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Let's Dig In!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by SonOfSmawg, Feb 21, 2003.

  1. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    Well, I figure that's enough talking about it ... let's get down to the nitty-gritty!

    Obviously, most people who presently are going to be reading this thread are exploring the possibilities and don't have a Linux DAW ... yet! So, where's a nOOb to start? Well, speaking from personal experience, decide which distro(s) you want to check-out, download or buy them, and then comes the fun part ... the dreaded INSTALLATION!

    So, pros, let's discuss these first steps. Perhaps you could give your views on these things:

    1) Which particular Linux distribution do you recommend for a first-timer?

    2) For a Linux nOOb, do you recommend downloading distros for free to check them out, buying distro CDs at very cheap prices from online distributors, or buying an Authorized version from the distro company complete with their included support?

    3) Given that each peecee has different components, perhaps you could give some recommendations regarding particulars of hardware that works well with Linux (in general), and hardware to avoid due to known problems and incompatibilities.

    4) What tips can you give to those of us who are Linux-challenged regarding installation?

    I know these things may seem downright silly to those reading this who don't yet have any Linux experience, but the first thing you will discover is that Linux is a "whole 'nother Beast" than Windows or the Mac OS. Installation is much more difficult, and drivers can be a total nightmare. The various distributions of Linux are very different from each other, and they each have their particular quirks.

    Ball's in your court, guys! Get us nOObs started!
     
  2. rah

    rah Guest

    1) Which particular Linux distribution do you recommend for a first-timer?

    For audio, Red Hat seems to be the best deal at the moment. This purely because of Planet CCRMA (http://ccrma-www.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software/) which is an add-on type thing that brings red hat up to audio-workstation capabilities.

    Also, less ready for prime time though, is Agnula (http://www.agnula.org/ - unfortunately seemingly down atm.) This is an EU-sponsored project to produce A GNU/Linux Audio distribution using entirely free (or "open source") software. It's currently in the first year of a two year timeline.


    2) For a Linux nOOb, do you recommend downloading distros for free to check them out, buying distro CDs at very cheap prices from online distributors, or buying an Authorized version from the distro company complete with their included support?

    This is a very personal question. Firstly, do you have a fat connection? If so, try downloading and burning the CDs; for a few quid you'll get exactly what the people who pay for boxed versions get, except you don't get a phone number you can call. Don't have a fat connection? Get a some cheap CDs (eg, from http://www.cheapbytes.com/) they've already done the downloading for you :)

    Alternatively, if you're looking to base a money-making prospect on using linux, or you can't stand posting questions to an email list, go and buy a decent distro whose producers you can phone up and get guaranteed support. I doubt you'll find anything audio-specific at the moment, but you'll certainly be able to get a phone number for someone who can answer questions like "why won't my monitor work?"


    3) Given that each peecee has different components, perhaps you could give some recommendations regarding particulars of hardware that works well with Linux

    This is not at all from my perspective; I don't own and never seen working either, but I've heard good things about the Delta 1010 and RME HDSP. RME provide the necessary documentation for one of the guys in our linux audio development community to develop the drivers for the HDSP cards. If asked, every time I'd say RME; they seem like very cool dudes, and their hardware rocks.

    Anything outside of audio isn't guaranteed. If it's based on an open standard, it will likely work. If it's popular, it will likely work. If it's an esoteric piece of strange gear that only 50 people bought even when they offered windows drivers, it's unlikely to work. Luckily you're almost certain to find info on whether or not the vast majority of hardware will work with linux on the net.

    4) What tips can you give to those of us who are Linux-challenged regarding installation?

    READ THE ERROR MESSAGES. *Soooo* many times I've seen questions like 'My software tells me "Check your PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable" but I installed what it told me to; what do I do?" In this example, it's bloody obvious what to do; check the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable. If you don't know what "the PKG_CONFIG_PATH environment variable" is, ask what it is. Other than that, there isn't much I can say. Follow the instructions, read everything you're presented with, and make sure you understand what you're doing before you do it. If you think you might not know what you're doing, don't do it.

    Although, having said that, in general don't be afraid to mess around; breaking (and afterward fixing) things is the best way to learn and afterall, it's only a computer; the worst thing you can do is cause yourself to have to reinstall :)

    I'd imagine that there would be a lot of people reading this forum who will, at some point, ask the advice of people in the the linux community.
    To these people, I have some general advice.

    Firstly, the people who you are asking are not paid. They are not on a salary. If they answer your question, they do so out of the goodness of their heart. This means that you cannot demand. You cannot behave like you are owed something. You are always on your own. If you ask for help, you cannot expect anyone to do something for you. They may tell you how to do it, but you will always have to do it yourself. I'll say it again, because it's very important: you are on your own. *You* are doing the work. If you are cool with this, and you can get along by yourself and ask for help when you get stuck, people will help you. If you are cool, people will be cool in return. If you whinge and moan that the latest version of package X crashes all the time, or that, for the past 5 releases, package Y doesn't compile, your contributions will not be welcome.

