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I've been experimenting quite a bit with some different Linux versions, looking for a version that is well suited to audio production work.


I thought I'd share my experiences so far, after about 120 hours into the project. Each of these was downloaded off the web for free. With a very very good DSL connection, it takes about 2 hours/CD.


Each build successfully created a dual-boot loader that allowed me to boot into Windows or Linux with no grief of any kind. Slackware and MEPIS dual-boot loaders both included a most thorough RAM test utility that is excellent.


I first tried Slackware 10, (4 CDs) which is sort of a jack-of-all-trades build that is very thorough and complete. It installed somewhere around 5500 programs, of which I could locate and use about 50. I just didn't know what was there, where they were installed in the directory tree, or what they did. It was a lot like drinking from a fire hose... it'd be tough to take in more than 0.1% of what is there during an average lifetime.


Next, I tried MEPIS, (1 CD) which is sort of the other extreme - - it actually boots into X-windows right off the CD, where you can try out every program without even installing it, by executing from RAM-disk. Very nice. Unfortunately, it was not very conducive to making peripherals work. No luck with dual-monitor (unless you have an NVidia video card).


Finally, I (thought I) found the 'BeOS' of linux, called AGNULA. It is optimized for real-time processing, has no non-audio frills, but includes lots of audio editors, sequencers, soft-synths, plugins, and a few DAWs (such as Ardour), and a lot of other tools of which I've never seen anything like. All for the price of 'free for the download'.


Yesterday, I finally threw in the towel and went back to Windows for the time being. What went wrong? Well... let me count the ways


1) Except for Slackware, it was pretty much impossible to get my Matrox dual-head video working - - even though Linux supports any number of video cards driving any number of video outputs at any resolution, the MEPIS and AGNULA just couldn't be made to work - at least, not before I ran out of patience and time.


The dual-head worked under Slackware after a couple hours of editing a script file (/etc/X11/xorg.conf) that describes my setup.


2) In all of the builds, the support for audio was difficult. Everything COULD be made to work, but not efficiently. Good enough for the typical windows 'Dings' when an error happens, but definitely NOT good enough for working with audio production.


For example, the ALSA mixer program for my audio interface had something like 68 sliders and switches, most of which were unlabelled and (among those I was able to figure out) generally didn't work. I had to scroll sideways through all this, trying to count the dozens of sliders as they zoomed by, to find (for example) the input attentuator for channel 8 of my card.


3) The AGNULA version (a variant of Debian), which I had such high hopes for, had no support for reading NTFS or FAT drives (so no work or samples or anything else could ever be ported into or out of the system except by writing/reading CDs, or perhaps, by some obscure magic, make the LAN do something).

It also insisted, on later re-installs, on repeatedly installing it's AMD K7 kernel into my dual-celeron PC, then hanging after the reboot. (That one was the final straw that sent me bawling back to Bill Gates...ashamed and with my tail between my legs.)


4) All of them:

- Modems didn't work. No path I could find led me toward making any of them work.

- LAN acted like it wanted to work, but couldn't access the Win2K system on the other end. (Apparently you need to set up a SAMBA server, of which I could find no clues on how to do. It's probably not difficult, but with no information available, I really couldn't say...)

- The documentation is horrible. I honestly didn't think anything could do worse than Windows on documentation. I was wrong.

- A huge amount of time was spent wondering what to do to get anything to happen. I have to ask, how hard could it be to offer some step-by-step directions in a file that has a link on the desktop? Apparently, way too hard....


My verdict:

Not Ready for Prime Time.

Not yet anyway.

Maybe I'll try again sometime.


Does somebody on the forum have a suggestion for a build that has actually worked for them, that they actually use to create/record music?


If so, I'd love to hear about it - - in spite of my experiences so far, I believe Linux has an incredible untapped potential for DAW use.

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Not there yet either Phil, though I'm still trying.

Unfortunately I have other things that are more pressing, such as making a living, than trying numerous Linux distros to find one that will work for audio production.

So, Here's what I do, & it sucks, big time.

General computer work:


Email and browsing = Mepis.

A very nice, user friendly version of Linux.

I'm on it most of the time when at home and browsing.


Music = Windows 2000 Professional.

Works great, is stable as hell and everything I've tried to work with has funtioned.


