Linux topics: 2814, Mac: 754, and Windows: 90

Hi everyone.
Opening Forums>>Installation & Configuration, one of the most noticeable pieces of information the user first encounters is the number of install issues relating to the various operating systems.

Linux topics: 2814, Mac: 754, and Windows: 90.

I wonder if it would be of benefit especially to potential new users to be presented with a clearer picture to help them decide what OS to go with.

For example, right now it seems like Windows has less issues with Ardour, unless of course the percentage of Windows users is very small in comparison to the percentage of Linux users.

I think a display showing the percentage of downloads per OS type in the same area would make this clearer.

Just curious as to which OS seems to get on best with Ardour.

@vasakq: That article covers a lot of ground - but I don’t know a complete comprehensive list. It’s also a moving target and in many cases also hardware specific (BTW that CONFIG_HZ_1000 mentioned on the arch wiki is no longer relevant for recent kernel/alsa. These days ALSA can use high-precision timers and you’re usually better off with a tickless NO_HZ).

There are also all kind of system-tweaks e.g. you may want to disable updatedb to prevent indexing your hard-disk in the middle of a massive multi-track live session. If you do have many CPU cores, and want sub-millisecond latency you may want to pin some threads (although the Linux scheduler is pretty good at doing so).

“a well tuned, dedicated system” is not only about software tweaks. You mentioned Wifi already. It highly depends on the wifi-chipset how it’s connected (what hardware IRQ it shares etc) and the driver. On some systems it does not interfere at all with realtime scheduling at all, likewise graphics cards…

That’s one aspect where apple had an edge: They are in control of the hardware components that they ship and used to build very good machines (picking good components and connecting them in the right way).

Anyway, Windows is not realtime capable to begin with, but includes enough hacks to make pro-audio work for the most part. (There are also countless websites how to tweak Windows and I think it’s likewise complex as tweaking a Linux system.) OSX/macOS and CoreAudio is very well done, but the last mile to perfection is very hard if not impossible (Apple does not want you to customize low level details, and nearly nobody compiles a custom Darwin kernel – is it even still possible to run a custom unsigned kernel on a modern mac system without jailbreaking it?). Most default Linux systems are set up for bandwidth (servers), not throughput, even most default desktop-systems, which is why I said it’s “worst” by default. BSD anyone, or GNU/Hurd ?! I heard those have audio drivers, too these days :slight_smile:

Also keep in mind that GNU/Linux is also used in many dedicated appliances (where the OS is not exposed to the user) from MOD, to some keyboards, waves-soundgrid and many other high-end devices. The lesson here: Like all good quality tools it takes a good engineer or craftsman to build them and it usually takes a lot more to become a good engineer than following some wiki article, even if it a well written article.

Then again there’s also the “good enough” point. Stop tweaking, just make some noise!

@x42: much better answers than me!


What tweaks do you suggest to improve audio on a Linux system?
Does this article cover it all: ?

Not that I have some problems with my installation, I just wanted to hear opinion from a top expert in this field and to point to a (hopefully) good source for other people who want to improve their system.

Tweaks described in the article always worked for me although I don’t use Arch but Debian. But just like Arch installation, I always do minimal Debian install (I uncheck all options when asked what kind of a desktop I want during the install process). After first boot to a new system I install necessary firmware packages, alsa-utils, xorg, jackd, linux-rt, fluxbox window manager (all from the repositories) and Ardour on top of that all. That is my base, later I add other applications I may needed observing they don’t pull pulseaudio (I know that a system would work with pulseaudio too, but I remain suspicious). I know that it doesn’t make much of a beauty desktop, but I installed that system on at least five different machines (deskops, laptops, Intel, AMD, single core, multi core…) in the last seven or so years and it never failed me thus far… except on older laptops - I needed to turn the wifi card off when working with USB audio interface. Luckily I have got three sound cards that are well supported in ALSA.

