[ardour-users] A decent sound card for Ardour

John Emmas johne53 at tiscali.co.uk
Sat Feb 10 01:30:16 PST 2007

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Paul Davis" <paul at linuxaudiosystems.com>
Sent: 09 February 2007 21:00
Subject: Re: [ardour-users] A decent sound card for Ardour
> wrong. almost all drivers are part of the kernel, except for those that
> are written by companies who release binary only drivers. they are
> extremely controversial, and it is possible that one day, such drivers
> will be prohibited. the jury seems out on this right now.

Paul - that seems to be the most common response that I've been getting
on the various Linux forums that I've visited, so let me give you the same
answer that I gave on those forums.

It stands to reason that any kernel based driver is never going to work in
every conceiveable case.  Of course, there'll be thousands of cases where
the drivers work first time - but there are bound to be cases where the
standard drivers don't work or need to be upgraded.  And therein lies the

Controversy aside, from a user's perspective, it isn't the drivers
themselves that are at the heart of this - it's the method of installing or
upgrading them.  Re-installing or upgrading drivers under Linux is simply
too difficult for the average computer user.  There are too many different
methodologies and even within those methodologies, there are too many
variations.  For example, some installations require you to pass parameters
preceded by a forward slash. Some require a single dash.  Others require
double dashes.  Some require a parameter like "-overwrite" to ensure that
the old driver gets removed - but often, this kind of thing is omitted from
the instructions.  Why would anybody want to upgrade a driver and NOT
remove the old one?

I can fully understand why hardware manufacturers want to avoid a scenario
like that.  It's the #1 achilles heel with Linux and, for reasons which I
don't understand,  the entire community seems hugely resistant to doing
anything about it.  The community might have practical reasons for being
so reluctant; or the reasons might be political; or historical; or
philosophical - but whatever those reasons might be, they've led to a
hotch-potch of disparate methodologies that is almost guaranteed to
produce failure.  It's all very well to blame the manufacturers but
personally, I wouldn't blame any company for wanting to keep its distance
while this sorry situation persists.  It's a two-way problem, Paul.  Linux
URGENTLY needs to thrash out a simple, unified strategy for driver upgrades.
And until the Linux community has resolved that issue, I'm quite certain
that manufacturers will continue to keep their distance.  I would, if I were
a manufacturer.  I've worked for hardware manufacturers and I can fully
understand their reluctance to be co-operative, given the potential knock-on
effect for their own reputation.

And then there's the cost of support to consider.... self-help forums are
all very well but the Ubuntu forum (which I've used the most) is largely
a case of the blind leading the blind.  It's one of the main reasons why
I want to try an alternative distro.  I've been very lucky to have you and
some other audio experts to help me outside of the official forums.  I was
also lucky to track down the guy who wrote my graphics card's driver.  I was
lucky to track down the guy who wrote the drivers for my broadband modem.
But there must be thousands of people out there who weren't so lucky and who
eventually ditched their devices and bought something else (or, more likely,
ditched Linux).

Hardware manufacturers AND Linux itself are BOTH suffering because of
this - and, for all I know, there may not be a solution (I don't know enough
about the historical context to know what the root problems are).  But
I can assure you of this.... Linux is suffering more than the manufacturers.
Things will never move forward until hardware manufacturers can feel
a lot more confident about ease of installation.  And that, in turn, will
never happen unless the haphazard procedures of today are robustly
consigned to history.  A single, unified strategy would surely benefit
everyone - but there seems to be no enthusiasm to create one.

My 2 cents!


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