LightWorks for Linux: how long will it take?

LightWorks for Linux: how long will it take?

Last week EditShare terminated rumours about LightWorks version for Linux being vaporware and published a screencast.

The screencast that demonstrates the highly anticipated hi-end non-linear video editor running on Ubuntu is actually from 2012 NAB Show that took place on April 14–19 in Las Vegas.

(One might immediately ask whether the toolbar is going to play nicely with GNOME Shell)

EditShare actively maintains conversations with community via Twitter and their forum, but doesn't provide any exact estimations of the release date for Linux. However they readily replied to our question regarding amount of lines of source code (LOC) in LightWorks.

There are around 1 million lines of code in Lightworks. Keeping it tight & efficient was always a priority. Not sure how much is whitespace, but by way of comparison, some other “pro” video editors have around 20 million lines of code.

To give you an idea, Kdenlive has ca. 200K LOC, PiTiVi has ca. 50K LOC and Novacut, being the youngest of them, has ca. 10K LOC. This might explain the reason why even a beta release was delayed.

Edit: Jason DeRose asked to clarify that it would be more fair to include inftrastructure projects for Novacut's LOC estimation which bumps the whole stack up to more impressive ~52K. Similarly, Kdenive's estimation could include MLT which means +120K LOC, and frei0r which is around 200K.

So, it looks like there cannot be a precise answer to the question. Linux and Mac users will have to keep waiting. EditShare wrote a follow-up to address this:

The very-subject-to-change schedule aims for compiled Linux this year, then Mac. Once we have initial releases for all three platforms, then we'll begin the process of opening the source code to the public.

The official release of LightWorks for Windows is scheduled for 28th May 2012.

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22 Responses. Comments closed for this entry.

  1. Stefan Maerz 02 May 2012 at 5:40 am

    Will it be open source? or just freeware?

    I remember hearing their business model was going to be selling plugins. Maybe if that fails, they just flat out open source it and it could take off like blender.

    I’ve heard that it is a system hog. Hopefully that is wrong though, because I tend to use old hardware.

  2. They have the entire thing totally backwards. If they released the source, many hands would soon make light work of polishing up Linux and OS X releases and people could start making progress in improving it in other ways. Instead, they’re holding on to it with a tight fist and not open-sourcing it until it’s done/ready - and no software project of anywhere near that size is ever really “done” or “ready”.

  3. Alexandre Prokoudine 02 May 2012 at 7:56 am

    Stefan, yes — EditShare are planning to release the source code. They haven’t decided on the license yet, or so they say. The initial plan was targeting Q3 2012, but as things shifted, this estimation no longer holds true. They are planning to publish an updated roadmap along with the release of the official version for Windows in few weeks.

  4. Stefan Maerz 02 May 2012 at 8:06 am

    Thanks Alexandre. I’d also like to complement you that you found a capcha that is actually human readable.

    I agree Dan. They could have a product gaining market share with less development costs….though I very vaguely recall something about them hiding something….maybe they are removing some features to sell as plugins? I don’t recall, or perhaps I’m just making things up. lol

  5. Hi, I work for EditShare, and am the “voice” behind the @ESLightworks account on Twitter. I may be able to help answer questions about what we’re doing with Lightworks, but the best resource is our Forum at .

    EditShare is first & foremost a designer & manufacturer of server systems for film & broadcast production. In 2009, we acquired Gee Broadcast, who was among other things the owner of Lightworks, which had changed hands a few times over the years. We didn’t want to see Lightworks die, so we began making plans to modernize and, eventually, to open source it.

    These plans are currently ongoing. 

    The plugin model Stefan Maerz refers to is mainly related to the advanced video codec support in Lightworks. Given that some of these codecs are patent protected & must to be licensed from film industry organizations, we can’t just give away support for them, as they aren’t ours to give away. We can, however, offer them at a modest cost, which is what we’re going to do. It would be nice if we could give them away, but we think this is a reasonable compromise.

    To Dan’s point, it sounds good, but it’s not that simple. We’re talking here about a codebase that goes back to 1989, and has had a number of authors & owners over the years. Some of the code is licensed from yet other companies. Some of those companies are no longer in business. Some of the people behind those companies are no longer in touch. Some of the people have died.

    So, while EditShare owns Lightworks today, we can’t just give away the source code without first auditing the full codebase to make sure that we are respecting the intellectual property rights of everyone that has played a role in the development of the system over the years. That which belongs to us, we’re happy to share. That which is licensed from someone else may have to get rewritten before it can be published.

    This process, unfortunately, takes time, but we’re working through it. Linux itself had to do a similar audit procedure in the wake of the SCO trial a few years ago, and it does need to be taken seriously, which is what we’re doing.

