[Ardour-Users] getting started

John Emmas johne53 at tiscali.co.uk
Mon Apr 13 02:10:48 PDT 2009

Mark and Noel have already mentioned an important point but I think it
should be mentioned again - hardware!!

If you're new to Linux, the first thing you need to know is to ignore the
myth that "Linux will run on anything".  It won't.  In fact, Linux is very
fussy about what hardware you run it on.  Not as fussy as OS-X but a lot
more fussy than Windows.  Before installing any version of Linux, visit the
distro's forum and find out if any other users have got the same hardware as
you.  Find out what problems they had - or whether there are any known
problems with (say) your sound card or graphics card.  If you possibly can,
try out a "live CD" of your chosen distro.  They let you try out a distro
without making any changes to your hard drive.  Live CD's are often
available free with Linux magazines, so take a stroll to a good newsagent
and see what's available.

Now for some specific tips:- If you're accessing the internet via a
broadband modem, forget it.  Ditch it, buy yourself a router and get it
running before you go any further.

And before you install Linux, BACK UP YOUR HARD DRIVE and expect lots of
silly, frustrating problems.  For example, my very first choice was Fedora
(which many people are using very successfully).  And yet Fedora trashed my
partition table three times before I eventually gave up with it.  You might
also encounter problems if you've got a flat panel monitor.  Many of the
distros that I tried defaulted to 70Hz refresh rate (which is outside the
range of most flat panel displays).  I needed to install using a CRT monitor
and then set the display properties to something that my flat panel could
live with.

And don't expect the simple hardware configuration that you might be used
to with Windows or Mac.  At first, you'll probably spend a lot of your time
manually editing config files.  Again, BACK EVERYTHING UP before
and after editing these files - or you'll probably find yourself doing this
over & over again.

I tried a total of 9 Linux distros before settling on 64studio.  However
OpenSuse is also worth an honorable mention because of its sheer
friendliness.  It never seems to get recommended for audio use but it worked
fine for me and was undoubtedly the most stable distro I've ever used.
Whatever distro you choose, sooner or late you'll need to install a
real-time kernel.  Therefore, finding a distro that uses one out of the box
might save you some hassle.

Finally, consider the question of dual-booting.  Will you need to dual boot
between say, Linux and Windows?  If so, Linux offers a handy little utility
called 'grub' which displays a boot menu at start-up.  OpenSuse's version is
particularly attractive because it's graphical and animated (most of the
others are just text based).  But (and this bit's important) grub needs to
run on a partition whose number WILL NOT CHANGE if you add further
partitions.  Things will work out better if you can install Linux on your
first primary partition.  If that's not available, create an extended
partition and install Linux on your first logical partition.  Most distros
always allocate these two partitions with a permanent number, so you can add
and delete other paritions without screwing up your grub partition.  If you
choose any other partition and then (later) you add or delete some totally
unrelated partition, there's an excellent chance that you'll end up with an
unbootable system.

Welcome to the world of Linux.  It can be a rocky road to begin with and
you'll soon learn that your mistakes won't often go unpunished.  It does
eventually get easier though.


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