Eduardo Abreu

Blender and Linux

Hey guys, I've been meaning to switch from Windows to Linux for quite sometime now and I've been wondering If there's a perfomance loss? Does anyone have experience with this? And what distros are you using?

Thanks!

  • Hi Eduardo,

    In my experience, there is no performance loss. On the contrary. But it can depend on your hardware. 

    I switched from Windows to Linux, when they introduced Windows 10; I have never been happier!

    I am using Linux mint with Cinnamon Desktop. This is very user and beginner friendly (especially if you're comming from Windows). It's a very polished distro, It's Ubuntu based, but not as ugly as Ubuntu.

     Blender loads super fast, compared to Windows.

    Just be aware that you download Blender from blender.org and not use the Software Manager version.

    I can also recommend watching some of Joe Collins videos on Linux: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTfabOKD7Yty6sDF4POBVqA

    But any Linux distro is better than Windows.


  • But any Linux distro is better than Windows.

    spikeyxxx Well, that's just one mans opinion... 

    I love Windows, and don't have any loading times with Blender, and the one time I tried Linux (with the help of a friend who knows how this works) I hated it so much that I switched right back to Windows and never looked back!!

    So my opinion is, if you like Linux then use Linux, if not then don't use it 😊

    And if you want to try it, I'm sure the stuff Spikey recommends is the way to go 👍🏻

  • crew

    theluthier Just switched over to Linux and he really enjoys using Blender with it.

  • crew
    Indeed I'm in my first week of switching from Mac to Linux. I'm using Pop!_OS and haven't experienced performance loss. BUT this new setup isn't really comparable to my former set up (2013 Mac Pro) due to age of the hardware. Though I've heard that Blender on Linux is slightly more performant than on other platforms. If that's true, I'd bet it's hardly noticeable.
  • I switched from windows about 5 years ago, it took me a while to get used to Linux but was worth it. I am currently using Linux Peppermint, which isn't the most user-friendly for Linux beginners, but it works fine for me.


  • theluthier I have that distro downloaded actually, I saw that Pablo from the dev team uses it and wanted to check it out, thanks!

  • Eduardo,

    I have way more experience with all three platforms than I'd like to admit (I was using my first Mac before Adobe products were ported to Windows), and naturally all three have their strengths and weaknesses. I'm currently using Manjaro Linux (a slightly less labor-intensive version of Arch) on my personal laptop, and it runs Blender very well, for a laptop. One of the strengths of Linux is your ability to custom tailor your workstation to your needs, and there are many different flavors of Linux distributions available that can address your personal situation. Just by default, does Linux perform better than Windows? Not necessarily. Linux can be very light on system resources, if you design it to work that way.

    Linux isn't actually an operating system. What it is, and what makes all Linux flavors alike, is the kernel, or the main core packages that run the system. What makes the various distributions different (in part) are the package managers used for installing and keeping the system up to date. The GUI itself is a package which includes a window manager, and there are several available that can be used to custom tailor your system to your needs. A lightweight window manager will go a long way toward reducing the drain on system RAM and offer some nice performance increases. I'm currently using XFCE and it's very quick, attractive and easily customized.

    I've used lots of different distros before settling on the current one. I've gone back to Debian several times as well because there are choices for stability versus cutting edge updates, it's very mature, and I like apt, the package manager. Though a lot of people like Ubuntu because it's one of the most new-user-friendly distros, I'm not wild about it. I have it running my media center and I'm not a Unity fan (the user interface). It lags at times, which I've never experienced with another Linux. I'm also not a fan of RPM-based distros like Fedora, Red Hat (though it's long been commercial), or CentOs. Mint is popular, though I can't say much about it personally because I've only tried it a short time. Were I you, I'd look at a stable release of Debian with a lightweight WM. If people suggest Ubuntu, it's based on Debian, and works in much the same way, just many parts are packaged together for an easier new user experience. 


  • ggreg5552 

    I have always used Linux . I started with RedHat then SUSE and now Ubuntu. 

