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European Commission Sponsors Linux Audio Distribution 156

Posted by timothy
from the general-benefit dept.
krez writes: "Lately I've been looking for info on open-source audio recording & processing software. Not an easy task really: Suites like Brahms for KDE, and GLAME for Gnome are a good start, but I've yet to find a program - or a series of programs - that even approach something as comprehensive as Cubase or Cakewalk on those other platforms. Anyway, here's something that might just prove to be a good start. The European Commission is sponsoring a distribution called AGNULA (A GNU/Linux Audio distribution). The distribution will come in two flavours: Debian-based, and RedHat-based. You can read about the project and it's goals at http://www.agnula.org." The Debian side of this project is called DeMuDi, and it's been mentioned here before.
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European Commission Sponsors Linux Audio Distribution

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  • Anyone doing high end audio work is probably capable of procuring, compiling, and using the available tools. Even in the Windows world (even in the *Mac* world, for chrissake), people who need SMPTE, notation, and Csound are typically fairly knowledgeable.

    This is like creating an "Desktop Publishing Distribution" by including LaTeX, PDF support, a bunch of printer drivers, and emacs.

    Maybe it's just me, but I really don't see the point.

    Cheers
    -b

    • by caca_phony (465655) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:41AM (#3600555) Homepage
      This is like creating an "Desktop Publishing Distribution"

      This is slightly different, because Unix was desined from the ground up to do text processing, and Linux, like the other Unix derivatives (except maybe SGI) is way behind when it comes to audio applications (in terms of features, usability, performance, etc.). I see this project as something really cool, as a composer of experimental computer music.

      • - This is either offtopic or just a stretchy tangent, take your pick ;) But on the subject of specialized task-centric distros ...

        a) as long as it's inclusive rather than exclusive, I can see a lot of different specialized distros; that's partly just a matter of marketing / mindset though. If it's based on a Free software system with any sort of easy updater (apt-get, urpmi, emerge, or whatever tomorrow brings), distro's specialty is a starting point, not ending. It's more like taking a "taskset" as some distros divide apps into, and making it the focus. It doesn't *prevent* one from installing email clients etc on that box to make it more versatile, but it makes keeping a specialized box free of X factors easier.

        b) The closest thing I've found to (circa 1993*) PageMaker is Scribus, which is a nice app. (KWord's frame orientation makes it similar, too, really, but it's obviously a word processor with some cool layout thoughts than vice versa, no offense intended either way -- good program :) )

        I'd love to see (at the very least) a lot of high school newspapers decided "Hey, we're trying to put out a little paper and teach some quite generalizable skills ... why pay tribute to Adobe?" (Or Quark, etc.)

        There are a lot of items lacking or only partway there in the Free software world when it comes to running even a small newspaper idea-to-press -- and I would love to see a distro which integrated lots of publishing tools in one place, including tools for making an online edition!

        How about one which included KDE and GNOME (for the libraries and apps, not necessarily for the DEs ;)), Windowmaker for the desktop, and one or two "state of the art" programs for ...

        - image cataloguing, type conversion
        - vector art (sketch? sodipodi? OO?)
        - raster art (GIMP, and which other?)
        - word processing
        - layout (the two I named already, any better?)
        - web browsing (Mozilla 1.0, Konqueror)
        - html creation (not sure, I use pico for this;))

        The big lacks:

        - integration with existing copyflow systems
        - fonts for layout
        - integration with printers' systems (perhaps they can just print from giant PDFs burned on CD?)

        On the other hand, if *most* tasks related to putting together a publication can be taken care of with Free software, then the remaining tasks can be handled on fewer machines. This is what goes on at many (I would say typical) publishers anyhow, even if for different reasons. Things like "the reporters get the tiny screened pieces of crap, the layout artists get the 21" monitors and fast computers with Quark / InDesign.")

        timothy

        * no insult here -- I just haven't used Pagemaker much since then, and I don't think Scribus is yet to the level of programs like Quark, partly for font reasons which are not under the control of the program's author! :)
    • Less Hassle (Score:5, Interesting)

      by wirefarm (18470) <jim.mmdc@net> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:53AM (#3600589) Homepage
      I think making special-purpose distros are a good idea. If I can borrow a disk from a fiend, install it on a box and have everything I need to start creating music, this is a tremendously hassle-free to put their hardware to good use.

      One of my friends is a composer and a musician - he's also a programmer, but he has *no* Linux/Unix experience at all - could a distro like this help him get started? Sure.
      How about a music teacher at a highschool? Don't count on him/her having much computer experience at all - given teacher salaries and the typical equipment in schools, he or she would probably welcome something like this.

      I just don't see how focusing an effort on specializing a distro has any bad effect on other, more general distros. It takes nothing away, just adds...

      Look at the demand for Firewall distros like IPCop [ipcop.org]. (My personal favorite!) With that, I can dl a 20mb iso and have a working firewall in 20 minutes - I don't have to go in and disable a lot of services the way I would if I had started with any of the standard distros.

      Just my opinion...

      Cheers,
      Jim in Tokyo
      • Re:Less Hassle (Score:3, Insightful)

        by sahala (105682)
        think making special-purpose distros are a good idea. If I can borrow a disk from a fiend, install it on a box and have everything I need to start creating music, this is a tremendously hassle-free to put their hardware to good use.

        ...

        I just don't see how focusing an effort on specializing a distro has any bad effect on other, more general distros. It takes nothing away, just adds...

        Agreed. I might add that people who actually make a living doing music/audio professionally are very used to hardware -- dedicated compressors, fx units, synth modules, etc. They don't want to mess around with a general purpose system (ie. a PC) unless the software does exactly what they want it to do.

        I'm confident that musicians/audio-engineers would be happy with a Linux distro that did NOTHING but boot straight to the audio application (single user, etc), and have it do everything in a reliable manner. In a studio environment there's no need to check email or browse the web...the machine just needs to plug in and work with the other components (synth, dats, recording hardware, etc) without fail.

        You also have to keep the target user in mind. Is it a high school music teacher or are we focusing on professional producers. Pro producer don't mind a sharp learning curve if there's a huge payoff in the end, such as unlimited control of sound, etc. On the other hand, music teachers and amateurs might want to be able to understand software within an hour of sitting down.

