[Consortium] re: a few more rants...

Daniel James daniel at mondodesigno.com
Thu Mar 4 04:46:35 EST 2004

> > The situation at the
> > moment is that many libre audio software developers don't even
> > have access to good quality or up to date hardware.
> Define access.

I'm talking about owned, borrowed or simply available hardware. An 
example of the latter would be a device in a university lab - the 
developer doesn't even have a loan of it, but they can use it.

> What is a professional Linux audio market?
> Is it the small linuxaudio userbase(both consumer users and
> professionals)?

I mean users of professional-quality audio equipment with Linux-based 

> Yes we rely on good will, but sucking up won't help us

No-one's sucking up. In all the discussions I've had with hardware 
companies, they've come to us, not the other way round. And I'm 
certainly not pimping developer time in return for a few hardware 
trinkets. I've already turned down the offer of some very expensive 
hardware for my own studio, saying that it would be better to go to a 
libre software developer. 

> The key here is to make the
> userbase wider.

At last we've found something we can agree on...

> > With the consequence that hardware support is still patchy.
> Not at all. Lots of pro-grade audio cards have excellent drivers
> and support.

Some do. There's no MOTU PCI or Firewire support, not much for 
Firewire audio generally, not much support in ALSA for 192KHz cards 
that I'm aware of, no mLan (yet) and no support for MLP in DVD-Audio. 
The pro audio support we have is based around just a few chipset 
specs, and if those go out of use we could be in trouble in a few 
years time.

> Besides, how is a loan going to improve the situation? 
> User: "i found a bug in driver X"
> Developer:"Sorry, we don't have the hardware anymore"

That's why I was advocating a system of maintainers who would take 
responsibility to support one particular piece of hardware.

> 1. responsibilities of a developer towards a company – to _return_
> the hardware:
> a)they might require that you return it in the same condition with
> respect to regular wear and tear, which is very vague

Not to me it isn't. Hardware loans like this are standard practice in 
the computer magazine publishing world. If you borrow an SGI Altix, 
you try to keep it free from dents... 

> b)loan period – for how long can a developer keep a hardware?

That can be left for the parties to agree in the case of a loan to one 
individual, I think.

> a developer can only work with people which have access to the same
> hardware.

Not true - you can send code for testing on a completely different 

> – if a developer doesn't accept a patch, are you suggesting a
> "process of arbitration overseen by the Linuxaudio.org Management
> Board" in order to determine whether he was acting irresponsibly
> and the hardware should be taken away from him or not?

I don't think we could compel anyone to return hardware, but as normal 
the community would exercise its influence. If someone is 
uncooperative, I suspect they will be frozen out of future projects. 

> The main point is, however, the fact that the *ALSA team* should
> negotiate and request:
> * specs if a certain hardware is available to them
> * both specs and hardware donation if a certain hardware isn’t
> available but popular and requested by users

Don't forget that not all audio-related devices are soundcards. I've 
said before that I think ALSA would be the natural place to send an 
unsupported soundcard, especially if they don't have at least one 
example of that hardware yet.

> I have been struggling to get specs for a certain hw, the company(a
> huge music industry player btw, which i'm not going to name here
> but Steve knows ;) decided after 1,5 years of searching for the
> right people and convincing them that it would be ok to provide the
> requested specs

I'm glad to hear that you got a good result. I hope that the 
consortium can help speed up this process so that it doesn't take 1.5 
years of lobbying to get specs.

> ALSA project leaders or contributors can be already accepted as a
> guarantee, they're no anonymous persons which will sell donated hw
> on ebay.


> > I think we need to move beyond pure personal interest - to me,
> > Linux audio isn't a hobby.
> Unless you're running a company or being employed by one, it's a
> hobby, no matter how much you want linuxaudio to succeed.

I am running a company, and I work for quite a few others too. 

> I can see only one case where a loan would be appropriate:
> a Linux Audio company developing an open-source Linux Audio project
> and providing services - one of its clients has a certain type of
> hardware which he needs support for. The Linux Audio company would
> borrow the hardware from the manufacturer and get the needed specs
> in order to develop, test out and finetune the driver.

Use you imagination - there are other possibilities. We've already had 
approaches from processor and video card manufacturers, targetting 
the audio industry, who want to make sure that their products are not 
just supported with drivers but are well integrated with audio 

> About the usage of the term 'Linuxaudio' and the domainname.
> I was suggesting to use that term for everything we have, that's
> the LA* lists, the LAD site, events and so on and so forth.
> While Daniel was claiming that linuxaudio.org is a different
> project.

Different from the LAD list, yes.

> If it is, it means that 'Linuxaudio' is different from 'Linux audio
> developer' thus the conference should be called by the right name.

I think the name has been changed to reflect the fact that it's not a 
developers-only conference.

> But it's up to Frank and Matthias to decide. Not you Daniel

err... I have never attempted to make any decisions on the conference, 
I'm just helping with the publicity.



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