Installing Linux & Ardour/using midi controllers?

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jazzman1222
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Yes, I am a complete newb! To Linux and Ardour that is. I've been using Sonar on PC and Reason on Mac for many years.

I am hoping someone can explain the steps to do the following>

Install Linux on a PC that has XP installed. I'd like to Reformat and have a clean install.

Install Ardour

Install my DA interface (M-audio)

Configure it so I can use midi controllers (Keyboards, Akai Wind EWI USB, etc)

Also, could I install my VSTs? they are PC only.

Does Ardour have a Softsynth (like the TTS-1 for Cakewalk, etc?)

Sorry for all the questions, I've never even seen Linux in Action, but I would also like to know if my midi/audio latency would be lower than on Windows?

Last question, does Propellerheads Reason work in Linux? If so, what changes would I have to make for it to work?

Thanks so much in advance for your help,
Ed

paul
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1) this forum is not an appropriate place to seek help on installing linux, especially not for the first time. Someone might offer you help with that, but you are really much better off seeking out a forum centered on a particular linux distribution. What we can tell you right now is that if you randomly pick one of the many distributions of Linux with the goal of using for audio work, you stand a very good chance of making a bad choice. The nature of bad is that you will have much more hassle than you should, and have to do more work to get your machine up and running. The unfortunate news is that at this time, there are really no clear choices to be made here. Others will weigh in on this issue, but I will just say for now that you should probably be consider AV Linux, 64 Studio and Fedora with the PlanetCCMRA "overlay".

2) Please don't plan on using your Windows VST's. It is possible, but for a first time Linux user, the potential pain of this stands every chance of being really unpleasant. Get to know the platform and the tools that are written for it first, and then later revisit how much this means to you.

3) Ardour does not support MIDI sequencing/recording/playback in its current release. This makes question like "does it have a softsynth" not relevant. There are a variety of softsynths available as standalone applications that you can plug right into Ardour. Their quality and potential varies across a wide range.

4) MIDI/Audio latency stands a chance of being better than it was under Windows. It depends on a lot of stuff, much of which you don't have much control over.

4) Programs like Reason are written to run on Windows. Linux is not Windows. Thus, you should try to forget the idea (just as with plugins) of using them on Linux. Some people have had good luck running some Windows audio applications with Wine, a Windows "emulator" for Linux. But it doesn't work for all applications and its stability over time can be a challenge.

Its not clear from your posting why you want to switch to Linux. It sounds to me as though you have a viable working setup under Windows with Sonar and a variety of plugins and other tools. Linux is not going to be drop in replacement for your current setup. The tools are different, the working style is different, the things that work well, marginally or not at all will be different. You need to very clear on what you are expecting to get from using Linux, otherwise you will find this a frustrating and disappointing experience.

jazzman1222
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Thanks so much Paul for your informative post.

I considered Linux hoping it would be better to use with midi and digital audio than Windows. The two areas of interest to me are latency and system resources. However, after reading your post, there is no way I would try Linux at this time.

If I may make a suggestion>Perhaps it might make it much more popular for the general computer user to use Linux if there was a straight forward way to install and use programs as in windows/mac OS's.

Thanks again Paul, I will continue to try to learn more about Linux.

Ed

paul
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@jazzman122: oh, installing and using programs in linux is arguably easier than on windows or the mac. that's not really the issue.

Capoeira
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he wants to use windowze-programs in Linux for getting more performance.......sure a paradox.....Windows-soft works best in windows, obvious.

If you use linux-soft you can achive what you want, less latancy and less requierd sys-recources

paul
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@capoeira: actually, some users of Reaper have been reporting that it works better for them, on their systems, under Wine on Linux than it does on Windows. This isn't a general rule, however.

macinnisrr
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Paul is right to suggest avlinux, 64studio and planet cmrrra. Because all of these have realtime kernels, you will more often than not get dramatically better latency than a stock windows. As has been mentioned, however, you will need to learn a new workflow due to the lack of midi support in Ardour 2.8. I do highly recommend linux however, as the capabilities of JACK more closely matches analog hardware (different programs just plug in to one another). As someone who learned software before hardware, I can tell you that the transition was terribly complicated by the fact that neither windows nor mac (for the most part) software behaves like hardware. After using hardware in live situations for a couple years, JACK seemed to be much more sane and flexible than anything you'll find elsewhere.

pleasebeus
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A newcomer to Linux whose main intent is running Ardour? I have no doubt that Ubuntu is the best route to go in most situations.

paul
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@pleasebeus: Ubuntu is, at present, a suboptimal choice if you want to use your Linux system as a serious audio workstation. This is true today (March 15th 2010) - it may change in the future.

pleasebeus
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@paul Ubuntu may be "suboptimal", but if you're completely new to Linux I'm sure you'd agree it's going to get you on the road more quickly than any other distro.

