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  1. #11

    AV Linux 2 R2, MediaInLinux at OSL 3.0

    One of the many aspects a pro recording studio resembles a bordello in is that the four-letter word the most often heard in either is "next!". Due to deadlines and contract points, an unwritten dividing rule between a pro studio app and a hobby one is whether a medium-savvy computer user (your friendly musician critter) can get it to perform a desired task reliably in two hours or less. After hundreds of hours of tinkering on a recreational schedule, any music distro may eventually work. My focus is how close either gets to the 2-hour "pro studio tool" realm. Make no mistake, if you prefer to tinker for hours on your rig to get it working, you can still hit something big. (Especially if you skydive.)

    OK, let's do launch. During the boot, AVLinux warned that Alsactl setup failed with Unknown hardware, Realtek HDA (the factory soundcard in my mass-market PC). Naming "alsa" so close to "alas" sort of foreshadowed this, otherwise the distro loaded straight from the first. (I could really get used to this...) Once up, the AVLinux desktop (Picture 1) looked familiar: the 5-point ant text is back! (Yeah, sure, size doesn't matter. How was your Thanksgiving roasted canary?). JACK wouldn't start, so Rosegarden produced no sound, but Timidity++ played the MIDI files with full sound just fine again. (Picture 2). I tried various things to resize the OS text, collecting 20 error messages on one screen. (Picture 3) Hmm, could these maybe imply a "no"? Such is a man's life, always dilemmas, gnawing dilemmas...

    I set out to install the distro to HD next, perhaps then I'll be able to increase the text size. The install app launched with a warning (Picture 4) "This is an advanced installer!" (Translation: there's no manual.) For partitioning I summoned my dearly gparted. (Picture 5) Instead of getting busy, it recited a long convoluted singsong, ending with, "... because as extended partition is also a primary partition, it may be necessary to remove a primary partition first." A murkblurb like this does wonders for me: I stop worrying whether I'll blow the whole shebang up and start looking forward to it! I slammed on Yes with such momentum, somewhere in Russia the OK button popped off the screen into a guy's lap.

    After HD installation, the distro still wouldn't let me change the type size. I did manage to replace the gothic background with my seascape, though. (Picture 6) Well past 2 hours, I got Rosegarden to play without xruns (Picture 7), but on subsequent cold boots, xruns and lack of Rosegarden audio would return (Picture 8. ). Could this be fixed? With enough hours, most likely. So on a 1 to 10 scale, how AVLinux measures up with the leading distros? If I give ArtistX a 10 for its full comfort interface, but 8 for real-time audio readiness (Rosegarden ran into kernel issues) and PureDyne a 10 for real-time audio readiness (audio worked A-OK out of the box) but 8 for interface (needs TLC, although the fortunes were neat) AV Linux would be a solid 9 on the interface and on real-time audio support alike. We have three close front-runners in the race now! It will be interesting to watch whose update rips the 2-hour "pro studio app" finish ribbon first.

    MediaInLinux at OSL 3.0 is a 2005 distro. Its default boot got past the nice splash screen (Picture 1), making it to the "Kernel panic" message. On second boot, I chose the option "Linux". (You have to explicitly ask for it? So what was the default boot choice, "Crash"?) I got the MediaInLinux desktop indeed, with an error message that said "mwob ngbdlm pndrkl!" (or something such) in the weirdest font I ever saw. Yeah, the bummer about lifting Star Wars code is those unexpected error messages in Klingon. I launched JACK Control, recognizing it only by its icon; it gave me another Klingon message from Star Wars. (Maybe "welcome, prince of dorkness!" ?) For the third boot, I chose the 800x600 resolution mode, but the Klingon fonts remained. The dragon exit pic looked cute, though, like a Playdonkey pin-up.

    Tune it the next time when I'll try on a Fedora for size.

