(SOLVED) Please help me find a good linux audio distro for my netbook

Doesn’t Ubuntu Studio come with the RT kernel by default? Or maybe I have to enable it…
And yes you are right abut linuxmusicians… but then I do have a hard time keeping track of the 3 forums I’m on and I don’t like to post on forums just once, i.e. if I get on a community platform I like to actually engage with the community and not just ask a question and then disappear again.

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Yeah Apple is not giving much hope as of lately. Which is a bit of a pity, and a chance at the same time.
Linux is nice, and there’s a lot of cool stuff you can do with it. It really makes sense if you’re purely into things like C-Sound or PD, or if you need it for specific things, as an additional tool like in my case with the netbook. I think It can also work well with DAWs like Bitwig that run natively on linux. I had tested v1 some time ago, and it was totally great. Of course you’ll loose M4L though and it will not work well if you rely heavily on commercial plugins, since most won’t have a linux version.
This whole netbook project of mine is also a way to see if switching to linux in the future might be an option, since I’ve had to repurpose my music laptop for work and am now trying to figure out how to deal with the lack of it. Also… I’m not really going to buy any of the new macbook pros…
To me the biggest hurdle so far is that, if you’re not getting some commercial product like Bitwig or Renoise (and the choice there is a bit limited) then you’re stuck with mostly unfinished, buggy software with hideous UIs.
But BTW. this could be really interesting:

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Sort of related, figured I’d post this here:


So this is a laptop that comes with a highly customized flavour of linux? It’s interesting that they kind of avoid saying “linux” on the website, and they also give almost no info on what the OS on these is like. The price sure seems interesting, but the specs on the website are hard to interpret…

Yeah, it’s a little vague, but the build is designed to look like the Mac OS, called Elemental. Not sure why there aren’t more pictures of the actual hardware

You mean Elementary maybe? http://distrowatch.com/table.php?distribution=elementary

Yes you are right - my mistake - didn’t double check the name. :slight_smile:

Here’s another interesting thingy that relates to linux: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/pisound-audio-midi-interface-for-raspberry-pi/#/
It’s the first proper audio/midi board for the RaspberryPI (as far as I know). Seems pretty cool!


yeah, kind of cool! Subtly different from bela - the pi3 is a beast even compared to beaglebone black & this should run fine with linux RT rather than xenomai. Looks like it would definitely be possible to run ardour, as well as a couple of softsynths.

Maybe a good form factor for portable in-the-box linux studio could be an mpk-mini or similar with this+pi3 screwed on the side, a small hinged lcd that flops over the percussion pads for transport & a thinkpad keyboard to squint away at some tidal code in emacs. For bonus points bolt on a couple of contact/dynamic mic preamps!

Wonder if anyone’s done something similar with their bela…


Ive backed one… to add to a Pi3
I thought initially it was expensive, compared to say hifi-berry (which Ive got on a Pi2) … but I liked the fact you get full size midi DIN and 1/4" audio jacks.

I view it differently to Bela, which is more about building instruments… so low latency is critical, and I’ll keep using bela for this kind of stuff.

this is more general purpose, Ive used a Pi2 with Raspbian/Linaro, and generally, latency is not too bad… if your careful with load and IO -, so this should be fine for a mini DAW (as Traktor have discussed) or things like SC/SonicPI etc.

It seems to be also focusing a lot on being a portable PD device… though it get’s in a similar territory to Bela and Axoloti there.

I thought initially it was expensive, compared to say hifi-berry (which Ive got on a Pi2) … but I liked the fact you get full size midi DIN and 1/4" audio jacks.

Also this one has an audio input, which the Hifi-berry doesn’t afaik.

Yeah, if you want to build synths/fx (or hardware interfacing) , Id generally go Axoloti (better patching interface that PD imo) , if you want PD/Supercollider - Bela… but for general purpose PI3, this is good.

possibly worth pointing out, many linux/rPI apps are ALSA, so wont work on Bela (without dev work) , and its also easy in Bela to start getting context switching (means you loose RT timing) - so Bela is not ideal if your using general purpose applications, and as @rick_monster said, a PI2/PI3 is quite a bit more powerful than BeagleBone Black.

personally, Im just happy to have choices…

btw… Ive noticed the price of Organelles (in Europe at least) appears to have dropped a bit… quite tempted to grab one of those for playing on the sofa.

EDIT: a bit OT, but I hope if get a few more audio interfaces for rPI then the audio scene might take off a bit more, as it did on iOS… then perhaps Raspberry will feature a decent ADC/DAC in the rPI4… just a thought.

I think where the PI2-3 might be really great is also to have a mobile recording DAW, and the Pisound might be just the right things for that. I’m relatively happy with my netbook now, but of course I have to carry around a MIDI interface and an audio interface to get the same.

btw… Ive noticed the price of Organelles (in Europe at least) appears to have dropped a bit… quite tempted to grab one of those for playing on the sofa.

Yeah, those are tempting indeed! Something like that with the Axoloti at its core would be a winner to me! Nord Modular for the poor! :slight_smile:

a bit OT, but I hope if get a few more audio interfaces for rPI then the audio scene might take off a bit more, as it did on iOS.

And without the Apple Police controlling who is allowed at the party and who isn’t :slight_smile:

Hmmm - was about to start a new topic to discuss known-working low-latency linux laptop configurations. Then I remembered @jasonw22 was skeptical the latency issue with chromebook could possibly be ‘crappy codec’.

Surely I already tried fettling interrupts on that laptop before blaming the hardware itself…


Going to experiment tonight & will post the results in case it’s helpful…

Oh, I don’t think I was quite so specific. Just mentioned that latency is typically the sum of a whole bunch of different factors that end up including pretty much your entire system.

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Well at any rate the discussion got me thinking about how to actually get round the problem, rather than moaning about it or reaching for the credit card. So cheers!

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the rtirq script (mentionned in your link above) has done wonder for me on various configs, and it is straightforward to use.

yeah I’m actually using it on this (desktop) machine at work & achieving excellent realtime performance! Just had a kind of horrible realisation, don’t think I actually applied this knowledge to my own laptop.

Another interesting point in that article is it mentions a new feature in linux-rt of per-device handlers. So seems definitely worthwhile to invest a bit of time trying to bump up the RT priority of this ‘crappy codec’…

Out of interest, since you’re obviously also running linux-rt and in case my experiment doesn’t work, are you hitting 64-sample buffers on a netbook/laptop? If so, what model?

Not currently (i’ve been lazy and not needing such low-latencies in the past years).

When i was running the pure:dyne (legacy) distro, on a vaio laptop (C2D 1,6 GHz) and on a desktop (P4 2,4 GHz), i had 64 samples latency, running stable with the integrated chipsets as well as a usb (alesis io2) soundcard.

In a few weeks i will try to get such latencies on RPi 1/2/3, and on an X201 thinkpad as part of my quest for a live setup. (provided the incoming shnth rabbit hole does not eat me alive :D)


Hmmm - getting 128 samples now without xruns, also not having problems running pd at low latency w/ callbacks. In fact overall stability is excellent. 80% certain this was not the case last time I tried on same machine, same kernel etc… Confusing, but I have changed a couple of things since then, so maybe it down to that window manager or some other weird side-effect. IRQ fettling seems to not make any difference in this case.

64 samples really does seem to be impossible with c720 hardware but, well, decided I should settle for 128 sample buffers for time being & start sifting through the mountain of available software - convinced there’s really a lot of good stuff available now on linux once you sort through the chaff! Just got hexter working for example…

Would be interested to know your results with X201 thinkpad if you get round to it.

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