As a Linux user I’ve endured a fair amount of jabs on the podcast that I co-host every week. First my microphone sucks, then my levels suck, then my bandwidth sucks. Well, no more. Time to take these freedom-hating fools to school, and what better way to do that than with a 64-bit Linux distribution and a real-time zero latency kernel?
A replacement is on the way for my rather famously underpowered desktop; until then I’m testing the latest version of this official Ubuntu variant on a new-ish ThinkPad.
So I’ve a bit of a confession to make… This is actually my first-ever 64-bit Linux installation. Scared off by tales of old — incompatibilities, no Flash support and such — I needn’t have feared; everything, Flash included, seems to be working great. And though you’d think from the Ubuntu Studio download page that there’s no 64-bit support for Intel chipsets, you’d be wrong. It’s fairly complicated thing to explain, but you’ll probably be okay to just grab the ‘amd64’ one. If it doesn’t work you’ll know right away.
Unfortunately Ubuntu Studio has no live CD/USB functionality beyond a text-based installer. Kind of makes sense when you consider all the stuff that will end up on your computer.
During the installation there are two points of note that you should be ready for:
Watch that you’re not too jumpy with the return key on this screen; it’s where you install and configure everything that sets Ubuntu Studio apart from the other ‘buntus. Of course you can do this yourself after the fact, but wouldn’t you rather have the installer handle it for you? Me too.
And here’s where you get that real-time support. I don’t myself run a multi-user environment, so why not reap the benefits of living on the edge?
Oh, I should point out that the previous two grabs were pooched from an excellent tutorial on HowtoForge; though technically specific to v10.04 I don’t think these two installer screens have changed much since then.
At this point you might get tripped up by some of the information that’s out there. Even the official documentation from Ubuntu is a bit confusing; for example, you’ll already have the must-have packages on your computer if you ticked all the boxes like I did during the install.
If you don’t have a FireWire or PCI sound card and you don’t need a custom kernel, there are two to four quick additional steps to get you to a production-ready system:
- Install the restricted extras (for exporting to proprietary formats);
- Add the Mediabuntu repo.
- Install support for encrypted DVDs (if you want it).
- Install the Flash plugin from the Ubuntu Software Center (also optional).
I Don’t Know JACK
JACK, the Audio Connector Kit, brings professional audio software to Linux. It’s not critical for my needs at the moment, but there’s a huge amount of power there ready to be tapped. I’m on it.
A Small Crisis
With everything set up (or so I thought) I ran into one final problem that stymied me for a good couple of hours — for some reason I couldn’t get any sound from my USB-powered microphone. With so many available options for audio I seemed to have forgotten the most basic of all — the audio preference panel shown above. Oops.
If you’re still having issues with a USB source you can try unplugging it then plugging it back in. Works for me.
The Big Test
I’ll be putting my brand-new installation of Ubuntu Studio to the test this evening when I join the cross-Canada team of Dyscultured for another live recording. You can join us too if you like!