    And I think that basically sums up interaction with the linux community as a whole. If your questions are interesting and worthwhile answering, if they add to people's understanding, if they are contributions in their own right, you will get along fine. If all you do is whinge, you will not get along fine. Bear this in mind as I have seen many people's attitude bring their linux quests to a premature end.

    Anyway, hope this helps,

    Bob
     
  3. p0rk

    p0rk Guest

    Well put... I just wanted to add one other way to get started with Linux -- go to a book store and find a book that includes Linux on CD. A decent book will walk you through the installation steps and some basic troubleshooting. Although all of the information included in the book is available on the Internet, sometimes it's nice to have a well organized text to give you a helping hand.
     
  4. aloomens

    aloomens Active Member

    Yes! Very well said, Bob! I pretty much agree.

    1) Red Hat Linux is the most popular, and probably the best supported. Most application that are available in binary format (pre-built, or already compiled) are made available in the RPM format (Red Hat Package Manager) and can make installations easier.

    2) Wheter to donload or buy CD's really depends on your internet connection, and how long you are willing to wait. The currecnt Red Hat release is 5 CD's. You can download and burn the CD's if you can wait long enough. If you buy the Official Red Hat release, you get (I think) three months support.

    3) If you will be doing any kind of serious audio on Linux, you will need to get a sound card that is supported by ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture project) drivers, since all the major audio software uses ALSA drivers. You can see a list of cards supported at the ALSA project web page (http://www.alsa-project.org). I have read of people using the HME cards, and have personally used an M-Audio Delta card with LINUX. I think those would be good choices for any audio platform.

    4) As Bob mentioned, you are going to have to do a lot of reading. The Red Hat installation has a lot of information (on the LH side of the screen) about the choices you need to make. Read this! If there's something you don't understand, ask questions, here, or on a Linux mailing list or board.
     
  5. aloomens

    aloomens Active Member

    Sorry I missed this in my previous post, but for Linux installations, I would suggest using a custom installation, rather than choosing the option to install a pre-packaged 'Workstation' or 'Server' installation. This will do two things. First, for audio, you should relally only install what you need (for example don't install a web server, ftp server, telnet server, mail server etc.). Second, you get a much better picture of what is going on in the installation, so you learn something, and get to know your system better.
     
  6. SonOfSmawg

    SonOfSmawg Well-Known Member

    I am on a 56k modem, so I chose to buy Mandrake Linux from cheapbytes.com. I bought both, the peecee and Mac versions, and with shipping my total was like $19. I think that's pretty good, considering that Windows 98 (a dinosaur) is still going for about $85.
    If a person were to buy Redhat directly from the "manufacturer" with the included support, how GOOD is the support? I'm now thinking that it may indeed be worth it. Considering the price of tech support from MicroSoft and Apple, the three months of tech support to get you up and running and well on your way with Linux may actually be a tremendous bargain (?).
     
  7. aloomens

    aloomens Active Member

    I agree! For $49.00 (last time I checked) you get the latest Red Hat CD, a printed installation guide, and the suppport. I've never personally dealt with Red Hat for support, so I can't vouch for it, but I would bet that they would indeed be able to get someone up and running fairly quickly.
     
  8. aloomens

    aloomens Active Member

    Linux partitions are sometimes a cause of some confusion by people new to Linux. Just what partitions do I need? Well, to make it as simple as possible, you need only two partitions. When installing Linux, instead of allowing the install program to create the partitions, select the option to create your own partitions.

    First create a partition of type 'swap', that is twice the size of your physical (RAM) memory.

    Second create a partition of type 'ext3' that is all the rest of the disk space, and is mounted at '/'.

    That's all you need!

    It's probably easiest to have one HD just for linux, and then create these two partitions on it. (NOTE: This could be the second HD in your system, with windows already installed on the first.)

    Instead of drive letters like c:, d: etc that windows uses, Linux uses something like /dev/hda, to designate drives, and /dev/hda1 to designate partitions.

    For IDE drives, the drives are:
    First drive - /dev/hda
    Second drive - /dev/hdb
    Third drive - /dev/hdc
    and so on...

    For SCSI drives:
    First drive - /dev/sda
    Second drive - /dev/sdb
    and so on...

    Partitions are just the number after the drive designation:
    First partition on second IDE drive would be:
    /dev/hdb1
    Second partition on third SCSI drive:
    /dev/sdc2
    and so on...
     

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