        Compare Cubase to say, Sonic Foundry Acid. It takes 15 minutes to put together a rudimentary song in Acid, but it's extremely limited. Cubase, on the other hand, takes some time to learn and get used to.


      • If I can borrow a disk from a fiend, install it on a box and have everything

        be suspicious...be very suspicious
    • by Anonymous Coward
      Take a look at Apple's OS X (and I think BeOS but I'm not sure). You'll see there that the audio capabilities are engulfed in the operating system itself which means that any app correctly written to their specs can use any plugin or easily use fairly complex audio/midi processing routines which are included in the OS. The primary reason for going into the OS is timing, I know UNIX/GNU Linux is pretty good at multitasking, but you can't rely on standard kernel scheduling for pro audio apps. One of the reasons I think Macs are so stable whilst using audio apps under OS 9 and under is the way the app basically takes over the machine.

      Further this means that a simple audio processing app should just be a pretty graphical shell and can be put together by your average Linux hacker.

      The good stuff, like Cubase and Cakewalk, is unlikely to ever happen on Linux I think. Mainly because all the good audio software engineers are happily employed by the likes of steinberg, emagic, digidesign, apple etc.

      IRCAM is a good source of stuff, has very good people and has done UNIX based stuff in the past. I don't know much about the others mentioned but I just don't feel this is going to achieve much. Let's wait and see.
      • by van der Rohe (460708) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:26AM (#3600658)
        "The good stuff, like Cubase and Cakewalk, is unlikely to ever happen on Linux I think. Mainly because all the good audio software engineers are happily employed by the likes of steinberg, emagic, digidesign, apple etc."

        While I'm afraid you might be right, you might also be interested to know that Nuendo (Steinberg's flagship high-end audio editing app) is coded on *nix boxes. There's no PORT for *nix OSes, of course, but to do so should be trivial since that's where the app is written.

        I've talked to them about this and they're completely uninterested in making a Linux version. No market, they claim.
        They're right of course. But there's no market because there's no apps. And there's no apps because there's no market.

        What's the solution? Keep stuff free for a while, stop releasing things before they're done/work (Ardour), and stress the importance of stability.

        There's ONE serious professional audio app right now and it's marketed at the one market that can't afford to not be stable 100% of the time: DJs.

        It's called Final Scratch. Check it out.
    • Yes, but for good low latency audio you would need a well tuned harddrive, kernel (with appropriate low latency patches), inclusion of uptodate alsa (which will be mainstream in 2.6), and every program .
      I agree that these may be included as packages in an existing distro : that's exactly what he's doing, by basing his work on debian/red hat.

      And btw, mandrake used to be just that, a redhat tailored for KDE usage.
    • When we have programs like reason, things will be good on the music side.
  • mac users/digidesign (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DarkClown (7673)
    i have an audiomedia III and a digi 001 from digidesign - pretty much designed for pro tools - which rocks - and which are the only reasons i still use mac os (9). osx doesn't even have support for them yet - (and the audiomedia III has been out for _years_).... anyway, would love to see these supported by a linux audio package (and i guess that means kernel support).
  • If you play the binary image of Linux over a radio, do you have to provide source?
  • European DMCA (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Supa Mentat (415750)
    I've read in a bunch of places that the European Comission has all but decided to create their own version of the dreaded DMCA. If/when that goes through won't this have to be completely crippled?
    • Not at all. If you're a musician, the DMCA does not restrict in any way your right to perform, record, and distribute your own music.

  • by ben_ (30741) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:44AM (#3600566)
    Well, call me a heretic (and some will!) but I've recently moved back to Windows XP from Mandrake for almost exactly this reason; I could find no way to run any sort of decent sequencing/audio recording package on Linux. And I tried them all, every single OSS program I could find via Google, via Freshmeat...
    It seems that lots of people appreciate the basics of audio work, (I'd hate to give up sox, even under Windows) but when it comes to:
    * support for a *decent* soundcard, with multiple channels and digital I/O.
    * low-latency audio monitoring during record
    * sync of MIDI and audio
    * up to 24 tracks
    * plug-in realtime effects
    * automation
    ...etc, there's nothing that comes close to Logic Audio. So reluctantly, I now have a completely XP-based desktop.

    Now, another possible response to me is; "don't send complaints, send source code!". First, I'm not complaining, just observing. Second, yes, I could probably write such a package BUT, I'd need to work around the myriad of Linux audio systems, to research low-level drivers for the specialist hardware that decent cards use... it would take me years. By the time I had something usable I would have forgotten how to play guitar!

    ben
    • by Yohahn (8680) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:08AM (#3600618) Homepage
      Take a look at ALSA [alsa-project.org] and the project I mention below, Ardour [sf.net]
    • Rosegarden-4 (Score:3, Informative)

      by root_42 (103434)
      Apart from Brahms there is another nice Sequencer/Note editor for KDE -- Rosegarden: http://www.all-day-breakfast.com/rosegarden/index. html [all-day-breakfast.com] It is based upon the old (ugly, Xaw) Rosegarden 2.1, which is also available on the above site.
      • Unfortunately, there are no comprehensive solutions like Logic or Cubase. So far there are only pure MIDI sequencers or 100% recording applications, but I haven't seen any package that integrates both of them so I could arrage samples, MIDI hardware and VSTi instruments in one central program.
        And further, for a complete solution you would not only need a good sequencing package but also plugins, synthesizers/samplers (ES2, Absynth, etc) and mastering software (I'll never let go of T-Racks!).
        • So far there are only pure MIDI sequencers or 100% recording applications

          Several of the "pure MIDI sequencers" actually have some level of audio support: MusE [muse.seh.de], Jazz++ [jazzware.com], Rosegarden-4 [all-day-breakfast.com] and Brahms [sourceforge.net] at least do. It's all pretty damn basic at the moment, but there are a few interesting initiatives like JACK [sourceforge.net] (an audio connection toolkit, used by things like Ardour [sourceforge.net] -- we've just got the basics of support for it into Rosegarden) that might help to perk things up in the near future. I think once a few applications get able to talk to one another, we'll have far more interesting prospects.

          Caveat: I don't actually understand any of this stuff, I'm a notation guy.

