I thought it was about time I thanked all of you for your responses, too many to single out individually, but altogether givng me a much clearer direction. I’m testing on an old 32bit MESH 686 with dual 3GHz procs, 1GB ram, 160 GB HD, all audio software on a single partition (excluding swap). I downloaded AVLinux and hit the videocard problem during the live install but it was easy to solve, and the HD install just worked, though for me it was a long install. I didn’t look into why, could just have been the broadband on the day.
Jack, Hydrogen and Ardour worked out of the box but adding a midi device was a bit more complicated, qtractor kept crashing itself and Ardour without warning and Rosegarden caused the “Ardour cannot keep up” alert and crashed. I’ve seen it mentioned here. For me, everything works perfectly if I open Rosegarden as a new project, open my real project then close the new project.
Re hardware, I had been seduced by those shiny new Apple laptops on the covers of the magazines, but no longer - money will go on an older workstaton and a firewire device - the comments on USB2 and 3 were very useful to learn.
Mario, would you mind publishing the spec of the workstation you built as a dedicated DAW? My plan is now to build what I need, possibly starting with whatever I can find on ebay. Is there a motherboard of choice that allows for the best expansion? Or does it make better sense to think about networking more than one workstation so they can do dedicated jobs? One thing I’m really keen on is to get hold of silent cooling fans.
Does anyone else have any recommendations re hardware specifics?
I’ll be using what I have already to learn the software (and more linux) so with luck I’ll have my ideal DAW round about the time AVL5 and Ardour3 are announced stable.