This leaves time to get on and learn Ardour. Once you're reasonably familiar with Ardour, you can junk Ubuntu and go for a more optimal distro for your h/w and/or work process needs.

paul
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@pleasebus: that would be true if you're a user willing to deal with the hassle of actually getting JACK to work on a Ubuntu system that is running PulseAudio by default, probably doesn't have limits.conf properly configured and more.

joegiampaoli
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Pulse Audio is a pain to deal with. I think new linux users will be more confused understanding what pulse, alsa oss are. Everytime I see new ubuntu users trying to figure out how to make jack work they usually go nuts.....

Everytime I re-install ubuntu, one of the very first things I do is disable pulse in my account and set everything to alsa, I don't think a newbie will understand why this should be done.

linuxdsp
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sudo apt-get purge pulseaudio

The first thing I do to a new ubuntu installation - I much prefer not to use ubuntu - but since it seems that now linux = ubuntu for most people, I have to test software compatibility with it :(

(On my most recent ubuntu 9.10 install sound wouldn't work at all with anything until I got rid of pulse)

joegiampaoli
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Besides the ubuntu RT kernels are by far the worst I've ever seen. You can't tell a linux noob about compiling and patching a kernel, he won't even know what you will be talking about.

it seems that now linux = ubuntu for most people, I have to test software compatibility with it :(

That's sadly true!

pleasebeus
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I haven't had any problems with Pulse or the RT kernel under Karmic. Jack worked straight away. Pulse was a challenge under Intrepid/Jaunty but on my latest install I haven't needed to go anywhere near it. That's just my experience.

During travails with Intrepid/Jaunty I moved to both AV Linux & 64 Studio. They were more difficult to get going and much more difficult to maintain than Ubuntu. I also attempted Fedora with PlanetCCMRA but didn't get very far because of h/w issues.

For anyone new to Linux, I still think Ardour is likely to get going more quickly out of the box via Ubuntu. I strongly suspect the volume of difficulties you see with Ubuntu users is related to the wider user base and relative inexperience, not because Ubuntu is inherently more difficult to get going with Ardour than other distros.

seablade
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i would disagree.

Even if they get jack and the rt kernel running correctly, which most people I talk to still have problems with it, Ubuntu also has a history of packaging problems with Ardour itself. So much so in fact that Paul had to post a front page article about exactly that topic.

The problem is that NO distro gets it right completely for a new user to switch to Linux and run Ardour/Jack out of the box yet. They are slowly getting closer, but none are there yet.

Seablade

Typed on Maemo Linux, try getting Ardour running on this bad boy!:)

manmachine
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I am completely agreeable with pleasebeus.
Ubuntu (from version 6 onwards),Rt kernel,pulse audio -were never been problem to me in my audio activity. I have tried every distro including the multimedia ones, and got frustrated. Ubuntu karmic is the only one (not even Ubuntu studio) that made me so comfortable with Ardour. For the love of Ardour , I took the pain of learning Linux. With Ubuntu I just forgot Windows. I recommend Ubuntu for the newbies who have 'audio' interest .I am sorry to find that Ubuntu is not good for some people here.

joegiampaoli
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Ubuntu is a great distro. It's solid and it's debian based, the problem is the developers that have this strange urge to make all packages dependent of other packages and not releasing version updates making synaptic a complete total messy havoc!

I currently use ubuntu myself (still at 8.04 LTS), and it works wonders for me, but then again I have compiled more than 50% of the packages I use myself including my own RT kernel because the ubuntu developers just don't update their packages and sadly some are compiled wrong. So ubuntu has not been a problem for me either, the thing is new users here.

Ubuntu is great for newbies doing the switch, but they will get stuck at a moment sometime with the old packages, and with fear or misunderstanding the compiling process (which is what makes linux what it is), they will think that the only way to upgrade a package is by upgrading the whole system, here is where I think ubuntu makes it harder for newbies, why a 6 month release?????? So they can update GIMP? Inkscape? Blender?Firefox? Thunderbird? JACK? and Ardour?

New users get confused with this idea, I even laugh sometimes when I go to the ubuntu forums reading about people downloading the 6 month release version every time it comes out. I mean, I don't mind, people have "freedom" to waste their time the way they please, but reinstalling a whole OS and configuring it (which is the most time consuming) every 6 months? because they can't update a few package versions? Kind of reminds me of reinstalling windows every six months because it's infested with crap, the classic "six month system reinstall", linux is supposed to be the other way around....

GMaq
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@pleasebeus

I would be interested in knowing what your main complaints in getting AV Linux working were, I'm not asking this facetiously, this is stuff I need to know to make it a better OOTB experience for new users. I am trying to offer Ardour with an -rt Kernel and every possible free LADSPA and LV2 plugin that is available and production ready as well as all the necessary components for those folks who want to continue using VST and Wine dependant applications. Also having Firewire ready to roll has been a mandate for some time, I would be sincerely interested in your comments.

Ubuntu is wonderful but it shouldn't be the only game in town...otherwise we have yet another monopoly situation which is why many people have migrated to Linux in the first place. The inane notion that software should be free to everyone all the time (something for nothing) is so flawed it is beyond belief. If Ubuntu didn't have a multi-millionaire benefactor pulling the puppet strings it would fold like a house of cards. The greatest disservice to software developers has been Ubuntu's something for nothing ideology. I agree software should be available to everyone but Ubuntu is not a model for a sustainable development IMO.