    • I agree, I use linux for everything else but music, and windows for music programmes like logic audio. Still, windows is not de ideal platform for music, I had a lot of problems using windows, especially because of it's crappy usb implementation. So I'm saving up for a Mac. But logic audio does not run on OS X yet, so I would have to stick to OS 9. Linux does support some of the RME cards and the Midiman cards. I have a midiman audiophile 2496 which works with linux+alsa. But more support for midi interfaces, like my Emagix amt-8 would be nice.
    • by Paul Komarek (794) <komarek.paul@gmail.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @04:56AM (#3600826) Homepage
      I had no real problems with finding *decent* soundcards for a professional pianist two years ago. In the end, we chose the Midiman M-Audio Delta-66 (and had the machine custom built by Microway -- we'd probably build it ourselves this time). Other nice cards from RME (like the Hammerfall and Digi96 series) were also available. Between the cards supported by 4Front [opensound.com] and ALSA [alsa-project.org], there is really no shortage. This was less true two years ago, but we had no troubles. I guess the M-Audio isn't really high-end, but it is clearly *decent*. We were on a budget for the machine, so going over $600 for the soundcard wasn't really an option.

      The M-Audio Delta series are pretty nice. The analog inputs and outputs are contained in a separate breakout box, which makes connections easier and helps reduce electrical noise. The pianist has found the noise levels acceptable for mastering with a good headphone amp and headphones. Ambiant fan noise, on the other hand, is something we never really solved (and hence the headphones), but at least that's not a linux problem. ;-)

      The pianist had never used linux before, and by now is something of a zealot. =-) He's been using snd for waveform manipulation (but doesn't use any of the lisp extension capabilities, and I can't blame him for that ;-), and has expressed some frustration at the software available. That said, he hasn't updated his software for 2 years, and thus I have no good information about the current state of affairs.

      -Paul Komarek

    • If you want a good studio sound card with Linux drivers, try the RME Hammerfall series. You can get up to 24 channels (optical ADAT I/O). It can be had for under $500.

      Linux, patched, has lower latency than MacOS or any flavour of Windows. BeOS still beats it (I think), but not by very much.

      Jazz++ can sync MIDI and audio, and is released under the GPL.

      That said, I still haven't gotten around to converting "my" (WMBC's) recording studio, so I don't have any answers for you about effects. However, I did see something very promising at last year's Linux World Expo in NY. Also, I believe that Broadcast2000 (which isn't being developed anymore, but should still be available) can do this with audio as well as video.

    • I'm sorry, but if you're recording music, who cares what platform you're on? Why do you "reluctantly" use Windows XP? Think of it as an appliance; choose the one that offers the most functionality for the price. Right now, Linux isn't there, and realistically I don't see how it ever will be.

      Forget about support for "a decent soundcard"- you're going to need support for ALL of the decent soundcards, all the latest hardware [i.e. usb midi interfaces], VST/VSTi and DX plugins, decent sequencer (Logic, Cubase SX) etc., before ANYONE who's serious about music would even consider switching to Linux.

      Nevermind the fact that Linux is appalling for desktop use to begin with. Maybe if some company or group of developers actually put together an original distribution one day, such as one that isn't !! EVERY BINARY EVER COMPILED ON LINUX TOSSED ON A 18 CD SET !! there might be some chance. What I'm saying is, there needs to be a new kind of Linux, not a new kind of Linux distribution. You know, sort of like MacOS X.

      Hey, I know, how about you wait a few months and run Logic Audio on MacOS X when it's released?
    • You are a heretic! Well, not quite...

      Personally I'm not a pro-audio person. I built XMMS LADSPA, which is pretty much the definition of "unprofessional". I do think this qualifies me to talk about the "state of the art" of audio on Linux though, so long as I don't use any audiophile phrases like 'warm, clean sound'

      There definitely is decent soundcard support available for musicians. Not 100% coverage, but a good enough range that if you really wanted to do Linux audio work you'd find a pro card that is supported and meets your needs. The magic word here is 'ALSA'

      Low-latency audio monitoring is definitely available, but not yet polished. See 'JACK'

      24 Tracks? The limit here is your monitor (to see all the strips) and hard disk throughput. See 'Ardour'

      There is an API for realtime effects on Linux. See 'LADSPA' but you might find the UIs a bit sparse compared to VST.

      Even toy audio software like terminatorX has automation in Linux. I'm certain Ardour and other serious software must have it too if you ask.

      If you join the Linux Audio Developer list you should be able to get help setting up a decent N-way digital I/O card with Ardour. That gives you a 24 channel 32bit 48kHz DAW, with realtime monitoring (as good as you'll get on Windows anyway), full automation, and a small but growing collection of effects (tape delays, pitch scaler, compress/expand etc.)

      Is this as good as Logic today? No. Not really. Will it one day catch up with the state of the art on Windows or Mac? Well, maybe it will with your help :)
  • by GoatPigSheep (525460) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:45AM (#3600569) Homepage Journal
    There are a couple of points I'd like to clear up since I am a musician. Music software needs to be easy to use. Musicians don't like to spend weeks learning an OS when they could be spending that time writing music. Musicians like me also won't switch from tried and true platforms unless something BETTER comes out. Not equal but BETTER. I use logic audio in winXP and that works very well for me. If something equivalent came out for linux I wouldn't use it since I wouldn't get anywhere learning new software that did the same thing as the software I use. It would be difficult to code a software studio program that was comparable to ones used today on the windows and macintosh platforms. These are serious, large programs that take the combined effort of a group of hired programmers to create. They have good interfaces and are standard. Many open-source programs that I have seen lack in the interface area and in the standards area. There is a reason why programs like cubase or logic audio cost so much, creating them is a huge endeavor and creating a realiable environment and good interface is not an easy task at all.

    I could see linux based distributions being used by linux users and hobbyist musicians, but I doubt that intermediate musicians would use it and pro ones would deffinately not use it (they are too attached to their MACS and protools!)

    I believe music software is an area where we NEED large well-funded companies to create the software.
    • Are you kidding me? You could hardly call CuBase easy to use. My brother is a musician, and he uses lots of audio software, from Finale to Fruityloops to Generator. CuBase is the one program he can't figure out.. and frankly, neither can I. It's laid out like an audio version of Premiere, minus the ease-of-use.

