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 How I installed Remix_OS and got ALSA and Jack to play nicely together

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Join date : 2012-03-22

PostSubject: How I installed Remix_OS and got ALSA and Jack to play nicely together   Fri Apr 13, 2012 4:32 am

Here is a fairly detailed account of what I had to do to get things working on my system. First, let me answer the question "Why Remix_OS?". If you are entertaining pro audio uses for Linux, there are a number of Audio/Visual distros out there. Most of them do not have 64-bit kernels. Yes, lots of RAM will help make up for underpowered CPU's in office and even many gaming applications, but lots of RAM won't help an audio application that has little need to hit the cache, but is always calculating new data. Remix does one better, and has a realtime kernel, so it can guarantee CPU bandwidth to applications: useful for when you absolutely, positively, do not want dropouts from your audio. Remix also ships with working, Jack-based installation. My pro audio interface requires a Firewire driver, and of the many Linux audio standards, only Jack supports it. Remix_OS doesn't suffer from bloatware, but also isn't as stripped to the bone as, say, an Archlinux or Debian installation. I could quibble about some apps, but for the most part, the ones they choose are the better ones at their respective tasks IMHO, and I can uninstall and install what I need; once I get the basic audio system up and working. Finally, Remix_OS just works; in contrast to some which make this claim, but hasn't measured up in my (reportedly rare) experience.

The first step after burning the live disk, is to turn OFF your computer. Don't just restart it. It probably won't be a problem for you system, but the live disk and the installed Remix_OS differ as to which drive of mine is "/sda" and "/sdb". If I install from a warm boot, the Grub bootloader lands me in a cryptic Grub rescue prompt. If I install it from a cold boot, I get a nice Remix_OS menu, which gives me a choice of starting Remix or Windows. These issues seem to stem from the fact that I have an IDE and a SATA drive both installed. Your system may not have these issues, but how hard is it to turn the computer off instead of rebooting it? I used MiniTool Partition Wizard to shrink my drive with my "D" partition on it (lets call that HDD2), but I'm told that the MiniTool utility can leave buggy partition tables. Partition Magic should do a good job. That left room for a Linux partition, and a swap partition, which I made 2X the size of my physical RAM. I chose the ext4 file system, since it actually reads files on disk faster than ext2 - and this is crucial for mixing huge multi-track mixes with, say 96kHz 24-bit audio. I chose "/sdb" to install the bootloader to, even though the default was "/sda"; yet my BIOS has HDD1 as the booting drive, and the drive my Windows "C" system drive is on. I did not choose to download updates while installing, although I did ask it to use proprietary software.

Once you are booted up into Remix_OS, I strongly recommend you try to install a good video driver, if you can. For me, I have a GeForce FX 5200 on-board graphics card. The nVidia driver that comes with Linux is lame. It is a freeware one that doesn't support some hardware acceleration, and no 3D. Choose System | Additional Drivers, and it will see what drivers it might be able to find for you. I tried the Recommended Driver the first time around, after a lot of updates and installation, only to have it at first error out, and then drop me into a terminal prompt upon reboot. I wiped my partition, and installed Remix_OS for like a fourth time. This time around, I chose nVidia Accellerated Graphics Driver Version 173. I knew to do this, as I'd gotten it to work in a previous attempt; and while full-screen video played, without the driver, the browser was sluggish when moving windows playing video when not in full-screen. If you are using Maverick, as Remix_OS currently is, do not run "nvidia-xconfig". That too dropped me into a terminal prompt upon reboot, but deleting "/etc/X11/xorg.conf" restored my desktop. Running System Tools | NVIDIA X Server Settings prompts you to run "nvidia-xconfig", but I do not recommend it. Having settled on a video driver however you will, you can then continue on to other installs that are not likely to leave you with a terminal prompt. Next, I go into package manager and have it install all the OS updates.

To get Jack working with my Presonus FP10, I first started QJackCtl (called "Jack Control" from the menu). Going into the settings, I found that "firewire", not "freebob", was the correct driver. I got sound when I used "hw:0" or "plughw:0", but "hw:0" would stop working after a single YouTube video, whereas "hw:0" didn't (how to accomplish this is below). Getting these set up, I didn't have to change anything in "Connect" or "Patchbay". Now, I could get sound out of Jack-enabled applications such as Audacious or VLC player. Remix_OS also ships with a working ALSA setup. (That's where I went wrong with a previous post. I had botched up ALSA early on, trying to connect it to Jack.) I am also using the Settings | No Memory Lock parameter, since that had solved a problem for me on an earlier installation; but I don't know if it's really needed.

While some pro audio guys shudder at sending system sounds through their pro interfaces, I like it. It's just a convenience thing, for too little benefit; although you could in principle, blow speakers if they were turned way up listening to something. Since XFCE has no system sounds, it doesn't seem that realistic a worry, compared to the inconvenience of replugging the sound-card to surf the Web. This becomes even more necessary, if you wish to use KDEnlive, which isn't Jack-aware yet, but it is apparently being worked on. For now, you'll have to use ALSA. How do you do it, then? The admin directed me to http://jackaudio.org/routing_alsa to send ALSA sound to Jack, but it didn't work for me for two reasons: 1) my ALSA setup was broken, and 2) the ALSA to Jack script at the Jack site didn't work when I tried it. I think this may be because I didn't keep reading, and set a default. I did get it to work, however. As admin suggests, you need to install "libasound2-plugins". That is only a 32-bit module, but the applications I'll be using ALSA for won't be that demanding; and Flash audio doesn't work with the 64-bit library. The script I ultimately did use, which did work, was at https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Pro_Audio#Jack_Flash; but I named the file ".asoundrc"; as opposed to "asound.conf", as suggested by the Wiki - which did not work on my system. I could probably play with the script at the Jack site and get it working, but I'm not inclined to, as everything is working. I did have to play with the Gnome ALSA mixer to get sound out of some apps, I believe.

