Forging a new path

Stephen Corey stephencorey at
Mon Apr 13 05:56:45 BST 2009

I only recently subscribed to this list and have been reading this thread
with interest.  I'm a working musician with just enough geek in me to get
into trouble.  Linux has been my sole operating system for around 6 years
now.  And frankly, I love it.  It's as much a part of me as the clothes I
wear.  I do all my arranging, composing, and a small amount of recording on

Over the years, I've tried out the various audio distros, and continue to
check out the latest offerings as they develop.  I bought Studio to Go when
it was at version 2.0 and was sorry to see the folding of Fervent Software.
I attempted to try out 64 Studio but had a bios issue that was later
resolved by the chip maker.  JAD seemed promising but updated information
was sporadic and their ability to influence the direction of SuSE seemed
lacking.  Ubuntu Studio, bolstered by regular releases, a level of quality
not previously seen, and with such integration with the main project seemed
a sure success.

Seeing 8.10 come out with no RT kernel was such a disappointment.  I
understand that accomplishing something like a RT kernel involves the
cooperation of many people, all of whom have their own goals and a limited
amount of time and energy to devote.  So I took it in stride and just hoped
for the best this time around.

I hopped onto Jaunty at Alpha 4, with vanilla ubuntu at home and studio at
work.  So far, things look promising.  And the RT kernel works quite well
for me.  And tonight, while composing this post, I bumped the mouse on my
wacom tablet, and lo and behold it finally works again!  After a quick
config in Gimp, I've once again got one of my favorite tools back.  And I
guess that's how I view Linux.  I have to be willing to learn, to research,
to devote maybe an hour of tinkering and learning to every 10 hours of
creative work.  I have to do my part and in return, people that I will
probably never ever meet or know will do their part and it will all come

I do so appreciate the work of the people who have made Ubuntu Studio a
reality.  And also the efforts of those who stopped by briefly to offer
assistance.  Like so many users, I have no coding skills and already live at
the brink of my abilities doing things like compiling a few pet programs to
meet my needs.  Personally, I don't think audio or artistically derived
distros will ever be mainstream.  Just like artists aren't mainstream.  But
what I think can be heard throughout the posts I've seen so far is that it
isn't so important whether one uses jack or pulse or prefers a minimal
install to the kitchen sink.  The key seems to be allowing the user as much
choice as possible.  The choice to kick Pulse audio to the curb (my
preferred method) or to try out the latest unstable version of their
favorite pet package.  And to do so in as easy a manner as possible,
preferably at install, with the option to make later changes.

The biggest obstacle for me regarding Linux and audio is something that I'd
be willing to try and put some time and effort into, if that would help.
That obstacle is the apparent lack of documentation for so many packages.
For all the years I've worked with Linux, I've still never seen a
comprehensive explanation of the options in Jack.  There are a number of
applications that are either undocumented or lacking up-to-date
information.  But I won't try to get specific here.  Suffice it to say that
the learning curve is just too steep.  If I was coming in fresh today, I
doubt I'd have the drive to stick with it.  So I'd be happy to try and help
with documentation.

As for the crossroads you face: what to do next?  The only thing I can
suggest is to set boundaries and don't take on more than is good for you.
If other developers don't throw in their efforts, then so be it.  We will
all lose out.  But no one person, or even a small core group can be
responsible for the continuing success of such a big project.  It has
already been a success and set a new standard.  Perhaps it is time for those
of us who have enjoyed the fruits to pitch in and take things to the next
level.  And if it doesn't get there, it's okay.  That's Linux.

Congratulations on a job well done.!
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