Ardour on Sun?

Hi Folks,

I’m running Debian 4.0 Etch on a Sun Blade 100 (UltraSPARC IIe CPU, 64bit SunV9). Since I don’t need tons of plugins an millions of tracks, I decided to give it a try and install Ardour on it. The binary .debs available from the repositories were 0.9something, so I decided to get the sources of 2.2 and build the package myself.

After some minor issues with libs, wich could quickly be solved, it turned out that there is actually no way intended to build Ardour for GNU/Linux on anything else than Intel/AMD platform natively. As far as I figured out, the only native targets in SConstruct are iX86 and PowerPC, with the latter of course pointing to MACs only.

Is it sufficient to tweak SConstruct to get things running on Sun SPARC, or does Ardour really use platform-dependent code that renders it unable to run on anything aside from mainstream hardware?

TIA and best regards,

ardour contains assembler code for x86/x86_64 platforms,but it also contains C code and/or calls into gcc xmmintrinsics as alternatives.
i don’t believe there are any obvious reasons for it to not be compilable on SPARC. i don’t know why you’d want to do this though - the SPARCs have lousy audio interfaces in them and no driver support for anything better.


me again…

First, I’d like to tell that I’ve managed to build and run Ardour on the Sun. For some reason the default target of scons detected the system to build for as i686, hence forcing a build including SSE. Of course, that had to fail on anytheng else than Intel. The solution was to give “DIST_TARGET=none” to scons, then things went fine. (For whatever reason one should want to build a package for no target at all, anyways…)

Total build time was round about 4h, with CPU usage up to 95% and system load of >6, due to lack of sufficient memory. Browsing the web became a PITA from time to time, but the system was still responsive in some kind.

Now that Ardour itself is up and running, the next tasks will be to prepare the H/W, jackd and eventually build a Debian package. The former directly leading to paul’s posting:


the SPARCs have lousy audio interfaces in them and no driver support for anything better.

That’s not entirely correct; of course the sparc’s onboard audio interfaces are poor devices, but since “newer” SPARC systems have PCI, they should generally be able to support any audio H/W that is supported by GNU/Linux. E.g., there are .ko-files for S/B-live or RME out of the box, other modules can most probably compiled effortlessly or with few adjustments.

Second, RISC systems in general an SPARC systems in particular are well known for their nice I/O-throughput and floatingpoint performance–things that a DAW should directly benefit from, I assume. According to the system requirement, Ardour should be usable on any iron above a pentium 400MHz “equivalent”. The CPU in my very system runs at 500MHz and is considerably faster than a P400. Many other sun4u-based systems run at much faster speeds and/or have multiple CPUs. I’m totally aware of certain limitations, but as I wrote above, I do not need thousands of tracks or plugins.

The last but most important point for me to run Suns at all is one particular personal experience: PCs are quite a bunch of computing power for few bucks. That is OK for me, but as a tradeoff, these machines are prone to brake after a few years. i simply like it, if I can rely on something working. Of course, I also run PCs, but with the exception of the really old ones, I have to replace them frequently due to H/W failure.

To make things short: a reliable but limited DAW entirely fits my needs better, than a fast but fragile one. Maybe it turns out that this particular machine is too slow at all–no problem, I know where to get a faster one ;o)

Nevertheless, you where right: Ardour does compile on Sun4u indeed.

Best regards,

Certain PCs are built using cheap components to be sure, but when you get good hardware it pays off. I’ve had the same primary DAW for 5 years now, still kicking *ss and taking names, because I got server-grade hardware from the get-go (dual AMD Athlons on a Tyan board). I have had hard drives fail occasionally, but there’s not much you can do there. I’ve also gone through countless modems and video cards, but those are harder to find in “server quality”, and the core system has been reliable as a rock. (Now watch, I’ll put my foot in my mouth by going home tonight and finding that it now records like a rock…)

Hi Folks,

me again with some fresh news:

Ardour doesn’t only compile and run on Sun, it’s actually usable. I had some trouble setting up jackd to work with the (indeed really poor) onboard audiochip. Running jackd with the OSS driver did the trick, and doesn’t even disturb running ALSA software–yes, the ALSA subsystem keeps working.

I’m running WindowMaker, and even wmmixer can be used while and in order to set volumes to a running Ardour process.

At this time, I’m into fine tuning the system, since from time to time some crackle occours. Tampering with nice levels and forcing certain samplerates nearly eliminated crackle. But this is subject to former figuring since:

I made my first “ardour-only” recording tonight, including 1 stereo track and 4 mono track (single intruments, actually bass and guitars). CPU-usage never went beyond 10%, the system load stayed way below 0.5. To be honest: I didn’t even stop Mozilla during the test, so Ardour had to fight some other applications with quite a big footprint.

Hense I consider this news good news.

Have fun,