Cinelerra for Grandma
Basic HOWTOs for very beginners
Cinelerra in 30'
Preparing media
Adjusting settings
Loading media
First editing
Second editing
Colour correction
Making animations
Making a DVD
Anamorphic video
Proxy editing
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Table of Contents

CinelerraHV and CinelerraCV are not included in the software list normally available in Ubuntu because of license issues.

CinelerraHV is availble as Ubuntu package or source code at the original website.

CinelerraCV can be easily installed following the procedures described here.

How to install a CinelerraCV precompiled package

The easiest way to install the Cinelerra package for Ubuntu is to use a terminal.

For the current Ubuntu and previous versions (down to Karmic 9.10):

Just open a terminal (from the menu Applications → Accessories → Terminal or pressing the keys ALT + CTRL + T) and copy&paste the following commands, on at the time:

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:cinelerra-ppa/ppa
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install cinelerra-cv

Cinelerra is now available in the Applications → Sound & Video menu.

For Ubuntu Hardy 8.04
  • Go to the menu System→Administration and open the Software Sources window.

  • Go to the Other software tab

  • Click on the Add button

  • Enter the following APT line:

    deb hardy main
  • Press the Add source button.

  • Now open a terminal (Applications→Accessories) and copy&paste the following commands, on at the time:

    sudo apt-key adv --keyserver --recv-keys 432BB368
    sudo apt-get update
    sudo apt-get install cinelerra-cv

Cinelerra is now available in the Applications → Sound & Video menu.

How to open and close Cinelerra

To open (or start or launch or run) a program you can use either the GUI (menu) or the CL in the terminal. Using the GUI is quicker but using the terminal you get helpful error messages everytime something goes wrong.

Using the Graphical User Interface (GUI)

Go to Applications → Sound & Video and click on Cinelerra. Don’t worry if Cinelerra opens with an error message.

Too save a couple of mouse clicks you can move the Cinelerra button to the panel of the menus. To do that, go to Applications → Sound & Video and right click on Cinelerra. Select Add this launcher to panel.

To close the program click on the cross at the top right of the Program window. If the Program window is minimized, right click on the Program icon in the bar where Ubuntu keeps all the minimized windows, that is by default at the bottom of the screen. Select Close from the popup menu.

Using the Command Line (CL)

To open a terminal click on Applications → Accessories → Terminal. Then type


and press ENTER.

Don’t worry if Cinelerra opens with an error message.

To close the program use the command for stopping terminal operations, that is with the focus on the terminal, hold down the CTRL key and press c.

How to approach the Cinelerra error message you get at start up

When you start Cinelerra you get an error message saying:

  The following errors occurred:
void MWindow::init_shm0: WARNING:/proc/sys/kernel/shmmax is 0x2000000, which is too low.
Before running Cinelerra do the following as root:
echo "0x7ffffff">/proc/sys/kernel/shmmax

Actually this message is not an error, but rather a reminder.
shmmax is a configurable kernel parameter that defines the system-wide maximum allowable shared memory. Shared Memory (shm) is an efficeint means of passing data between programs. One program will create a memory portion which other processes can access. This error message asks you to increase the shared memory allocated by default on the Linux kernel.

What to do?

Option 1:

Ignore this message. You won’t get in any trouble because of this.

Option 2:

Do what you are told. That is open a terminal and type:

sudo echo "0x7ffffff">/proc/sys/kernel/shmmax

This command will increase the shared memory during your work session.

Option 3:

Open a terminal and type:

sudo sysctl -w kernel.shmmax=0x7fffffff

This way you have increased the shared memory permanently.


You can obtain the same effect by manually editing the configuration file for setting system variables.
Open a terminal and type:

sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf

At the bottom of the file, add those lines:

# Make Cinelerra happy


Save and close.
This is another way to increase the shared memory permanently.

How to run Cinelerra in a non-English language

Cinelerra was born in American English. Her interface has been translated in many languages. Here is the list of the available languages and the relative language code:

  • Basque (eu_ES)

  • Brazilian Portuguese (pt_BR)

  • English (en_EN)

  • French (fr_FR)

  • German (de_DE)

  • Italian (it_IT)

  • Russian (ru_RU)

  • Slovenian (sl_SI)

  • Spanish (es_ES)

If you are lucky or if you installed the package made by Akirad, Cinelerra will open in the language you set as default for your computer.

In the likely event of bad luck, try troubleshooting following the Manual.

How to run Cinelerra in a non-default language

To run Cinelerra on a language different from the one selected on your system, you must temporarily change your locale settings.

Using the Command Line (CL)

Here is the terminal command for running Cinelerra in Italian on non Italian systems:

LANGUAGE="it_IT:it" LANG="it_IT.utf8" cinelerra

Adjuste it according to your language.

For language troubleshooting see the Manual.

Using the Graphical User Interface (GUI)

To open Cinelerra in another language using the GUI, you have to change some menu settings. Go to Applications → Sound & Video and right click on Cinelerra. Select Add this launcher to panel. You should now have a Cinelerra icon on the same panel of the menus. Richt click on the just created icon and select Properties from the menu options. In the Command field replace



LANGUAGE="it_IT:it" LANG="it_IT.utf8" cinelerra

Close the Properties box and click on the Cinelerra icon on the panel. Cinelerra will open in Italian.

For other languages, replace the language codes.

For language troubleshooting see the Manual.

How to get oriented in the 4 windows Interface


It is considered normal to feel uncomfortable when looking at Cinelerra interface for the first time.
She looks quite unwelcoming, I know. In fact she is much easier than it looks.

Screenshot-Glossary .

The interface is made of 4 windows:

  • The Program window, that is the main window. It contains your project.

  • The Compositor window, that displays what is in the Program window

  • The Resources window that contains all the loaded media, as well as Effects and Transitions

  • The Viewer window that displays the media of the Resources window.


To use this tutorial you need to know a few terms to understand how to move in the Program window.

  • Timeline: contains video and audio tracks. Video tracks represent your video with thumbnails (called picons), that are samples of what is located at that particular instant on the timeline. In the example I screenshot for you there are two edits, the first representing a green meadow, the second representing a paragliding landing. Note the different picons representing the different positions of the paragliding in time. Audio tracks reprensent the audio part of your video with green waveforms. Silence is represented as a flat thin line.

  • Patchbay: contains the controls to enable features specific to each track.

  • Menu Bar: contains the menus to control most of the behaviour of Cinelerra

  • Control bar: contains transport controls for playback and buttons to make menu operations quicker.

  • Timebar: represents the time passing. It 's like a ruler, marking hours, minutes, seconds, …

  • Zoom panel: contains the zooms to control the size of some parameters of the timeline.

  • Status Bar: contains informations about the corrent operation or the last operation made.

  • Insertion Point: the flasing vertical white line. It is a cursor, a movable mark of the position in time.

How to remove Cinelerra from your system

You can remove a package using Synaptic. Similary to what you did for installation you can mark the cinelerra package for Removal or for Complete removal (to remove ~/.bcast too).


For problems running Cinelerra see the Troubleshooting page.