[PlanetCCRMA] FC8, experience so far + pulse audio ...

Mike Mazarick mazarick at bellsouth.net
Tue May 6 06:19:56 PDT 2008

Thanks for everyone's input on this topic.


First of all, I'd like to say it would be a sad day for Linux audio if
Fernando ever decided to go do something else (the 'something else' would
benefit, but linux audio would suffer).  I hope it doesn't come to pass
anytime soon.   However, I also recognize 'we are standing on the shoulders
of giants'.  Stanford University (home of CCRMA) has a very long history
with computer music dating at least back to the 60s and has shown 'world
leadership' in sound since at least the 70s (before many of you were born).


A little bit about myself. I'm more 'black Bakelite phone with rotary dial'
type of guy.   I like things to be simple and very apparent and don't like
it much when they deviate from the obvious.   During my first experience
with FC8 audio, I installed it on a surplus Sun V40z that I got off ebay (as
an interesting side topic, it may have come from Stanford!!).   My reasoning
was simple.  it had hot-swappable hard disks, and it would be fairly easy to
test out both a 32 bit and 64 bit driver just by changing the disks.   When
the driver (at the time) was downloaded and compiled, Jack would work, but
there were periodic xruns, and seemed to be related to disk activity every
couple of seconds.   One of the developers (Rick Macri) correctly remembered
that he ran into this problem with his daw many years ago - fast scsi disks
just provided too many interrupts.   He correctly suggested that I change
platforms (which I did) and the problem with xruns went away.


When I built up a DAW, I used an older shuttle case this time that I had
been keeping in my 'hope chest' (it was a couple of year olds and used one
of the 'transition' processors from AMD that was ~700pin but 64 bit
capable).   After a lot of futzing around discovering various problems, such
as the fact I had to set the newly purchased disks to Sata I instead of Sata
II for them to appear,   I was able to install FC8.  I was also able to
determine there was a reason the two 19" monitors were in the basement,
which is because they needed to be thrown away (which I did later).    I had
also elected to install 2 GL cards because the Windows driver supports up to
3 cards (2 comfortably).


I had issues with getting sound to come out from either the newly minted
linux drivers or from the Via onboard chipset (although the Via soundcard
seemed to work better, it had more latency).   One of the big issues was
trying to figure out from the Jack messages, the dmesgs, or the
scsconfig.log or scsrun.log what the issues were.   So far, I've
de-installed anything related to pulse-audio (because of Jack messages, and
because it seems to default to 2 audio channels running 44.1khz).   I'm also
very wary of 'new' stuff, and noticed that this is supposed to be a
replacement for Jack.   I'd just as soon wait until it is known and proven
to be better than Jack (I just switched from CVS to SVN last month).   I
also disabled the firewall, because I didn't want to spend many hours
googling issues only to discover it is 'security' related (I need to get X
out of the system and on to a PC, for instance).   Fedora is really a beta
release for RedHat, so, you are always on the 'bleeding edge' for a few
months until the fixes come out.   


I can understand permissions and ownership, but I don't necessarily
understand how you can get something owned by user-root, group-root with no
world r/w to work unless there is some ACL structure (which I don't want to
understand or have to know the details of).   I do believe based on
experience that some reasonable percentage of the folks trying out sound
(and especially Jack) on a FC8 linux daw are running into problems and
giving up. 


However, one of the strongest points of CCRMA is the great community support
that is offered, if someone were willing to discuss it and see it thru.  As
was said about unix years ago, "there are a hundred different, but
difficult, answers to any problem".   I think we can pick one of them to get
past the permissions/ownership device issues.  


The Planet has really done a good job of helping people out over the years.
There is usually some type of workaround.   The issue we're currently facing
is to explain to a Windows DAW user ( the average user of a GL cards) the
compelling reasons to switch to Linux.   Have PlanetCCRMA available is one
of the reasons.




PS - one small off topic side note - Dave Marion had found that the Gadget
Labs cards can be clocked together even if they are in different systems.
This opens up the question of multiple Jacks on multiple systems.   It may
be that multiple GL cards on multiple systems with sync'd clocks may be the
least expensive Wave Front Synthesis system when coupled with several
inexpensive 5.1  sound PC speakers.




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