      The fact that Cubase is so popular tells me that audio software doesn't need to be easy, it just needs to be powerful.
      • Actually, Cubase isn't particularly powerful either, compared to the likes of Performer or Logic. The reason it's so established is that it derives from the old Pro 24 sequencer on the Atari 1040, which made its way into practically every European recording studio in the mid-80's. Steinberg have a long, long-term customer base.
    • Music software companies are not of the large, well-funded variety: they're usually small (minute compared to mainstream software houses) and often hand-to-mouth. They are very much catering for a precarious niche market (one of the reasons, they'd claim, why music software is still copy-protected) and cannot afford to splash out on time, money and resources porting their products to (and supporting) a niche operating system within that market.
      • Companies were in fact happily busy porting to BeOS (Yes, there have been very early versions of Cubase and Nuendo) until the infamous focus shift and the death of Be. Why would they port on a super-niche OS like BeOS but not on Linux, which has not only much better hardware support and popularity? BeOS offered better performance on similar hardware compared to MacOS or Windows, together with proper APIs. Unless Linux can offer the same, no company will be interested in porting software on it.
    • I agree. While I won't concede that musicians are stupid, when my band recorded our CD (by ourselves, which we then proceeded to burn and give away 500 copies of for free), we used Cool Edit Pro. That was complicated enough, setting levels so as not to peak, mixing this and that, cutting tracks (we recorded one track at a time due to lack of decent microphones - we had about 3). After getting over the learning curve for that piece of software, we were all convinced that it did everything we ever needed to do. How would you convince us to change OS's, much less programs? It would have to be significantly easier as well as offer more features. I don't say this out of a greedy standpoint, just out of a time necessity.

      Also, I'd like to see not just an audio distribution, but an entire Multimedia Linux distro. One with a focus on audio and video tools. That's something else that I think Linux is missing - an easy to use set of video capture and compression tools, complete with (dare I say it outloud) a non-command line DVD rip program (shhhhh!). Seriously, high quality vid compression and easy to use capture programs, with support for the later cards like the GeForce 2's with video cap features would be really cool.

      Of course, this is comming from the guy who currently doesn't have speakers hooked up to his linux box...

      ~Will

      P.S. If you're really a sadist, and feel the need to know what this music is that was recorded dirt cheap and given away freely with encouragement to pass around to your friends, you can check it out at mp3.com [mp3.com]. Be warned, for a self recording it's not bad, but it's not studio. It's also rock pop with very little distortion.

      • something else that I think Linux is missing - an easy to use set of video capture and compression tools, complete with (dare I say it outloud) a non-command line DVD rip program

        DVDRip [exit1.org]is an amazing gui based dvd ripper for linux. One of the easier and most powerful multimedia tools I've used on Linux. The DVD equivalent to GRip, and it works...
    • I believe music software is an area where we NEED large well-funded companies to create the software.

      Not so: Look at (BuzzMachines [buzzmachines.com]). More specifically, look at all the user-made plugins. The whole buzz community relies on free plugins - vst or otherwise.

      What we need is demand, or rather apparent demand. Most of us would like some kinda decent sequencer, but dont do anything about it (me being one).


      I could see linux based distributions being used by linux users and hobbyist musicians, but I doubt that intermediate musicians would use it and pro ones would deffinately not use it (they are too attached to their MACS and protools!)

      There is no reason why a professional would not use linux, if it had decent tools to use. Many of professionals that I know use all-inclusive packages that you can buy - ie PC/MAC+Cubase/Protools etc. Naturally, following on from producing quality linux goods, we'd need the training for it as well; Decent documentation ;)

      Therefore, what we need is a load of psyched up music freaks that can program in C and that can be bothered to make something decent! Any takers? I for one would be willing to help
      • I'd have to agree with you on buzz, I use it often in fact, I should have included it in my argument. However although buzz is a great and powerful program it isn't the type of program that would be used in a studio (mainly since it's midi support is quirky and it's interface is tracker style as opposed to sequencer style)
  • by Yohahn (8680) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @02:53AM (#3600592) Homepage
    Must take this moment to endorse Ardour [sf.net].

    While it isn't finished, it is quite an attempt to provide a professional quality hard drive recording program. Perhaps a little $$ twords finishing the developement of ardour would be worthwhile; I don't believe there is any free software close to what it is doing.
  • by TimoT (67567) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:09AM (#3600621) Homepage
    If we want linux to be taken seriously in multimedia production then we need some way to get around the proprietary format/codec problem for media. This is actually one of the key reasons why I'm opposed to DMCA-like laws (and patenting of compression algorithms), since they create barriers to entry for free software. Free software authors can't pay the licencing fees.

    Morally the right thing to do would be to create free alternatives, but this is probably not a feasible option (lawsuits for patent infringement, consumer acceptance of alternate formats, etc.). As it stands now even watching DVDs on linux is illegal (afaik css is being automatically descrambled by a non-licenced program). Clearly some solution for this is needed.

    As for the infrastructure, linux audio is doing pretty well (ALSA+lowlatency works wonders). All that's missing is the production apps... a good sequencer (cubase/cakewalk-workalike) would do wonders. All of the GUI audio apps I've seen for linux are crap compared to professional windows apps. It's about time to do something about it, but is the community of linux-using music-making dsp-coding geeks too small ?

    • This is actually one of the key reasons why I'm opposed to DMCA-like laws (and patenting of compression algorithms), since they create barriers to entry for free software. Free software authors can't pay the licencing fees.

      Congratulations, you just defined why we have such a thing as patents. Patents protect an invention so that the inventor can enjoy a limited amount of time of exclusivity. If the author wants to let others use his invention for the cost of a license, great. If the poor free software developers can't afford the license, tough. The alternative of not having patents at all would seriously hinder the inventive process, and we'd see much less advancement (don't get me wrong, I think there are plenty of silly patents out there, but just because the system can be abused doesn't mean the original intent is wrong).


      Morally the right thing to do ...

      Morally? By whose set of morals? Yours? What makes you so special that the morals you hold are the morals everyone else should hold as well? Morality has no place in business, politics, or education. Leave morality to religion. (note that "morals" != "ethics".)


      As it stands now even watching DVDs on linux is illegal (afaik css is being automatically descrambled by a non-licenced program). Clearly some solution for this is needed.

