June 24, 2007

Here's what I don't understand...

by Chris Randall

Now, I'm no whiz with Linux. I _can_ navigate my way around a typical Linux system, using my OS X chops (ironic, that) but quite frankly I find it to be rather tedious.

But that's neither here nor there. Here's what I'm curious about: Ardour, much beloved in the Linux audio circle and the recipient (from my lofty vantage point at least) of a more-or-less unending stream of kudos, is roughly equivalent in both operation and appearance to ProTools 2. Even with the MIDI, natch. Whereas EnergyXT is a far more advanced creature, both better looking and much more feature-laden, and assuming the Linux version and the Windows version are more or less the same, eminently usable. Why is it that I didn't know EnergyXT was available for Linux until I went to download the damned thing last week?

This is what I don't get about the Linux community. I mean, I'm not trying to be an asshole here, but if a DAW came out in 2007 for PC or Mac with Ardour's capabilities (or rather, the utter lack thereof) it wouldn't even make it out of the starting gate. I don't mean to offend, but what the fuck is it with you people? Is the fact that something is _FREE_ so important? I hate to say it, but I believe that to be the case. Ardour is free (as in b33r) while EnergyXT costs a whopping $75.



Page 5 of 5

Jun.27.2007 @ 5:51 AM
_aa_ you more or less supported my point though, that much of what exists on linux for non-server/web/database type activities is either of the mad-scientist variety or the coder-in-his-sparetime variety. There's absolutely nothing wrong with this but for a non-mad-scientist-and-non-coder who just wants to write a tune or two it's just not there yet. Also I didn't get the sense that the prevailing opinion was that it will never be there yet, the fact that we're even discussing this now means that it's edging closer. At the same time for typical 'mainstream' tasks it still tends to lag a few years behind. And since I can't even get someone to take a look at the issues Synergy (keybd/mouse app I use a lot) has shown on my dual xeons since 2003, I wouldn't hold my breath for it to be patched up for the mainstream use of multi-core cpu's. Meaning that while for some projects feedback is listened to, for many others you wind up with either no clear heirarchy to prioritize external requests & bug reports or simply the fact that many end users haven't a clue how to move around on Sourceforge.

And as for Linus exerting his control, if someone were to fork the kernel under the gpl would it still be linux? Not to mention that his influence even extends beyond Linux to the OSS community in general (for instance the draft revisions of the GPLv3).

To end my contributions on a positive note, I'd agree with you. The upshot of Linux is that if you DO want to get into experimental audio biz you'll probably find a lot more available code & tools to fiddle with on Linux than on the more commercial OS's. Open source tends to work that way =]


Jun.27.2007 @ 7:03 AM

I came to the opposite conclusion, that there are many computer literate people here, alot of them with good unix backgrounds who choose not to use linux for music because they want to actually get the music done. As far as I can see, most of the regular readers and posters here are interested in doing music much more than doing computers even though probably all of us use computers as part of making music.


Jun.27.2007 @ 1:03 PM

I think that musicians are by nature mad scientists. I think that tweaking, customizing, and ultimately designing from scratch one's instrument is a natural progression for a musician. For a computer musician, his/her instrument is the software.

If you did a true fork of the linux, I believe that legally it would have to be named something else, Valix for instance. Alternatively you could simply supply and maintain a patch to existing kernels, which is what most people do.


I'm sure most pianists don't know the first thing about piano repair, but I bet most piano repair people are excellent pianists. I think understanding and working with the inner workings of your instrument is important to developing musical maturity, and definitely crucial to developing individuality on any given instrument.

If you apply that logic to computer music, it means a computer musician will benefit from tinkering with source code and the inner workings of his/her computer.

I don't discount the importance of an instrument simply being able to work out of the box, but I think there are levels beyond that that are important to explore.

studio nebula,

When I said "support linux" I didn't mean your products specifically should operate on linux, though I would encourage that. I meant support it through bug reports, donations, etc.

Money is a problem. Of course you can technically sell GPL'd products for money, but you're also required to make sure the consumer is aware that it is available for free. This is sort of shooting yourself in the foot, but one of the goals of FOSS software is making it available to all regardless of wealth. This is why the bulk of income for FOSS comes from donations, both corporate and individual.

I for one have always been a proponent of compensating developers in FOSS projects first and foremost. I'm strongly opposed to campaigns like SpreadFirefox that I view as taking money that should be going to developers and throwing it away on fruitless advertising campaigns.

Just like other not-for-profit organizations, open source projects pay a lot of their employees, developers included. Volunteering is crucial, but well supported projects can afford to hire extremely talented developers to work on the project full-time. It's entirely possible to work full-time on an open source project and still put bread on the table.

I don't see how Ardour is stopping you from writing music. Perhaps it's not as easy as Cubase but there's obviously many people out there that think Ardour is adequate and can be creative with it. You decided that you would sooner pay for Cubase than spend time learning, configuring and using Ardour. Since time is obviously very important to you, I think that's perfectly reasonable. I on the other hand don't mind spending a few hours reading a man page or wiki. Money is more valuable to me than time. Personal preference I guess.

Of course you still have to read Cubase's manual and help file. Is the learning curve for Cubase really so much shorter than that of Ardour, or is it instead that you're already familiar with Cubase?

I've been using linux and FOSS exclusively for about 7 years now. I don't use Ardour, I use Audacity, but it would not be a big deal for me to apt-get install ardour and figure it out in a matter of hours. For someone not accustomed to linux environment, that might be much more difficult. But I would contend, that it would be equally difficult for someone like myself who has never so much as touched a Mac to use Protools.