As posted elsewhere, but given here to be more complete, I have installed KDEnlive. Here's how I did it. Remix_OS comes with OpenShot, a presumably Jack-aware video editor. I tend to think KDEnlive is has far more effects and transitions, even though I'm far from expert at video editing, and haven't compared them extensively. In order to install KDEnlive, admin told me that I must uninstall libmlt4, which OpenShot depends on. (This may no longer be necessary with the kxstudio repository enabled.) Telling the Synaptic Package Manager to uninstall it caused it to mark OpenShot for uninstallation - so I uninstalled them both. The last time around, I didn't find KDEnlive in Synaptic, so this is how I got it: I don't know repositories all that well, but if in Synaptic, you go to Settings | Repositories | Other Software, you have other repositories you can enable. One stood out to me: "http://ppa.launchpad.net/kxstudio-team/ppa/ubuntu maverick main". The KXStudio started out as a stand-alone distribution, but now has an Ubuntu Net install option. They have refocused their efforts on offering a set of Linux audio oriented software as a package. Their repository turned out to have KDEnlive, whereas it was not available in the default ones. After installing it and updating my installation, I got an error:

"E: /var/cache/apt/archives/frei0r-plugins-doc_1.3-0ubuntu1~maverick2_all.deb: trying to overwrite '/usr/share/doc/frei0r-plugins/AUTHORS', which is also in package frei0r-plugins 1.3.0+git20110403.6c65d6a4-0ubuntu0~sunab~maverick1"

Uninstalling the frei0r plugin documentation kept Synaptic from trying to upgrade this package every time, and then failing; and it did not flag other things for uninstallation. In my most recent installation, I thought Synaptic had found KDEnlive, after a full round of updates; but I later noticed that the KXStudio-team repository had gotten marked after all. I also notice that enabling this repository caused a lot of upgrades, and KDEnlive from there now uses libmlt4 instead of libmlt2, so it might not be necessary to uninlstall libmlt4 and OpenShot in order to get KDEnlive to install, as I have indicated elsewhere.

I am now supremely happy with Remix_OS. Razz I can run Audacity and Ardour without a problem on Jack. I can pipe ALSA audio to Jack, and thereby use the best Linux video editor (correct me if I'm wrong): KDEnlive. My system sounds come over my FP10, which I like, but others might not. Jack is not broken, even though a bunch of KDE stuff got pulled in. I can run Reaper via ASIO in Wine by starting Jack as root. My test cases for Linux audio and video all work. I have been having too much frustration getting them all to work to spend much more time writing this, now that I've gotten it working, but I hope this little guide is helpful ppl interested in using Firewire in Jack, or piping ALSA to Jack, and even working with KDEnlive. While my dream Linux had a flashier desktop, you can get vista-like border themes for XFCE; and probably even install Gnome or KDE to run as your main desktop. This is my dream Linux right now: I can get all the audio stuff to work. I have heard it said that the most recent audio stuff is in Debian repositories, suggesting a distribution like Mepis. Mepis, for me, would lock up on booting, and deleted my last Remix_OS partition: so I am not anxious to retry it. I do not know the pros and cons of using Debian repositories; except that Debian Sid is their testing repository; and I would prefer to go with stable repositories until there is some need to do otherwise. I do not know about the wisdom of enabling Debian or other repositories for Remix_OS. What I can say, is, I know of no other Jack-based, 64-bit, realtime kernel distro that is audio oriented; and I can get all the programs I have been trying to get to cooperate, to work. For audio applications, it just seems to work. That's a dream Linux in my book.

I really like a lot of their application choices too: they shunned the Amarok spyware media player for Audacious and VLC player. Thunar over Dolphin. Firefox over Reconq or Konqueror. Getting Reaper running under ASIO on Wine. Right now, I favor jEdit over emacs (although I haven't used it on Linux much yet), Libre Office (since OO is not yet being updated by Apache) over the office apps they have, and KDEnlive over OpenShot. I also favor the Gnome terminal emulator over the X one, but with a better choice of color scheme; since you can set your font size and do cut and paste with the Gnome one. You can go into Settings | Preferred applications, and choose which opens up for a terminal prompt. I have yet only to uninstall their office selections, and install my own; and I'll have an installation with all of my preferred software. With the exception of KDEnlive, which carries KDE baggage, I think these would all be improvements to the distro. Perhaps the real value of Remix_OS is that it got Jack working, and it got it right that good audio distros should be 64-bit realtime, probably be Jack-based, reasonably up-to-date, and be highly performant.

I hope that this helps other Remix_OS users get the applications they want running,

Edit: I do see some posts preferring Gnumeric to Calc, tho. Calc never handled charts all that well - not having a full-window chart, but forcing you to embed them in spreadsheets; and there are claims that its statistics are more accurate. I think Write may well be superior to AbiWord, however.

Edit: I rewrote parts of this to take into account my troubles getting a video driver to work, and a few other gleanings from my most recent install.

Edit: I had written ".jackrc" and "jack_conf" where I meant ".asoundrc" and "asound_conf"; which has been corrected.

Last edited by CodeLurker on Mon Jun 04, 2012 3:43 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostSubject: Re: How I installed Remix_OS and got ALSA and Jack to play nicely together   Sat May 05, 2012 7:17 pm

Thanks! Smile Very Useful! cheers
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How I installed Remix_OS and got ALSA and Jack to play nicely together
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