Re: [linux-audio-user] Opening up the discussion

From: Steve D <groups@email-addr-hidden>
Date: Sun Jul 24 2005 - 18:02:57 EEST

On Sun, Jul 24, 2005 at 01:11:23AM +0100, Jono Bacon wrote:
> As some of you will be aware, I wrote the following article:

Hello Jono-- Here are some excerpts from your article, and my own
thoughts regarding them.

> Despite the fact that pretty much all of my computers run Linux, the
> studio box is running Windows 2000 so I can use my sound recording tool
> of choice; Cubase.

I used to use Apple's MacOS and Opcode's great Studio Vision Pro MIDI
sequencer and digital-audio recorder, before Gibson (of Gibson guitar
fame) bought Opcode, then fired all but one of the developers, then
finally ran him off as well and destroyed Studio Vision Pro.

I became disgusted with proprietary software (and hardware) at that
point, in 1997, and decided to sell my Apple G4, build a generic PC with
cheap off-the-shelf parts with the help of a friend and begin to learn
and use Linux.

At that time, support for sound, MIDI, and digital-audio on Linux was
problematic (for me) at best. Things have changed *tremendously* since

I currently use the AGNULA/DeMuDi Linux distribution, and this recent
latest release, version 1.2.1, has been the easiest Linux distribution
I have ever installed, and all of the audio/MIDI programs and the
infrastructure to support those programs were automatically installed
and configured. The whole system and all its programs (that I have used
so far) worked excellently from immediately after installation. I was
extremely impressed.

> [...] When people are recording music, this mode is creative, and
> technology is typically relegated to unimportance - it should just
> work. When I am making music, I don't care for technology. [...] I
> just want to plug in and record. [...]

The usefulness and power of any tool is directly proportional to the
knowledge and skill of the person using the tool.

That said, I have found several tools in Linux that work amazingly well
with almost no prior knowledge or configuration. Audacity is almost a
point-and-click digital-audio recorder. Even Ardour, once you get past
the irrational dread of its complex, daunting interface, can be used as
a simple, straightforward digital-audio recorder with very little
knowledge of its many powerful and flexible features. Those can be
learned later, they are not *required* to be learned beforehand. This
has been my own experience with Ardour, as a *musician* like you, not a
technically-minded person: I was afraid of it, then I tried
it, then I said to myself, "This is easy! I want to learn more--LADSPA
plugins, routing possibilities, using Jamin with Ardour--"

> [...] of a song and getting it down on disk must be short - the
> creative mind is hampered tiny technical issues, and these issues are
> unacceptable.

I can see your point and agree with you to a great extent, and your
statement would have some weight if it reflected the current state of
MIDI and audio applications on Linux. But it doesn't, or more
accurately, doesn't have to. Thanks to the great work of the folks who
create custom-tailored multimedia Linux distributions like DeMuDi and
Planet CCRMA, MIDI and digital-audio on Linux is very rapidly becoming
an idiot-simple process, where technical issues do *not* get in the way
(much or very often) of the creative process.

Computers and the interactions of the OS and various programs are
complex however. I remember how much research and asking for help I had
to do on the Internet to get Studio Vision Pro on the Apple Macintosh
configured and running smoothly. Even then some technical issues would
crop up every once in a while, and I would have to learn something (darn

However, with Linux, in its current state, it is a lot easier to be a
musician and creative type person than I found it to be when I was using
proprietary hardware and software from Opcode and Mark of the Unicorn.

Things have come a long way--

> [...] Not only that, but I want to be able to configure the sound card
> from within my application. If you have a simple single channel sound
> card, the audio mixer will suffice, but if you have a complex card with
> 10 ins and 10 outs and multiple recording modes, you need an application
> to manage this. This is where cards such as the M-Audio Delta range fly
> on Windows - they come with a little control application to manage these
> parameters. You can certainly control levels with the ALSA mixer, but it
> will not allow you to deal with the many other options for the card.

It sounds like you were unaware of the envy24control program--

I use one of those M-Audio Delta cards you refer to: a Delta 1010. The
envy24control program controls the hardware mixer of the card as well as
the many other features. It is included in the alsa-tools package or, in
DeMuDi, in the alsa-tools-gui package.

> [...] With some experience behind me of using Cubase, Cakewalk and
> Magix Audio Studio, I suspected Ardour with be a cinch to pick up -
> unfortunately I found it impossible to be productive straight away. If
> I can't use it, how is someone with no knowledge of audio recording
> supposed to use it? Ardour is certainly not the only offender here
> [...]

You gave up too quickly. I put off learning anything about Ardour for a
long time because it just *looked* so complex. However, I didn't have to
learn much at all in order to begin to use it effectively. Just less
than an hour's worth of reading the Ardour manual at it's website,
learning a little about how to start a session, some basic signal
routing, and how to use the mouse and computer keyboard with Ardour, and
I was up and running and eager to learn more about this great program.

In summary, your article raised some valid points, but seems out of
date. It doesn't reflect the current state of Linux and multimedia
applications, in my non-technical, musician's view.

Best wishes,

Steve D
New Mexico, US
Received on Sun Jul 24 20:15:08 2005

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