Q: What OS to go with?
A: The OS that properly supports the hardware (and other software) which you have and that you feel most comfortable with.

Q: What’s the ideal OS for Ardour?
A: There’s no such thing.

Q: What’s the most reliable OS for Pro-Audio?
A: A well tuned, dedicated Linux system.

Q: What’s the worst OS for Pro-Audio?
A: A generic Linux system.

Absurd and silly, I get it, you lost me at absurd.
It would not matter what I cited, 9 points or only 2, you had
issues with my post from the start.
There is no need to be insulting.
All I was looking into was which operating system was the easiest
on which to run Ardour.

Sorry, I just tend to be a little direct/harsh in my forum posts. I’m not trying to be insulting. I just find it frustrating when people ask questions that are ill-formed. There isn’t any “best operating system on which to run Ardour” - the question is ill-formed because the “best system on which to run Ardour” depends a lot on things other than the OS. The software ecosystem on a given platform is often a LOT more important thanthe OS.

Keep in mind that Ardour/Linux is at least 10 years older than the first official windows release and also that it was harder in the early days.
Nearly all of Ardour’s codebase is platform independent (same features uhm bugs everywhere). The only actual differences are

  1. Plugin support
  2. Audio Backend (ALSA, CoreAudio, ASIO …) & realtime scheduling.
  3. Window and dialog-window layering + positioning, fonts and graphics acceleration

(3) is mostly up to the Desktop environment and Window manager. There are a few quirks. But no real reason to prefer one OS over another for Ardour.
(2) OOTB experience is probably smoothest on OSX/macOS w/CoreAudio yet a well-tuned dedicated rt-linux system will outperform all others with respect to reliability (if your soundcard is supported and you have time and know-how to tweak it)
(1) Is the main reason to prefer one OS over the other.

There are very good reasons to prefer one OS over the other which is not Ardour related.

PS. There’s actually (4): some platform specific differences when it comes to POSIX compatibility (e.g. semaphores) and file i/o handling (e.g. mmap, sockets) which is also platform specific. I just mention this because it can be cause for some platform specific bugs. Yet that part is pretty solid and dwarfed by all other issues.

May be a mod can change the “install issues” text at the top of my post to install posts, my mistake.
Issues could be misleading.

That is an absurd statistic to use to base a decision about platforms on. I can’t even beging to count the ways.

There’s no single answer to “which OS gets on best with Ardour”. It depends on a lot of various factors, workflows, hardware and more.

They are the statistics shown in the Install and configuration Forum.

Win- 2.460360853 % of Install & Configuration Topics relate to Windows, with an average response of 5.877777778 posts per topic.
Mac- 20.612356479 % of Install & Configuration Topics relate to Mac, with an average response of 5.222811671 posts per topic.
Linux- 76.927282668 % of Install & Configuration Topics relate to Linux, with an average response of 6.495735608 posts per topic.

And thanks paul, you have helped me make up my mind about Ardour.

This drupal forum software is the pits. The sooner we get to migrate away from it, the better. Citing statistics to 9 decimal places strikes me as a little silly.

The reality is that most Mac & Windows users, when a new piece of software doesn’t work right (or install right), they walk away. I would wager that even a majority of Linux users do the same, but there’s enough of a group of people with an “I’m sure this can be fixed” attitude that you end up with the statistics you quoted.

Pastures, I think it depends on what OS one has, not on issues or daws one wants to use.
At least for me it worked in this way. Having Linux and not wanting to change to another OS for any reason, my choice was narrowed to few daws.

@x42: Thank you for a lengthy answer, I will certainly make use of your tips. I admit I am little nervous because in a month or so i have my first paid recording gig in a long time and although my system functions without glitches so far I am planing to do some more heavy testing to make sure everything goes fine in the recording session.

I am fascinated with the depth of knowledge of both software engineers and the engineers dealing with microphone and preamp designs. I have a degree in classical music performance with very very little knowledge in programming or electronics but still I find your post delight to read.