I couldn't agree with Joe more, a six month release schedule is ludicrous for a system that is supposed to be used daily for actually getting work done. Unfortunately Ubuntu's weight as the most popular Linux has pretty much strong-armed everyone else into following suit and put unrealistic timetables and deadlines onto the developers of the core libraries like Xorg, udev, etc. etc. These are the pillars of Linux and they are constantly being futzed with because of undue pressure from this ridiculous popularity contest going a thousand miles an hour to nowhere.

manmachine
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Package upgrade vs Whole OS upgrade.

I think the second option is more probable for new comers , especially they don't even know the packaging system.At this juncture 64 studio , AV linux ,etc., fit very well for them. When they understand the working model , eventually ,they try to implement their very requirements in their mind. For which they look for a flexible distro that can go with their ideas.Mostly people stumbled upon Ubuntu under such circumstances.The reason is obvious - popularity and rapid change. This,of course, leads to monopoly as Gmaq mentioned.

On the other hand package upgrading is not always smooth, especially, using old distros - sometimes leads to incompatibility with the remaining system. Whole upgrade is unavoidable here.

Alternately, programs of main interest such as Ardour could be distributed with all the required libs ,just suitable to run it, in one single envelope, so as to encourage newcomers.Could someone please explain why this cannot be done (even for a few selected distros). If this is viable , we need not worry about upgrading/updating much ,and stay focused with our very work flow.

pleasebeus
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@GMaq I didn't keep a record of the issues I came across but I was using it late into version 2 and gradually came across stuff that borked. I was hanging on for v3 (I remember some of my issues were to be fixed with that release) but eventually abandoned it, partly because there was no clear indication as to when v3 was going to come out.

Ironically, it is the steady release timetable of Ubuntu that I find attractive. I really like the process. What with the regular updates, moving from say Jaunty to Karmic was a breeze; there was no impact except for improvement when I did this. As an end user, I don't see the six monthly thing as a whole new OS, I see it as a marginal step up. I can sense the whole Ubuntu momentum is aggravating Linux developers but for end users, the predictability coupled with the huge support base for Ubuntu really works well.

I started with Unix stuff back in the 90s with an old SGI Indigo running Irix. I've never been deep into *nix, I've focused on it as a tool to get things done. I ran Vector (slackware) for a while on an old lappy and then started the total shift away from MS to Linux. That was with Ubuntu around Edgy/Feisty era. Like others, I started with letting Ubuntu do all the upgrades and sticking with packages in the repos. I then learnt to leave the OS upgrades behind until they settled a while. At the same time I got used to compiling the odd package when needs must. But I prefer to let Ubuntu manage most things. I now run Karmic, with most bits from Ubuntu Studio plus a small rack of things I've compiled myself. I don't even know when Lucid is set for release; I'll most likely be leaving it alone until 4 or 5 months in. And at least test it on my netbook first.

I'm all for diversity in the Linux environment. But at the end of the day, I've got paid work to do so I will stick with the distro that takes least effort. For now, that's Ubuntu for better or worse.

macinnisrr
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Personally, I've been running Ubuntu as a main distro for about three years now, and the only time I've had problems with distribution upgrade was way back from Gutsy-Hardy (or maybe Hardy-Intrepid). The last two releases have been easy as pie to upgrade. I have 6 systems in my house running Ubuntu and like I said, no problems for the last couple years.

That having been said, the limits.conf/Pulseaudio issue is a PITA on stock Ubuntu, which is why I've spent the last year putting together packages that set things like this up automatically. Expect a custom distro (Dream) by June or July (based on Karmic). I have already hosted some of my packages on my site dickmacinnis.com/DreamOS, but I have several more ready to go up as soon as I have some free time again, but this time in a proper repository. The packages I've created not only set limits.conf for realtime work, but also include a Pulseaudio-Jack module which disconnects Pulse and reconnects once Jack is up and running. I've been using this setup at home for quite some time, and it works fantastically. The main reason I'm waiting for Karmic is that the libjack0 and jackd packages in Karmic include Netjack (which is currently not in the standard packages), and the excellent softsynth Bristol is broken in Jaunty. Rather than fix these now, I'd rather base my distro on Karmic, as its release is only a month away.

Capoeira
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you mean Lucid

joegiampaoli
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Yes I'm sure he meant Lucid....
I'll probably give it a go, but if I see too much pain on the road I'll probably just go full debian.

calimerox
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but back to jazzman: you might just want to play arround a bit to get used to linux,
so you could download some live linux CD from the net, there are some distros made for multimedia production like dyne:bolic and pure dyne, and sure there are some more. It will be very slow running it from your cd-rom drive but for getting a first flavour its not bad! and you dont have to change your running system...

pleasebeus
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I thought I'd mention I don't run stock Ardour from the Ubuntu repos; I use macinnisrr's Ardour packages from dickmacinnis.com/DreamOS and it's running great for me in Karmic.

macinnisrr
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oops! I did mean Lucid. I have the flu pretty terrible right now and was operating on about an hour's sleep when I wrote that ;-)