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.

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