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Author Topic: A new computer - let's load it up!  (Read 56073 times)
Oren
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« on: August 20, 2007, 08:00:05 AM »

My old Athlon 1700+ running on XP Pro, has a Creative Labs SB Audigy Platinum audio card, and 1024 mb of RAM, on a Gigabyte motherboard. At the time it was assembled, it was the best (consumer grade) music computer money could buy. Now, it has difficulty processing large digital audio files and running the various plug-ins.

I have some cash set aside for a new computer, and would like to set it up with open-source software in mind. There's no hurry, because the old one is still grinding out the tunes, so I thought it might be fun to "build" it right here. Remember - I'm a guitar player Roll Eyes with very limited computer skills. Hopefully we can come up with a hardware/software package that will do the job reliably, and without a lot of tweeking. Once we have a concensus on the "right" build, I'll assemble the unit, load it up, and we'll see how it performs.

Recommendations on where to start?
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 08:19:47 AM by Oren » Logged

kara
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« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2007, 08:48:31 AM »

Since I'm interested in Linux since some time, I can start...

One of the most simple solutions to give it a try is 'Studio to go' : http://www.studio-to-go.com/

They have a 'live' of the whole setup. The advantage of a live CD is that you can boot your PC from the CD just to try what works and won't work. It won't change anything to the PC.
With Studio on the go, you get a full daw, OS & multiple sequencer & audio applications. See : http://www.studio-to-go.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=18&Itemid=59

One of the big issues is the support of the audio card, there are a couple of Soundblaster cards listed in the list here :
http://www.studio-to-go.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=27&Itemid=82
but I'm not a Soundblaster specialist...

'In principle' there is all you need.
Rosegarden is a great sequencer, who can compete with a lot of commercial sequencer
Ardour is a complete audio studio
....

But... in my opinion, the question you have to ask yourself is : 'How much time am I willing to spend to learn all of this", this is time you won't spend on making music.
And there is a lot to learn, Linux itself, Studio on the go comes by default with the KDE interface which looks a lot like windows. But still it is a bit different. Also the OS is different, getting updates is different,...
In windows audio & midi software just talks to your audio card, under Linux it is done differently. Without going into details the most common system is the Jack interface. Incredible flexible, but again you'll need some time to learn it.

In my experience, the sequencer Rosegarden is pretty easy to learn, it's quit logical and works like all sequencers.
Ardour is a real professional audio multitrack recording and mixing application. But it is quit a beast to learn.

I would advise to download the Live CD, give it a try and see what you think of it.
Don't make to fast conclusions because a lot is different.

I know we have at least one member here (folderol) who is at home with Linux, I hope he will chime in here.
He knows also a couple of other Linux audio distributions.

And I hope, with this new section, we will get other Linux users here as members.

k
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Oren
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« Reply #2 on: August 20, 2007, 01:42:43 PM »

Looks like "studio-to-go" will support most of the features of SB Audigy soundcard - good news! And "Audacity" is included Grin

Oh, and I just realized that the operating system is included in the "studio-to-go" package, and Studio 64. Talk about a serious bargain!

Although I know I want 64-bit capability, should I be thinking 2 cores or 4?
« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 11:01:26 PM by Oren » Logged

kara
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« Reply #3 on: August 20, 2007, 02:25:08 PM »

Now that's why we need Moon for, should I call him out of his holiday ?  Roll Eyes Grin

As far as I know, are quad-core processors mainly ment for servers. And I know that the Ubuntu linux for quad-core processors is still pretty young (beta phase even ?)

I would think dual-core...

k
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folderol
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« Reply #4 on: August 20, 2007, 06:46:20 PM »

Hi guys. I got your messages... Actually I already knew this topic had been created as I like to take a peek on here first thin gin the morning at work Smiley

First of all I must say I am not a Linux Guru, only a guy with a certain tenacity (and refusal to give in to a mere machine) who believes he should tell the computer what to do, not the other way round!

One thing I've noticed is that computing hardware today is in a very similar position to TVs were in the late 60s (I was a TV repair engineer in another life) in that you can have two seeming identical machines and one can work like a dream while the other appears to be fit only as a doorstop.

Studio To Go, has already been mentioned, and I've also referred to 64studio and Musix in another thread. All of these have Non-install versions that will run from CD-ROM and I would definitely recommend trying all three - It's free, and does nothing permanent to your system. As far as I know 64studio is the only one that specifically targets 64 bit machines.

I personally use a dual core Athlon on my main machine. The benefits of dual core depend very much on how well the software is written to take advantage of this. The heart of the system - Jack - is I believe, multi-core aware as are some of the other applications (don't ask me which ones).

Most advice seems to be to avoid USB sound cards. They often don't talk nice to Linux, but more importantly their latency is much poorer than 'proper' cards. M-Audio have a particularly good reputation, but I think most good cards are well supported. If you have your mind on a particular card, try asking the distro's listed above if they know this card works.

Some people have had drive speed problems with sata hard drives, which seems a little surprising, so the general advice seems to be to stick with ide if you have the choice and are doing very intensive multitrack recording. Also advised is having a completely separate drive for the actual audio content, or if you can't manage that, at least a separate partition. This improves general access times and prevents OS and ordinary user material (which might be lots of small files) getting interleaved with big audio files.

Having said all that, I'm using a single 240G sata drive with no problems Smiley
I should add I don't do a lot of heavy audio processing, and I do have it partitioned something like:

15G -  / (the main OS directory)
15G - /spare (so I can set up a dual boot if I want to)
40G - /home
the rest - /music

Some final points on this massive missive Smiley

If you want to do general 'stuff' on the machine as well, there are art, drawing and office apps freely available.