    One thing that has never worked for me is pressure sensitivity for Wacom in Blender (works elsewise).

    Is that true under Mac/Mickysoft?



  • bbloozguy 

    I have an inexpensive tablet that I use with my Windows 10 workstation, and have never used it with Mac or Linux, though I understand that drivers were written for it last year at some point. I was going to ask Kent about his experience with his tablet under Linux, since he's a recent switcher. I understand that pressure sensitivity is an area of concern for the XP-Pen tablet I have, but I hadn't heard too much about issues with Wacom products. Admittedly though I hadn't considered Wacom, so I didn't look into their issues too closely. I use all three platforms daily (Mac/Windows for work, Windows/Linux at home), and do a bit of modeling using Fusion 360 for 3D printing and CNC projects under Windows, so I just chose the easiest workstation to set up my tablet. Which Wacom tablet are you using?

    I've always liked using Linux. I started with it as far back as 2001 I believe with Red Hat, prior to Fedora. RPM dependency hell led me to look elsewhere. I used Slackware for a while and built a LFS machine, but got tired of compiling everything and landed with Debian a couple years later and used it for a long time, alongside early OS X versions that were very much like BSD Unix. I tried SUSE and Gentoo for a while as well. I was exposed to Blender in the mid 2000s under Linux by a guy who told me that it was an open source equivalent to Photoshop, I was pretty disappointed then when I couldn't figure oout the UI. Wish now that I had looked into it more closely. lol  I only started working with Blender again a couple months ago because I wanted a mesh modeler for building better organic shapes for 3D printing. I've been hooked on the tutorials since, and have learned a lot (many thanks to Kent and others). Actually kind of fun to be a noob again. It's been a while.  lol

  • You might want to try dual booting before switching completely so you can test performance between the two operating systems and test if the difference is significant for your system.


    I've heard CPU based operations on Linux can perform better than Windows since the Linux kernel will be compiled for your specific processor but GPU based operations can perform worse because of driver issues.


    Drivers have caused a lot of headaches for me in the past in Linux, specifically those for Nvidia hardware (I've never used any other GPUs with Linux though).   Keep in mind that in Windows and OSX things typically "just work" while in Linux, you'll need to be at least a little familiar with the operating system and troubleshooting it because you are very likely to run into compatibility issues that will require your attention.

  • Late to the party here but I run Ubuntu 18 LTS full no dual boot, I found Blender's viewport and interaction is noticeably faster on Ubuntu compared to windows 10. Havent benchmarked render times in Cycles but the viewport is definitely smoother going. 

    Blender also starts over twice as fast compared to Win10. Booting from the terminal is practically instantantaneous both on a release build and custom. Creating a custom build of Blender in Ubuntu is also a much easier process as Visual Studio is not required along with alot of dependencies.

    Blender feels, runs and builds faster when I switched to Ubuntu from Win10. I run a GTX1070 and i5-7500. 

    Basically Ubuntu is great for Blender IF IF IF IF (did I say if?) you set up your drivers correctly. Hardware drivers will make or break Linux imo.

  • eduo I have always used Linux (at the moment Linux Mint, but previously Ubuntu and Debian). I could do a whole other post on distro choice!

    I have also used Blender on Windows 10 for quite a long time, so I can offer you direct experience of both.

    In my view (which is obviously just anecdotal from my own experience) Blender performs better on Linux. It also runs fine on Windows 10, however - it's not like there is a huge difference. You would be fine on either.

    To be honest, however, I don't think his is specific to Blender. I find most stuff performs just a little  better on Linux. I believe (again, personal opinion) this is because Linux has less "going on in the background". Windows is always updating, or indexing, or doing something else you didn't ask for, but which is sucking system resources nonetheless. With some exceptions, Linux generally tends to only do what you asked it to do at the time you ask it. It is also less bloated with a generally smaller footprint. You also have an insane level of control over how Linux operates (if you are technical).

