[LAU] Reference or HOWTO?

Wolfgang Woehl tito at rumford.de
Mon Apr 7 16:08:22 EDT 2008

Patrick Shirkey:

> I have asked several times and don't get much feedback on the LAU
> guide per se. There's lots of feedback on other things tho...
> Like Dave Phillips I want to make the site I run relevant. Please
> let me know what could be done to improve the links and content.

Hey, it wouldn't hurt to mention the url :) Is it the one on 
http://lau.linuxaudio.org/ ?

First of all: The effort to maintain a site like lau guide must be 
huge. Keeping it up to date and correct at all times is probably 
worth at least one fully paid full-time position. Is it worth the 
unpaid, part-time effort? I think so. When I got in touch with linux 
audio Dave's site was invaluable, in spite of the rare voids and 
dated parts.

People who do this should get hired by a distribution vendor. In 
addition to being worshipped.

The following are a bunch of loose observations from a mixed 
seasoned/new user's perspective:

"Introduction for newbies" section: I think it's a good section. But 
it sucks for audio newbies. Suggesting to read kernel docs "Before 
you start" won't fly, in my opinion.

Also almost every aspect of linux audio can be explored from gui-land. 
So the section's focus on basic cli stuff is ok too. But, again, not 
for audio newbies.

I think I can see what you're trying to get at: Present the cultural 
difference and hint at the power of linux/gnu systems. Which is what 
attracted me when I started to use this beast.

But the times have changed and today, it seems, there are floods of 
new users coming in who are interested in a totally different set of 
topics and related learning curves. Like, actually making music.

The debate "Dip them in the dirt to make them strong" vs. "Help them 
avoid the puddle": it's decided where I live. Why is having VST 
support in linux a Good Thing? Because it makes it easy for people to 
come over. In due time they'll learn what's under the hood anyway. 

On the link section "Installation/Setup": 

"The JACK user HOWTO"'s first link ("diagram") is dead. The next 
("Visit the online ALSA docs") seems to be out of context. Range of 
sound drivers is out of date ("currently only ALSA") And again, I'd 
rather focus on gui (mention qjackctl at the top) and append the cli 

The "Low-Latency HOWTO" from that section reads like a trip back in 
time. I'm tempted to say "The Introduction part is way too 
prominent". ext2 for /? No audio apps on /?? Record audio to another 
ide channel??? None of this is actually solid advice. Was it ever?
	The non-APIC part is way too prominent. The kernel 2.4 part (I 
actually looked twice to make sure it's for real :) is way too 
prominent. While useful and glorious in their days now these should 
really file under "Historical".

Related: The "Realtime Low Latency Wiki" is actually a "Real-Time 
Linux Wiki" with not much audio on its mind. From my experience the 
only thing you need for low-latency audio performance in 2008 is a 
contemporary distribution. Plus 3 darn lines in limits.conf. Will 
they ever get that right :?

On "Useful Information": "The Linux Audio Quality HOWTO" is a dead 
link. I don't have permission to access "The LAU FAQ", "The Sound 
HOWTO", which I didn't bother to read, dates from 1999. "The Linux 
Sound Playing HOWTO" is from 1998.

If I were a OS convert and new to linux audio I'd probably be 
scratching my head even more after browsing lau guide. Where's the 
appeal? Where is the State of the Art? Where is the music?

Maybe a little refactoring would be in order? An explicit "Beginners" 
section, explicit "Advanced" section. Focus on the beginners (I 
assume they are the main audience of lau guide?). Get rid of ancient 
stuff, it's somewhat embarrassing as there is so much great stuff 
coming along _now_.

Feedback, you asked for it :) Be good, Wolfgang

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