Thursday, February 24, 2011

What He Thinks, He Becomes

Another episode from your friendly neighborhood Ubuntu Studio project lead discussing more Fun Facts, future plans for Ubuntu Studio, and more Meet the Team. Let's rock it...

Oh, also I'm going to try to rock some new headings that I hope play better with Planet Ubuntu. Blogger likes to set the font-size for headings, but I'm going to use HTML h1 tags.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts

Just one fun fact this time because I'm going to explain it a bit. Plus lobby for avoiding Personal Package Archives (PPA's). I realize there are people who may think I'm a heretic for even suggesting such a thing, but read on before trying to crucify me.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #4
If a package is not in the official repositories it cannot ship on the ISO image, and
PPA's are not the official repositories.

I get questioned quite often why isn't package foobar including in the Ubuntu Studio image because "there's a PPA that has it built already! And {insert favorite Ubuntu Studio derivative} ships it!"

The Ubuntu Studio ISO image is built using the automated Ubuntu buildd system, and as far as I can tell it can only pull in packages that are in the official repositories. This automated system cannot pull in packages from any of the legion PPA's available.

Note that your favorite Ubuntu Studio derivative does not use the same build system. I believe that most of them build their ISO images from a working installation. This allows them to install anything they want and then build their images...if they can install a package, they can "ship" that package in their image.

But beyond providing information about why every package ever written simply cannot ship with Ubuntu Studio, I want to make a plea.

Instead of only getting that package into a PPA, why not take the extra time and effort to get the package into the official repositories?

Anyone could install that package without having to add a PPA (I know it's easy to do so, but some people aren't/don't). The package could be included by default and ship with the ISO then. People would admire you from afar. Some might worship you from anear. It might even reduce the effect of global climate change. Maybe.

Please. Think about it. Help.


The discerning reader would notice that I usually label this section as "Natty Improvements" and might ask, "Where's the Natty, mate?". The answer is that I judiciously removed it because I wanted to talk about generalized improvements for Ubuntu Studio.

We are looking to develop an art team around Ubuntu Studio. The purpose of said art team would be to artfully create art for Ubuntu Studio. Right. That explains it.

Well, actually there's more than just that. What I envision is that the team would help develop a cohesive art concept for Ubuntu Studio and create the artwork and themes in alignment with the concept. Sounds brilliants!

Nothing is written in stone at this point and it's all in the embryonic stage.

Ideally we are looking for artists but also for an art lead/director-type person who would have experience with developing and packaging themes.

If you are interested please contact me at about it or email the ubuntustudio-devel mailing list.

Meet the Team

The next person I would like to talk about is ailo. He is another one of the people that I blogged about before mentioning that vast coding or development experience is not necessary.

Much like Mike, ailo has jumped in feet first and is making major waves. Originally he started with helping to test real-time privileges with the new kernel stack, then he moved on to help update the ubuntustudio-controls package which is long overdue.

Researching -lowlatency kernel development, creating alternate icon sets, and walks on the beach are some of his other interests as well. I kid about the last one...maybe.

Okay, I'm late with this post and I'm out of time today as well so this one is going to press as is.

I'll follow up next time with more RPM Challenge information (because I know everyone is disappointed this week) and also follow up with more information about the Ubuntu Studio art team.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

One Should Look for What Is (Not What One Thinks Should Be)

Continuing previous discussion about Ubuntu Studio improvements for Natty and beginning a new section of discussion.  But first, more Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts!

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts
Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #2
There are two commonly preferred ways to install Ubuntu Studio.

Many people start with a regular, vanilla Ubuntu installation and "upgrade" their package selection by installing the Ubuntu Studio meta-packages.

Others prefer a fresh installation from the Ubuntu Studio DVD.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #3
There are many way to contact other users or the Ubuntu Studio developers.

The ubuntu-studio-users mailing list and the ubuntu-studio-devel mailing list are two of the most popular ways.  But if you prefer IRC you can find #ubuntustudio and #ubuntustudio-devel on the Freenode servers as well.

