64 Studio: A solid DAW Desktop....almost

After the failure that was ubuntu studio 9.04, I thought I would look into any other possible solutions to my ultimate DAW desktop.  Reading about the different choices, I settled on 64 Studio to try next, due in part to the fact that it is very similar to ubuntu with its debian roots.  My first attempt at installation failed on one of the install steps, likely due to a bad burn/image download.  I tried again, unscientifically adjusting all the variables: I downloaded the latest beta instead of the pronounced stable release (2.1) and I burned to a DVD-R instead of a DVD+R.  The install completed.  

One of the key comparisons made between 64 Studio and Ubuntu Studio is that the 64 Studio team was more selective in the applications added, and overall have worked harder at optimizing the "real-time" (RT) kernel to produce the lowest latencies in audio work. One of the problems I had recently with Ubuntu was the sound stopped working and sound is pretty critical for an audio studio. So far, the sound drivers are all working fine with 64 Studio, I just had to adjust the ALSAMixer the first go to get the correct channel unmuted.

But 64 Studio has yet to be completely trouble-free.  For whatever reason, the latest kernel build 2.6.29 was not picking up my Ralink wireless network card. I did a little research and found someone else had this same problem but fixed it by rolling back the kernel to 2.6.26-1. I had to get creative with the network cables in the house to get them to stretch, but once connected to the WEB, I found that the commands: apt-get install kernel did not work right away, but somehow I eventually got it to work after running the update manager and installing a couple hundred other packages first.

I rebooted into the new kernel and sure enough, a wireless network option was now present in the network configuration dialog. Then in the course of an hour, I somehow picked up the wireless signal (rather quickly as I recall) and then later lost it and could not retrieve it. Somehow having success initially and then ending up back where you were feels worse then just failing at the outset!


Up(down)grade to Ubuntu Studio 9.04

I have been running UbuStu 8.10 since may 2009 and with the exception of having some trouble with the initial setup of sound, I have been very happy with it. Recently, after (I believe) a kernel update, the sound stopped working...and I haven't figured out the fix yet. I knew that eventually I would have to update/upgrade my system, and that when I did I would want to repartition my hard drive in a more logical fashion. So I figured now was as good a time as ever.

I decided to upgrade to UbuStu 9.04 and I set up the following partition table:
12 GB: /
2 GB: swap
6 GB: /opt
60 GB: /home

Anyway, I was excited to try out my new UbuStu system but after just a few minutes of uptime the screen went black and the system could not be revived! In fact, I had to kill the power-supply to shutdown as the power switch was even unresponsive. This has happened 3 times in a row now and needless to say, I'm somewhat discouraged. Now I face the choice of reinstalling UbuStu 8.04 or otherwise testing out a different "DAW optimized" linux distro. Giving some consideration to the latter, I started doing a little research and found there are a few serious contenders: 64 Studio being one of the top recommended. Another that I came across is called AVLinux which (like 64 Studio) seems to be fairly stripped down and specialized just for audio work. Either way, this approach may be the best if I want to get serious about a DAW. I can use a different OS (probably a Puppy variant) for my more standard workstation.


Puplets: PupItUp

It occurred to me recently that it is a bit odd that I had only obtained Puppy Linux 2.16 and 4.21 and learned very little about puplets other than that they exist before moving forward on creating my own puplet without ever having tried a single other puplet. I'm not sure if that indicates arrogance, ignorance, ambition, or sloppiness on my part...nevertheless interesting.

However, now that I have released ChemPup and accumulated a whopping 41 downloads in just 2 weeks, I was, for some reason, prompted to take a look at a few other puplets which I decided I will continue to do and log my findings here.

First up is PupItUp Music Lab. The idea here is, as indicated by the name, to have the power and flexibility of Puppy Linux running a suite of music software that enables a mid-power computer to become a useful music composition and music education tool. 5 stars for concept, and still 4 stars for execution! The author (eztuxer) made several nice decisions for inclusion in this puplet which features numerous music software packages: AMUC, Audacity, Jack, LMMS, Muse Score, Qsynth, Rezound, and TK Solfege. The full description as well as links to download are available at pupitup.org.

After downloading, I had no trouble in booting up pupitup, however, upon shutdown and generation of a pup_save* file, I found pupitup did not load this save file on reboot! In general, I don't think you usually need to install Puppy Linux to utilize the pup_save* file, however, in this case a frugal install to /pupitup412/ and adding the pup_save* file to the same directory in the end seemed to be the cure. Since I run a fairly old laptop and have an interest in music composition, I was happy to add pupitup to my grub menu!

For now, my wife is very happy to be able to record YOUTUBE music using audacity for the purpose of learning. I briefly took a look at the LMMS sequencer and was impressed with its simplicity and usability. I'm also very interested in testing MUSE since I want to work more on my staff music composition. I will be testing it out a bit more and report here later.


Google Analytics

It was over a year ago that my wife first told me about google analytics and I didn't listen too much...I had other motivations at the time I guess. However, with the launch of chemtoolbox.com, she mentioned it to me again and this time I dove right in!

Being in post-secondary school studying chemistry and biochemistry now for about 11 years, I should have developed an analytical mind...and I have, though probably not well enough to solve really tough problems. Despite this, I can appreciate a valuable analytical tool, and after setting up google analytics I was immediately impressed with the level of detail in a variety of metrics analyzed.

