I don’t know if everyone’s aware of it but the Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase is open for submissions at the moment. We mentioned it on Linux Outlaws before Christmas and I said at the time I’d make an audio entry but had since forgotten in my usual hapless manner. I’ve finally rectified that and created my entry which I’ll tell you about later but first I should probably explain exactly what the competition is. The Ubuntu Free Culture Showcase was first brought in during the Ubuntu 8.10 Interpid Ibex development cycle and since 8.10 is still the current release of Ubuntu it’s a relatively fresh concept. The premise is simple, you have the chance to get your artwork, be it audio, video or graphic into the next Ubuntu release. The winning entries will be places into the “examples” folder and shipped on every disc and lovingly packaged into each downloadable ISO image. It may not sound like much but think about how many people are likely to see or hear the results, millions, literally millions. It’s estimated that Ubuntu has about 8 million users and while a lot of these figures seem to be made up with a lottery machine I think it’s a fair estimate, there’s certainly a few million around the world at least. So getting your art onto an Ubuntu release could help you reach a potentially massive audience and who knows what that could lead to hmm?
As with every competition worth it’s salt, there are some rules you must abide by to enter. Firstly, file size limits, which seem rather severe to me but I suppose they are fighting to fit everything into a 700mb disc image and there’s a lot of software to go in, notably Mono 2.0 which I’ve been told by many people is “bloody huge!!”, their words not mine. Audio entries must be in Ogg Vorbis format and no larger than 1mb in size, yes you heard me right 1mb. Video entries must be in Ogg Theora format and no larger than 2.5mb, finally graphics entries must be in PNG or JPEG format and no larger than 512k. A lot of people have criticized these heavy restrictions on size and I can see their point, it’s difficult to do much with 2.5mb of space for a decent video. The same applies to the audio, 1mb is about 1 minute of audio encoded at any kind of reasonable quality for music, hi-fi buffs would probably still scream at 128kbps and I wouldn’t blame them. I wonder if perhaps the limits are so strict to put off people sending in their 2 hour student films or 10 minute opera (not the browser) masterpieces? Whatever the reasons those are the constraints. The pieces must be licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike license and obviously free of any 3rd party copyright material such as samples. They must also contain nothing that people could get offended by such as swearing, nudity and so on. If you think you can work within those limits without destroying your artistic “vision” then I urge you to enter something and take part. Provided it’s not better than my entry of course or I shall storm off in a big huff and pull faces, really ugly faces, way worse than my normal one, which is not easy to do believe me.
I had originally thought the competition closed at the end of February but it doesn’t it actually finishes on the 6th of Feb, so be quick if you want to get your entry in for Ubuntu 9.04. The competition will be opened up again for the next release so don’t cry if you can’t finish in time there’s still hope. As I mentioned earlier I’ve submitted my audio entry and it’s a song some of you may have heard before, it’s a bit of a jazzy tune called “Truth”. We played it on a very early episode of the Linux Outlaws podcast, I don’t remember which number it was now though I’m afraid, it’s far too long ago. I have trouble remembering what I did this morning let alone 18 months ago, unless there’s some kind of scar to remind me. I’ve attached the ogg file I’m entering so you can all have a listen if you like, it’s not compulsory though. The song was recorded about 3 years ago so it’s not new and in the interests of full disclosure I should point out it was recorded partially with freedom hating software, you can almost hear the evil ring out in every note. In my defense it was a long time ago before I learned the error of my ways and repented. To be honest getting all of the music work I do onto Free Software is still a challenge I haven’t fully met to this day and one which people ask me about all the time. I’m still working on it and I’ll update you on that soon I promise. In the meantime check out the track and see what you think, I had to do a quick fade after 2mins to make it shorter and also encode the ogg at 64kbps to hit that 1mb target but I’m quite pleased with the results. If you’d like to hear a higher quality version in full you can find the track on my music site. I’m impressed how good ogg actually sounds at low bit-rates, it’s far superior to mp3 and it’s annoying more manufacturers won’t use it but that’s a topic for another day. All the instruments on this were played by my good self and yes it is me singing, people never believe me but it honestly is. I sing like a girl which is hilarious if you know what I look like 🙂
Hope you enjoy the tune and let me know what you think in the comments, if you have some artistic talent why not enter the competition too but be quick! I don’t think I’ll win but you never know, I’d be chuffed to say my music was on the Ubuntu CD that’s for sure, at least I could say I had one gold disc… ok maybe more brown but I’m gonna call it gold 😉