[Ardour-Users] OSX vs Linux

Mark Greenwood fatgerman at ntlworld.com
Sun Aug 23 05:20:20 PDT 2009

On Sunday 23 Aug 2009 04:22:14 Thomas Vecchione wrote:
> On Sat, Aug 22, 2009 at 8:50 PM, Luc Tanguay <lucus at sympatico.ca> wrote:
> > I need advise.
> >
> > A musician friend of mine wants to build a small home-studio.  Seeing my
> > setup he wants Adrour at the center of it all... (A good demo is a good
> > selling point :-) I'm running Linux (64 studio on a dual-core AMD PC) so I
> > suggest him Linux... But his wife being a Mac addict, and he, having already
> > used some Mac to do simple tasks (photo, video, drawing), wants to go Mac.
> >
> > On Ardour site, in System Requirements, I read OS X and Linux. But I need
> > feedback from users of both camp...
> >
> > If he goes Linux I can help him with Ardour and the rest... But if he goes
> > Mac OS X, I have no clue and no time to learn yet another operating
> > "environment" to do simple task like update/install software, add/modify
> > hardware devices (disks, MIDI keyboard, dual-monitor, ...), modify system
> > parameters (dynamic CPU speed, PCI latency, ...), compile/link source code,
> > ...
> >
> > What is the easiest path? (I would add: ... the easiest path for me :-)
> >
> I personally would say that is likely the wrong addition there, it should be
> the easiest path for him (And his wife) since they will be the ones using
> it.
> Ok background info here.  I am currently on OS X primarily for my audio
> work.  I will get to why in a moment.  I have for a long time run a Linux
> workstation, and consider myself a firm supporter of the _possibilities_ or
> Linux, however I do not consider myself a supporter of the default Linux
> state for professional audio as it currently stands.  It is FAR from user
> friendly for most users, and particularly newcomers.  I can set up a
> workstation for my own use in a very short order, but I know far more than
> most newcomers will for some time.  Try to explain what a pre-emption
> capable kernel is, or why you need to be a member of a 'group' and have a
> specific text file set up and it turns most off.  Admittedly there are some
> (few) distributions that come close to providing a 'decent' out of the box
> experience for newcomers for the initial install for the purpose of
> professional audio.  But once you get past that initial install things tend
> to require more work when dealing with the normal working environment,
> getting non-jack and jack software working together(Flash, Pulse, and Jack
> in a big pot anyone?), doing upgrades to the newest versions of software
> (Like Ardour for instance) etc. tend to need more work than they should
> really.

Thomas that's an excellent summary but I disagree on one point - getting non-jack applications to work with Jack is a super-simple matter. There is an alsa-jack plugin and it's a simple case to set it up so that Jack is the default alsa output. Non-jack applications can then just be configured to use the default alsa output, which redirects to Jack. I use this with great success on my setup. I note however that this plugin is not available on ubuntu-derived systems, for some bizzarre reason. I use Mandriva and never have trouble getting any audio to work. get rid of Pulse, it's a mess, and just use Jack.

Note that I don't know about doing this under Gnome, but under KDE3 and 4 it could hardly be easier.

As for the original question I agree with your reasoning. I get asked a lot by family and friends about computer systems. When people ask me which system I'd recommend to them, I recommend they get a Mac*. Linux may seem pretty simple to us techies, but your average user quickly gets into trouble and you'll end up on the phone for hours trying to solve issues. I do think that with work you can get superior performance out of a Linux system, but your average guy just wants to make music, and 'just doing stuff' is what Macs are good at.


*unless their budget is tight and they just want to do simple web browsing and email, in which case I have set up Linux for them. But I do end up with a 'support load' even from these users that I simply don't get from the people who've bought Macs.

> OS X on the other hand provides a much stronger out of the box experience
> for most newcomers.  You can install Jack and Ardour(Very easily I might add
> in both cases, though not quite as easily as apt or similar systems), you
> already have a machine capable of realtime audio out of the box, no text
> editing, groups, etc. necessary.  You also have all software working
> together, even with Jack, very well and very easily.  Additionally you have
> things like wider hardware support and AU plugin support from the OS going
> in its favor as well.
> All this being said, as someone that used Linux for a long period of time,
> and still does for other machines and purposes, I find the workflow on OS X
> very limiting myself.  It is very much "Apple's way or we take a rod and
> shove it up..."  Compared to the workflow I could set up on Linux, I MUCH
> prefered my workflow on Linux.  I could tweak Linux to my hearts content and
> get better performance out of it than I ever can on OS X, just because of
> how open it is.  However I can't look away form the capability of running AU
> plugins that have no quality equivalent on Linux, for instance the
> restoration suite I just bought.  And I will admit to loving the sound of my
> Duet and having the hardware support on OS X, as well as the capability to
> occasionally run software that I much prefer to the equivalent on Linux,
> like Final Cut.  In the end it comes down to using the tool that best fits
> the job, and for me right now OS X is sadly the best tool for the job, or
> rather has the best tools available for it.
> So to go back and look at specific points in your email...
> But if he goes Mac OS X, I have no clue and no time to learn yet another
> > operating "environment" to do simple task like update/install software,
> Very simple.  As mentioned it is not as easy as a package management system
> getting the software for you and all its dependencies, but installing
> software is a matter of two things usually.  Either Drag and Drop into the
> "Applications" folder(Ardour is an example of this), or double click and run
> an installer(JackOSX is an example of this)
> > add/modify hardware devices (disks, MIDI keyboard, dual-monitor, ...),
> For the most part they are automatically detected and you don't have to do
> anything.  No fstab to modify, no text files to modify to get dual monitors
> working, etc.
> > modify system parameters (dynamic CPU speed, PCI latency, ...),
> You don't.  In fact I would be surprised if you ever needed to on OS X for
> the VAST majority of users.
> > compile/link source code, ...
> Both easy as Linux and not so easy at the same time.
> Easy in as far as gcc is part of the XCode toolkit that is on the install
> disks and you can easily install.  Not so easy in as far as most of the
> software you are probably looking to compile is things like Ardour, which is
> very difficult as it requires compiling and setting up an environment for
> GTKOSX as well as all dependencies, and sometimes dealing with problems in
> build systems set up for Linux that don't port easily to OS X, as well as
> differences in the provided libs between the platforms.   This is another
> example of, "Apple's way or we shove it up your..." as compiling programs
> coded for OS X using OS X's libs (Cocoa, Carbon, Quartz, etc.) is easy, but
> compiling ports from Linux can be much more involved due to needing to bring
> over all the libs as well.
> Which one would be best really depends on the goals of the users, and the
> users themselves.  In general as much as people might disagree, for the
> majority of users as things stand currently, OS X is probably the easier
> path for the users for the purposes of professional audio.  Doesn't
> necessarily mean it is the best path in all cases though, I am looking at
> setting up some custom Ardour and Pd boxes for a dedicated use that I won't
> be hesitating to use Linux for, OS X would be to limiting.
>         Seablade

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