Making Transana work on Ubuntu

Transana is a fantastic open source software for transcribing and categorizing qualitative empirical material such as interviews and video. And it actually works fairly well on Linux. Here I will describe how to make it work in Ubuntu good enough for my research needs – even if there are some quirks. At the moment (March 2014) it seems that it is impossible to make the current revision work so we need to check out an earlier version of the code. But you could always test to just:

  • Download the “Gnu Tarball” from here and unzip it somewhere where you want the program to reside (I have it as a folder called Transana in my home folder) Does not work currently – see the instruction about checking out an older version further down.
  • But probably you need to use a previous version, and to do that you need the program CVS installed. So we start off by installing:
  • Install, python, mysql-server, python-mysqldb, python-paramiko, python-numpy, cvs:

sudo apt-get install mysql-server python-mysqldb python-paramiko python-numpy wine cvs python-wxgtk2.8

    • During the installation you are asked to provide a root password for the mysql root account. Choose whatever you please – and remember it…
    • We then add your current user as a Mysql user – in my case the user is “ketil” so I do this to log into mysql(replace with your own password):

mysql --user=root --password=YOUR-SECRET-ROOT-PASSWORD mysql
Then to add yourself as mysql user write (replace with your own password)

mysql> CREATE USER 'ketil'@'localhost' IDENTIFIED BY 'some_pass';
    • Then we check out a previous version of Transana (from november 2012):

cvs co -D "11/16/2012" transana

  • Download Transanas demo from here and install it with wine (usually just double-click from the download folder or open it from the browser) – during the installation choose the languages you need.
  • From the demo installation folder (usually /home/YOUR_USER/.wine/drive_c/Program Files (x86)/Transana Demon) copy the folder called “locale” into the folder where you unzipped your Gnu Tarball.
  • Before you start
  • Now you should be ready to start Transana. This has to be done in two steps (we can automate this later).
    • First start the Message server by opening a terminal and enter the MessageServer directory/folder in the src directory/folder within the checkout folder (in my case I would open a terminal and write: “cd /home/ketil/transana/transana/src/MessageServer” and enter) and once there write python
    • Open a new terminal and enter the src folder/directory (cd /home/ketil/transana/transana/src) and write python
    • Now it should start…
    • In the opening window I use the user created above (ketil) and the password I entered. Under host write localhost
    • Under the tab Message Server also write localhost
    • It is kind of stupid to have to manually start MessageServer and Transana each time so I made this really simple start-up-script which I saved as and made an icon for and put in my menu:

python /home/ketil/transana/transan/src/MessageServer/ &
python /home/ketil/transana/transana/src/

In order for it to start you need to change its permissions so open Nautilus or whatever file browser you use and right click and change its permission by ticking “make it executable” or something like that.

  • There is one thing that does not work in Transana, and that is the waveform extraction. In order to make that work transform the audiofile you want to transcribe to 8 bit mono wav in Sound Convertor (sudo apt-get install soundconverter) and move this file into /home/ketil/Transana2/waveforms
  • It is important to take backups of the database since that is now not a part of the user login (since this is a multi user version of Transan) so within Transana always end your session with choosing “tools” from the menu, and “export database” and save it somewhere safe. I actually have both Transana folders (/home/ketil/transana/transana/src and the automatically generated /home/ketil/Transana2) now moved to my Dropbox folder. I have symlinked the Transana2 folder by first moving it to the dropbox folder and then right clicking it and choose “make link” and thereafter moving the link to /home/ketil

Good luck! I only use Transana for audio transcription and categorisation so I can not vouch for the video usage, but I have seen it work.



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