Work = Windows XP.

Not the professional edition, what ever it's called, Home???. Unfortunately I'm stuck with a need for "Outlook" to synchronize my hand held scheduler/pod to my laptop or pc, among other programs that are windows dependent.


I have a PC in the garage that I've been fighting for months to get wireless working. Hasn't happened yet other than sporadically. Windows ME works fine and is acutally faster on that old Cyrix 266 running at 200MHZ.


I'll be, because of the career change, putting the dedicated DAW on hold for awhile. I'm pulling it apart and will make some hard drive swaps and move things around so I will have my main pc,(dual boot Win 2K and Mepis) wifey's (dual boot) Win2K or ME and Mepis/Beatrix) on hard wire connection to the lan with daughter's (dual boot Win2K or ME and Mepis) and my garage unit (Win2K or whatever Linux will work) via wireless.


I will try AGNULA to see if that will give me what I need, at this time, to keep going with what little time I now have for recording.


We'll see....



Thanks for this thread. It's time has come.


Our Joint


"When you come slam bang up against trouble, it never looks half as bad if you face up to it." The Duke...

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Philbo, I've recently picked back up on the Linux trail, too. Over the last few years, I've bounced between Red Hat, Mandrake (red Hat with Extras) and SuSE, then back to Windows. From version 6 up to 9, I have concluded that more developments for desktop/workstation use seem to be on Red Hat than the other distros. For server work, both Sun Microsystems and IBM have invested into SuSE (now owned by Novell, as of distro v9.2). I am currently setting up a SuSE 9.0 workstation & server. Version 9.2 seems to be very quirky, difficult to set up and basically unstable. I spent half the weekend battling various "issues" with v9.2.


For audio DAW use, I have been following Source Forge's "Ardour" package ( SourceForge "Ardour" Download Page ). It is still in beta... v0.92. They seem to be developing for "Red Hat" & "Fedora Core 1". I once installed it on Red Hat 6 with my Delta-1010 card. It wasn't quite there, at the time (around 2001).


I will be waiting on doing a Red Hat setup for a while, and staying with WindowsXP for DAW work. It seems to me the more mainstream and stable way to go. If I had more time to spend on it, I'd probably mess with Ardour more. Red Hat even recognizes M-Audio Delta series cards by default.


I am using a SuSE 9.0 workstation to send this message, with Firefox. I think the Linux platform is pretty much ready for general use, since version 8. And, version 9 really looks good. But, the specialty setups need more high-level OS tweaking that most PC users don't quite have.


Good luck with Linux! I am working my way there, too.


"It's all about the... um-m-m, uh-h-h..."

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philbo - what kind of setup do you have? I've been following Agnula over the last 3 releases & it's been getting better each time, although I agree that it has a bit farther to go yet.


For me, wanting UNIX & audio....I went OS X & have been happy with that. :) But I do want to see Agnula happen.

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Originally posted by Christopher Kemp:

philbo - what kind of setup do you have? I've been following Agnula over the last 3 releases & it's been getting better each time, although I agree that it has a bit farther to go yet.


For me, wanting UNIX & audio....I went OS X & have been happy with that. :) But I do want to see Agnula happen.

I actually have been trying these on 2 different PCs, my DAW PC and the Family PC.




ABIT BP6, Dual 500MHz Celerons, 768 MB RAM


Plextor Premium CD burner


30GB Maxtor Drive, partitioned into 3:

Win2K, Linux Ext3, and Linux Swap


60GB Maxtor Drive, partitioned into 2:

Programs 8GB, Data 52GB

(Programs used to live on the other drive, but was

moved to make room to play with Linux)


Audio Interface:

Terratec EWS88MT - Main I/O

Turtle Beach Malibu ISA card

(Used only for it's Kurzweil soundfonts)


Matrox G450 DualHead video card

2 monitors -

14" Acer (800x600)

19" CTX (1200x1024)


10/100 MB NIC card

V.52 Modem


I, too, want to see AGNULA happen. I hope it gets usable. The biggest problem it has is the installer - the DEMUDI version I use requires an empty partition to install to - - so if you make a mistake during install, there's no going back. You just have to wipe the whole Linux partition and start over. <1 second echo> and over. and over. and over...


Some of the audio tools in AGNULA look amazing!

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