[PlanetCCRMA] Linux distributions and audio (Was: drop outs with FC8...)

David Nielson naptastic at comcast.net
Fri Jan 4 09:06:02 2008

I have a concern that this is turning into a large, off-topic, heated 

I think we all have some complaints about The Way Things "Are" in the 
Linux audio distribution world, and I'm no exception. In fact, let me 
get them out of the way:

(1) Anaconda is less crappy than it used to be, but I still like the 
Debian installer a hundred times better.
(2) Yum is less crappy than it used to be, but I still like Apt on 
Debian better. (Apt on Fedora still "feels kloogey" to me, and I'm not 
sure why. Difference between .deb and .rpm, maybe?)
(3) Ubuntu feels like "Debian for users we don't trust to configure 
their own firewall." I haven't tried Ubuntu Studio, but I have heard 
similar complaints about it. I won't complain until I've tried it 
myself, though.
(4) Getting audio set up for Debian is a painful process. Just getting a 
-rt kernel is a lot of work. My complaint is that there "should" be a 
-rt kernel package that can just be installed simply, and it "should" be 
maintained by the regular package maintainers.
(5) Studio 64 uses its own repositories and doesn't really stay up to 
date. You still basically have to CVS / SVN everything and rebuild it 
from scratch. (Has Studio 64 moved to 2.6.23 yet?)
(6) RT kernels have been around a long time! They are a done deal! The 
code isn't mainline yet, but in the world of things I think "should" be, 
every major distro "should" have a -rt kernel package that can just be 
installed from the main repositories.

The problem with complaints is that they miss out on what actually 
exists now. What we actually have, in reality, is:
- Fedora with CCRMA
- Ubuntu Studio
- Debian
- Studio 64
- a bunch of defunct projects

Each of these are working hard to get things to an "ideal" place, but 
many of the steps will be steps sideways instead of steps forward. 
Getting RT to work with NVIDIA drivers is not necessary for a DAW, but 
it is helpful in getting RT kernels into mainline repositories. Keeping 
up with the latest releases isn't necessary or even helpful for a DAW, 
but it keeps us close to the mainline, and falling away from mainline 
has proved fatal for many Linux DAW projects already.

I think we all owe Fernando a great big THANK YOU, for all the time he 
spends keeping things up to date. It is irritating to have things not 
work--that's why I keep two separate installations on my computer (one 
"production," the other "testing")--but in the end, I find it worthwhile 
to put up with the irritation of Yum, Anaconda, and the occasional thing 
breaking. It is Linux, and I love the fact that I can be recording 16 
tracks, talking on IRC, downloading files, encoding MP3s, and monitoring 
my network, from one computer, with no dropouts. You can't do that with 
Windows, and Windows isn't free.

Thanks for all your time.

David Nielson