[LAU] A year of Linux Audio revisited - would like to know your oppinion

Robert Persson ireneshusband at gmail.com
Thu Dec 13 13:08:36 EST 2007

Pieter Palmers wrote:
> Another thought is "why is the almost equally closed OSX more accepted 
> than Windows?"
Because CoreAudio works, it works very well indeed, and you don't have
to think about it.

To be very honest, even though I do believe in the importance of FOSS,
the main reasons I am trying to use Linux to create music are practical

1. I've had truly terrible experiences with windows;
2. I can't afford a mac.

In other words, if I had a spanking new mac right now I would spend most
of my time using that and leave linux for when I had a few spare moments.

Looking at my (non-)workflow yesterday, it is clear to me that the most
time-wasting problems I am having are with jack. I start jack, I open
the various clients, I plug them into each other and I start working.
Then jack boots some of its clients off, or even crashes, and I have to
start again.

Time spent setting up jack etc:    90%
Time doing productive work:        10%

The problem is not nearly as bad if I don't have much connected to jack,
which is one of the reasons I find myself using an integrated windows
DAW in wine. But I still need to run some external soft synths, but then
I get these stability problems. Admittedly I am using jack from svn
because some other things which I have needed to build from svn have
jack from svn as a dependency, but things weren't really a whole lot
better even when I was using the official ubuntu deb. Things weren't
getting booted off as much, but horrible distortions would creep in that
would only go away when I disconnected or killed something.

I have no choice but to go the mac route. Whether I then choose to use
jack on that mac is still going to depend not only on whether it is
reliable but also on whether it can endure suspend/hibernate or
suspend/resume cycles. I would still like to be able to farm out some of
the work to cheap linux boxes, but again, that depends on whether jack
is up to the job.

I know this is not something anyone really wants to hear, particularly
since jack is already in the process of being completely redesigned
(jackdmp), but it is the limitations of jack that are the biggest
obstacles to FOSS being adopted in the pro-audio world. Unless jack is
fixed (or extended) so that it can recover from errors (including
letting its latency be adjusted on the fly), not even the fanciest
additional features in the world will make your application suitable for
pro-audio use.

To an extent you can forget about windows. The real challenge for Linux
and FOSS pro-audio is to win the trust and respect of mac users. Macs
are great tools for musicians. Windows gets used because it is cheaper.
Imagine studios with heterogenous mac/linux setups; easy-to-use and
intuitive tools combined with serious budget-priced processing power.
Jack (once its problems have been dealt with) will allow you to route
signals absolutely any way you like. X-forwarding or utilities such as
synergy will enable you to control what you are doing. Open-source
licensing makes it possible to conceive of applications runnign on a mac
distributing their work to linux-based realtime render farms.  The only
real advantage of windows is that it can do a bit of everything. There's
no point using it if you can do everything by other means.


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