Blackmagic DaVinci Resolve on Linux

Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve is one of the most powerful video editing suites available that also runs on Linux.
There are some quirks with DaVinci Resolve under Linux and this guide will help you with those.

Resolve edit screen
Thu, 10/08/2020 - 12:31
Changed
Fri, 12/02/2022 - 23:44

There are two versions available of Blackmagic Design DaVinci Resolve, the free version and the paid studio version:

  • Free version - Free to download and use.
    It has some limitations on used export resolutions, available plugins and some of the more advanced features (noise reduction, effects, audio and video encoders/decoders, interlaced video handling, GPU usage). For many uses and users this version does pretty much everything you might need for video editing. Does not utilize a GPU as much as the paid Studio version.
  • Studio version - Relatively cheap (315€ / $299 without tax) version that has no limitations, all features are available.
    This version requires a license, either a registration code (allows two installations) or a USB license dongle (that must be connected at all times). Updates from all major and minor versions have been free so far. If you need to work with interlaced material, noise reduction and all possible video effects, then you need this paid version. Also if you need to work with interlaced video, for example editing old SD PAL/NTSC videos, you need the studio version for proper interlacing handling.
    If you get the USB Dongle license version you can also use Fusion, the separate Video FX suite.
    Note: Unfortunately, even with this paid version, there are encoder and decoder limitations under Linux.
    Note: Some of the Blackmagic Hardware (Cameras, Editing keyboards) come bundled with the DaVinci Resolve Studio version license, this can sometimes be a great way to get the Studio version.

The latest stable release of DaVinci Resolve 18 is version 18.1.1 (released 23 Nov 2022) and can be downloaded from the Blackmagic Design support site. Older major versions (17, 16, etc) are also still available and in case your hardware or OS version is not up to the task with the latest and greatest, these might still be a good option for you.

DaVinci Resolve is obviously not free software, open source or anything close to that, but it does use plenty of open source software internally like Qt (5.15 since 17.4 to be specific), SoX Resampler library libsoxr, PostgreSQL, gstreamer, curl, OpenCV 3.4.1 and FFMPEG 4.3.1. (Yep, ffmpeg, the all decoding and encoding video tool. The irony...). (And yes, I've tried replacing the ffmpeg libraries with ones that support more formats, no luck there unfortunately).

The Studio version also supports scripting with Python and Lua and external encoding plugins in C++. See the documentation and examples under the installation directory in Developer/Scripting for details if this interests you.

Hardware and software requirements of DaVinci Resolve

Resolve does have some hefty hardware requirements, a powerful multi core CPU and GPU with plenty of VRAM is highly recommended, especially if working on anything higher than Full HD or using GPU specific features like noise reduction. The open-source drivers will not work, you do need to use proprietary NVIDIA or AMD Radeon drivers.

Minimum system requirements for Resolve on Linux, according to Blackmagic, are:

  • CentOS 7.3
  • 32 GB of system memory
  • Discrete GPU with at least 2GB of VRAM
  • GPU which supports OpenCL 1.2 or CUDA 11
  • NVIDIA/AMD proprietary drivers  – As required by your GPU

Database storage (optional)

You also need to have:

  • CPU with SSE4 (So you are out of luck on older CPUs, for example Phenoms, even if specs would otherwise be just fine for SD/HD editing.)

Experience has shown that you can work with less memory if you keep to basic features, 8-16GB memory is fine for basic cutting of SD, HD or Full HD footage. A NVIDIA GPU is highly recommended, AMD GPU does work too, but afaik, some effects and plugins are CUDA only and might be slower on AMD GPUs.

Any decent Linux distribution should be OK, the officially supported distribution is a very old CentOS 7.3 but who uses something like that anymore ? Experience has shown that for example Linux Mint works perfectly, and so should any Ubuntu derived distribution. Other distributions shoud be just fine too.

