SoundBlaster Audigy, Ubuntu Studio 8.04, XP Black


I've had interest in setting up a digital audio workstation (DAW) for about a year. A friend in grad-school turned me on to Reaper just a short while back. I have no experience here so the task has been formidable. I spent some time reading about sequencers, piano-roll, VSTs, etc., installed Reaper and played with it some. Meanwhile, I've also had an interest in "getting into a Tux."

A few years ago I fell into the world of computational chemistry and found myself at the helm of a "black-box" 4-node dual core cluster running SuSE. I didn't even know what a shell was. So I learned a bunch the hard way...the fun way by digging ditches and trying to get out. Around the same time, I needed a new desktop at home. I've always been given computers by my parents (specifically Dad who works with them a lot) and they were usually modest components, and ran the latest MS windows OS. Left to my own devices, I still needed to be thrifty so I bought a 2.66GHz Intel Celeron motherboard in a box pre-loaded with 1GB DDR. I initially dragged over my old hard-drive (Maxtor 12GB), and my father-in-law gave me a Seagate 7200rpm 120GB HD on which I loaded a copy of XP Pro that I borrowed from one of the non-networked instrument computers at school. I also installed my older CD-RW drive and a lousy CD-ROM drive. We were in the age of 2GB flashdrives so I didn't bother with a floppy drive. I recently upgraded to 2GB DDR RAM.

I recently acquired an old Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy Platinum (break-out box included) from my mother-in-law and decided this would be a great jump-off point for setting up my Linux DAW. I started by reading up on OSs and generated my first .iso image CD of an OS called PCLinuxOS2009. I don't remember how I heard about it, but when I loaded it up on a test-machine I was amazed at how easily it installed and how efficiently the package manager updated. I thought to myself "why have I never tried linux before?" I played with this OS for about a week and still like it a lot. However, as I started loading software to set-up my DAW, I started learning about a studio version of Ubuntu that had nice reviews. It came preloaded with all the DAW goodies and had a low-latency kernel built in. It also runs a "real-time" kernel which I think means it gives proccessing and memory priority to real-time processes. So I decided I wanted a "tri-boot" system. I started playing the partition game

I added a Western Digital 7200rpm 80GB HD to my rig and installed PCLinuxOS2009. I had a dual boot system. Success.

Prior to this some oddities had recently occured where MS Office files were no longer writable and other strangeness that I never documented so just a few days ago (concurrent with my upgrade to a dual-boot) I planned a reinstall of XP Pro. That's when shit hit the fan. I won't get into it all (as I don't remember it all) but I was unable to get a working installation of XP Pro from the disk I had used for the original set-up. Fortunately, I had obtained a copy of XP Pro Black edition from my French Pirate friend/colleague and after a few tries to reformat, I had an XP back up and running and all the important files saved.

At the same time I was working to get my XP, Ubuntu Studio, PCLinuxOS "tri-boot" system up (the three stooges), but due to my newbie-ness (I will try not to ever use noob), I haven't yet gotten there. Instead I have Windows XP Pro Black Edition (XPBlack) installed on my SG 120GB HD and Ubuntu Studio 8.04 (Hardy) installed on my WD 80GB HD. Despite my success with configuring PCLinuxOS to drive the soundblaster, I decided to stick with this dual-boot for now and see what I could accomplish.

I then proceeded to get my sound blaster working for XPBlack by downloading the driver at support.creative.com. With PCLinuxOS the package manager set me up with the latest ALSA package (driver,lib,utils) and running alsaconf as root took care of the rest. Long story shortened, with Hardy, I went in circles before realizing that I needed to fully grasp the alsamixer utility instead of hunting for bug-fixes.

Now I have PCM sound from speakers and head-phones for both OSs.


1. I get audio CD playback from head-phone jack on break-out box only...no speaker sound yet

2. The system is not utilizing any of the 3GB of swap space allocated and even browser scrolling causes audio to skip.

3. Time to learn recording software (not really a problem)

Note: I have no idea if I will have enough resources available to accomplish midi sequencing with multiple virtual instruments given the current observation of swap-space and overall speeds.


The goal of this blog is mainly to keep myself on track with my life goals. Included in these are various projects which I will document here. May it also serve to provide some form of expression and the freedom to rant and rave as I see fit.

At the time of this writing, I am 28 years old, married to a lovely, caring, intelligent, passionate, driven woman named Elia who has given me 3 boys, the eldest Lucas (22 mos.) and the twins Ethan and Gavin.

I am currently in a state of slippage, redirection, and melancholly, quite possibly losing my mind, or at least changing it frequently. I am writing my Ph.D. dissertation on my work in physical organic chemistry. Although I have no working title, it's contents will enlighten the reader on the subject of polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs), specifically my work on the synthesis of a [4.4.4]Starphene as well as DFT calculations of large substituted acenes and a correlation of their HOMO-LUMO energy gap with their apparent photo-oxidative resistance (air-stability).

I used to be a musician; unafraid of expression, writing frequently, practicing often. I would like to restart the process: write, practice, record, learn.

I have a bit of a fancy for beer. I know, a bit 'cliche' whilst still in graduate school but I assure you I never completely went "off the deep end" by growing a full beard, touring breweries whenever possible just for free samples and turning my nose up at the award winning Pabst Blue Ribbon (their mommy put the blue ribbon ON THE CAN!)....okay I did that. Still, I have been lucky enough to acquire some great materials for homebrewing and better still, found some people who've shared my interest along the way. Again, I would love to "relax, have a homebrew" very soon. Did I mention the twins were born 3 months ago?

I used to ride a motorcycle. I've had my license since I was 18 and rode every year. My Dad pulled my first bike out of the dump, made it run (and pass inspection), slapped me on the back and said "don't kill yourself." It was a 1971 125 cc Honda Rebel and frankly I'm surprised I lived to tell about it. I remember cruising down the highway (litteraly down-hill) topping out at 80 mph just to push it (sorry Mom) and it was rattling so hard I thought the handlebars might come loose. I slowly upgraded from there: 1979 450cc Kawasaki rebuild; 1985 500cc Honda Magna V30; 2002 750cc Honda Shadow VT750. Last July my father-in-law lost his life on his Kawasaki. It's almost June this year and I've just registered mine and got it out of storage, it needs a chain and sprockets, I'm not sure if it will get them. I've got a lot of babies to look after.

So summer is here, I'm plugging away at my dissertation, looking for a job (hopefully a well-suited post-doc) and trying to find projects that will help maintain my sanity. I've been thinking for a while about trying a linux os at home and using it as a digital audio workstation. Why? Well it's a two-fer. I'll get to bang my head against the wall learning something that's not chemistry for a change. Linux is hard enough to get started in but I really want to compound it with the world of DAWs, sequencers, digital effects, samples, synths, VST plugins, etc. I sang bass in a college chamber choire. I played sax in the pep-band and guitar in the jazz band in high-school. I've been writing "singer-songwriter" crap for about 15 years (although a bit dried up for the past 5). I don't know much about any of that, but I don't know anything about digital composition and recording. Thus, this is the start of my blog.