      Right. The solution is that someone (company, group of individuals) needs to pay for a license, develop a player, and distribute it legally (whether they charge for it or not is up to whoever builds the player). Then and only then will playing CSS-encoded DVDs on linux be legal. (Okay, so a legal alternative would be a complete clean-room reverse engineering of the CSS encryption, but that's likely not even a possibility anymore with the proliferation of the DeCSS code, not to mention the DMCA itself.)

      • Morally? By whose set of morals? Yours? What makes you so special that the morals you hold are the morals everyone else should hold as well? Morality has no place in business, politics, or education. Leave morality to religion. (note that "morals" != "ethics".)

        Just stating my opinion, feel free to disagree. I don't believe that breaking the law is a good solution and also I don't believe that having companies keeping a stranglehold of media production by controlling the means of distribution and production is a good thing. Free (or cheap) alternatives would promote independent media production and enable more people to create and distribute digital art than the current situation.

        As for patents, my opinion is that the time of protection for the invention is too long and the standards for granting protection are too low. The particular case of compression algorithms (and many other algorithms); I consider them mathematics, which shouldn't be patentable. It seems that patents don't protect individual inventors btw, but only those who have the resources to use the patents in court (i.e. large companies).

        Another problem with ip laws is that they are in my opinion trying to create artificial scarcity of resources, where there exist none naturally, so that ip can be created, sold and bought like any other physical good. It's surprisingly conservative that when technology is about to make certain business models obsolete then laws are enacted to protect those models. I.e. "We've made lots of money doing this in the past, we have the right to make money doing this in the future." Strikes me as lack of faith in the adaptability of the capitalist economy - there will be new markets, when old ones are made obsolete.

      • Congratulations, you just defined why we have such a thing as patents. Patents protect an invention so that the inventor can enjoy a limited amount of time of exclusivity. If the author wants to let others use his invention for the cost of a license, great. If the poor free software developers can't afford the license, tough.

        Wrong, wrong, wrong... Sure, the officially stated goal of the patent system is to protect the inventor (especially the "small inventor" who does not want his hard work to be stolen by a large company). Unfortunately, there is a big difference between theory and practice and we all know that in the end, the patents are disputed in courts where the companies sue and counter-sue each other. In many cases, the one who has the deepest pockets wins because the "small inventor" is forced to drop the case or to settle for something that less than ideal. Of course, eliminating patents completely would not be a good solution either, but at least the current patent system should be updated

        Regarding the license fees, there is another (bigger) problem: the free software developers cannot pay the license fees because the licensing terms are almost always incompatible with the free distribution of the software. Most of the licensing mechanisms are based on royalties or on some variable fees that depend on the number of copies sold or distributed. This is not compatible with free software because the authors have no way to know how many copies of their software will be distributed. This does not work either if someone takes an existing software package and modifies it to create something new: who pays the license fees in this case? The original author who is not even aware of this new software? The new author? But then, when should the new software be considered "different enough" from the original package?

      • Right. The solution is that someone (company, group of individuals) needs to pay for a license, develop a player, and distribute it legally (whether they charge for it or not is up to whoever builds the player). Then and only then will playing CSS-encoded DVDs on linux be legal. (Okay, so a legal alternative would be a complete clean-room reverse engineering of the CSS encryption, but that's likely not even a possibility anymore with the proliferation of the DeCSS code, not to mention the DMCA itself.)

        Um, playing CSS-encoded DVDs with an unlicensed decoder (e.g., DeCSS) is quite legal. CSS is not patented. It was kept as a trade secret. But it's not a secret anymore. There is no need for a license to use it.

        On the other hand, thanks to the DMCA, distributing DeCSS is (unfortunately) legally questionable. I believe the Constitution protects my right to distribute it, but the issue is still in a murky position in the courts.

        (Of course, as a Slashdotter, it goes without saying that IANAL.)

    • All of the GUI audio apps I've seen for linux are crap compared to professional windows apps. It's about time to do something about it, but is the community of linux-using music-making dsp-coding geeks too small ?

      I think the community of linux-using music-making dsp-coding geeks with enough time and good taste to work on quality GUI applications probably is pretty small. Making GUIs is difficult and mostly not much fun; it doesn't fit well with the scratch-your-own-itch style of development, and you have to think about those users all the time. Infrastructure is hard too, but often not quite so damn tedious.

      I work on the Rosegarden-4 [all-day-breakfast.com] project, which maybe one day will be "somewhat like" Logic. So far we have yet another half-decent sequencer with MIDI and a bit of audio plus reasonable notation support, and we could definitely use some help. But the potential is there, we're making good progress, and I'm quite excited about the infrastructure, which I really think is becoming good enough and consistent enough to support it.

      Projects like DeMuDi surely are mostly a good thing. The software is slowly getting there, and a push towards making it easier to find and install all the bits and bobs you need can surely only help. (Except of course that this is exactly what the mainstream distributions should be doing anyway.)

    • Please excuse me if this doesn't make much sense since I haven't really looked into sequencing with Linux.

      Anyway, I'm wondering whether the situation with GUI sequencers isn't similar to IDEs or typesetting, in that a large part of Linux users are happy (happier, actually) with using an editor, compiler and some command line tools, and not a GUI.

      So, does an appropriate language for defining a piece of music exist, a LaTeX for musicians? Or are the features that musicians need that can't reasonable be implemented in such a version?
      • does an appropriate language for defining a piece of music exist, a LaTeX for musicians?

        Yes. There are lots of pieces of music software that are more or less comparable to LaTeX, in that they do specific tasks from the command-line and textual input: Csound [csounds.com] for synthesis, SoX [sf.net] for audio manipulation, Lilypond [lilypond.org] for notation typesetting. They're all excellent pieces of software.

        But I guess there aren't as many people who need to do only synthesis, audio manipulation, or notation typesetting as there are people wanting software that only typesets text. Music is always going to have more of a real-time, interactive nature.

        • I was actually thinking of something more general: A language which lets you define a piece of music by defining what note to play at what time with what instrument, but also what sample to play where, and where what lyrics go. Then this could be used to generate the finished sound file, but also the notation, or whatever else is interesting. It should basically describe the whole thing in a generic way.
          • A language which lets you define a piece of music by defining what note to play at what time with what instrument, but also what sample to play where, and where what lyrics go.
            So you didn't even have a look? This is actually what LilyPond [lilypond.org] does, except for the sample to play part.

