I just got a new notebook, yay! Aside of the pure joy it brings, setting it up has also been a great opportunity to have another look around on what's the best way to get linux audio software onto an Ubuntu based system.

I have decided a while back to stick to LTS releases, in order to spend less time tuning my system and more time making music. It was a great idea. This means right now I'm looking for 10.04 Lucid Lynx packages, with bonus points for any indication of a smooth upgrade path to 12.04 Precise Pangolin.

My needs are:

  • A really good realtime kernel with acceptable functionality breakage (same kernel for normal work and audio means less maintenance and no little nagging reboot to nudge me away from starting audio work when in risk of procrastinating)

  • Jack 2 to fully use my shiny new Core i7 QM quad core CPU

  • No themes and fancy stuff (metaphorically speaking I want a fast car, not a sedan with a tail fin and side flame paint job)

Starting out the main repository, linux-rt was the obvious choice for a kernel. It didn't boot properly though, probably due to the older kernel version. UbuntuStudio seems to be recommending the use of "softer" realtime kernels like linux-lowlatency, but that just won't kick it if you're after pristine 24bit/96kHz sound at below 2ms latency for heavy fftw based sound processing. Hello, PPAs!

UbuntuStudioDev didn't have anything available for Lucid and neither did Alessio Bogani's or 64studio.

Excitingly, Google finally uncovered kxstudio, which has it all: realtime kernel, 12.04 Precise Pangolin beta packages, jack2, and a very non-invasive approach to packaging. I did find some breakage, namely PulseAudio dropouts with the build in sound card, but the kernel is the best I found. Hopefully that will go away with Precise.

So here's what I did:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:kxstudio-team/kernel

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:kxstudio-team/ppa

sudo apt-get update

sudo apt-get upgrade

sudo apt-get install linux-realtime jackd

Rebooted. VoilĂ .

Edit: Without tests it's just an opinion... guilty!!!

Actually, for my system, the kxstudio realtime kernel gave a load of dropouts.

The kernel that actually did perform well, without too many dropouts, at 96kHz and 3ms latency, was this one:

No special tuning was used on the kernel, except the rtirq script.