  2. #12
    I just installed Fedora 12 and the Planet CCRMA packages, to make it an audio studio. I started a new thread on the installation process:
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  3. #13

    Fedora 11, Indamixx Transmission 3.0 Beta

    Fedora has a huge user base, mostly for web serving. In spite that no downloadable Fedora music distro image exists, it's on the list of Linux music packages because people at Stanford use it for Planet CCRMA. Well, they also use cell phones to play chamber music in a group called MoPho, so it's not a ringing endorsement (until they dial each other). My Fedora 11 CD acted only semi-Live at launch (Picture 1), the distro quickly put up a United Colors of crow window that lingered for 18 minutes. Then it flashed a blushing little 1-second popup, saying "Your system had a kernel failure" (Pictures 2 and 3) I started the HD installer, (Pictures 4, 5) it got me to the bug screen in Picture 6. The second launch gave me a Cubist partitioning window (Picture 7) and an "Installer is not responding" message (Picture 8). What an efficient distro, it minimizes downtime between crashes. For the third boot I tried the install DVD instead. I left the computer on to install overnight; 8 hours later next morning, it still awaited me with the "Waiting for hardware to initialize" screen. (Picture 9) Maybe it needs a crank?

    Ultimately, the trick to getting Fedora to install was to delete the partition I prepared for it (as I do for every distro) and install with the "use empty space" option. This worked, so 26 hours into the project I had a plain vanilla Fedora on the PC. I was ready for an "Exception Occurred: everything works" window, but none appeared. Next challenge: adding the realtime kernel. I knew I'll need Net access so I prepared a Mobi air card in advance. (Writers of music distros, please note: production PCs in pro recording studios often don't have Net access. Grateful thanks.) I plugged the air card in, copied the files, ... oops, Fedora will run the installer only as root. (Picture 10.) Will your typical studio musician know how to beat this with a swift su - fu kick? Nope, he'll fumble around the GUI, and get his butt kicked every 2 seconds with "not in sudoers file" in a Bunuelesque Linux hazing ritual. So even without the install crashes, after 2 hours the net result will be one very fuming artist and one very basic Fedora ready only for chamber pot music. It's not Fedora's fault. It is a distro specialized for high-security tasks such as web serving and banking transactions. Why struggle to play a song on a bank terminal? Leave it to the Stanford MoPhos.

    Unlike all the previous distros, Indamixx Transmission 3.0 Beta is a commercial product. Is the 500 Meg download indeed $149 better than a free distro? The answer depends on how much you want its flagship app, EnergyXT 2.1 (a commercial, Arturia Storm-like OSX/Win/Linux DAW, $99 online), the convenience of a ready, bootable USB stick, and the fact that its 14 music apps do work after a successful HD installation. The installer itself was written by the authors of 64 Studio. Of all the distros I tried since my second post, 64 Studio version 2.1 is the only one whose partitioner whacked my XP beyond recovery. Twice. So when its familiar Lizzie Borden partitioning window (Picture 1) announced that my old Fedora on dev/sda6 is about to get the ax, even I pulled my neck in. There was no "install alongside" option, nor any hint that my XP on faraway dev/sda3 might also get debugged into unary code as a free axe-tra. Having successfully Bobbittized all my OS's, the installer ceased activity abruptly at Picture 2. Python launch. Maybe it prodded the snake with a too short stick.

    At the second boot, I cancelled DHCP network configuration (the only thing I could try differently - the installation options are yes and no) and installation did complete. JACK autostarted on boot; neat! (Picture 3) Let's see what Transmission's download offers us: 14 music programs, 6 web apps, 6 accessories, and 1 graphics viewer. No distro manual. The music programs are Energy XT 2.1 (Picture 8), which asked for a serial I didn't get so far (Picture 9) and then launched anyway when I pressed Cancel. There's also Ardour (Picture 10), a program omnipresent in free distros. I rarely start it, because I'm past even its role model, Logic Pro for my own work. I still had some Logic Pro files around though; trying to import a project's 40 takes all in in one pass made Ardour hit the ground like the inventor of cordless bungee jumping. Importing the takes in smaller groups worked, however. If you need to create a lot of repetitive rhytm tracks by the Ransom Note School of cut and paste composing, Ardour or Logic Pro might be a great time saver. Or just loop a small spit for a hi-hat.

