Hard/software recommendations for blender on Linux?

Sorry if this is a little nebulous and unfocused, but I’m curious about recommendations on either building or buying a linux box, strictly for blender. I’m pinching pennies here, so I’m only looking for raw power. Where would you put the money? And which distro of linux is most sympathetic to blender?

thanks in advance from someone new to linux, accustomed to OS X, but unafraid of the terminal

I don’t know that Blender really has any problems on any particular distro. With that in mind I would stick with an Ubuntu variant as it is pretty n00bfriendly and software install is a breeze. Plus, with such a large userbase it is fairly easy to find answers. I use Ubuntu Studio, personally though the most recent release had major problems with the kernel and my hardware and kept freezing whenever I went online. I downloaded a new kernel though and all was good.

In terms of hardware I would get a separate videocard and avoid onboard video. Even a cheap nvidia shoudl give you a happier experience than onboard video. I would reccomend nvidia overall. While I hear that ati-linux is a happier marriage now I still haven’t heard form enough people to completely trust that there aren’t problems. If you are looking to stay cheap I like AMD. No need for a separate soundcard. I would stick with a motherboard with an AMD or nvidia chipset. Avoid via, or some other 3rd party as they can have trouble. As in all things, YMMV.

I did the exact same thing a couple of months ago. I started a thread on which I got some excellent advice on which distro to go for, so I advise you read that - http://blenderartists.org/forum/showthread.php?t=156463

I use 32 bit Ubuntu for daily stuff, or 64 bit if I’m doing something that geninely requires the extra RAM (32 bit will only recognise up to 3Gb). 64 has a few issues with that make it a little annoying for daily use, but it is great for blender.

Ubuntu is a great distro though, highly recommended.

Hardware wise I agree with Nero about nVidia, historically ATI has had poor support for linux that I’ve been burned by in the past. That said RAM and processor power will give you the greatest bang for the buck with blender, so go for a mid-range graphics card (I paid under £100 for mine and it’s doing an excellent job), 4GB RAM (or 8 if you really want), and then the best processor you can afford - that will make the biggest difference, and should certainly be the most expensive component you buy.

P.S. If you’re lucky Michael W will weigh in on this. He knows his stuff.

I’ve been running 64bit ubuntu for about a month now, the only issues i’ve had are with my sounblaster xfi card, but i soon found a solution for that on the ubuntu forums.
If you go with 64bit you’ll need to sort out flash, but that’s an easy fix too.
Check this site for benchmarks

Excellent all, I’m taking notes…

I will say that on 64bit (don’t know if it is any different on 32bit) Flash is a disaster. The performance of it is pretty much unwatchable, atleast when full screened. Just this afternoon I was trying to watch a video on Hulu and had to reboot into Windows 7 just to make it watchable. Loads of dropped frames and I think stuff just looks better in Windows. If it is just a blender/content creation machine Linux is excellent. But for general usage there are some gotchas.

If I do this, it will be intended as a dedicated blender machine. I’m curious, however, if the issues with flash portend any other issues running Linux, perhaps affecting Python, or how the system renders… Anyone have experience with Luxrender on Linux boxen?

I prefer OpenSuse 11.1 linux 64 bit, no problems with flash and i use yafaray, luxrender and vray (beta). No problem to play any video format like wmv or ogg (windows, apple).
The hardware identification is very good and you have the choice to work with kde, gnome or other windowmanager. As a benefit you has access to different package resurces like packman and susebuild service to extend the availableness
of software. It is possible to install sodftware directly from internet by one klick installation.
I compile blender 2.5 and luxrender by myself and use virtualbox for a windows 7 test installation since month.
3 weeks ago i buy a new laptop and without any intervention all hardware is working after installation inclusive wlan.
My suggestion, have a look to different distris with life cd/dvd’s to decide between them.
Also have a look to animux linux, designed for video and 3d user.