    Finally, Stefan, if you think we’re “hiding” something, do let us know what you think it is that that might be.

  6. Stefan Maerz 02 May 2012 at 5:32 pm

    Thank you for clarifying Lightworks.

    Since it appears that you have licensing issues, it seems you are indeed hiding stuff. I think this is where the hiding stuff came from….its not like I was claiming a high confidence level. ;)

    How is lightworks on resources? Could I expect it to run fluidly on a mid range laptop from around 07?

  7. I _guess_ you can call that “hiding”, at a stretch :-)

    For a compatibility summary, see , but in short, we intend for it to be lean & efficient, and I expect that it should work fine on a laptop of the vintage you’re talking about.

    (Note that we’re only talking about Windows compatibility so far, as the Linux & Mac ports are not available to the public yet.)

  8. I’ve been watching this process since the beginning and I’m confident that they will release the source code.

    I’m often over confident about release days my self, so I know how you feel.

    It’s very common that it takes a long time going over old code. For example: Blender, Reactos,, OpenJDK.

    I think people have been bitten too many times by companies that say they are going to open source products.

    Brutal honestly is often what works best, even though it’s very hard.

    But community is the most important thing in open source software. See the difference between and Libreoffice.

    @ESLightworks thanks for taking active part of the extended community it’s really important.

    It looks like you are taking the right decision towards the Pro version. Giving you extras + support. Not OpenCore which has a version that is good, then a bad one for free. I think it’s really important to support the version that’s going to be in linux distro and the Pro versions would have that version as a dependency and install the extras on top of them.

    I will probably be buying the Pro version if that is case, because I only buy things or support things I believe in.

    Most developers are technology geeks, they like things that make sense. So I get as excited by Novacut as LightWorks. And the thing is they shouldn’t be mutually exclusive. Look at the cooperation between KDE and Gnome, it basically fueled what we know now as the diverse desktop ecosystem on linux.

    Same thing has to be true for you, cooperate about file formats, synced editing like Novacut, integrate Blender into the workflow, possible reusing parts of LightWave for that.

    No program is an island on linux, we have strange solutions like gstreamer, jack, dbus, because it’s important to work together. Make it easy to extend Lightwave to use that, even if it does not make sense for Mac or Windows, that’s the beauty of extendable systems they can allow for variance. Even just being a provider ( source ) in gstreamer would be really interesting.

    I hope you embrace the linux community because I think you can’t really loose, the current Pro NLE are so high up in their towers that they don’t realize that their software is buggy, quirky and sucks in many ways but at the same time so powerful and useful so you can’t really dismiss them.

    One of the important things about open source software is the potential, having your bugs fixed and things improve. See the difference between Blender 2.5+ and before. LibreOffice to OpenOffice to StarOffice. Inkscape to Sodipodi. Gimp+Gegl to without Gegl.

    So if you are going to give people doing interesting things to the core, not just plugins, and be open to people experimenting, giving advice, having docs for the structure is so helpful. Encouraging people and letting them have a say. Being honest about your plans. Then I think you will have a bright future.

  9. used to make most decisions   in a closed process and didn’t incorporate code from outside without a lot of work and sometime not even then. That has a lot to do with why it still sucks. It took a looser structure where people were confident about it’s future to make it a little bit better and hopefully a lot better. So please learn from LibreOffice and don’t go the route of so many failed attempts: MySQL, SugarCRM ( it’s code gives me nightmares ), Mambo.

  10. ESLightworks, it’s quite understandable that you’re having trouble with 3rd party licensing, and you can’t be blamed for that. But you really could do better at being forthright about that. There was a vague reference to legal hassles in one of your press releases but that was all. Even your simple clarificatory statement here is a big improvement on that. Having a public list of issues and documenting your progress in resolving them would make people a lot more confident about what you’re doing.

    On top of that, you may even be able to get some help with that effort. I obviously don’t know how modular your codebase is; maybe code you know you can relicense is too finely intertwined with the problematic code for this approach to work, but I thought I’d bring it up. A lot of groups which have made a closed to open transition have initially released their code in a state where it couldn’t yet be built due to dependence on unavailable (still proprietary) libraries, source files, etc and have received help finding or writing open source replacements for those dependencies. Might that make sense for LightWorks?

  11. @Dan:

    Clearly, we’re learning as we go.

    Would a public bug tracker really make prospective Lightworks users more “confident”? (Does Radar make anyone more [or less] confident in the software Apple ships?) I’m not so sure that’s the case, but perhaps.