    Hydrogen is a drum program with many useable patterns, (Picture 11) Mixx is a DJ app (Picture 12). Alsa Modular Synth (Picture 13), a regular of music distros came with a lot of presets I don't recall seeing elsewhere. On the other hand, Energy XT just wouldn't appear in JACK as a MIDI destination for my external keyboards to play (Picture 14). I did receive a manual and video links in email, but as of the last hour I can still edit my post (could these 24-hour edit limits be lifted?) this EnergyXT issue remains unsolved. All in all, the downloadable version of Indamixx Transmission 3.0 seems to work mostly, just be aware of the partitioner's compulsive chopping habit. After 64 Studio, it is the second distro which left my XP in an unrecoverable state (last picture) so picking the preinstalled USB stick format might be a wiser choice. Either way, it's the second distro besides PureDyne where audio and MIDI worked out of the box on my HP. Given Linux's current audio/MIDI savvy, this is undeniably a major feat. Keep up the good work, guys.

    Tune it the next time when I'll try - Open Artist

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  5. #14
    Judging from the large amount of problems that you have simply INSTALLING Linux, I would say your system has a compatibility problem with Linux. This is usually a hardware problem. I don't know what type of PC you are trying these on, but I would guess it is a laptop. You should try these distros on a different system, preferably a desktop with nVidia or Intel graphics as ATI has poor Linux drivers.

    You have implied that a simple musician should be able to do this. But installing an operating system is usually not a simple task, even Windows is not very easy to install. Because of your installation problems your reviews are skewed to the negative.
    Please do not send Private Messages to me with requests for help. I will not reply.

  6. #15

    Open Artist 4th Incarnation, Agnula-Demudi 1.2.1

    Open Artist loaded on my super-extra-average HP without a hitch; installation proceeded with the same ease. I completed it while watching a movie of the 1986 Challenger hardware problem which skewed its reviews to the negative. (Its crew too.) The distro's partitioner (Picture 2) is still the most intuitive I've seen anywhere. On the desktop, an extensive introductory video tutorial (Picture 3) awaited. A first! There's also a branching Help file (Picture 4), based of Net URLs instead of local page archives. Lack of network made it a bit Helpless, but the effort deserves praise anyway. I need all the help I can get; in Linux the manpage for "noob" shows only my photo.

    Neat touches: mouseover program descriptions (Picture 5) are often extensive and include helpful hints. JACK or ALSA are preset to auto-launch with the various audio apps. Unfortunately they also seem preset to auto-crash on my PC: not one JACK or ALSA based app makes any sound. Plain mp3 playback works fine as long as ALSA or JACK (of all trades) doesn't launch. The distro appears to be the most extensive collection of Linux music apps, otherwise; I added 15 screen shots just to document some. Of course, with neither making a sound in the present form I could only use them for a Marcel Marceau CD.

    The release feels like an extreme version of Artist X: even friendlier on the user interface side, but then less working on the audio side. On the web site, the author gives praise and thanks to PureDyne for its excellent program packages. Packages are fine and dandy, (unless from Ted Kaczynski) but what Open Artist could really use is PureDyne's audio routines. I'm referring to the behind-the-scenes magic which made MIDI and audio work A-OK in PureDyne on my computer, right out of the box. If they worked the same way in Open Artist, it could be THE ultimate music distro for musicians. Florian, you are 90% there to hit solid gold with Open Artist, don't stop now. Did Al Gore stop after inventing the intern?