            Audio output is currently basic MIDI, mainly because the core LilyPond hackers are more interested in notation.

            • fdsa:
              define a piece of music by defining what note to play at what time with what instrument, but also what sample to play where, and where what lyrics go.

              jcn: So you didn't even have a look? This is actually what LilyPond does

              No, surely fdsa is right -- Lilypond doesn't really begin to address anything performance-related, and "performance-related" covers a vast amount of instrument, audio and interpretational stuff that a quick reference to samples doesn't begin to cover.

              Lilypond can describe most of the data that a classical composer or a non-electronic performer would be interested in, but it's not a performance tool, which seems to be what "defining what note to play at what time with what instrument" is asking for. Lilypond and Csound squished together would be more like it, but only if you were happy to be working entirely in Csound synthesis.

  • AGNULA, not to be confused with AGNEWLA, the Louisiana chapter of the official Spiro Agnew Fan Club, or Arugula, the yummy, yellowish mustard herb. Maybe we're getting carried away with the acronyms?
  • by Anonymous Coward
    ...I must say, this is the only thing holding me back from converting to 100% linux.

    A shame to say, but, I've been using Cooleditpro, (and its predecessor, cooledit) for over 10 years now. It's not that I can't change. I won't. I'd be willing to change to a different package entirely, if it even came close in terms of features, and interface. (Logic Audio comes to mind, but once again, no linux version)

    Sorry, but as much as I'd love to support the open-source movement...as much as I hate to indirectly support microsoft......and as much as I hate to dilly-dally over my final move to linux......... untill I get full-blown audio editing, recording, mixing, and mastering suite..... shit, I'd be happy to settle for a conglomeration of little programs to do it all........but untill I get either of my wishes, I'm stuck in a windows world.

    ...bah....someone hop to this, pronto.....

    -Dan Youth
    ( www.mp3.com/AneurysmX )
  • Finally enough I found this through a link in an earlier slashdot article (gtkmm vs qt thing), but take a look [sourceforge.net] at Rosegarden, being only a Rhapsody user myself, this impressed me.
  • by HTD (568757)
    but, i think the biggest problem is that it isn't easy to use for a musician. On Mac/Windows just start some downloaded setup tool and your new drivers are installed. same goes for audio-software updates. Even this seems to be a problem as the FAQ pages show on most manufacturer pages.
    Installing Alsa drivers isn't that easy. I mean there's a 40KB text file that explains howto install them, you need at least 6 steps. Also you must know which chip your audio-card is based on. Then there's 4 different things to get off the alsa page (Driver, Library, Utilities, OSS Compat. Library) but you actually need all of them to get audio software going - why isn't this one package? For my card using the ice1712 chip i currently must use OSS emulation for most audio-tools (except Ardour).
    speaking of Ardour - If i were a normal pc-using musician and i want to try out some new software i heard of, I'd try to get some demo version of it and test the tool. to get Ardour i must know howto use CVS and of course howto compile under linux. I know Ardour isn't finished yet, but this is another point that keeps joe average off linux-audio.
    for me it's fun to try out howto tweak my linx box and to see linux have super-low latency with some kernel patches (approx. 2ms). A lot work and time is necessary to get these things going (time a professional musician can't afford). MacOSX can provide similar latency and much better usability. Recoding some tool like Samplitude Studio which has a usability level that i never saw with any other software is nearly impossible. I once put a friend of mine in front of my machine running Samplitude - he is a musician only knowing something about his hardware like mixing-desk, compressors, amplifier... - he figured out howto use the most important functions within 5 minutes, and actually made the mixdown himself w/o needing my help afterwards.
    That's the actual difference between opensource apps and professional apps (which are sadly not available for linux). So its usability not features, there shouldn't be a distro for audio, there should be some foolproof system for drivers and software installation.
    • by billd (11997)
      I tried to install Ardour, but first had to install ALSA.
      Not being too Linux savvy I ended up creaming
      my audio altogether :(

      Now I use a swappable drive bay with a second
      drive with Windows and all my audio apps. Yeesh.

      I for one would be really happy to have some of
      the cool audio projects in the dist, even if they are still
      developmental.

  • I think that I'd be happy with an Acid like kind of thing. I don't know where's the home page of it, but it's made by Sonic Foundry, like SoundForge :-) And yes, it's only for Windows, like SoundForge.

    Anyway, I've got the 1.0 version, which came with my HP CD-burner (besides a lot of fine samples), and I'm in love with it. It could be vastly better (that's why there's the 3.0 version now, I believe ;-)) And I, through my ignorance, believe that just with the features that this program provides we could do a lot of things. No MIDI, no SMPTE (STMPE? SMTPE?), only audio. And without effects (you can invoke an external editor from within Acid). But the samples are treated in such a way that you can change the tempo of the song and the samples play faster or slower, withouth changing pitch. That's wonderful, and the most important thing IMHO. Apart from being very, very easy to use.

    But of course, I'm just an amateur. I'm sure that pros need much more, but something like Acid available in Linux would make my musicing hours much happier ;-)
    • for one, you can use dsp plugins to use effects within acid, without having to launch an external editor.

      and while the slowing down/speeding up of samples is ok, have you ever tried running say 20 odd samples at once, and had a close listen to the output? it sounds pretty muddy and/or mushy, even if you spend forever panning the sound out across the spectrum.

      yeah acid is fun, but it needs quite a bit done to improve its sound quality before it will get wide use. it is pretty much strictly for amateurs/people who just want to try an idea out...

      now making waves... thats a cool easy to use sequencer/tracker, although it also has the problem with shit sound when you use lots of samples...
  • RMS (Score:2, Funny)

    by SashaM (520334)

    a distribution called AGNULA (A GNU/Linux Audio distribution).

    Looks like RMS got his way with this one :-)

  • I'm addicted to VST plug-ins and VST instruments. Is anything in the linux arena even close to having support for this stuff? This is just one of the many things that a linux-based audio program will have to overcome, which is why I switched to Mac (and have been waiting for stuff to be brought to OS X)
    • I see a lot of Windows plugins using DirectX / COM, but what does the Mac use? Do VST have their own cross-platform plugin format, or do they use COM wrappers on Windows?

