- Linux Music Workflow switching form Max OS to Ubuntu with Kim Cascone
Visit his Website Noisepages
Your article is excellent and it is at a pretty high level of research.
I have no idea about music but write comments on Linux distributions except Ubunbtu unfortunately
There are many Linux distribution specialized in Music.
- XBMC is a game box like xbox and audio and video capabilities. I won’t recommend it for Music but for games and store your music and video.
I am going to extract some for your article for promoting Linux.
I have extracted first few pages an article on computer music by Kim Cascone which is an excellent article.
- Audio files and audio rendering (Free Software ) was pain in the neck 10 years ago. Now it has matured into hugely successful formats.
- All digital music at the end of the day has to be read by our analog ears which has very narrow range and decibels to enjoy. We do not have the perception of a rat, mouse, dog or even an elephant. Snakes including cobras cannot hear music but they are receptive to vibration and catch a mouse in flight at night. Some snakes have infrared sensors.
- Mind you elephants love music.
- Reason of reproduction is two folds.
- To promote Linux including Ubuntu
- To promote Computer Music
I’ve been working with computers since the 1970s. Inspired by the work of composer David Behrman, I taught myself assembly language and programmed a simple digital sequencer on a KIM-1, single-board microcomputer, controlling an Aries modular synthesizer I had built. I discovered a then-new magazine called Computer Music Journal at the local computer shop and bought every copy I could get my hands on. (I still have them, too.) Later, I helped a friend’s father, an executive at IBM, unpack and set up the first personal computer IBM made. The manuals alone took up two or three feet of bookshelf space.
Fast-forward through a couple of decades of owning Commodore 64s, Apple computers, and PCs. In 1997, I purchased my first laptop: a woefully-underpowered Compaq Presario. It wasn’t fast enough for real-time audio, so I had to render sound files to hard disk using the audio programming language Csound. I created many of the sounds this way for my CD ‘blueCube’. But the capacity to work anywhere was enough for me to give up ever owning another desktop computer.
Frustrated with the ‘code-compile-listen’ process of working with Csound and wanting to work in real-time, I switched to the graphical multi-media programming language Max/MSP, which necessitated a move back to Apple hardware, so I bought a PowerBook. Having Max/MSP running on a laptop was the perfect environment for me. I could build the tools I needed whenever an idea presented itself. The computer functioned as both sound design studio and stage instrument. I worked this way for ten years, faithfully following the upgrade path set forth by Apple and the various developers of the software I used. Continually upgrading required a substantial financial commitment on my part.
When I’m on the road, I use my laptop as a music studio, performance instrument, and administration office. I don’t like surprises on the road. Having a computer fail means a loss of income, and makes for an embarrassing moment if the failure happens during a performance. If watching laptop music bores some people, watching a musician reboot is even worse. So to be safe, I stress-test all new hardware or software in my studio for at least a month before I take it on the road. Max/MSP patches run for hours, software is used for weeks, and hardware is left on for days at a time to help induce failure before I leave home. But as fate would have it, an iBook I was touring with died a few years ago. I brought the laptop into an Apple repair shop in Berlin, where a technician diagnosed the problem as a faulty logic board. The failure rate on logic boards was high for that model of iBook, and in response to public pressure, Apple instituted a logic board replacement program. Luckily, my laptop qualified and the logic board was replaced for free. But the failure and ongoing buggy behavior impacted my work schedule and added to the stress of touring.
I’ve now replaced logic boards on three computers; the other two I paid for out of pocket. The out-of-warranty cost of replacing a logic board on an Apple laptop is around six hundred dollars — cheaper than buying a brand new laptop, but still significant.
If you make your living with applications that run on OS X, there are no options if a laptop fails. You either repair expensive Apple hardware or buy new expensive Apple hardware. This is called ‘vendor lock-in.’
Then, during my 2009 spring tour, my PowerBook G4 exhibited signs of age, with missing keystrokes, intermittent backlighting, the failure of a RAM slot, and reduced performance. As an alternative to repairing the PowerBook, I investigated what a new MacBook Pro and upgrades for all my software would cost. A quick back-of-a-napkin estimate came to approximately $3,000, not including the time it would take tweaking and testing to make it work for the tour. If the netbook revolution hadn’t come along and spawn a price-wars on laptops, I might have proceeded to increase my credit card debt. But as a wise uncle once advised, “you invest either your time or your money; never both.”
I had tried Linux in 2005 on PowerPC-based Mac laptops, though at the time I couldn’t get audio working, even after extensive tweaking. But I had kept an eye on Ubuntu ever since. After considering MacBook Pro prices, I checked out the new netbooks coming to market and picked up a refurbished Dell Inspiron Mini 9 with Ubuntu pre-installed.
I loaded up my Dell with all a selection of Linux audio applications and brought it with me on tour as an emergency backup to my tottering PowerBook. The Mini 9 could play back four tracks of 24-bit/96 kHz audio with effects – not bad for a netbook. The solution to my financial constraint became clear, and I bought a refurbished Dell Studio 15, installed Ubuntu on it, and set it up for sound production and business administration. The total cost was around $600 for the laptop plus a donation to a software developer — a far cry from the $3000.00 price tag and weeks of my time it would have cost me to stay locked-in to Apple. After a couple of months of solid use, I have had no problems with my laptop or Ubuntu. Both have performed flawlessly, remaining stable and reliable.
Getting Past Ubuntu Audio Complexities
There are a few differences between how audio works on Mac OS X and how it works on Ubuntu Linux. OS X uses the Core Audio and Core MIDI frameworks for audio and MIDI services, respectively. All applications requiring audio services on OS X talk to Core Audio, which mixes and routes multiple audio streams to the desired locations. Core Audio is simple, monolithic, and easy to set up, and all the end-user controls are accessible from one panel. You can even create a single aggregate device from multiple sound cards if you need more inputs or outputs than one sound card can supply. To Apple’s credit, Core Audio and the applications that make use of it are the reason why you see so many laptop musicians seated behind glowing Apple logos on stage.
On Ubuntu, audio is a rather different story. Apple’s slogan ‘Think Different’ would be good advice for musicians encountering Ubuntu’s audio setup for the first time. Audio in Ubuntu can appear at first to be a confusing jumble of servers, layers, services, and terminology. Go to System->Preferences->Sound, click on the Devices tab, and check out the pull down menu next to ‘Sound Events’ at the top of the panel. You will see various acronyms, possibly including cryptic-looking technologies like OSS, ESD, ALSA, JACK, and Pulse Audio. These acronyms represent a byzantine tangle of conflicting technologies that over time, and due to political reasons or backwards compatibility, have ended up cohabiting with one another.
‘Frankenstein’ might be an accurate metaphor here.
Thankfully, there is a simpler way, which is the combination of ALSA [a high-performance, kernel-level audio and MIDI system] and JACK [a system for creating low-latency audio, MIDI, and sync connections between applications and computers]. The battle-scarred among us have learned to ignore all the other audio cruft bolted on to Ubuntu and just use ALSA and JACK. One can think of the ALSA/JACK stack, the heart of most pro Linux studios, as the Core Audio of Linux and in my opinion Jack should be the first thing installed on any musicians laptop. I’d go so far as to suggest placing it in the Startup Applications so it’s always running.