It's easy to try Ardour for 20 minutes, decide you hate it and delete it because it didn't cost you anything. If you buy a copy of Cubase, try it for 20 minutes and hate it, you're not going to delete it because you have something invested in it and what retailer is going to take back open software? You'll keep working with it until you figure it out and after weeks of working with it, you learn to love it.

I think we should all be giving the same consideration to Ardour and other FOSS projects.


Jun.27.2007 @ 1:32 PM
Chris Randall
That's an awful lot of typing to base on a false premise. Musicians are not, by nature, "mad scientists." Mad scientists can occasionally be musicians, but the other way around isn't necessary or even that common. Since most of your following text is based on that argument, which is demonstrably false, and easily so (I wouldn't have a job if it wasn't) I don't think I need to address any of it.



Jun.27.2007 @ 1:43 PM
Adam Schabtach
I use Cubase because it's familiar; I've been using it for years. I suspect that, for a user new to both, the learning curve for Ardour is shorter than that of Cubase since Ardour is a smaller and simpler program.

From the perspective of a musician, there's no reason for me to try Ardour. The tools I have work, and I have yet to see anything about Ardour that presents a compelling case for abandoning the tools I use in favor of it. Yes, Ardour and its host OS are free, but the cost of the non-FOSS tools I use is not prohibitive to me.



Jun.27.2007 @ 4:52 PM
Chris Randall,

You seem to be suggesting that your client?le are incapable of experimentation. I'm certain that's not the case, so feel free to rephrase. I was using Valis' term, but if you're going to disregard my entire argument because of it, then I must insist upon an explanation.

Are you suggesting that there is no science involved in music? No experimentation? You buy a keyboard and use nothing but factory presets? Are you and your clients incapable of innovation?

I believe you're suggesting that an individual who can sight read Rachmaninoff but couldn't compose Mary Had a Little Lamb is a musician. Technically true, and perhaps I should have used the word "composer" to be more clear, but I think you are wrong that musicians are not mad scientists.

A mad scientist would be an individual who studies a science, and then proceeds to perform radical unorthodox experiments, do you disagree? Are you telling me you never push the envelope, never take your equipment to the limit and wish it could go further?

All the musical instructors I've had in my life have always encouraged me to experiment. Perhaps you were trained in a marching band where the focus is uniformity as opposed to exploration. Hell man, even Sousa invented a fucked up tuba.

If you're a musician, and you're not a mad scientist, then you're missing the big picture, in my opinion. Who the hell gives a crap about an painter that can only make perfect duplicates of the Mona Lisa?

I think I'm starting to see a pattern developing here. Why do you hate freedom, Chris? Just kidding. But seriously, explain the mad scientist jab.

Thank Jeebus for jazz.


Jun.27.2007 @ 5:20 PM
Chris Randall
Man, you really have to stop dealing in absolutes. I don't recall saying "EVERY MUSICIAN USES GARAGE BAND TO DO PINK FLOYD COVERS SO SHUT THE FUCK UP," but that seems to be what you drew from it. Experimentation, musically, doesn't hardly ever equal rebuilding your kernel. It equals finding uses for discordant note combinations, or trying to find a way to fit a bouzouki solo in to a dancehall track. You could either spend a week building a bouzouki sound in CSound, or you could just get a fucking bouzouki off ebay. The same net effect, ultimately.

Ultimately, this conversation is spiraling off in to the land of Shit I Don't Care About, so you can save yourself the trouble of typing a reply. The bonus of having this site is that I always get to be right.



Jun.27.2007 @ 10:33 PM
...uh, _aa_....as a composer who graduated from the New England Conservatory, where there were a great many people who could sight-read Rachmaninoff, I hate to break it to ya, but essentially none of them had any interest in composing, and approached the activity only under duress. Also, you seem to be denigrating Mary Had a Little Lamb. Sure, it's a simple child's song - but one whose life has spanned centuries and that millions of people know. Has your kernel tweaking helped you match that recently?
I respect your passions _aa_, and certainly share some of them, but dude, "different strokes for different folks" ain't just a cute phrase, it's bloody reality. Giordano Bruno, burned at the stake in Rome for heresy, had a theory called something like "congruence of opposites," in which opposing ideas inhabited a circle, like beads on a chain. At 180 degrees, dead opposite on the circle, the ideas were said to be completely opposed, in complete disagreement, perfectly different. As they became more extreme, moving farther to the left or right, they eventually meet at the back of the circle, in other words becoming essentially the same thing. The classic example is fascism and communism both resulting in totalitarianism. You sir, by absolutely mandating your idea of creative experimentation, are in fact demanding total(itarian) conformity that is diametrically opposed to what you purport to stand for: freedom of thought and action.
So lighten up.

Jun.28.2007 @ 5:12 AM
aa wrote>

>Money is a problem. Of course you can technically sell GPL'd >products >for money, but you're also required to make sure the >consumer is >aware that it is available for free.

Incorrect. You radically misunderstand the 'free' in free software. You can sell GPLd software, but the requirement is that you make the -source code- available. Money is not even an issue; the GPL even stipulates that you can charge media costs for the source code.
In your supposed 7 years of using Linux and FOSS you really should have learned the meaning of the phrase 'free as in speech, not as in beer' by now.

>This is sort of shooting yourself in the foot, but one of the goals of >FOSS software is making it available to all regardless of wealth.

Incorrect. The philosophies of FOSS have -nothing- to do with wealth.

>This is why the bulk of income for FOSS comes from donations, >both corporate and individual.

Incorrect. The 'this' is based on a provably false supposition.


Jul.16.2007 @ 6:30 AM
If one is really free to just suggest improvements, why does it always boil down to someone telling the guy to do it by himself, as if there wasn't anyone already working on the project?

Page 5 of 5



Sorry, commenting is closed for this blog entry.