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Old 05-08-2006, 11:42 PM   #1
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora
Posts: 45

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Linux Audio Workstation - any ideas?

Hello all-

I'm trying to build a Linux Audio Workstation. This is for multitracking audio and MIDI. Rosegarden and Ardour are some good examples of applications I'd like to use.

Mostly, though, I'm a programming geek and I'd like to take advantage of Linux to build a lot of my own tools.

At the moment, I've installed Fedora Core 4, and added the Planet CCRMA extensions. However, I've found it's not a very good audio workstation. The ALSA serial port MIDI driver simply doesn't work (and I haven't found any way to debug it), and even XMMS has serious problems playing audio. Loading a new (static) page in Firefox will cause the mp3 playback to stutter (!). Rosegarden often locks up the computer when I close the application (to be fair to Rosegarden, it's probably a driver bug).

What would Linux gurus recommend as a distro/drivers? Is there a good forum for this sort of question? Are there any Linux-based musicians around? Have you found ALSA to be a reliable platform, or do you recommend something else? Should I even bother with serial port MIDI, or should I get a simple card that supports midi out?

Many thanks for any help or suggestions. I've been tinkering (and re-installing distros) for a week or so now, and haven't had much luck getting reliable audio performance.

Old 05-09-2006, 06:53 AM   #2
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I've heard DeMuDi is considered to be quite good.
Old 05-15-2006, 04:48 AM   #3
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: Newcastle, UK
Distribution: Slackware 10.2
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check out they have links to alsorsts or music software, also have a section on audio distros.

You dont mention it, but have you tried using JACK ("professional-quality low-latency audio server").

Ive just switched over to Arch linux from slackware, it has a nice packaging system with quite a few audio tools and isnt too hard to create your own packages. I find it pretty quick, bugs are squashed quickly and very up to date.

Should I even bother with serial port MIDI, or should I get a simple card that supports midi out
Most half decent soundcards game ports double up as a midi port.

Are there any Linux-based musicians around?
me (I dual boot, so get the best of both worlds). Hydrogen (drum machine) is probably what I use the most in linux though, and it syncs up quit nicely with other apps (sequencers etc) using jack.

I hope some of this info helps, good luck with your search.
Old 05-20-2006, 07:36 PM   #4
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora
Posts: 45

Original Poster
Rep: Reputation: 15
Still going...

Hello all-

Many thanks for the suggestions! Based on my experiences so far, setting up an audio workstation is quite challenging.

I've tried the Dynebolic and Demudi distros, neither one was noticeably better than FC4 for audio support. I've switched back to FC4.

I did shell out $15 for a simple PCI soundcard that suported midi out via the game port. That seemed like a reasonable thing to do.

However, I still can't get it detected. I've been googling/surfing for days, and haven't yet found a way to debug alsa midi issues.

- How can I verify that ALSA even detected my MIDI game port?
- How do I debug sending/receiving MIDI through the game port?

Any pointers appreciated.

I'm keeping a log at **** for anyone who is interested.



PS - I just found out I'm not allowed to post a URL yet. Once I'm allowed to post a URL to my log I will do so.
Old 05-20-2006, 07:39 PM   #5
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora
Posts: 45

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I forgot to add--JACK rocks, I'm pretty impressed by that.

Only hurdle at the moment is that I can't get my Linux box to talk to my external MIDI devices.
Old 05-20-2006, 09:39 PM   #6
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora
Posts: 45

Original Poster
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Hello again!

Sorry to keep posting. I'm about to stop work for the day, and I thought I'd post where I was in case any technically-minded people had any suggestions on my configuration.

Again, my problem is that I can't seem to get midi apps (Rosegarden, KMid, pmidi) to play midi to external MIDI devices. I've tried both serial port, and game port. I'm currently troubleshooting the game port setup.

If I try the alsa midi player ("% aplaymidi -l") I see

Port Client name Port name
14:0 Midi Through Midi Through Port-0
I think that's just the serial port? Which didn't work in any case. Or is that the emulator? (I'm not interested in emulators at the moment).

pmidi gives the same result as aplaymidi.

Here is what I get when I cat /proc/asound/oss/sndstat:

Sound Driver:3.8.1a-980706 (ALSA v1.0.11rc2 emulation code)
Kernel: Linux localhost.localdomain 2.6.16-1.2108_FC4 #1 Thu May 4 23:52:01 EDT 2006 i686
Config options: 0

Installed drivers:
Type 10: ALSA emulation

Card config:
M Audio Delta 66 at 0xb800, irq 169
Yamaha DS-1 (YMF724F) at 0xde000000, irq 193

Audio devices:
0: ICE1712 multi (DUPLEX)



7: system timer

0: ICE1712 - multitrack
1: SigmaTel STAC9721,23
I like that both cards show up, but I'm a little freaked out by the line: Midi devices: NOT ENABLED IN CONFIG

Should I be worried about that? I don't see any midi* entries in /dev either. Should I see /dev/midiC0D0 or something similar?