      Jon

      • VST is cross platform. The only obstacle to porting VST plugins to linux is the lack of a VST GUI lib (and of course the lack of VST hosts there!).

        We've got some good, free VST plugins at Destroy FX [smartelectronix.com] (win32, os9, osx)...
  • OSS limitations (Score:2, Interesting)

    The big problem with sound program on linux at the moment is OSS. What is currently the most stable and supported(barely passable).

    OSS has a number of limitations that make it very hard to get high quality sound programs. From what I was told it's like the clasic unix sockets. So you have to do a loop until the socket is free BUT this means you have a small period of time where there is nothing. This is what with XMMS, etc. you get clicks when the songs change.

    Alsa uses call backs instead(an OSS compatable api is included which simulates OSS) which means you don't get that pause. This makes writing high quality audio programs much easier.

    The long and the short of it is that I doubt we'll get really STABLE high quiality audio programs until Alsa is included in the Kernal in the distros (It has been included in 2.5) Which won't be for at least a year(this is a guess). The other thing that happens when the new kenal comes out is that it is supposed to have a lower latancy(VERY important from real time video/adio programs).

    That combined with GStreamer and the like means that in about one or two years we should have some very nice audio programs.

    That being said heres the best program I've found so far:

    A Good Audacity Multiplatform Audio Program [sourceforge.net]
    • Interesting. Anyone got any hard data on latency through the kernel & OSS / Alsa drivers? I'd like to see a comparison with ASIO / WDM drivers on Win2K, and whatever-macs-use as well.

      How might one go about measuring latency in the same way across totally different platforms? I would be happy to do some tests.

      Jon.

    • Hmm, I'm pretty sure ALSA is included in most distros these days. SuSE 8 I know has ALSA 0.9 in it, which is pretty good. I'm using ALSA now in fact and I'm on 7.3 Just because the official kernel doesn't have something doesn't mean it won't be there remember.
  • and you do need a kickass MIDI sequencer, I suggest BeOS + Sequitur. [angryredplanet.com] It does not have all the features of Cakewalk (I miss expecially the score) but it does have other special features of it's own, like for example processing filters and filter editing (for new filters), but there are many more.

    There are many more good audio tools on BeOS. One more recommendation is XRS [lycos.it], a groove station, similar to FruityLoops. I composed this song [mp3s.com] completely in XRS, using just the built-in software synths.

  • by jukal (523582) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:54AM (#3600918) Journal
    One thing that I don't dislike in the European Union is the sense that they seem to have regarding information technology. It seems like they are making decisions which really could benefit the European Union and not a single company. This shows for example through the IST [cordis.lu] (information society technologies programme coordinated by EU).

    This gives you a glimpse to some open source based / utilizing projects they are supporting:
    51 records [cordis.lu] found.

    I don't know if opensource is the magic for getting EU money, but atleast it does not seem like it closes your opportunities. Just as it should be. But atleast it should be easier to get rational decisions in here than in US, in which I assume the elections are more strictly based on how much marketing support the candidate gets from selected corporations :))
  • This kind of thing won't appeal to real professional musicians as there is absolutely no professional grade multitrack recorders / sequencers available on Linux - not even ONE. And dont suggest SLAB/whatever - they just dont cut it. It's a start I agree, but you're not going to get the user base over until there is a decent killer application that can compete with ProTools or Logic.

    Having recently bought Logic Audio myself, I am quite happy with Windows 2000 as a platform. It's not linux but its perfectly stable and allows me to get decent latencies via my card's ASIO drivers.

    Unlike others, I'm interested in music, not politics...

  • This morning on my way to work I bought copy of Linux Format [linuxformat.co.uk] to read on the train (LXF28 June 2002). On page 8 (Linux Webwatch) was a section on creating music on Linux which included a few interesting links.

    Ardour [sourceforge.net] - record 24 or more channels of 32-bit audio at 48kHz

    TK-707 [usyd.edu.au] - a soft drum machine based on Roland's precursor to the legendary 808

    Slab [slabexchange.org] - another audio recording tool that consists of a virtual tape deck, a mixer, a wave editor and some audio mixing tools.

    Open Music [linuxtag.org] This project provides a spectrum of Licenses for musicians to realease their music under (influensed by the GPL).
  • A bit of topic maybe, but I have just installed SuSE 8.0 and I was happy to find a lot of music related software to play with on the SuSE CDs (MusE, Brahms, Jazz+, kmidi etc). Since I have a digital piano (Yamaha Clavinova), it was natural to think about trying out the midi capability that the digital piano has. So, I bought a midi connector (for the joystick entrance of my SoundBlaster Live 5.1 oem card) but have not been successful yet to get the digital piano to communicate with any programs.

    Is there any slashdotters out there who have some experience with these things? It would be nice to hear from anyone else who have tried to connecting their digital piano to their linux box. Advice to a newbie like me would be much appreciated!

  • linux-sound.org (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Onan The Librarian (126666) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @08:59AM (#3601360)
    A somewhat rambling rant:

    I'm consistently amazed at the ignorance of so many /.ers when it comes to music and sound software that runs under Linux. I've written a book about the subject, I've maintained a focused Web page on the subject for more than six years, and I've published more than 16 articles on Linux audio issues in the Linux Journal, on the O'Reilly Network, on Freshmeat, and in the Linux Gazette. I've even indicated where you can actually *hear* music made by people using Linux audio software such as SpiralSynth, Pd, Csound, and many other apps. Linux sound support now includes the Hammerfall and Hammerfall DSP cards, the MIDIman Delta series, and a host of consumer-grade cards (including the SBLive and Audigy cards). ALSA brings a very high-quality audio and MIDI API to the kernel sources. Audio performance latencies can be brought down to the under-2msec range by simple kernel patches. Software such as terminatorX, SpiralLoops, Ceres3, and RTCmix may not fit the average Win/Mac user's idea of what constitutes music software, but that doesn't mean it's not usable (i.e., musical) software ! I've said this so many times it's becoming a litany response: Cakewalk and Cubase have been in commercially-supported production since the late 80s, years before Linux even existed. And as Paul Davis (Ardour developer) points out, absolutely *no* source-code models exist for learning how to achieve designs similar to those commercial packages, so almost everything has been learned from scratch. Yes, it takes time to write a professional-quality hard-disk recording system, a lot of time. AGNULA's time-span extends over a 2-year period: Last year at this time Ardour wasn't even usable; this year I'll be lecturing about it to students in Barcelona in June. So what will the situation be like in two more years ?? Okay, I understand clearly when someone says they must have Windows in order to create their music *now*. That's fine, but judgments upon software they have *not* learned to use are irrelevant. So go ahead, stick with Win/Mac: meanwhile we're the ones who are working to bring something better to Linux users who want pro-audio software. Helpful support is always welcome, and you can find links to such groups as the Linux Audio Developers and Linux Audio Users mail lists by following the URL in the title to this post.

