Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Monday, December 18, 2006

  making 64 Studio on x86_64 and FC6 on x86 audiologically useful (Part 1)

Steps:

Install. There's plenty of howtos on how to do that, I'll skip that step here.

After installation, install updates and lots of additional libraries.

64 Studio, which is debian based, has an "apt-get" installer that points to it's own DVD for installs of "more stuff". This basic, simple, time-and-bandwidth-saving thing is not supported by Fedora Core - in FC6 all update attempts go back to the main repository located on the net somewhere.

On the other hand, given the frequency of updates to FC6, maybe it's pointless to install off the DVD after the initial install. A simple yum update this morning, a mere couple weeks after I started the x86 install, updated 206 packages.

64 Studio, by default, didn't point to the network based repositories for debian, and I quickly needed things that were in the debian extras and debian extras-nonfree repositories.

Figuring out how to do this for either distribution is both easy and non-intuitive, I'll get to that in a second.

I will argue that the repository and package update mechanisms in Linux are vastly superior to what exists for both Windows and Mac - On Windows, only drivers and code blessed by Microsoft can be legitimately updated via Windows Update, and on Mac, there is no equivalent at all - you have to browse through a sea of web pages to find all the libraries and code you need, and then, god help if you hare not running OSX 10.4 or later.

Just about any version of Linux, on the other hand, can be kept up to date with a little setup, and a single command every once in a while. You can keep a vast raft of add-on applications up to date with a little more setup.

64 Studio

64 Studio doesn't seem to be maintaining their own repository aside from the dvd, so I just added back into /etc/apt/sources.list the following

# deb cdrom:[64 Studio 1.0 (1)]/ 64studio main
deb ftp://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/ testing main
deb http://ftp.debian-unofficial.org/debian stable main contrib non-free restricted
deb-src ftp://mirrors.kernel.org/debian/ testing main
deb-src http://ftp.debian-unofficial.org/debian stable main contrib non-free restricted
I'm kind of afraid to do an apt-get update without having 64 studio's repository enabled however.

Still, this is way easier than what has to happen on FC6.

FC6

The first thing I do nowadays is login as root and install the yum fastestmirror plugin. Without it, a large percentage of time I seem to end up downloading updates from a very low bandwidth site somewhere overseas. With it installed, I can saturate my cable link.
yum install yum-fastestmirror
yum -y update


While that's going on I do ssh-keygen and get ssh keys installed everywhere. This is tedious, but the overhead of running NIS or (worse) Kerberos at home is more tedious. I'll install printers, fix firewall rules, get NFS exporting, and stuff like that... I use a linux firewall which also provides name service and dhcp, so I create a name for the machine and have dhcp fix an ip address for it's mac address (setting up dns the first time is hard but I'm not going into that now).

I haven't found a use for selinux on anything but a web exposed server, so I edit /etc/selinux/config and disable the darn thing entirely.

After the initial update completes, I add a two repositories. Livna is good for all the proprietary kernel modules and a few of the patented codecs, so I add that in:

rpm -ivh http://rpm.livna.org/livna-release-6.rpm


As I'm doing music apps which require hard realtime privleges, and I live on the bleeding edge, I also install Ingo Molnar's RT repository for the kernel. The RT kernel provides incredibly low latency (it's far faster than either Windows or Mac). This makes playing music a real joy as your separation from your instrument is basically only fingertips away. But:
RT kernels are great, but risky. About the only advice I can offer is wait until Ingo hits at least the 5th release of the rt patch for a given kernel before installing.

cd /etc/yum/repos.d
wget http://people.redhat.com/mingo/realtime-preempt/rt.repo
yum -y update # should go faster now



64 Studio comes with a stable, well tested RT kernel. At one level, that's an advantage. I flat out like it. I love that I can't easily screw it up, and thus my production music machine is running 64 Studio.

On another, RT is maturing rapidly and I've been increasingly happy with it since 2.6.17-rt7, and don't mind being a tester all that much, so I track Ingo's kernel on FC6.

There are multiple other additional Linux repositories that can be added.

One useful-for-music-and-video repository was PlanetCCRMA - but they don't support FC6 or X86_64 yet.

When I started writing this I still hadn't figured out how to make either distribution install kernel sources by default. This bugged me. Despite many attempts by distributors to keep the end user from compiling things, there always seems to be something that needs kernel headers. In my case, I really want the Linux line6 PodXT driver to work.

Great. All the repos are installed. Time to install an rt kernel.

yum -y install kernel-rt kernel-rt-devel

Now, before you sink any more time into building a box like this, you might as well cross your fingers and reboot. I named this machine "monk" - and all the stuff I did with dns and dhcp earlier worked, it came up on the right ip address running kernel 2.6.19-rt15!

Now, in the fedora extras and livna repository are tons of audio libs that aren't installed by default. I prefer thunderbird to evolution, so I get rid of evolution. Beagle is a good idea but it's I/O intensive at the worst possible times, so that goes. Then I install a slew of apps. I have such a large list - and do development as well - that I have a file containing every app and library I could possibly use. Fetch this, and edit to suit (for a music box, you rather don't need spamassassin, etc)

yum erase beagle evolution
yum -y install `cat audio_yumlist.txt`


Get yerself some coffee. When this steps completes you should have some serious audio apps available, but we're not even close to being done yet.
 
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