Here is the output of /proc/asound/cards, which looks right (I think):

0 [M66 ]: ICE1712 - M Audio Delta 66
M Audio Delta 66 at 0xb800, irq 169
1 [YMF724F ]: YMF724F - Yamaha DS-1 (YMF724F)
Yamaha DS-1 (YMF724F) at 0xde000000, irq 193
Here is my /etc/modprobe.conf:

alias eth0 8139too
alias snd-card-0 snd-ice1712
options snd-card-0 index=0
options snd-ice1712 index=0
remove snd-ice1712 { /usr/sbin/alsactl store 0 >/dev/null 2>&1 || : ; }; /sbin/modprobe -r --ignore-remove snd-ice1712
alias usb-controller ehci-hcd
alias usb-controller1 uhci-hcd
alias snd-card-1 snd-ymfpci
alias midi ymfpci
options snd-card-1 index=1
options snd-ymfpci index=1
remove snd-ymfpci { /usr/sbin/alsactl store 1 >/dev/null 2>&1 || : ; }; /sbin/modprobe -r --ignore-remove snd-ymfpci
And here are all of my running modules ("% lsmod | grep snd"):

snd_ymfpci 58625 0
gameport 15305 1 snd_ymfpci
snd_opl3_lib 10177 1 snd_ymfpci
snd_hwdep 9541 1 snd_opl3_lib
snd_ice1712 60293 1
snd_ice17xx_ak4xxx 4417 1 snd_ice1712
snd_ak4xxx_adda 6337 2 snd_ice1712,snd_ice17xx_ak4xxx
snd_cs8427 9921 1 snd_ice1712
snd_ac97_codec 88673 2 snd_ymfpci,snd_ice1712
snd_seq_dummy 3781 0
snd_seq_oss 30885 0
snd_seq_midi_event 7233 1 snd_seq_oss
snd_seq 48909 5 snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq_midi_event
snd_pcm_oss 48625 0
snd_mixer_oss 17473 1 snd_pcm_oss
snd_pcm 84293 5 snd_ymfpci,snd_ice1712,snd_ac97_codec,snd_pcm_oss
snd_timer 24005 4 snd_ymfpci,snd_opl3_lib,snd_seq,snd_pcm
snd_page_alloc 10569 2 snd_ymfpci,snd_pcm
snd_ac97_bus 2497 1 snd_ac97_codec
snd_i2c 5441 2 snd_ice1712,snd_cs8427
snd_mpu401_uart 7873 2 snd_ymfpci,snd_ice1712
snd_rawmidi 24801 1 snd_mpu401_uart
snd_seq_device 8909 5 snd_opl3_lib,snd_seq_dummy,snd_seq_oss,snd_seq,snd_rawmidi
snd 51873 18 snd_ymfpci,snd_opl3_lib,snd_hwdep,snd_ice1712,snd_ak4xxx_adda,snd_cs8427,snd_ac97_codec,snd_seq_oss, snd_seq,snd_pcm_oss,snd_mixer_oss,snd_pcm,snd_timer,snd_i2c,snd_mpu401_uart,snd_rawmidi,snd_seq_devi ce
soundcore 9633 1 snd
To my untrained eye, that all looks pretty good (I see the gameport, uart, midi, and sequencer modules) but then it is all the more perplexing that midi isn't working.

Any thoughts as to why MIDI is working through either the serial or game ports? Should I be seeing a midi device under /dev? Any other suggestions?


Old 05-30-2006, 10:55 PM   #7
Registered: May 2006
Distribution: Fedora
Posts: 45

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Well, I finally got my audio to work. I have a functional Linux Audio Workstation! I was able to do multitrack recording sync'd with MIDI using Rosegarden and JACK.

The missing piece? I had to manually edit /etc/modprobe.conf so alsa could find my game port for midi.

Here are the steps I would recommend for newbies (and also see, I found that really helpful):

1) See if your card is even detected. Run "lspci" and make sure your card shows up.

2) Verify alsa initialized your card. Run "cat /proc/asound/cards" and double check that your card(s) are listed.

3) See if alsa is running with midi. Run "cat /proc/asound/oss/sndstat" and see that midi is working.

In my case, midi wasn't working. It said midi was NOT ENABLED IN CONFIG (see above).

So I followed the excellent instructions at midi_organ_net (?) and enabled the game port in /etc/modprobe.conf. I added his exact line:

options snd-ymfpci mpu_port=0x330

to my /etc/modprobe.conf file (I was using the ymfpci driver for the soundcard with the game port, so that makes sense).

I rebooted, and voila! I was able to stream midi out through my Yamaha card, and record/playback using my Delta M66.

Only one remaining problem: playing back midi files (using KMid or pmidi or anything) would crash the kernel (panic). Stack dump seemed to indicate the mpu401 driver.

However, if I boot using the realtime kernel from Planet CCRMA, everything seems to work. So I haven't debugged that further.

My install log is posted at

Old 06-02-2006, 12:48 PM   #8
Registered: Nov 2005
Distribution: FC4 & RHES
Posts: 105

Rep: Reputation: 15
Thanks for the info! As soon as I get a system with 512MB RAM or more, I'm gonna give this a try!


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