(rant) Is there any hope

Scott Lavender scottalavender at gmail.com
Wed Feb 15 19:02:18 UTC 2012

On Tue, Feb 14, 2012 at 11:11 PM, Rick Green <rtg at aapsc.com> wrote:
> for Ubuntu Studio as a productive audio recording and mixing environment?
> Four years ago, I bought a Focusrite Saffire Pro 26 firewire interface,
> largely because it was listed as one of the best-supported by the ffado
> project.  I loaded up a copy of UbuntuStudio 8.04LTS.  The clean install
> wouldn't talk to the interface, but after I obtained a bleeding-edge copy of
> the ffado source from one of the developers, and recompiled locally, I was
> up and running.  I've used that installation for every recording I've done
> since.  For the most part it's stable, and I've learned to work-around its
> quirks
>  When 10.04 came out, I thought I'd upgrade, thinking I'd like to see the
> latest enhancements to Ardour, and it might be more forgiving of the order I
> start up programs.  But 10.04 wasn't stable enough to run jack for more than
> a few minutes before the xrun count went thru the roof.
>  Since then, I've tried every new release, and the regressions are stacking
> up faster than ever.
>  I recently did a clean install of 11.10 (amd64), and tonight gave it a
> first attempt with the firewire interface...
>  With 8.04, I start ffado-mixer, and it automatically starts the
> ffado-dbus-server.  With this one, it merely complains that the dbus server
> isn't running, so I'm forced to open a terminal and start it, then when I
> restart ffado-mixer, it tells me 'no supported devices found'.
>  This isn't exactly true, for when I go to a terminal and run ffado-test
> ListDevices, it clearly finds my focusrite pro26IO on node 1.
> I launch qjackctl, open the setup window, and select the firewire driver,
> accepting all the defaults for now.  When I attempt to start jack, it fails
> with a 'cannot connect to server as client' message.
> After many attempts and reboots, I discover that if I start qjackctl and
> start jack without attempting to start ffado-mixer or ffado-dbus-server
> first, then jack will actually start! (With 8.04, I HAD to start ffado-mixer
> first.)
>  I launch Ardour, open a new session, and start to record two tracks of
> whatever audio happened to be playing on the stereo at the time.  About 24
> minutes later, just as I'm getting complacent with no xruns recorded(!),
> jack inexplicably dies, but qjackctl doesn't know it, so it is locked up,
> too.  I ended up having to go back to the terminal and kill -9 everything
> jack-related I could find, then power down my interface, and power it back
> on, then restart qjackctl, and finally jack.  Only then could I tell Ardour
> to reconnect and save the session, but for some reason Ardour's transport
> was messed up.  I could move the playhead either directly, or with the |<<
> button, but the 'Big Clock' still showed the time at the end of the aborted
> capture, and the 'play' button or the spacebar had no effect.
>  I closed Ardour, then went to stop jack and close qjackctl, and qjackctl
> threw messages about a client still connected (Ardour was already shut down
> at this point), and after I press the 'close anyway' button, then qjackctl
> itself refuses to quit cleanly, and I get a 'program not responding' message
> from the window manager, and I'm forced to go back to the terminal and
> resort to kill -9 again.
>  The developers are over halfway into the 12.04 cycle now, so I don't see
> any point in submitting bug reports against 11.10 for all this.  Have they
> gotten to the point of publishing any pre-builds of 12.04, and would it be
> any help to install that and submit bugs against 12.04pre- instead?
> --
> Rick Green
> "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little
> temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."
>                                  -Benjamin Franklin
> "As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our
> safety and our ideals."
>                               -President Barack Obama 20 Jan 2009
> --
> Ubuntu-Studio-users mailing list
> Ubuntu-Studio-users at lists.ubuntu.com
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Hi Rick,

I'm Scott Lavender, the Ubuntu Studio Project Leader. I would like to
address some of your comments and concerns.

Is there any future for Ubuntu Studio as an productive audio recording
and mixing environment? Absolutely! Is _this_ the time for Ubuntu
Studio? No, not really.  Not yet.

After a period of severe stagnation, there are many changes in
progress and others being planned.  In some cases we are making
changes to simply fix things and in others we are making changes to
shape the direction of Ubuntu Studio.

I can't answer specifics about your firewire trouble as I don't have a
firewire device, but this is an area I would like to make more stable
for 12.04.  There are people currently on the team we will be using to
test this use case.

The kernel issue is a sticky wicket.  The RT kernel was pulled from
the archives, this was not a decision that the Studio Team could
effectively mitigate.  The reasons for it's removal were not only
numerous but also justified.  However, we are working on getting a
-lowlatency kernel into the repository, which is based on the stock
Ubuntu kernel and doesn't need the invasive, and
non-determinately-timed RT patch.  Since threading capabilities were
added in 2.6.39, we feel that the -lowlatency kernel not only can be
maintained easily and aligned with the current Ubuntu kernel version
number, but it can also provide the necessary latencies that a
majority of users need.  Does this mean no one might not need the RT
kernel?  No, there will most likely be a subset of users who will
require it for either hardware or other superlative requirements.

One issue we are continuing to resolve in 12.04 is the transition to
XFCE, amongst other issues.  This means that 11.10 should be
considered as completely unpolished and limited in functionality.

In an overall sense, I would posit that 12.04 and possibly 12.10 would
be the era where we rebuild the stability and basic functionality of
Ubuntu Studio in a specific scope.  Most likely only certain aspect of
these items would need to continue into 12.10.

The next phase would ideally see the same attention devoted to
improving documentation and tutorials.  Getting it fundamentally sound
as the fundamental functionality in Ubuntu Studio.

The following would then see improvements in the user experience.
These might include better pulse audio <-> jack integration (either
seemless and transparent or one-click transition) and project
automation for work flows (e.g. ladish for audio projects), along with
other potential areas.

Lastly, I would like for everyone to keep in mind that we work within
the ecosystem of Ubuntu.  This means that we are restricted to their
policies for the repositories, etc.  Therefore, we are limited on
which packages can ship, e.g. the RT kernel and those that do not
comply for licensing reasons.  Of course we also get a huge amount of
benefit from Ubuntu/Canonical in terms of hosting, image building,
testing, ad naseum, so please do not misconstrue that I am resentful
of this situation, as my feeling are quite the opposite.  But users
should recognize that Ubuntu Studio may be limited on what we can
either do or the timing of which we can do it in.

I hope this quick email helps explain some of the situations in better context.

Please let me know if you have further questions.


working within the paradigm of ubuntu

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