Norns: crash reports with large sample loading

we’ve had some reports of crashing with mangl, timber, etc (supercollider-based sampling engines) when loading lots of samples or very large samples. the assumption is that the system runs our of memory and crashes the lua machine, but we’re still trying to figure out the exact situation.

this shouldn’t happen with softcut-based scripts such as cheat codes or mlr.

if you’re experiencing crashing, can you please post some information surrounding the circumstances:

  • which script
  • how many samples, length, etc
  • time before crash
  • what happens in the crash
  • steps to reproduce, and if you can, try to reproduce while maiden is running so you can see error output

note that to get out of this crash you’ll need to restart the entire software system: both crone and matron. in maiden you can do ;restart in the matron REPL, followed by SYSTEM > RESET in the norns menu.

if matron crashed, the K1-2-3 combo will not work. if you for some reason cannot connect via maiden, you can connect via serial and then type sudo shutdown now to turn off the unit safely. use the white button if you don’t have access to do any of the above.

thanks for your help figuring this one out.


I’ve discovered a fairly consistent way to produce a lockup. I DON’T recommend trying this at home due to the possibility of complete lockups / needing white-button resets. I’m using stock norns and have no additional devices connected, only a USB cable to a Linux laptop used for a serial connection. I have not loaded a sample in any of the following, so this may be a separate issue from the one described in this post.

  • SYSTEM > RESET to get in a known state.
  • Load mangl.
  • Immediately SLEEP and restart into mangl.
  • At this point I screen in and run top. scsynth is idling at about 40% with no voices running, no samples loaded, seems like a lot but works fine.
  • Now connect the included wifi nub.
  • Disconnect the wifi nub. Most or all the time, scsynth shoots up to >= 100% CPU usage. scsynth's memory usage was not terribly high, maybe 8-12%. The matron UI will slowly lock up – first all keys become unresponsive, encoders become sluggish, eventually I believe it will freeze entirely. I was able to run sudo shutdown now in these cases to halt everything.

I also once saw NetworkManager shoot up to 95-100% as well.

That sounds like SC’s time change issue?

Thanks tehn for bringing this up!

After owning a 128 walnut for many years I finally bought a new Norns/Grid. So, I am a new, passionate owner since a few weeks now and besides the use of many great non sample based scripts I also use outstanding sample based scripts like Timber Player/Keys, Glut, Takt, Cyrene intensively… so far (still have read more manuals to dig others like CheatCodes; MLR, etc.) :wink:

Tbh, I do not know how to code, but I am slowly trying to understand how to manage at least the most important things.

Many thanks to everyone involved in the community, creating such an amazing playground for wonderful, musical journeys.

My experiences so far when I work with specific, sample based, SC scripts:

Mostly I like to choose samples on a random basis for jamming from a large sample library I created from many short snippets and longer samples up to 3 minutes, mostly taken from 60s/70s movie soundtracks.

At some point, I do experience crashes every time when I use the scripts, (listed below) and it always happens when I either choose/pick a sample in one of my folders, or when I scroll through, inside my folders. It seems that the length of the samples is not the problem, rather that than (maybe) the size of the folders seem to be the cause of those crashes. My folders hold up to 127 samples, from 2 seconds up to maybe 3 minutes.

I made sure all my samples are 16bit/48khz, wav files (with Sample Manager) and simplified the filenames (with A better Finder rename).

When I was able to track the samples that seemed to have caused the crash and loaded them afterwards again, they loaded just normal many times. So they did not seem to be the problem I guess.

Unfortunately maiden seems to crash as well, so no error output.

T3,T2,T1 for restart never worked, I always used ; restart in maiden, which worked most of the times I think. Followed by System > reset.

Did not know about connect via serial yet, but good to know, I have to check this.

  • Timber:
    Preloading of a fully loaded folder is great and works nice and runs very stable over a long time as long as I do not want to exchange/load individual samples. It always crashed Norns at some point of a session.

  • Glut:
    I love Glut for the MLR type of use and the granular engine, so I have been using it a lot. Unfortunately I do get crashes each time I am using it when I pick samples at some point sooner or later. This happened often after 15 minutes, sometimes within an hour, depending on how often I change samples.

  • Cyrene:
    I used Cyrene a couple of times for not more than approx. 30 minutes, changing samples unfortunately crashes Norns at some point.

I really hope we can track down the problem and solve this for an overall even better joy when using Norns :wink:

Not sure though how many users have large sample folders they choose from, but I remember reading, that some of us reported crashes when loading samples, or scrolling through sample folders.

My plan: … is to try to load samples from a small folder I created with not more than maybe 10 samples and see if that works better, but I have to make more music now…, while debugging ;))