Categorically, google analytics is made up of 5 major sections, 3 of which are absolutely impressive: Visitors, Traffic, Content. The other 2 are Dashboard (overview) and Goals.

The Visitor category compiles data regarding visitors' demographic, spoken language, frequency, loyalty, depth of views, duration, bouce rate, what browsers they are using, what OS they are using, what network connections, and a bit more.

The Traffic Sources category lets you know if people are redirected to your site from a link on another site and what that site is, or if they are coming from search engines, or an e-mail client.

The Content category displays which pages are being viewed how often and for how long as well as which pages visitors are leaving the site from (exit page).

To many people, after reading this entry, you are probably thinking "welcome to the 21st century!" as this tool has been around for the better part of a decade now, but nevertheless, this is a new discovery for me!


ChemToolBox.com Agora Forum Troubleshooting

Uploaded Agora Forum for Joomla! 1.5 but having some problems.  Seems that Agora is coded in PHP5 and my server host is configured for PHP4.  When trying to post to the forum the following message appears:

Parse error: parse error, unexpected T_STRING, expecting T_OLD_FUNCTION or T_FUNCTION or T_VAR or '}' in /home/content/r/p/k/rpkopreski/html/CHEMTOOLBOX/components/com_agora/helpers/emailprocessor.php on line 5

I had originally a similar error even dealing with syncing to my user list with Agora and found a solution on the agora forum.  However, it appears there are going to be a slew of problems associated with forcing Agora to play nice with PHP4 so I called GoDaddy and found I can change my server to run PHP5 by going to:

Hosting Manager --> Content --> Add On Languages

However, this may destroy every damn Joomla! site I am currently hosting.  And I'm not sure yet how it will play out so I need to track this carefully.  Takes up to 24hrs to propagate on the server so more to come....

Okay, that was fast!  So far it looks like the posting problem is instantly fixed!  Of course this may have broken something else somewhere, but I will have to wait and see!


ChemToolBox and ChemPup ToDo's

-add new screenshots and update ChemPup features list
-upload ChemPup-1.0.1
-remaster ChemPup-0.2.6 and re-upload (note diffs)
-generate MD5 checksums for ISOs
-trim the fat on ChemPup-1.0.1
-start a proper changelog
-test shopping-cart
-build axs ChemPup kits
-produce multisession DVD

Puppy Remaster Checklist

I need to be more meticulous with the remastering process for puplets. As such I will need a "rubric" to follow each time I remaster a puplet so I do not miss a critical step. Starting Now!

Puppy Remaster Rubric:

1. copy /tmp/root/.mozilla and /tmp/root/.gftp to /tmp/
2. delete /tmp/root
3. copy /root to /tmp/root
4. copy .mozilla and .gftp to /tmp/root
6. delete /tmp/etc/xdg
7. copy /etc/xdg to /tmp/etc/xdg
8. GO
9. edit puppy***.sfs file to chempup**.sfs file
10. create then rename .iso


ChemPup-0.2.6 Released at ChemToolBox.com

So I have a functioning web site (www.chemtoolbox.com) with a download manager called remository that is pretty easy to use and tracks download totals. To date, ChemPup-0.2.6 has been downloaded 8 times since its release on 10.7.09 (2 days). I posted a forum thread at the official puppy linux forum (http://www.murga-linux.com/puppy/) and have 85 views in just 2 days. I am hoping for feedback and may ask for some when my downloads total reaches ~20.

ChemPup-0.3.0 is bothersome. I am very excited that I got Avogadro to work!!! However, at a bit of a cost. First the success story. I downloaded a copy of Barry K's UPup which includes the ubuntu-debian repositories in his powerful new package manager. This was accomplished through project "Woof" which is essentially a project aimed at making puppy buildable/extendable with any existing linux repo. Very cool! I used UPup to download Avogadro, analyze it's dependencies and add them as obtainable and install everything automatically. I had to deal with one "lib" problem (I wish I had documented it earlier) and then had Avogadro running in UPup in about an hour. Then I had an idea....prompted from some research at the forums. I saved my UPup session and then renamed the .2fs save-file to the standard pup_save* format so ChemPup (based on Puppy 4.2.1) would read it. I then booted ChemPup-0.2.5 (the devx version) and loaded the new save-file and voila! I had a new version of ChemPup with Avogadro working.

However, after testing several other programs, I found everything worked except one: BKChem. Grrrr. This is not an acceptable trade-off in my view as BKChem is by far the best 2D structure editor I have found for linux. I believe the problem lies in the python libs added with Avogadro, since BKChem runs with python. I spent a couple hours trouble-shooting this but since I am not a trained CS-guy (i.e. self-taught) I have yet to correct the problem. In the mean time I am thinking of offering both versions and explain the deficiencies in each. Essentially, the addition of Avogadro is very beneficial for people that want to do computational chemistry and JChemPaint is still available as a 2D structure editor. However, for those who want to produce higher quality 2D structures for use in documents or publication, the BKChem version is better.


1. Fix the BKChem/Avogadro incompatibility issue
2. Find a silk-screen CD package
3. Find/Buy 3D glasses
4. Work on a multi-session DVD
5. Assemble packages and make sell-able on chemtoolbox.com
6. Make donations page on chemtoolbox.com (remember to show $flow)