    Blender isn't the big issue, though. What I struggle with most on Linux is the lack of availability of other software:

    • Substance Painter - There is a Linux version which you can generally get to work on most distros, but only CentOS is officially supported. I had some issues with this;
    • Adobe - No Linux support. No Photoshop, no After Effects, no Illustrator etc. I have VirtualBox running a pet copy of Windows so that I can use After Effects (which I am just getting into), but it's far from ideal. I use Gimp and Inkscape for other stuff;
    • ZBursh - No Linux support;

    There are probably other examples, those are just off the top of my head.

    If you are of the "open source till I die" mindset, I would say go Linux all the way. If you (like me) aren't above using commercial software from time to time, I would just caution that you might find your choices limited.

    EDIT: I have never had any issues with Wacom stylus and pressure sensitivity etc. On LInux Mint I had to update to a newer kernel that properly supported my Wacom Bluetooth tablet, but that was like one click. No big deal.

  • @lewis2e Hey, thanks for the really thorough post! I didn't know that substance was supported on linux, that's really cool, I heavily use Adobe CC (Mostly Photoshop and Illustrator), that's the thing keeping me from totally switching, and also games (But gaming has been growing incredibly since valve's intense support). About the distros, what do you think of Manjaro and PopOS? I kinda liked Linux Mint the first time I tried (Used the cinnamon environment) but there's something that keeps me from totally liking it

    Edit: I just got a Cintiq and was wondering if it would work with linux?

  • eduo 

    WARNING: OVERLY LONG POST ALERT

    Substance

    Substance is supported on Linux but, as I say, the only officially supported distribution is CentOS. If you ask for support for any other distribution, Allegorithmic will basically ignore you.

    For some reason, the 3D industry has latched onto CentOS as their Linux distribution of choice (Maya, Modo/Nuke, Renderman all list it as their officially supported distribution). I personally find this bizarre, as CentOS to me (and I think a lot of people) is the distribution you run on racks of servers... not workstations!

    That said, you can get Substance Painter running on other distributions. It's just not supported officially. Other Linux users on the forums are quite helpful. For example, I had a UI resolution issue that someone helped me resolve by explicitly setting a variable used by Qt.

    Adobe

    Adobe like to pretend Linux doesn't exist. You can find substitutes for some of their software (Gimp, Inkscape etc.), but actual Adobe products are a no go. Forget running them via Wine. You might get this working after a LOT of effort, but you are one update away from it being broken again. Also, they are very likely to be buggy and generally not reliable.

    I use VirtualBox running a copy of Windows 10. I only really use After Effects at the moment (and I only really mess around in it). This is an OK solution if your PC is a decent spec (there is an inevitable performance hit using a virtual machine - obviously).

     Gaming

    Don't do a lot myself, but this is getting much better these days, mainly thanks to Steam. Lots of big name titles are now available on Linux (via Steam).

    Distro Choice

    These days, I tend not to stray very far from the Debian -> Ubuntu -> Linux Mint family. This is mainly because of the widespread compatibility, but also because Mint running Cinnamon desktop is seriously sexy looking UI :-) ). With the popularity of Ubuntu, you will find that most vendors offering a Linux version of their software will have a Debian package, and probably support Ubuntu.

    I've used Fedora and Red Hat while I was in Uni, and I went though a phase of loving Mandrake for some reason?! 

    Speaking generally, though, I'd definitely recommend something downstream. Until recently I was running pure Debian on my desktop, because I fancied myself as a "serious Linux user", and it gave me a smug sense of self satisfaction having pure Debian up and running. I came to realise, however, this is stupid. My main interest is 3D graphics, which requires all the proprietary drivers and codecs etc. Getting that to work on Debian is possible, but time consuming. It's trying to get a square peg into a round hole. Better to take the easy choice of a downstream distribution, and get over yourself :-). Generally speaking, downstream distributions "just work".