Internet support is excellent and far more secure than 'other' systems, but bear in mind things like flash, quicktime (who needs them) are a bit of a pain to set up, and some of these don't have proper 64bit support so have to use a 32bit emulation mode.

Well thats it for now. I hope some of this helps and doesn't put anyone off!
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If you have a poem, I have a tune, and we exchange these, we can both have a poem, a tune, and a song.
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Oren
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« Reply #5 on: August 20, 2007, 07:18:58 PM »

Will,

Thanks for stepping in!

I'm thinking that a "linux guru" may not be what we need here. Tenacity will likely be our best ally in this. It would be more instructive to see what a crew of ordinary blokes can do with the software. Also, thin gin in the morning is a habit you may want to re-consider...(I'm awful - you'll get used to it  Grin)

Current software generally seems capable of using the dual core processor to good advantage, but many programs, when sensing the four cores, begin to shuttle information to each core in turn with little regard to continuity - the job ends up getting done slower, with a lot of redundant steps. Let's settle on a fast dual core processor - say, the Athlon 64 6000+ socket AM2? What kind of motherboard are you using with your AMD chip?

Oren.



« Last Edit: August 20, 2007, 10:58:55 PM by Oren » Logged

kara
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« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2007, 08:02:31 AM »

I have very good experience with ASUS motherboards
They have allways been reliable for me
You could have a look here : http://www.asus.com/products.aspx?l1=3&l2=101

k
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Oren
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...just looking for clues...


« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2007, 04:25:25 PM »

Yes,

It looks like Asus is a good choice to go with an AMD chip.

I'm going to contact a gentleman who consults for this group:

                   http://www.vlug.org/

                         about building the computer under his supervision.

Oren.
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kara
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« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2007, 04:37:15 PM »

Look like a good idea, if this group is still alive....
Last news item on there site : 2003/09/19  Huh

k
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Oren
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...just looking for clues...


« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2007, 05:54:54 PM »

The organization may be out of date, but Monsieur du Toit is still around town...

...and he just agreed to supervise the hardware build, and the installation and implementation of a Linux DAW software package.

Now where did I put that cash...?

Oren.
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 03:18:03 AM by Oren » Logged

folderol
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« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2007, 09:43:25 PM »

Hmmm. Now you mention it my motherboard is an Asus - works well for me Smiley
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If you have a poem, I have a tune, and we exchange these, we can both have a poem, a tune, and a song.
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kara
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« Reply #11 on: August 22, 2007, 06:55:09 AM »

Now this is an excelent plan Oren

Together with someone that knows Linux realy well, your DAW will be up & running in no time.
Even if the guy knows nothing about DAW software, you'll know that at least the system is setup correctly.

Cool

k


The organization may be out of date, but Monsieur du Toit is still around town...

...and he just agreed to supervise the hardware build, and the installation and implementation of a Linux DAW software package.

Now where did I put that cash...?

Oren.
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Support us at : http://www.mymajorcompany.com/Artistes/kaaz/
folderol
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« Reply #12 on: August 22, 2007, 03:53:08 PM »

Hmm. We move apace !

I'll be very interested to see what setup you build. Might help me to improve my system too Smiley
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If you have a poem, I have a tune, and we exchange these, we can both have a poem, a tune, and a song.
- Will
Oren
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« Reply #13 on: August 22, 2007, 04:08:29 PM »

Will,

That's the whole idea. We're looking at a Athlon 64 5600+ dual core on an Asus board, 2 gigs of ddr2 memory...


* image001.jpg (290.95 KB, 980x812 - viewed 622 times.)
« Last Edit: August 22, 2007, 04:12:58 PM by Oren » Logged

Moon
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« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2007, 01:07:06 PM »

I've put a new DAW together some months ago. Some feedback on it:
I've choosen an Intell DP965LT motherboard: the choice of the chipset is straithforward; at this time Intell's processors outperforme AMD's alternatives, the 965 chipset is very stable and als support the quadprocesors if an upgrade is needed. The Intell DP965LT is one of the better motherboards if you put stability on top of your list. Mind that you need memory that run on 1.8 Volt for this board. Also, this board has 2 firewire ports.
I've considered the option of a quad procesor, but decided to "limit" to the E6700 processor. Well, limit is a bit the wrong word here, since I've found the E6700 powerfull enough for the things I do, and also, a quad processor is much more expensive in the power/price ratio. I thought it would be better to go for the E6700 and wait for prices to drop on the quads... So far I'm very happy with my choice, I'm not thinking about replacing the CPU...
The choice of the graphics card is also straightforward: passive cooled (based on a NVIDIA GeFprce 7300GT). I prefer NVIDEA over ATI. I've opted for a graphic cards that supports a native resolution of 2560 x 1600 (32 inch panels). Once prices are dropping, I'll be getting one of these (next year...)
The HD's: I've considered to put Raptor drives in my DAW, but decided not to: they are more performant, but make more noise... and I'm allergic to a noisy DAW...
The CASE: very important to have a silent case! Not the cheapest, but perferct for a DAW: http://www.paqt.co.uk/index.html

I'm running windows XP on it, not Linux. I'm using a lot of cakewalk software: I've found this software to be very, very stable (Sonar, Rapture, Dimension Pro, Project 5,...).

Evaluation of the system after some months of usage: best DAW I've build so far. Very, very, very stable (never crashed so far!), very very quiet, very very performant. I'm starting to forget I'm working on a PC since my DAW is behaving like a piece of hardware...  Grin
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