Re: Moving From ProTools to Linux? Good or bad?
- From: Mike Rivers <mrivers@xxxxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Fri, 02 Jan 2009 00:12:02 GMT
i'm the lead author of ardour, the lead author of JACK and the author
of the original RME drivers for ALSA, and so am simultaneously one of
the main sources of your frustration and also hoping to be part of
Thanks for stopping in, Paul. At the moment, I'm in the process of
trying to get Ubuntu Studio up and running. I've gone as far as getting
it to boot, and the first thing I see (just like Windows) is that there
are 189 updates to download. That's cooking now, though I suppose I
could have bypassed that step. It's all part of the fun.
first, plugging something into your audio interface is no longer "the
only way to record and hear something". many people now use software
instruments; on Windows and OS X,
Oh, I'm fully aware of that. But I'm old fashioned and I want to walk
(at least what I consider walking) before I start running around looking
for virtual instruments. I want to connect a microphone, say "Mary had a
little lamb" and hear it come back to me over the speakers. But I
realize that someone who doesn't own a microphone would rather plug in a
MIDI keyboard, set up a piano, and play Chopsticks, perhaps never
hearing it until he burns the file to a CD. Kind of like Beethoven, who
didn't get to hear what his symphonies sounded like until he was ready
for the orchestra to perform them.
JACK allows you to connect together a
totally arbitrary set of applications (instruments, recorders, media
players, FX processors etc) in ways not necessarily reproducable in a
monolithic host + plugins setting. the converse is also true, of
It's not yet clear to me yet whether I need to do that. Or if it's part
of a basic setup, no matter how simple.
second, its all very well and appropriate that you discuss the "new
user" scenario, and many of your criticisms and comments seem well-
founded to me, and the linux audio community needs to respond to them
(you're not the first person to make them). but in making this your
focus, you're missing one of the reasons why i started doing this
stuff in the first place (about 9 years ago). although i would like
new users to have a better (smoother? easier?) experience than they do
now, i also want experienced, professional users to be using a
platform where they can actually do stuff not necessarily imagined by
us application developers.
That's certainly one approach to development, but to me it's part of the
problem. The application developers (and I don't know if you resemble
this remark) aren't recording engineers so the applications may not work
the way an engineer want to use them. So the experienced (and
inexperienced) professionals (and hobbyists) don't really have a good
starting point, but may have to build the system using the provided
tools before they can use it.
you're so used to the idea that the OS
itself is not really part of your toolkit because the kinds of apps
that pro-audio users are used to on windows and os x attempt to do
everything for you. which is great ... until they don't actually do
what you need.
That's when we look for other applications. But really, there's some
pretty capable stuff out there, able to do much more than I can possibly
you've run into a series of issues that stop you from
doing what you need to do to get started, but imagine how someone
feels trying to use windows to run a wave field synthesis system, or
transport 24 channels of 24bit/96kHz (duplex) over internet2 for
innovative live musical collaboration?
They're probably using the wrong application. Or the wrong operating
system. When I first saw Ardour, I was coming from Mackie where I worked
on the documentation for the HDR24/96 (and did a fair amount of bug
finding in the process) and I was really jazzed that here was an
application that, short of the 24 channel I/O hardware, not only looked
like the Mackie recorder, but apparently worked like it as well. You
picked a great model. I still use my HDR24/96 because I like it better
than any Windows multitrack recording applications that I have.
I have a good friend who's a total Unixhead and I've been encouraging
him for years to set up an Ardour system. Funny that I might actually
beat him to it. On the other hand, if I do manage to get it working, it
might get him interested, and he's fully capable (and darn good at it)
of explaining the details of the operating system to me.
what about things that ought to
be trivial already, like doing a live icecast/shoutcast stream from
Again, that's of no interest to me, at least not until I know I can make
a recording, play it back, edit it, and maybe mix multiple tracks.
Others could care less about recording and just want to broadcast. If
it's the operating system that makes it possible, then that's great. But
everyone I know who wants to do that knows nothing about operating
systems, and needs a straightforward turnkey installation. What I'd like
to be able to do is tell someone who wants to do that:
1. Go buy a $300 refurbished Dell Pentium 4 (like I've done a couple of
2. Stick in this DVD and boot the computer (I might have to tell him how
to set it so that it boots from the DVD rather than the hard drive)
3. Select your language (maybe there could be a few versions of the
distribution in a single language with an appropriate keyboard)
4. Answer a few simple questions
5. Go read the newspaper or have dinner
6. Reboot, click on the Shoutcase icon, plug in your mic, and go.
i want users of my software to be
able to take control of it when and where they need (or choose) to.
I have no objection to that, but I want "take control" to be optional
when I need it, not the first step.
finally, i'd note that its really very frustrating to have been
working on this stuff all these years. when i started, windows was a
joke for pro-audio, and even os x was having teething problems with
Our needs (or rather, lust) has expanded quite a bit in the past 10
years, but there were actually some pretty good applications in the
early days, some better in terms of stability and sensible user
interface than what we have today.
and so now we've done all this stuff, and once you get your head
around some particular distribution's install system, you'll be ready
to use it all (assuming you've got a decent motherboard and audio
interface). and so what do i hear now (not necessarily from you, but
from the audio tech world in general)? "i can't use the plugins i
need!!" well, i've worked on that too
Bah! Kids these days! Can't make music without plug-ins. <G> But I can
understand your frustration. But try to understand my frustration, too.
I want a basic system that I can learn from and build up as my
requirements grow, while doing some productive work.
for now, running plugins
written for one operating system on another turns out to be an ugly
affair. could it be that when we finally get that right, people will
start to accept that maybe this is a platform worthy of their
Probably. But you need to get the plug-in manufacturers on board.
There's a lot of that stuff that's protected as I'm sure you know, and
some clever Linux programmer's version of the Waves Renaissance
Compressor or the Sonox Inflator just won't do. Same with drivers for
hardware. And in order for a hardware manufacturer to devote the time to
writing a driver, he needs to know that his effort will bring him enough
new customers to justify the deveopment costs. I don't know how many
Linux users he needs to sell hardware to in order to make money, but
I'll bet he doesn't see enough of them yet - and another kicker is that
customers have already bought the hardware and are running it under
Windows. So if that customer wants to start running Linux for whatever
reason, he isn't going to bring the hardware manufacturer any more money
unless they charge for the Linux driver - and it'll be a few more
generations of users before they'll put up with that. But then you're a
software engineer, not a CFO.
none of this is said to try to refute your comments about the need for
the new-user experience to be much, much better than it is today.
Nor is this meant to disparage or discourage you.
If you e-mail me and it bounces, use your secret decoder ring and reach
double-m-eleven-double-zero at yahoo -- I'm really Mike Rivers
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