The Ubuntu Studio forums are also another great resource for contact and an incredible repository of knowledge as well.  Thanks to Autostatic for reminding me :) 

Additionally, I would like to add another IRC channel that is not dedicated to Ubuntu Studio but is chock full of amazingly experienced and knowledgeable people: #opensourcemusicians.  If you have a linux audio question there is a good chance that someone in the channel will have an answer for you.

Natty Improvements
Another thing we have done already for Natty is create a new plymouth theme.  I think it looks really nice and it based on work that Cory Kontros did.  And just in case no one has told him lately, Cory, you rock!

While Ubuntu is moving towards Unity as the default xsession, Ubuntu Studio plans on remaining with Gnome.  We currently believe this is best for our user's work flow.  To this effect the ubuntustudio-default-settings package has been updated.

It should be noted that this does not automatically establish the gnome-classic xsession as default for users who "upgrade" from a regular Ubuntu installation to Ubuntu Studio.  However, these users can set it easily.

Upcoming improvements will including updating the menu to include new packages, updating the website, and a revamp of the ubuntustudio-controls package.

The last item really needs its own section to properly explain what is happening.  Perhaps next time :)

Meet the Team
This is a new section to get people familiar with who is helping with Ubuntu Studio development and give them credit for their hard work.

The first I'll mention is Alessio Bogani.  If you have rocked a -lowlatency or -rt kernel in Ubuntu Studio then chances are you have experienced his work.

Alessio has been a anchor for the tuned kernels in Ubuntu Studio and many, many users have benefited from his work.  Indeed, some people would not have been able to achieve viable low latencies without his kernels.

Alessio deserve a huge salute for his contributions to Ubuntu Studio and Linux audio. 

The second person I would like to mention this time is Mike Holstein.  Mike habitually rocks the #ubuntustudio channel answering users questions.  Indeed, Mike is a force majeure and has practically brought that channel back from life support into a thriving place.

Additionally, Mike is a huge help with development.  Even though he doesn't know how to code and didn't have prior developer experience he routinely rolls up his sleeves, digs into a problem, researches, and helps find solutions during development.  When I mentioned "tenacity, inquisitiveness, and initiative" in the previous blog...he is one of the persons I thought about while waxing poetic.

Both frequent #ubuntustudio-devel on Freenode IRC so come say hi.

RPM Challenge Update
Four new demos up at my RPM Challenge artist page.  The first two songs were mentioned in the previous post.

An interesting thing to mention is that the latest songs were done in Qtractor rather than in Ardour.  I know that Ardour typically gets all the publicity as the flagship for open source Linux audio applications but I've really had a good experience with Qtractor.

I choose Qtractor because I wanted to delve into using sequencers and synths (and not just Hydrogen drums) for making music.  What I found is that I have also greatly improved my work flow as a result!  The time to realize a song from scratch riffs to songs has decreases significantly as well.  But this probably deserves it's own space in a later post.

Again, please feel free to make any comments or critiques about the music...even to say it sucks.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Amicable Antidisestablishmentarianism

Kicking some knowledge about Ubuntu Studio and talking about where Ubuntu Studio is heading with Natty.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts
I think there are a lot of misconceptions and generally an anemic amount of factual information about Ubuntu Studio.  So I thought a silly and fun way to address this issue would be to start publishing Ubuntu Studio Fun Facts.  They're fun!  They're facts!

Hey!  You got your fun in my facts.

No!  You got your facts in my fun!

Hmmm, delicious.

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #0:
Ubuntu Studio shares the same repository as vanilla Ubuntu.  Crazy, huh?

Ubuntu Studio Fun Fact #1:
The Ubuntu Studio developers don't general code much.  This means you don't have to have mad coding skills to help with Ubuntu Studio development; generally I suggest that tenacity, inquisitiveness, and initiative will serve you well.

