Trying Linux for Blender

Does anyone have a suggestion for a good Distro to use for Blender. I am thinking of trying it. I use Windows for Blender at this time and everything is nice, but I have never had a serious Linux setup for graphics.

If you just want to use Blender and maybe the web try BlendBoot

Linux have poor support from GPU vendors, you better research how did your graphics card supported by Linux kernel, and if it ok, any modern distro (Suse, Fedora, Debian, Gentoo) and their derivatives (as Ubuntu, that lately become a bit overhyped for my taste, but still) will be good.

If you’ve never used Linux, I’d just go with Ubuntu or one of it’s derivatives. It still has the most users, so is often the easiest to find help for when you run into issues.

I have been using Linux Mint (Ubuntu-based) for a while now. As it usually works fine out of the box (Mint distribution includes several restricted drivers and codecs, which you install manually in many other distributions), it is one of the easiest distributions to start with:

The newest version is Linux Mint 14. You have an option to choose MATE or Cinnamon desktops. I have been using MATE until this newest release, in which I am now testing out Cinnamon.

i’d go for

The latest Ubuntu, slows down my computer extremely. My system is really not a low spec, so I was surprised. I think I will try Linux Mint, but I don’t know anything about MATE or Cinnamon.

Out of the box, is Linux Mint a very stable and streamlined (quick) OS?

Well, in that case Mint will also slow down your computer, it is 99% Ubuntu… But that’s odd, as I have installed Mint to very old computers (sub-1GHz processor, 512MB memory), which run it nicely enough. Anyways, there are “lighter” Linux distributions using less RAM, but those can be quite limited. Have you tried Xubuntu, using light-weight Xfce desktop manager? There also exists Xfce Mint edition:

EDIT: Notice, that even if you use lightweight desktop like Xfce, the other software (e.g. Blender) you use are just as heavy as in other distributions.

Shortly, after Gnome 2 became unmaintained, two projects were started to provide an alternative. MATE is quite straightforward successor to Gnome 2, and it is quite stable. Cinnamon has a different approach, it is more experimental, but has more “candies” than MATE. Both provide traditional desktop familiar to most end users. If you are unsure, take MATE.

Well, it is quick in my computer, but it is not known to be the most streamlined one. The main ideology behind Mint is that it is easy to use, which means that the installation is quite complete, desktop is familiar (no fancy ones), and it can be mostly configured with GUI programs instead of hacking configuration files.

As many Linux distributions, the DVD is so called “Live DVD”. That means that you can boot your computer from DVD and try it out before installing. Of course, using Linux from CD/DVD is not that fast, as usually CD/DVD drives are much slower than hard disks.

If you’re using Nvidia, the Nouveau drivers (Open Source video drivers Ubuntu ships with) are typically a lot slower than the official Nvidia drivers. Could be the reason for sluggish performance. I’m not sure what the situation is with ATI drivers though.

Linux Mint potentially could be faster, since it doesn’t use the Unity UI.

If you want gpu rendering with cycles and nvidia cards you need cuda. cuda requires the proprietary nvidia drivers. So really the Nouveau drivers are a non starter.


My previous computer had Nvidia card, and after installation Mint releases always asked if I want to download additional drivers for it. Clicking OK installed Nvidia proprietary drivers. I am not absolutely sure about this newest Mint.

It probably still does. I think it’s a carry over feature from Ubuntu. Arch Linux has them in the main repos, I’m not sure if Ubuntu and Mint do - if so you could probably even install them from their software manager thing.

Here are a couple YouTube channels that have some decent Linux videos. Might help make it easier to get around at first.

I get about 15% faster renders with linux mint 14 over mingw build on windows.

Download as many live CDs from the distros you want to test and burn on USB or CD/DVD. I have used a 32 GB USB stick and multiboot to burn Mint, Ubuntu, Fedora in different flavours.
If you are using nvidia, prevent nouveau from loading by adding nouveau.blacklist=true on grub options before loading the live CD (usually by pressing TAB on the boot menu of the liveCD). This way you can install the nvidia drivers on the live CD, logout from session and let it load again with nvidia drivers, and test blender to it’s fullest.

I have tested some distros lately:
Mint is beautiful and works very well but has too many applications installed by default for my taste. If I had to use Mint I would use MATE or XFCE, both were really fast with blender.
Fedora is also a very good distro but I am too used to apt to start using rpm now. I had some trouble with the live CD on my system, so I decided to not use it with not much testing.
OpenSUSE is also very good, worked much better than Fedora on my system and would have been my selected os if I had an XFCE live CD to test. I also had trouble booting it from multiboot USB stick, so I used a single 2GB stick to test it.
Ubuntu is very popular but I have not tested it much, I don’t want to waste resources on shiny desktop interfaces, so I decided to go directly to test Xubuntu and Ubuntustudio. Ubuntustudio has a huge selection of multimedia and content creation applications and uses XFCE like Xubuntu, but the low latency kernel installed in ubuntustudio to be able to work better with some audio applications makes blender a bit slower. So, I finally decided to use Xubuntu as my main OS.

If you want to do the same you just have to download some ISOs and burn to USB, boot the live CD, open firefox, download official blender from and try to run it. Some live CDs require the installation of additional libraries to run blender, don’t let that stop you, install the libraries and run blender to test how it works and then try the distro and all the software it has installed by default. You can do on live CD almost anything you can on installed system (short of rebooting with a new kernel), so if you have much trouble running blender on the live CD or installing drivers you will find as much trouble on the installed version.

I recently tried a Lubuntu build with Blender and it was the best experience ever. I could feel the difference in performance between Linux and Windows. I don’t have actual numbers but I know that Lubuntu runs with around 350 Mb of RAM while my windows is usually around 1 GB - so that might have been part of it. I would stick with Lubuntu but I need to run Unity 3d as well and unfortunately it doesn’t run on Linux.

LinuxMint 14 KDE

not if you use the Cinnamon desktop environment. MATE is really streamlined, which is why i use it. but then, i also disable all the visual “effects” when using Windows 7, so i’m not one to prefer visuals over performance.

you can also use KDE, Gnome, etc., you don’t have to stick to Cinnamon or MATE.

I mostly just read these, but on this one i felt my input might be useful 2 someone. I mostly have old pcs so i’ve been testing many different linux distros. my favorite as of 1-29-13 is pinguy. also ubunu has a distro called ue that includes a wide variaty of desktops to try built into one since i’m no expert it would be nice to get more threads on streamlining linux for mamimum performance. thnx!

Myself use mint 13 64 bit. Besides using for Blender default applications for normal everyday use Libreoffice, Video, music.

I use Fedora 17, 64 bit, but it’s not for the faint of heart. :slight_smile: I also run cinnamon and really like it. It’s a shell on top of Gnome 3, a replacement for the Gnome Shell. The best advice is to just jump in feet first and see for your self if you like it or not. Use the live cd’s like other have recommended. I have been able to be Windows free for more than 10 years now and have not looked back. The reason is that you get so many more options and possibilities with Linux. The side effect is, of course, a more complex and difficult system to use. Once you have the knowledge though, like using Blender, the world’s wide open. :smiley: