[ardour-users] A decent sound card for Ardour

Andrew Johnston andyandtaya at gmail.com
Sat Feb 10 15:57:21 PST 2007

I whole heartedly agree with you, but on the flipside I think you have
highlighted the main root of the problem and frustration that John is trying
to get across.  I use Gentoo, I love Linux but for a new user, and I dare
say for a hardware manufacturer they DO NOT see that Linux at it's core is
NOT Ubuntu or Gentoo or Fedora or Debian.  To a new user it is ALL Linux,
and so when something doesn't go right, they blame Linux for it.  Like you
said, the problem comes from the very nature of OSS, being a widely used
variety of choice.  People do prefer to do things in their own way, and the
whole Linux community is NEVER going to agree on one way that things should
be managed.  Why?  Because there are pros and cons for every system - and
when you aren't one entity such as Microsoft you can't make that happen -
you can't enforce one standard.  Along with freedom of choice comes
organised chaos...and I personally prefer it.  I prefer not to be dumbed
down in my knowledge of computers by my OS and for it to make decisions for
me I didn't ask it to, but that's because computers interest me in
themselves.  Many other just want the thing to work...and in that respect NO
OS does that properly yet - and I doubt for a long time (Windows/OSX is
probably doing it a little better at the moment) !  I laugh at those sci-fi
experts that warn about computers becoming ai and maybe one day developing a
consciousness!  We still haven't come very far from 'bad command or
filename' I'm afraid =)  Anyway...off to a tangent there...I have to agree
with John, or at least empathise with his frustrations, but I also believe
that not everything in life is easy.  If Linux is one of those things, then
so be it - in the end it does a better job and that's what counts.  I know
there are many people in the Linux community who want to see the whole world
move over to Linux, and I was like that for a while...but I'm beginning not
to care anymore.  It frustrates me that people will settle for less, but I
think it reflects a larger reality with other elements of life - people take
the easy road, and live lives that are far from what they could be.  You do
your best to convince them for a while, then sit back and watch them miss
out, realising that it's their choice.

If you want to eat Maccas all your life - go for it - but I'm going to eat a
samorgasboard of healthy delicious flavours from across the globe. It might
take 2 hours to cook instead of a 2 minute wait - but I will have a richer
experience for it.

I reckon my comments are worth at least 3 cents =P


On 2/11/07, Thomas Vecchione <seablaede at gmail.com> wrote:
> John-
>     What you are describing is the job of the distribution, not of linux
> itself.  There is an important distinction there.
>     In many cases of linux, you will never deal with installing drivers,
> though saying you never have to install drivers manually in windows is
> being hopeful at best.
>     What the common desktop distribution aims for is to make these
> things as painless as possible.  Though different distributions have
> different priorities in as far as this is concerned.
>     Example would be the Realtime-Preemption Enabled Kernel.  In a
> common Desktop Distribution, you will not find this in most cases.
> Whether or not you should is a different story.  In a music oriented
> distribution you will find this.
>     Does this make it harder for a device manufacturer to provide a
> driver?  If it is open source absolutely not.  Why?  Because the
> distribution is tasked with the job of making sure it has appropriate
> drivers for its setup.  The open source driver is able to be compiled
> against the kernel headers, that is all it needs.  The distribution
> takes care of providing the precompiled version.  The device
> manufacturer should only be keeping its driver up to date against the
> linux kernel version and providing bug fixes in the source.  While the
> kernel source is updated constantly, the basic API for the driver does
> not change often is my understanding.  In many cases drivers do not need
> to be updated unless there is a major shift in kernel versions(2.2 to
> 2.4 or 2.4 to 2.6 for example).  That does not happen any more often
> than Windows updates its kernel.  So in actuality it takes just as much
> effort to maintain an open source kernel driver for Linux as it does for
> any other OS really.
>      Closed source drivers should not exist.  The closest they come is,
> as an example, NVidia's drivers that have a binary closed source blob,
> with an open source layer connecting it to the kernel.  The
> appropriateness of this solution and legality is a debate for a
> different list and time.  But at any rate the open source layer there
> only changes more often if the binary blob it connects to changes.
> Essentially if anything closed source makes it harder on the
> manufacturer, but truthfully it should make it about the same difficulty
> to maintain as they normally would.
> > 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
> > problem.
> Why?
> If the driver needs to be upgraded fine.  You can upgrade the driver
> without it affecting the rest of the system.  In fact with ALSA drivers
> I used to do that quite regularly as I had a poorly designed piece of
> equipment for a while that I was continually looking for updates to the
> driver to handle it.
> > Re-installing or upgrading drivers under Linux is simply
> > too difficult for the average computer user.
> This is true of ANY OS.  I still get asked to install printers in
> windows by others, or any other driver.  The primary difference?  In
> windows I have to go track down the drivers on the manufacturer's
> website.  And so help me if the manufacturer is out of business, or the
> driver for their version of windows is no longer available on the website.
> > There are too many different
> > methodologies and even within those methodologies, there are too many
> > variations.
> Again this goes back to your choice of distributions.  This is the
> different distributions causing this, but from a manufacturer's point of
> view, it won't matter, all they have to keep up to date is the open
> source version of their driver.
> > 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
> Because you are misunderstanding the role of various things in Linux.
> What you are labeling as Linux right now, are the distributions of
> Linux.  That is a very important distinction.  That is where 95 percent
> of your problems seem to stem from(Well that and the firmware issues
> courtesy of things not being kept up to date in the open source driver
> by the manufacturer, like they have done for any other OS with the same
> amount of work involved.)
> As I mentioned above, what distribution of linux you are using does not
> matter to the driver.  So therefore this is not a reason for a
> manufacturer to ignore Linux.
> > 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.
> If you go with LFS(As an example), the method of installing a driver by
> hand is the exact same method that will work on ANY distribution.
> To install a driver by hand, you need the kernel headers for the kernel
> you are running.  You then compile that driver.  You then install the
> driver.  Literally it is 2 or 3 commands in most cases with an open
> source driver.  And those same 2 or 3 commands WILL work anywhere.
> The problem you are seeing comes from package management systems, and
> the number of different ones that are out there, and the variety of
> distributions.  If you do those same three steps on Ubuntu, it wil work
> fine, but APT on Ubuntu will not recognize that you have that package
> installed unless you tell it you do.  Thus when you install a package it
> thinks requires the package you installed manually, it will think it is
> not installed and install a new one, thus overwriting your package.
> Does ANY of that have anything to do with the manufacturer?  No.  The
> manufacturer's driver has not changed in the least.  But it means to
> install for that distribution, your best bet is to use its package
> management.  And yes I will agree that because of the variety of choices
> out there, things get confusing unless you stick to your distribution's
> instructions.  But if something doesn't work right in that, you need to
> tell the maintainers of that distribution, so it can be fixed.
> > 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.
> Again everything you have listed has nothing to do with the manufacturer
> keeping an open source driver for their hardware.
> > Linux
> > URGENTLY needs to thrash out a simple, unified strategy for driver
> upgrades.
> No.  Distributions of Linux need to agree on one way for pacakage
> management systems to communicate.  Thing is it won't happen as some
> people prefer one method to another, and that is why Linux is great.  It
> gives choice.  In this case choice of distribution.  But whether or not
> it does happen has nothing to do with the manufacturer.
>        Seablade
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> ardour-users at lists.ardour.org
> http://lists.ardour.org/listinfo.cgi/ardour-users-ardour.org
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