    In any case, we do have a public forum ( or when the new site goes live on the 28th) where people can & do discuss anything & everything related to Lightworks, including bug reports, & feature requests. We have both users & developers using the forum, so it’s currently the best way to get involved with the system as it continues to evolve. It may not be a formal bug tracker on the lines of, say, Bugzilla or Radar, but it is a response to that need, and will, we expect, bridge that need until we get further along with planning the launch of the open source project.

    And if you’d like to help with the effort more directly, by all means, get in touch with us ( ) and send in a resume. We’re building a team what we think are some of the best NLE developers in the world (early Lightworks writers, ex-Avid people, etc) and if you’d like to be a part of that, we’d love to hear from you.

  12. I hope LightWorks people can solve third parties patents and licenses issues. I think they could release the program under OpenSource license and proprietary codecs as a separate package.
    I would like to see this project similar to Blender Fundation.
    One question: There are no professional OpenSource codecs/encoders to meet the industry? ¿ffmpeg?
    It would also be great that LightWorks handle OpenSource formats by default (first option in Save dialog).

  13. As another data point, Lumiera has ~85 KLOC, with comments and whitespace lines about 150 KLOC.

    Anyway, I choose to be not think too much about LightWorks until I actually see it. :-) Will absolutely check it out if it comes though!

    The lightworks rep made me a bit more confident in it though. Still, getting a really good FOSS video editor for free just like that,—nah, can’t believe that.

    Anyway, it will need some serious competition from Lumiera still (which is still kinda “vapourware” I guess since it still isn’t internally wired up and able to do anything interesting).

  14. Alexandre Prokoudine 29 May 2012 at 12:50 am

    Lumiera? Wait, we are talking about software that can be used for actual cutting and rendering, no? </trollface> :)

  15. Alexandre Prokoudine 29 May 2012 at 12:55 am

    BTW, I’d be interested in a short review of the current state of Lumiera. Unfortunately the team doesn’t tell the world a lot about what’s going on with the project. I mean, quarterly reports? Meh :)

  16. And what we know now about the planned timing of the release for Linux?)

  17. There’s no updated information available about the timetable for the Linux (or Mac) ports of Lightworks, other than to say that they are being actively worked on.

    Keep an eye on or @ESLightworks on Twitter for information as it becomes available.

  18. Alexandre Prokoudine 30 June 2012 at 10:12 pm

    @Lightworks Thanks for keeping us updated :) Where does that shark logo from, by the way?

  19. Good question — and the answer thoroughly predates me, so I’m not sure. I’ll ask around. I can say, however, that the shark has a name: Lucy :-)

  20. Good news folks,

    Lightworks Alpha for Linux is scheduled to be available on 30 October!

    That is not far away, :) hopefully things go ok and we’ll see LW on Linux available pretty soon! :)

    Now if only DaVinci Resolve had Lite version for Linux and also would be optimized for more mainstream hardware, these two apps together would really shake the world :) I am now working on a music video for which I use Da Vinci Resolve Lite and Lightworks and I think they make a perfect match and amazing workflow solution.

    Well anyway, see you soon trying out LW on Linux! I surely will love it because I already love Lightworks and can’t wait to use it on my more preferred OS of choice.

  21. Don’t pay for the “pro” version.  Ever seen a product that if you simply move it from one harddrive (starting to go bad) to a new one, in the same computer, it absolutely refuses to even start, even though every other program you have runs fine on the new drive.  Then, if you are “rude” and “obnoxious” (their tech support words for me) and state the obvious that this is a serious problem, that it probably relates to the idiotic verification system they use and not the actual software, they delete your account and refuse to refund your money.  What they do want you to do is to spend about 24 hours going through all kinds of hoops to try to figure it out.

    Stay Away from Lightworks, unless you just want to play with the free version.  Too bad, because I really liked the program.

  22. The following is a formal response to Dave from the Lightworks tech support team, which I’m forwarding on their behalf. For any followups, please get in touch with us on .

    • • • • •

    The Lightworks Tech Support team addressed this as a serious issue, and attempted to rectify the situation for Dave, despite him not having a Support Contract in place with EditShare.

    The Lightworks Pro activation was restored to Dave’s system as a priority via an offline V2C file.

    In order to resolve the startup issue quickly and efficiently, Lightworks Tech Support asked for remote access to the system to investigate why Lightworks wasn’t starting. Unfortunately, remote access was not possible due to confidentiality reasons with Dave’s customers. This meant trouble shooting via email. When asked to produce the error.log file from the system, Dave declined and said he could no longer continue trying to resolve the issue. Tech Support asked for the error.log file another three times, but it was not forthcoming. Without the error.log file and without remote access, resolving the issue was not possible.

    Dave’s account on the Lightworks Website was blocked due to repeated postings that breached the Lightworks Forum and Community Terms and Conditions.