I kill my windows partition 2 years ago and i never to rue about.:smiley:

By mib

Ubuntu can very well fit your needs with really a lot of different hardware configurations support. It’s simple to use and perfect to learn from scratch. Ubuntu community is enormous and you can easily get helpful advices from it;

  • 64 bit OS is a must if you want to add more than 4 GB Ram in your system;

  • Slow Flash performances in 64 bit OS Linux belong to the past, you can now download the first 64 bit native Linux Flash from AdobeLabs and use it without evident issues;

as for the hardware-side of your questions, I’d go surely for a non-integrated videocard and I’d stay strictly with Nvidia cards that have the best driver and support you could ask for. Avoid better than you can ATI/AMD videocards, their Linux driver support is merely a joke…
For the cpu you can go with what you prefer, so for the Ram and motherboard.

Note, 64 bit is a must if you want any application to use more then 2gig of ram. (even though the OS can use 4)

I’d stay away from Ati for blender, it doesn’t work with a lot of the advanced GE stuff (not really a problem if you’re not using that part of blender), and from my experience with some older ati cards the blender interface has been messed up and the drivers were barely working (I am a nvidia fan so take this with a pinch of salt :wink: )

Make sure you get 64 bit if you’re going to put =>4gb of memory in and get a nice fast CPU - The more cores the better, AMD have quite good deals on their quad cores. For graphics I get by nicely on windows with my 8600gt which seems to have just enough power to do what I want and can handle the new graphics features quite nicely - And as it’s an old card I imagine the linux drivers would be well-grounded.


Is that even with PAE enabled?

Software recomendation: use a lightweight desktop environment while using blender. I have experienced huge gains in speed using Black Box, FVWM (crystal), and Enlightenment

There are other light ones, those are just the ones I have tried.

ben. yep even with PAE, I used to run blender on a linux system with 4gb and if any blender instance tried to alloc over 2gb it crashed instantly.

shadowbane, though I switch between openbox and xfce, for someone buying a new PC Id recommend stick to ubuntu & gnome. for new/fast systems its fine IMHO.

I’m getting the idea… nVidia video card, fat processor, ubuntu, other hardware takes backseat. Are there pitfalls in picking a motherboard for a particular processor (I assume I would want one without a processor installed)?

other hardware takes backseat

Note that motherboard and RAM modules should be able to synchronize with processor and GPU speeds. Well, if you taking motherboard with socket for quadcore, for intance, that most likely won’t be an issue. However if RAM modules are slow all your overall system performance will be torn down as processor and GPU will be forced to wait until these will handle requests and issue the stored information. Same goes to hard drives.

i had an macbook and working went better that with 8 core apple, there is everythig you need on macbook, just well extra keyboard, mouse not mac mouse and well i am forgetting something hey 23 inch flat monitor so you have 2 screens when necessary, personal opinion but from experience

oh, the new thing though if you go with a tower, no harddrive but 30 gig pci slot slipped over 200MB/sec read write green thingy with some black thingies that remember stuff and can be written to and wrote to…

False.Using the official, most recent Adobe .so and still having trouble. As are many many other people. Just saying.

                                                                                                                   i had an macbook...

You can get better PC for the same price. All you need is some hardware experience.

Quad core Mac Pro starting at $2499
You can get quad core PC starting at 1200$. And for that price you will get 4gb of ram instead of mac’s 3, GeForce GTX 260 instead of mac’s crappy GT 120, 1tb hard drive instead of mac’s 640gb and yes, LCD. You have 1200$ left to buy two 28" flat panels to build an ultimate station when Apple for 2499$ does not provide any LCD for that Mac Pro.
Gentlemen. What a waste of money, should I say.

I put together a AMD Phenom II , with nvidia 250 gfx card, and 8gb of OCZ 1066Mhz ram ;D … but a HUGE ! gain, is getting a 30-60gb (preferably 60gb, since 8Gb of ram, needs 16+2-4Gb of Swap partition for linux) SolidStateDrive !.. and on that SSD disk you only install, linux, apps, and blender of course. And then get a 1TB or more USB3.0 HiSpeed connected external disk (myBook looks nice and performs good) and on that disk you render and save stuf.

SSD gives you crazy access times, and it’s not mechanical and the harddrive nearly ever fails (spinning disk drives alloc the space closer to the center of the disk to OS, since it spins faster and get better access time, and other stuf to the outer ring where it can store more but reads it slower)