Adventures in Karmic
beejunk at gmail.com
Thu Nov 5 06:59:42 GMT 2009
Karmic's been out for about a week now, and I've finally gotten everything
to work well. Here are my experiences and thoughts, in case they are useful
to any of you.
First, my hardware:
Macbook, first generation
Presonus Firepod audio interface
I was excited to discover that Ubuntu Studio can be installed from a USB
stick. This was very important to me since my Macbook's CD/DVD drive is
broken. I had attempted to do this in the past and failed, but this time
around the following steps worked for me:
1) I used Gparted to format a 4Gb USB stick to FAT32.
2) I then used Gparted to check and verify the drive. This is crucial,
becuase for reasons I cannot explain, the USB stick would not work if I did
not run this check. It took me many days to figure out this odd little
3) I then used the USB Startup creator that can be found on a standard
I highly reccommend installing from a USB stick. I found it to be far
quicker and more reliable.
After install, I booted up. Setting up my wireless card via the Network
tool went off without a hitch, which was a relief. Everything else seemed
to work well, with the exception of my brightness keys, which do not work at
all. This is a major improvement over Jaunty, though, where the brightness
keys would do crazy and random things. On a side note, I like the fade-in
on the Ubuntu Studio splash page, and the artwork and GTK theme are, as
So far, so good. Now to set everything up for audio recording. I
discovered that the 'Audio' group already existed, and that my account was
already in that group, which was something I had to set up manually on
Jaunty. The 'Video' group also already existed, but my account was not yet
in that group. I use a firewire audio interface, and so it is necessary for
me to put my account in the 'Video' group, which I then did.
Next up, I opened Ubuntu Studio Controls and adjusted my settings. This is
where the first important glitch occurred. After applying my settings, I
viewed the /etc/security/limits.conf file to make sure everything had
worked. I discovered that Ubuntu Studio Controls had NOT inserted my 'nice'
settings. I attempted to use USC a few more times, but to no avail. I then
just set 'nice' manually.
I rebooted, opened up the JACK Control and took my Firepod for a spin. The
good news is that JACK connected right away using FFADO, and there were none
of the infamous permission problems that I've had before. The bad news is
that the performance was amazingly poor. Even though I was only using 3% -
5% of my processor power, I was still getting an x-run every ten seconds or
so, using the exact same settings that worked perfectly under Hardy.
After much Googling, the solution to my problem was to be found on this
page: http://alsa-project.org/main/index.php/Low_latency_howto#PAM. In
particular, the directions under the 'Thread Priorities' section solved my
issues. This was definitely something that I did not have to do under
Hardy. I wrote a small script to set all these priorities quickly, so it's
not too much of a hassle. Still, I was suprised to find that I had to do
this at all and that it was not mentioned on any other how-to I had read
(such as the much referenced Ubuntu Studio Preparation page).
In the end, I had a system that was as rock solid as Hardy, even if it took
some time to figure everything out. But that's usually how it goes with a
new OS. All in all, the basic desktop experience of Karmic is the best I
have seen to date. Also, the new fonts package makes me VERY happy.
However, when it comes to pro-audio, we are still far away from a
user-friendly, no-hassle experience. However, once you get the system
working, the performance is impressive.
Thanks for all your hard work everyone! I look forward to finishing some
serious projects on Karmic.
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