January 28, 2007


by Chris Randall

Bounte sent me back my HP laptop today, my road dog that I use for live performance, and I thought, since I had the afternoon free, I would try out the pure:dyne Linux distro, largely based upon Peter Kirn's repeated schilling, but also because I'm something of a masochist, apparently.

The main thing I learned is that there's something to be said for spending a bit of money. While it's fun to get all this jank for free and all, quite frankly, there isn't enough time in the day. I probably spent two hours trying to figure out how to make it so the mouse pointer didn't go across the entire screen when I moved my finger, say, a centimeter. (For what it's worth, I wasn't actually able to figure this out. I just gave up.) Then another hour spent trying to figure out where the example patches for PD are stored. I was finally able to get sound to come out of the computer, but by that time, I simply didn't care any more.

No offense to the FLOSS banner-wavers, but Jesus Christ, by the end of the process, I was willing to press "accept" on any damned EULA you put in front of me just to have a help file that said something besides "todo: write help file." Now, all that said, this is a fairly comprehensive package, and it's non-invasive. You just download the ISO, drag one of the folders to your hard drive, boot from the CD, and you're golden. No partitioning nightmares or configuration hell. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, it's true. After 15 years, Linux is almost to the point where you can, like, do something. But not really.



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Jan.28.2007 @ 10:28 PM
Whoops - we're getting into holy war territory here! Not my intent, I was just trying to say that Linux is indeed usable. I use all three platforms on a regular basis and they're all pretty good nowadays, even Windows.

Jan.29.2007 @ 5:03 AM
Chris Randall
Yeah, if you wanna spout that kind of bullshit, take it to one of the other 560,400 sites on the internet that thrive on Mac v. PC nonesense. We don't do that here. The only reason I didn't bounce your ass is because I'm in a relatively magnanimous mood right now. It's not a lifestyle choice. It's a fucking computer. Get over it.



Jan.29.2007 @ 5:21 AM

You confirmed my suspicions. Now I can spend that free time I booked in February rewriting the Rastafari Hisorical Preservation Society Manifesto instead of trying what you did.


Jan.29.2007 @ 9:27 AM
Well, there are some separate issues here:

1. Is it worth spending money on software to boost productivity?
That was easy. (Having some code that's open source is great, too, but anyone who says that *always* trumps exchanging resources for something of value is nuts. Heck, if we all go live on a commune, I'll still happily trade some cheese from my goat if someone made an awesome FM synth.)

2. Is Linux harder than Windows?
This is obviously way too broad. It would be completely unfair to judge all of Linux on behalf of bleeding-edge pure:dyne builds. Now, in fairness, part of the complexity IS the variability of distros, but part of the Cult of Ubuntu and such I think is that, once people find a distro that works for them, they tend to latch onto that -- maybe rightfully so.

3. Is pure:dyne ready for prime-time?
Since I sometimes write like Polyanna, maybe I implied it was. But it's very much still in development. (Yeah, everything is, these days, including Pd, but you can at least identify certain benchmarks to readiness, and I don't think it's quite there yet.) And it may not be the best choice for everyone.

Since I've gone out "shilling", I do feel a responsibility to better sort this stuff out. I'm working on putting together more of the distros and actually testing them, and getting more input from the Linux community. It might surprise you, Chris, but the die-hard Linux music fans often share your frustrations -- they know what works, but they also know what's broken and what needs improvement. And I think the music community is far more realistic about these things than the mainstream gung-ho Linux advocate, because even on Linux, OS is ultimately secondary to actual music making.


Jan.29.2007 @ 12:04 PM
Operating systems are tools. Certain tools are good for certain things, and not good for other things. Here is how I see it:

1. Windows is the choice for spreadsheets, word processing, and games.

2. Mac is the choice for audio and video.

3. Linux is the choice for servers, and for hardcore hackers.


Jan.29.2007 @ 12:09 PM
The Wolfman
I'm not a big fan of Dynebolic myself. I find the window manager to be lacking, and like the larger Gnome or KDE environments. I find Ubuntu with a realtime kernel, Pure Data, Ardour, and Jack Rack to be quite sufficient for simple sketches. I do use Windows and Ableton on my laptop, but whenever they release Ubuntu Studio that should be a dandy live cd to run when you don't have access to your own equipment.

Jan.29.2007 @ 12:34 PM
I've found that suggesting to established hard/software companies that they consider Linux compatibility for their product(s) is a surefire way to hear the sound of one hand clapping. I have a fantasy of running Magix Sequoia under Linux with a Metric Halo interface...and have it all work without a hitch - obviously the most THC-enriched portion of this particular pipe dream! Let's check back in another 15 years...

Jan.29.2007 @ 12:59 PM
Chris Randall
Okay, no more platform comparisons. My post was about Linux, and I'd expect the replies to be about Linux. Otherwise, stupidity will ensue, and I'll just delete the whole thread.



Jan.29.2007 @ 6:04 PM
Chris, thanks for not booting me off. It's damn easy to get sucked into those platform wars, though I did realize it just after I hit the "save" button.

Anyway, I'll certainly admit that getting this stuff to work can be a bitch-and-a-half, even for me with the software background. Nowadays I try to find a Linux distro that does what I want so that I don't have to spend too much brain time on the issue. Alas, not all distros are ready for prime time, and the other big gotcha is hardware compatibility. Live CDs make this stuff way easier to try out, which is good. And if you've got a fresh empty computer to play with (where this item started, right?) then it's not too hard to audition a few odd installs to see if something works well enough.


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