    Agnula-Demudi seems to be an interesting offspring of Agnula and Demudi, two defunct distros. The live disc put up a cute splash screen, which led straight to Linux's black screen of Schrödinger's cat. For the second boot. I tried the "expert" option; it loaded Linux's black screen of Schrödinger's dog. (A black box project, classified.) Hmmm... I think I like the "expert" black more... it looks more expensive and in the dark. For the third attempt, I tried the Agnula-Demudi (AD) install disc. It went straight to Linux's black screen of Schrödinger. (Now he is in a black box.) So what's the verdict on AD? To paraphrase the wisecrack, a happy ending: I still have AD disorder, but now I don't care.

    Tune in the next time when I'll try - Apodio

  7. #16

    Apodio 5.0 Beta, 6.0 Beta, StartCom Multimedia Linux 5.0.6. (Kessem)

    Apodio 5.0's Live CD launched with an interesting message: "BIOS timer bug 8254 - This is not a 8139c+ compatible chip". From the desktop (Picture 1) the distro installed without further complaints. I restarted from HD, put my ocean picture on the desktop, started JACK - and it crashed like a lead zeppelin. (Picture 2) After two restarts leading to the same result, I switched to Apodio 6.0 Beta. The 6.0 disc loaded with an "executing grub install failed. This is a fatal error" message. (Picture 3) It's a progress, we have a different fatal error... why execute grub anyway? Can't we just slap it around?

    Starting Rosegarden in Apodio 6, I hit the big JACKpot: THREE error messages! (Blingg! - Blingg! - Blingg!) "Couldn't connect to JACK", "System timer resolution is too low", and "Helper programs not found". Until now only house fires were categorized as one, two or three alarm, but apparently now Rosegarden can be too. Two enticing Apodio programs I haven't seen elsewhere are VIM and SpiralSynth. (I didn't quite figure it out where the latter goes, but I'm a guy.) MoviePlayer did play my mp3's okay. As before, as long as JACK or ALSA didn't enter the picture, plain audio playback worked. After JACK, I could only use the distro to sweeten dialog in a ballet.

    StartCom Multimedia Linux's installer reminds me of 64 Studio's except for the partitioner (luckily). The installer gave me a discount: it reported the HP's ALC883 sound card as an ALC882. (Picture 7) Either way, JACK wouldn't work from the outset, and Rosegarden launched in 2-alarm mode. The verdict? I think this distro would play a perfect duet with Apodio. All in all, if you want to try Linux for music, there's a whole range of distros from one with every imaginable music app in the world but no sound (for tantric songwriting) to one with a smaller set of working apps with type you can't read (for squinth-pop).

    Of all 20 known releases I tried to tackle, ultimately only 1 (PureDyne) got Rosegarden to work right on this HP a1519h. It's a success rate of 5% due to a reliance on JACK, whose writer said: "Do I sound like I care much about mass market users?" This could have something to do with why Korg discontinued the only 100% working Linux music project ever, their Oasys keyboard, and went back to a non-Linux codebase for now. A 5% functionality for MIDI and pro audio use is roughly what old Macs with OMS had before the advent of OSX in 2001 with its CoreMIDI and CoreAudio routines. The gnarly old OMS and the great new CoreMIDI are written by the same individual by the way; smart people learn from their initial mistakes. Is Linux next? Right now, when turned on, JACK bends over and my girlfriend gets loud; here's a toast that in 2010 it be the other way. Happy new year!

  8. #17

    Yamaha XS8

    The latest and greatest of my studio tools, my shiny new Yamaha XS8 keyboard surprised me yesterday. Its operating system is MontaVista Linux! The same Linux used in Android phones and Bosch car entertainment systems. At page 317 the XS manual states, "for 3 years after the final factory shipment you may request from Yamaha the source code for any portions of the product which are licensed under the GNU GPL. The source code can be downloaded from the following address:

    MOTIF XS Source Code | Yamaha

    So I'm downloading the Motif XS source code like crazy now; those three years are bound to expire soon. On a scale of 1 to 10, as I used to grade Linux music distros, what this superbly inspiring Yamaha XS8 keyboard rates? Umm... a 14?

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