Make sure you have up to date GPU drivers and that your GPU is supported, minimum CUDA version is 11 or OpenCL 1.2. Also GPU with at least 4-6 GB of VRAM is highly recommended for any serious work. And for any GPU based features like noise reduction or effects, 4K resolution the more the better.

Note: Resolve is not the only application using precious GPU memory, your desktop environment, X11, Firefox, etc will also be using some it. Check with your GPU utilities in case you have low GPU memory issues.

Download DaVinci Resolve for Linux

You can find downloads of Resolve to the latest versions and also old version (great if your CPU/GPU is not up for the latest and greatest!) at Blackmagics support site, in the Latest downloads section.

Be sure to pick the right version, if it has Studio in the name then you need to buy a license activation code or have the license USB dongle. Unfortunately you can't easily switch between the Studio and Free version, it would be great if the Studio version would just limited the features if no license is found, but alas, it won't work.

Installing DaVinci Resolve on Linux

To install DaVinci, first unzip the downloaded archive. It includes two files, the installer executable and an instruction pdf. The installer is an executable script so you will not need to use any package management utility to do the installation. Also converting the installer to a RPM or DEB is not required.

To start the installation you just simply execute the installer and follow the GUI wizard. Just click trough the prompts and let it do its thing.

$ unzip DaVinci_Resolve_Studio_18.1_Linux.zip 
Archive:  DaVinci_Resolve_Studio_18.1_Linux.zip
  inflating: DaVinci_Resolve_Studio_18.1_Linux.run
  inflating: Linux_Installation_Instructions.pdf  

$ ./DaVinci_Resolve_Studio_18.1_Linux.run
Image
DaVinci Resolve installer introduction

The installer will do a rudimentary check on required packages and will inform you if anything is missing, for example:

Missing or outdated system packages detected
Error: Missing or outdated system packages detected.

Please install the following missing packages:
    libxcb-cursor0

Use SKIP_PACKAGE_CHECK=1 to bypass the system package check.
Image
Missing or outdated system packages detected

In case the installer complains about missing packages, just install them with your distributions package manager. For example for the above it would be:

apt install libxcb-cursor0

When installer is done, you are ready to start DaVinci Resolve.

Image
DaVinci Resolve Studio installing completed

 

Media decoding and encoding limitations

DaVinci Resolve does support many different media containers (mov, mp4, mxf, etc) and many, mainly professional (raw, low-compression formats), codecs.

Unfortunately both the Free and Studio versions have some limitations in the audio and video decoders and encoders, under Linux. The Studio version is a bit better than the free version in this regard, but it is still much worse than on Windows or macOS.

Video decoder limitations

The free versions has a very limited support for video decoders in all supported operating systems, but it is especially limited under Linux. The de-facto standard (consumer) video formats that are used everywhere like h264 and h265 are not supported at all. Fortunately there are workarounds, a bit time and space consuming, but still, pretty easy and straightforward.

  • The studio version does support h264 and h265.

Video encoder limitations

There are also limitations in the encoding part, or exporting formats. Here too h264 or h265 is not supported under Linux in the free version.

  • The studio version support h264 and h265 encoding, but only with NVIDIA GPU encoding.

Quality wise it is also recommended to export first in DNxHR and then encode with ffmpeg to h264 as hardware encoding can be worse.

Image
DaVinci Resolve studio video codecs, QuickTime container

Audio decoder limitations

Support for decoding AAC codec is not available under Linux, at all. Not in Free and not in Studio. Video files with AAC audio will load, but the audio track will be silent.

  • Solution: re-mux video files with ffmpeg and decode audio track(s) to PCM audio

Audio encoder limitations

Audio encoding support is very bad in both the free and studio versions, even the paid Studio version won't export anything other than uncompressed Liner PCM. Blame idiotic software patents for this. There is no support for any standard encoding (Advanced audio coding, aac) formats under Linux. Using uncompressed Linear PCM or IEEE Float audio is the best (and only) option and then re-muxing with ffmpeg and compressing the audio, see below for examples.

