podcastle and the related Psudopod and Escape Pod, and of course Librivox is a must-visit site for audio stories.

I missed posting on Wednesday (because of a little matter of a 32 hour workday that kept me away from the computer) on my legacy blog, but here in the WordPress environment I can do an entry and publish it to the date desired. So this is a Bonus Blog Entry, on a topic I will plug into my legacy blog this weekend. BBC Radio just launched a new segment they call the SciFi Season. They are spreading the programs across three of their audio channels, BBC3, BBC4, and BBC7. The programs can be heard by listening in real time online, of course, but they are also available as part of their Listen Online series for channels 3, 4, and 7. For some specific shows, you also have the option to download the programs, or save them as Podcasts (see this explanation for the differences to each format).