    Honestly, reading some of these posts makes me think of what the responses were like when Linus announced his intentions to the world. "Oh, you'll never be able to [favorite Win/Mac activity here] on Linux". Ten years later a lot of those posts read like they were written by some rather short-sighted whingers... ;)
    • I've gotta agree...what's the deal with you folks? Check out the page he listed in the subject line:

      http://linux-sound.org/ [linux-sound.org]

      I've been checking out this stuff and using the software linking from it for a few years now (thanks Dave P.), and I've had a really fun time with it. If you are willing to use proprietary software and want to throw $50 towards a good project, I can recommend the 'Ultramaster rs101,' which is a fun little 16 track sequencer: http://www.ultramaster.com/rs101/ [ultramaster.com]. (seems like the site is temporarily down, try the google cache for now: http://www.google.com/search?q=cache:www.ultramast er.com/rs101/ [google.com].) If you want, you can hear some of the music I've made on linux with this package: http://www.easy-protest.com/music/ [easy-protest.com]

      Currently I'm in the process of installing Ardour to see how that works, and I've used a bunch of other stuff already with good results, like Audacity, snd, (haven't tried hard enough to use) PD, etc.

      There's a lot of stuff out there, and a lot going on! I know Ardour's been mentioned a lot, but if you would like to get some real pro-audio on Linux, I would recommend checking it out: http://ardour.sf.net/ [sf.net]--and maybe tossing some money toward Paul Davis, who does a sh*tload of work for Alsa, Jack, and etc. as well as creating this amazing software. Of course, there are others out there too, get involved!

    • Yackety-Yack!!! It's time to pack serious Linux sound and audio solutions in a bowl and smoke it. American commercial products have to much of a head start and the mass marketing engine is to powerful. Serious music composition is difficult enough without throwing the toils and troubles of Linux internals on top of it. LILO BOOT linux Windows Windows..... Start ---> Cakewalk "Now I'm makin' music and swigin' a cols ass 40!"
  • On a related note, if you're looking for a sound editor, check out GNUsound [freshmeat.net]. I wrote it myself so it must be good :)
  • It seems strange that the distros the European Commission (presumably based in Europe) aren't utilizing the major European Linux distribution. Namely, SuSE.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I would like very much to reduce my dependence on Redmond. So, when it came time to upgrade my machine, I considered upgrading my OS & software as well.

    I looked around, under, and over, and my options were...nothing. There are a lot of toys for Linux out there, but nothing that can hook all the pieces of my digital studio together.

    I'm not necessarily looking for an open source solution. If Cakewalk (SONAR) or even Cubase were available for Linux, I'd probably go there. I'd be willing to pay the money and continue using proprietary software just to move off of Windows. But the reason Audio software costs so much is that it is hard to write well.

    Trust me - it's much worse to lose a perfect take because of a digital clock sync glitch than it is to lose a document I'm composing. Much worse. In addition to being technically ignorant, stoned, and irresponsible, musicians are just not going to stop a recording session to code a quick driver fix so they can finish the song. They'll throw the thing out the window & set it on fire. Don't you watch the Osbournes?
  • I have a page with several popular GPL VST Plugins [smartelectronix.com] ("Destroy FX"). If someone were to port VSTGUI [steinberg.de] to linux, we'd definitely compile our stuff for linux users as well.

    • Very interesting message and neat-looking plugins! However, porting the VSTGUI is an issue that has already been discussed at some length among Linux audio developers. There are problems, particularly with Steinberg's position re: source code changes, but yes, hypothetically it's possible to port. Here's a quote from an article I wrote about LADSPA (at http://linux.oreillynet.com/pub/a/linux/2001/02/02 / ladspa.html):

      "In the early stages of LADSPA development, some members of the LAD group contacted the Steinberg company in hopes of porting the VST architecture to Linux; alas, they got no joy. Steinberg's license does not permit the redistribution of modified versions of its freely available VST SDK (a situation that could be neatly resolved if they adopted the GPL); however, a greater problem is that most VST plug-ins rely either on the native interface or libvstgui, a graphic interface library that has not been implemented in any of the popular GUI toolkits for Linux.

      Even this reliance could be overcome with a new Linux implementation of libvstgui, and although the documentation for libvstgui fully specifies the API and even includes some source, this is a substantial programming effort that nobody has been willing to undertake to date. As a result, despite its theoretical portability, the VST API remains tied to the Windows and Mac interfaces..."

      Just thought you'd like to know that it's been considered. Of course we'd still like to see VST plugins available for Linux, but meanwhile LADSPA programmers have already cooked up some pretty nice plugins themselves...
  • Hey,

    if anyone is interested in writing his own audio effects, be it under linux or 'doze, check out http://www.musicdsp.org !

    - bram
  • One thing I've found interesting is that they talk about Libre Software.
    I find this quite nice and could end endless references to speech or beer.
  • I use suse myself, but it is annoying to have to run a seperate script for low latency. The deal is that most linux distros are tuned for web serving, not multimedia playback, so it takes some heavy tweaking to get the system right, whereas with DeMudi you simply get debian that comes out of the box with all the audio and music software pre-compiled and also with the low latency settings precompiled into the kernel. Believe me, doing all this on your own, though it CAN be done, is a huge timewaster if you're a composer who wants to use linux, rather than a programmer who occassionally likes to compose. If you want to use linux for pro audio work, Demudi makes it easier (as long as you hardware is supported by debian.)

The meat is rotten, but the booze is holding out. Computer translation of "The spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak."

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