Note: Since 18.1, MP3 has been added as an lossy compression option. AAC is still missing.

Image
DaVinci Resolve studio audio codecs under Linux

There is nothing wrong with uncompressed audio, it is the best quality you can have after all. The issue is with playback, not all software and especially consumer hardware supports it in video containers.

Audio input

Audio input/recording from standard audio devices was missing for a long time. Version 17.3 added support for Linux ALSA audio devices and it is possible to record on the Fairlight page.

Note that if you are using anything older than 17.3, then audio input (recording of audio) won't work.

Workarounds for encoder and decoder limitations

FFmpeg to the rescue! It does add an extra step, but not a big deal. Below are some examples on re-encoding (lossy) and re-muxing (lossless) to various video and audio combinations. For more details on using DNxHR or DNxHD see this tutorial.

Decoding, re-encoding or re-muxing video

Decoding and re-muxing example ffmpeg commands
Operation FFMpeg command
Extract audio from video to raw 16-bit PCM .wav
ffmpeg -i video.flv -c:a pcm_s16le audio-only.wav
Encode to DNxHR-HQ and PCM audio
ffmpeg -i video.mov -c:v dnxhd -profile:v dnxhr_hq -pix_fmt yuv422p -c:a pcm_s16le video-dnxhr-gq-raw-pcm.mov
Re-mux video, decoding audio to PCM, copying video
ffmpeg -i video.mov -c:v copy -c:a pcm_s16le video-encoded-audio-raw-pcm.mov
Re-mux FLV video, decoding audio to PCM, copying video ffmpeg -i video.flv -c:v copy -c:a pcm_s16le video-encoded-audio-raw-pcm.mov

Encoding video and audio

Encoding ffmpeg commands
Operation FFMpeg command
Encode audio to AAC, copying video
ffmpeg -i video-h264-audio-raw-pcm.mov -c:v copy -c:a aac video-h264-audio-aac.mov
Encode to DNxHR-HQ and PCM audio
ffmpeg -i video.mov -c:v dnxhd -profile:v dnxhr_hq -pix_fmt yuv422p -c:a pcm_s16le video-dnxhr-gq-raw-pcm.mov
Encode high quality h264 video and AAC audio
ffmpeg -i video.mov -c:v libx264 -preset veryslow -crf 14 -c:a aac -b:a 256k video.mp4
Encode high quality h264, force yuv420, video and AAC audio
ffmpeg -i video.mov -c:v libx264 -preset veryslow -pix_fmt yuv420p  -crf 14 -c:a aac -b:a 256k video.mp4

Speed Editor keyboard

The Speed Editor keyboard should work fine since version 17 (initial support in beta 4) using USB (Bluetooth support unknown).

Image
Speed Editor keyboard

UDEV rules for Speed Editor keyboard

You might need to fix the device access with a udev rule like:

KERNEL=="hidraw*", ATTRS{idVendor}=="1edb", ATTRS{idProduct}=="da0e", MODE="0660", TAG+="uaccess"

HiDPI issues

Under some desktop environments you might have issues with scaling when using HiDPI displays. A workaround is to set a couple Qt environment variables:

export QT_DEVICE_PIXEL_RATIO=2
export QT_AUTO_SCREEN_SCALE_FACTOR=true

Other quirks or limitations

  • ALT+Mouse button combination is used in Resolve but might be reserved by your desktop system for moving windows. You need to disable or change the combo.
  • ALSA Audio input didn't work until version 17.3

Hints & Tips

  • Running out of GPU memory in Resolve ? You can monitor GPU usage by process with the nvidia-smi utility. For example firefox can be a GPU memory hog and closing it might release enough for Resolve to be happy again.
    |    0   N/A  N/A    202962      G   /usr/lib/firefox/firefox         1610MiB |

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