From Rivendell Wiki
Before moving over to any new playout system, most users will want to have a chance to find out whether the new system will meet their needs. Rivendell is fairly unique in that it is free, allowing you to have access to the full system for as long as you want. As Rivendell runs on the Linux operating system, there is no need to worry about having to buy an OS for it to run on.
There are a couple of ways in which you can try out Rivendell to see if it meets the needs of your station. The first of these is by installing a complete system (also known as a Broadcast Appliance). The second way, that is currently under development, is by downloading a fully configured VMWare Virtual image. This will allow you to run a complete Rivendell system within a virtual machine on your computer without having to find a dedicated machine. Both of these options are based on the CentOS Linux operating system.
If you have a spare PC, you can download and install a full system on the computer, allowing you to try Rivendell with your own hardware. It should be noted that using this method to evaluate Rivendell will require the hard drive of the machine to be completely wiped and that you will loose any existing data that might be stored on that drive. Only do this if you are happy to reformat the hard drive in your computer. If you wish to follow this route for evaluation, you can find instructions on how to install Rivendell here.
Virtual Machine image
We are currently looking at ways that a Virtual Machine image could be made available containing an up-to-date version of Rivendell for evaluation. When this is available we will be updating this section with information on how to use it. Using a Virtual Machine image you will be able to try out Rivendell without having to install it onto a spare machine.
Is Rivendell the right radio automation for you?
This Handbook on Radio Automation Systems (PDF document) is a bit dated, but contains useful information about radio automation.
Areas where Rivendell may not meet your needs.
See if there is a station nearby and see if you can go see Rivendell in action.