Natty Improvements
Natty is the first release where I felt effective as project lead as defined by being proactive rather than reactive.

Notably we took a good hard look at what packages were being shipped with Ubuntu Studio.  In some cases it seemed that some packages didn't support a viable work flow.  Perhaps there weren't enough packages to provide a complete "tool chain" for a particular task or a random and isolated package was included "just because".

So, I started a work flows page to help coalesce some of our ideas on pertinent and desirable work flows.  Once we could develop a complete, supportive "tool chain" of applications to support a particular task, and we deemed a task currently desirable to our users, we could validate the necessity of those packages and they would be included in the ISO.

NB All are encourage to add their thoughts to the work flows wiki page.  Please be courteous, however, and do not remove or delete another person's work flow, but please append yours as an alternate.

Justifying package inclusion is a good way to make Ubuntu Studio leaner, yet more functional at the same time.  Brilliant!

Another thing we did was look at the installation tasks (also known as tasksel), which is where the choice of installing audio, audio-plugins, graphics, and/or video applications during a fresh installation from the DVD occurs.

I felt that the audio tasksel option could be better effected by dividing the proffered audio applications into two subgroups; sequencers/synths/MIDI and recording instruments/vocals.  This was a direct result of the work flow exercise.

The benefit to this is that those who want to record audio, i.e. the "I want to record my band" crowd, will probably not want all the sequencer and synth applications.  Likewise, those who do not play instruments will probably not want additional applications crowding up their menus.

Of course, those who want both can easily (it's an additional spacebar away!) get them all.  Sounds like a win-win to me.

What Say You?
I have other ideas for Ubuntu Studio topics to discuss but I would like to hear your suggestions.

Probably topics like the various ways to install Ubuntu Studio or why certain packages are included would be worth the discussion.  But I'm sure there are others that would be just as extremely beneficial.  Help me identify those subjects.

RPM Challenge Update
Two new demos up at my RPM Challenge artist page.

The first is an instrumental while the second will have vocals, but I am still working on lyrics and plan to record to vocals during the last week.

Please feel free to make any comments or critiques about the music...even to say it sucks.  I have thick skin.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Temporal Anomoly or Death Rays of Life

Greeting and Salutations Friends,

I am tempted to start this blog with a joke about this being my quarterly blog post, but I shan't.  Indeed, if the date of my last blog post were any indication it would not be a joke, but reality.

Nonetheless, I plan on making more blog posts from this point forward, although I expect them to be shorter and more direct.

I should also note that this isn't because of some silly New Year's resolution.  I don't do those.  New Year's day is a day just like any other day.  I could argue that all the other days are more important simply because there are 364 other individually unique days in the year (discounting leap year), and the weighted average clearly shows that the rest of the year is more important and special.  Getting older gives one a surprisingly clear perspective on some things.  But then, so does believing in ruthless aliens abductions.

I mentioned a format change and I have now mentioned it again.  It must be important.  My previous posts, and generally most of my other written work, tends to be rigid, verbose, and organized.  Good traits those.  But it also has become a paralytic construct from which my posts cannot escape due to lack of time.

Therefore, I am hoping to make my posts more informal, shorter, and spontaneous.  Hopefully, this yields a secondary effect attribute; more frequent.

Obviously I want to continue to discuss Ubuntu Studio ad nauseam, however I would also like to talk about some other topics that interest me and might interest, even surprise, you.

Like using Blender for video editing and compositing.

I expect that surprised you.  Well, not unless you have been around me for any given length of time on IRC.

Blender has been a stable and powerful video editor and compositer for a long time and I want to share the things I've already learned about it and the things I hope to continue to learn.  Remember, don't let the those kids skipping class, hiding in the bathroom, and smoking cigarettes to you differently, learning is cool.  And fun.  Don't forget the fun.

Finally, I want to mention that this is the first day of the RPM Challenge for 2011.  I've done it two years running and have rough and loose plans for continuing the traditions.  Happy recording!