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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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  • 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.

  • 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.
  • 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 ?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:26AM (#3600660)
    ...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 )
  • by ObviousGuy (578567) <ObviousGuy@hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:27AM (#3600661) Homepage Journal
    Are you sure you're not equating Microsoft loss to Linux win?

    Can't Linux win sans hurting Microsoft?
  • by prockcore (543967) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:27AM (#3600663)
    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.
  • Re:Less Hassle (Score:3, Insightful)

    by sahala (105682) <sahala.gmail@com> on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:54AM (#3600708)
    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.

  • by HTD (568757) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @03:57AM (#3600714) Homepage
    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 Osty (16825) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @04:01AM (#3600727)

    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.)

  • by MMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMMM (537317) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @04:28AM (#3600781) Homepage
    I had sex with an ATM machine this morning.
  • by TimoT (67567) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @05:30AM (#3600881) Homepage

    The VST plugin standard has some design flaws. Basically it wasn't designed to do the things it's currently doing (whole app as plugin) and many plugins use the native windows api calls for the guis, so the only option would be to use wine for emulation. Personally I'd prefer a new API designed from the ground up correcting the mistakes of VST/VST2. IIRC Yamaha actually proposed something that uses Microsoft's COM. In the linux world something based on CORBA or even shared libraries might work, but the design is tedious, because you never know what new ideas people come up with. For instance there are plugins with thousands of parameters and the parameters are all different types and plugins that load other plugins (meta-plugins).

  • by dejectuk (534810) on Wednesday May 29, 2002 @06:48AM (#3600991) Homepage

    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...

  • 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... ;)

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