    To be honest, PopOS is totally new to me. It's downstream from Ubuntu (just like Linux Mint), so it's probably quite good. Grab a LiveCD - try it out! One thing I will say is that it is using a GNOME shell based desktop by default. This is the reason I stopped using Ubuntu. GNOME shell split opinion among Linux users (and hatred for it is the whole reason that Cinnamon was forked off from the original GNOME code). I personally cannot stand GNOME shell as I find it cumbersome, unintuitive and ugly, but that's an individual thing. Linus Torvalds shares my opinion on that :-)

    I've heard good things about Manjaro, but I've no experience of it. It's based on Arch, which is very highly thought of but also PROPER hardcore Linux for people who like to spend most of their lives fiddling with config files. Manjaro, however, is supposed to be user friendly, so again it's a nice downstream distribution.

    Cintiq

    Wacom has extremely good support for Linux. I have no experience of the Cintiq, but I expect it will work well out of the box. If it doesn't, it usually isn't long before it does. Wacom are very Linux friendly, and actively support their products on Linux (even if they fall short of releasing an official driver in their own name). Maybe post on the Wacom forums to make sure, but my feeling is you will probably be OK with this.

    Using a downstream distribution like Linux Mint or PopOS usually means an older kernel (they stick with stable kernel releases for as long as they can to ensure stability). I had to update my kernel on Linux Mint to properly support my Wacom tablet as it was a little old. It was not a hard process. I imagine it's not going to be hugely difficult in PopOS either.

    Hope that helps

  • @lewis2e Thank you very much! It's really weird that CentOS has this amount of support from the 3d industry, I thought that the biggest/most famous distros like ubuntu/mint would receive support, I think that going with Mint might be a safest choice than Manjaro, I tried popOS but couldn't stand gnome as well hahaha. 

    I really liked KDE (and budgie) and I know that ubuntu has different flavours, I'll be trying that before settling down with Mint. 

    As of the Cintiq, I didn't know that wacom had good support in it, I say that because it has been a pain with all of the driver issues that I had this week on windows ( I even had to switch to MiniDP even though the wacom link has HDMI), The HDMI port on the wacom link doesn't work properly to the point that there's posts daily asking for help on the unofficial subreddit, weird stuff. 

    As for Arch, I don't think I have the skills to get near that thing hahah, I'm not used to using command-line all the time besides simple things on windows and vscode. 

    The video in question that I talked about, I'm really optimistic on linux gaming future :)

  • eduo Yeah I can't explain the adoption of CentOS. I am sure that there is some long forgotten reason why the CGI world latched onto it. Who knows.

    Everyone is entitled to their opinion but GNOME Shell.... it's just... bad! It's like having a fight with your computer every-time you use it. Give me Cinnamon any day (which was forked from GNOME 3 before they messed it up). Linux Mint also has MATE (forked from GNOME 2) and Xfce versions if they are more to your taste.

    I've tried KDE but it wasn't sexy enough for me. Again though, that's personal preference.

    Yeah admittedly the Cintiq is a more complicated piece of kit than I have ever used from Wacom, so your experience might not be as good. I was mostly thinking about my own experience with Wacom tablets. I've found the support to be generally very good. It's mostly just worked out of the box, and when it didn't it wasn't a hard fix. Wacom don't support their stuff on Linux directly, however, they heavily co-operate with https://linuxwacom.github.io/, who do a great job.

    Don't fear the terminal! :-) There is magic hiding in there... Even if you are not using Arch, I'd recommend bookmarking https://wiki.archlinux.org/. It's incredible! I've found answers in there loads of times, and I've never actually used Arch in my life.


    EDIT - I missed the video that you linked to. Thanks! I will check that out. I had not heard of Lutris before...hmmmm. Manjaro also looked quite nice there.


  • @lewis2e I actually love Linux Terminal, it's just amazing what you can do with it without touching the mouse, I didn't know about linuxwacom.github.io though, the community is impressive, the mint version that I tried out was Cinnamon and it was pretty good and intuitive, I guess I just need to give it more time to get used to, I think I'll be giving it another shot! Thanks for the post!