Recording hardware for Linux laptops

I have a 4 year old laptop with only a single USB-1 port on it. I’m assuming USB-1 (and probably even 2) is not the best way to connect to a analog/digital box.

The laptop does have 2 pcmcia slots.

What’s the best approach to get connected to a device that can record 4 tracks (or 6…?) simlutaneously?

Does someone make a pcmcia card that does multitrack AD that actually works on Linux?

Or would it be better to get a pcmcia card with Firewire on it, and connect to an AD box like that?

Or is there another approach altogether?

Also - can a typical 5400rpm laptop drive gulp down 4 tracks of live audio? Or would an external drive (firewire? usb2?) be needed?

My laptop is a 2GHz P4 (not Centrino or M) w/ 512MB. I will probably bump this up to 1GB ram.

From my experience P4 2GHz with 512 Mb and USB 2.0 should be fine for recording few audio tracks, especially under control of Linux OS and jack. 5400rpm HD should do fine unless you are going to record 32 bit 96KHz I think.
I would suspect your USB to be 2.0 if laptop was produced 4 years ego - and then it should be fine like the rest of your system.
If it is USB 2.0, then supplying it with any multitrack USB interface supported by ALSA (check and also technical parameters of the interface, if it corresponds with your needs) should make you content owner of quite sufficient mobile recording solution.
If laptop’s USB is 1.0 then PCMCIA USB interface 2.02 standard compatible should do fine.

Of course the best solution (if you need more tracks, inputs etc.) would be Linux supported pcmcia firewire card with firewire audio interface (check

I have to admit that PCMCIA audio devices does not look that impressive (look here for example: ) and probably going to be little short of inputs (size? )

So, I would check USB and if it is not good enough I would try firewire.

Just my 2 cents,

Good luck

The RME hdsp platform can be run on a PCMCIA card. With the PCMCIA card you can use the Digiface or Multiface depending on your needs. It is quite expensive and can be a lot more than what you need though… But, it works rock solid.



i used my Thinkpad (1,5GHz, 512mb ram) to record up to 8 tracks with a terratec phase 88 fw interface. it works great with freebob (the project is called “ffado” now).
The recordings were done with a latency of 10.7ms without xruns. It wasn’t possible for me to do recordings with 5.3ms or below (but i did not use a rt-patched kernel).