[PD] [OT] Ubuntu Studio and other media-related distros

Matt Barber brbrofsvl at gmail.com
Sun Jul 13 18:29:06 CEST 2008

> Date: Sun, 13 Jul 2008 12:01:05 +0200
> From: Derek Holzer <derek at umatic.nl>
> Subject: [PD] [OT] Ubuntu Studio and other media-related distros
> To: pd-list at iem.at
> Message-ID: <4879D261.9030608 at umatic.nl>
> Content-Type: text/plain; charset=ISO-8859-1; format=flowed
> Hey gang,
> In a search for distraction from the project I'm really supposed to be
> working on, I decided to update my (until now stable but very outdated)
> Gentoo media editing machine. A couple days of circular package blocks,
> missing dependencies and vanishing libraries later, I'm really curious
> why I once decided it was a good idea to compile everything myself ;-)
> (Note to Gentooers: "emerge --update --deep world" once a month, or get
> the thing stable and never touch it again! If you wait too long, and
> your current packages go out of Portage, it can be hellish!).
> So if and when this machine is hosed, what would be a good distro to put
> on it? I don't feel much like the super-hacker I was a four or five
> years ago when I got into Gentoo, but I like a distro that I can
> configure to be extremely minimal and transparent. And what is
> absolutely necessary is that it has well-configured versions of all the
> audio softs that I depend on, such as Ardour (w/ VST support!), Jamin,
> LADSPAs, JACK, etc. Realtime/prempt kernel = A-OK. Ability to use
> PD-Extended is of course a plus, and also the ability to mount HFS+
> drives without destroying them (as Ubuntu has done to me in the past) is
> also necessary.
> I looked at Ubuntu Studio, but I wanted to ask who actually uses it.
>  From the page it seems like maybe it's not well-maintained, and that's
> another requirement for me after messing around with different
> audio-related overlays for Portage that eventually get abandoned.
> If Ubuntu Studio isn't the right one, can anyone suggest another option?
> My last criteria is that it has a coherent user community and excellent
> docs (strongest point of Gentoo, and from what I recall a weak point of
> straight Debian, IMHO).

I'm sure you've considered fedora/planetccrma?  This is an
oversimplification/caricature, but I've always felt that ubuntu
doesn't really trust its users, so sometimes things are much harder to
configure than otherwise should be (for instance, "using the command
line" is listed under "advanced topics" in the documentation).  In
other words, it tends to feel more like a macintosh than a linux
distro "should," -- or something. =o)  I've had to use ubuntu studio,
but I have found myself with a ton of audio dropouts in important and
stressful situtations, using jack with supercollider.

Fernando at ccrma has done a ton of great work -- PD extended (0.39)
is available and works great -- I usually compile a vanilla package
for my own personal use, too.  The latest stable version is on Fedora
8, with Fedora 9 in the works.  Also included with the jack package is
the new version of jackd (jackdmp) which you can test.  The realtime
kernels are the best around, IMO, but you can't compile proprietary
radeon drivers against them (nvidia works, though -- the newest ones
need a patch, and really I believe it would be possible to compile the
radeon drivers if you recompiled the kernel with a mean-spirited
patch).  The community is good as well, and answers to questions are
typically prompt and informative -- Nando is especially bright and
helpful, and knows where to go to get help if there are kernel

On the negative side, I find fedora's default repos kind of lame, and
apt-get in ubuntu kills fedora's yum (though yum has improved
significantly in the last year).  Also, they've tended to take over
important software, not include all the features, and then abandon it.
 For instance csound is not on planetccrma anymore, but in the default
repo.  It's stuck at 5.03, and doesn't include some opcodes like the
loris stuff, nor the csoundapi~ class for Pd.  They keep a version of
jack which sometimes conflicts with ccrma's for a couple of days,
until Nando saves the day on his end.  You have to rebuild mplayer to
work with jack.  Livna is better than Freshrpms, but if you need
cinelerra you'll have to go with the latter (though it's possible to
maintain a machine that uses both, I don't recommend it).

Fedora also anecdotally tends to be a little less stable on certain
hardware, but I've had very few problems with the rt kernels for at
least a year now.  Fedora is meant to be very quickly developed, and
new versions come out every six months or so, which means that at some
point you'll have to be satisfied with the state of your machine when
your packages are no longer updated, or you'll have to upgrade to the
new distro.

I really think that the best thing to use is what you're used to --
workarounds for the "gotchas" become second nature, and you tend to
forget that they were a problem in the first place.

I have no experience with HFS partitions under fedora.


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