[PD] [OT] slightly: building audio computer with PD

Derek Holzer derek at umatic.nl
Mon Dec 31 18:40:02 CET 2007

For installations, I've always tried to make the computer as 
"bulletproof" as possible. Usually, you have these guards or museum 
assistants who simply turn everything off (often with one mains switch!) 
every night, for example. You can make whatever documentation you want, 
but you can also assume that the people at the museum/gallery won't read 
it, and certainly won't log into your machine and type command lines to 
get things running again! So the best system is one that takes care of 
itself with minimal outside assistance beyond making sure the power is on.

So I made sure to mount all my drives read-only, and that everything 
would start from a script on power-up. Having the whole operating system 
on a Flash card/USB stick (again, no logging, read-only) is also quite 
smart. In the case of the ITX boards, this is a fantastic idea, since 
they are designed with this in mind and no drive means less moving 
parts, less weight/bulk and less noise.

Search archives for the "Turning on/off installation", "Hardware 
suggestions for museum installation, "pd patch startup at boot" and 
"autoboot in Linux" threads, there's lots there on autostarting PD.


marius schebella wrote:
> great posting, thanks. I can only support what andy said. I always 
> thought the harddrive is the weakest part, but in all the years I was 
> using pd for installations the only things that broke were a motherboard 
> and a power adapter (and a screen during transport).
> of course it depends on how long the installation should run. but I know 
> of pd installations that are up since 2000, so you really also want to 
> think about maintanence. good documentation should always be part of 
> your contract.
> also think about details like log files filling harddrive space or 
> unmounting harddrives if they are not in use (just in case the computer 
> loses its power). btw anyone worked with flash memory for installations?
> marius.
> Andy Farnell wrote:
>> Hello Michael,
>> The keyword I read here is "installation", so the first three things on your
>> list should be reliability, reliability and reliability. Nobody wants to see
>> "This installation is out of order", and you don't want people seeing that
>> right next to your name while you are 1000 miles away working on another
>> project and uncontactable. Incidently - I saw a Nat West bank cashpoint
>> yesterday with a "Win32 DLL missing" error - the thought of banking machines
>> using Windows sends a shiver down my spine!
>> Closely connected to this is remote access, because this is your way
>> into the system to reset or repair it when you are unable to be physically
>> present. 
>> Basically, the system should be designed like a server not a desktop. You will
>> want an SSH shell, thttpd/boa type webserver to give you a page of easy to
>> access stats, (uptime, CPU usage, memory etc). Stock Debian is probably the
>> best all round OS for this application. The motherboard should be set up to 
>> reboot on shutdown (power into last state) so you can do a remote reset.
>> I think the best motherboards for installations are mini ITX 2.4GHz types.
>> (Don't buy them from mini-itx.com if you ever want to see your purchase!)
>> These can be practically silent with the fansink cooling, or if you want to go
>> down to 1GHz (which can deliver a lot of audio) then you can go to a completely
>> silent fanless system (perfect for small galleries). A wall mount case can be
>> bolted to the underside of a desk as well as on a wall so your hardware 
>> doesn't go walkies when unattended. 
>> Careful with cases, make sure there's enough slot room for any cards you
>> want to add with mini ITX systems and make sure the PSU is rated high enough
>> for the cards too (it probably is, even with the smallest wattage).
>> best regards,
>> Andy
>> On Sun, 30 Dec 2007 15:31:10 +0100
>> Michael Iber <music at chemie.fu-berlin.de> wrote:
>>> Hello list,
>>> I have to build an audio computer running PD for an installation. Since
>>> I am not too familiar with actual hardware issues, I would like to ask,
>>> if there are any restrictions or aspects to kepp in mind concerning
>>> certain processor types, motherboards, graphic cards, HDs (SATA) ...
>>> I will use a Hammerfall HDSP 9652 and the JAD-Distribution on a
>>> 32bit-architecture
>>> Thanks a lot and a happy New Year,
>>> Michael
>>> Michael Iber
>>> www.michael-iber.de
>>> mail at michael-iber.de
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derek holzer ::: http://www.umatic.nl ::: http://blog.myspace.com/macumbista
---Oblique Strategy # 99:
"Is there something missing?"

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