Ship mscore / fluid-soundfont in Hardy?

Toby Smithe tsmithe at
Tue Mar 11 20:36:38 GMT 2008

[originally sent only to -devel, now sending to -users as well]


 Recently fluid-soundfont hit the archives (and since then, Debian).
 This is the first Free GM SoundFont, and is thus pretty damn useful.
 If you don't know what GM is, then this question probably isn't for

 fluid-soundfont enables synthesis that requires, you guessed it, a
 SoundFont. There are a number of packages in the archive which could
 potentially benefit: timidity, fluidsynth, mscore. I'm concentrating
 on mscore, because currently it links against the fluidsynth library
 (rather than use the ALSA sequencer), using that to synthesise audio.
 FluidSynth (as far as I am aware, and certainly in the way that mscore
 uses it) does not support the smaller freepats patches to do
 synthesis, and requires a soundfont.

 This direct linking makes it very easy, provided there is access to a
 SoundFont, to just get up and go: open mscore, and there's no other
 faffing about required before you can make noises. Naturally, the
 problem lies in that caveat: "provided there is access to a
 SoundFont". By default, there isn't, and so mscore doesn't make any

 The last upload of mscore (-0ubuntu2) contained a patch to default it
 to look for the fluid-soundfont-gm file. This means that, if
 fluid-soundfont-gm is installed, mscore will Just Work. Because of
 this huge boost in functionality, the mscore package Recommends the
 fluid-soundfont-gm package. I would have set it to Depends, but there
 are two factors against this:

 1. It does not fundamentally require the SoundFont, and can just as
 well (though with a little more effort), use a user-supplied font, as
 the package's install notification advised in the original -0ubuntu1
 version. Or, it can just work silently.
 2. fluid-soundfont is *huge* at about 130MiB. If mscore depended on
 fluid-soundfont-gm, it would force the user to download an excessive
 amount over the three meg required to get the program to run.

 Now, the question is: do we ship mscore on the DVD for Hardy? I think
 that this would be an excellent move: get a relatively new package a
 plentitude of airtime to get bugs shown up and ironed out, and improve
 awareness of a massively potential Sibelius alternative. Plus, it
 would fill the niche that Sibelius does on Windows, but on Ubuntu

 Should we decide to ship mscore, we then have to decide whether to
 ship fluid-soundfont. As the DVD is already 877MiB, which is a lot to
 download, users are clearly prepared to download that much. Why would
 an extra 130MiB be too much pain? It would enable a lot of
 functionality (and during the Intrepid cycle, I'll be further
 integrating fluid-soundfont to allow it to replace freepats wherever

 If we do ship mscore, but not fluid-soundfont, users are purely going
 to have to download the soundfont separately (thereby increasing the
 effects of waiting for download: rather than wait once in one long
 chunk, perhaps overnight, users would have to wait twice, which feels
 exaggerated), or find an alternative, or work silently.

 Personally, I do not have absolute pitch, and would prefer nice, crisp
 synthesis to silence. If this means adding an extra 130MiB, then so be
 it: the advantages brought certainly outweigh that singular negative,
 especially considering that the free software environment is rather
 biased towards broadband users.

 To sign off, I'll just ask again the question asked in the subject: do
 we ship mscore and/or fluid-soundfont in Ubuntu Studio 8.04?

 -- Toby Smithe

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