Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

A preview of the 2.6 kernel and the audio excellence of Linux.

As this issue goes to the printer, kernel development is in feature-freeze. Pretty soon comes the fun part—testing. Almost as important as the work the kernel developers do is the work the kernel testers do. And you don't have to be a kernel expert to test the pre-2.6 kernels on your hardware or your application. By the time you read this, your favorite Linux news sites and mailing lists already might be getting “Please test” messages. Watch your favorite Linux sites, including www.linuxjournal.com, for news about the kernel testing process and how you can help.

Can Linux do for music what it did for server applications? Ask Dave Phillips. His linux-sound.org web site is a resource for everything from hard-disk recorders to music notation editors. This month, he's written a massive roundup of softsynths, software that uses a bewildering array of techniques to turn your Linux box into a synthesizer studio. Plug in a MIDI keyboard or run a sequencer, and follow along on page 80.

If you practice, soon you'll be listening to music you made, and it will sound better than CDs you buy from the major labels. Why? Rip Rowan explained it best on prorec.com:

Record labels have never really understood what makes a record sound good and frankly, few even care....For some reason, record labels have it in their heads that LOUD equals good, and therefore, LOUDER equals better. Not caring to understand even the basics of audio, these morons simply demand more volume (typically from the mastering engineer) and really don't understand or care about the consequences of their demands.

So using the audio excellence of Linux to rip major-label CDs is as pointless as burning copies of Xenix or SCO OpenServer. Record your own stuff. Freedom-loving hackers have reinvented the way we get operating systems and made them better. Now you can be the one to reinvent the way people get music, and make music better.

Two of the biggest advantages of 2.6 are going to be the included ALSA sound drivers and some dramatic improvements in latency that will make out-of-the-box distributions suitable for studio-quality audio. Preemptible kernel hacker Robert Love covers these and more on page 52.

If your need for raw software speed is greater than your attachment to little features like hardware memory protection, or if your embedded application is so important that if it goes down the machine might as well have crashed, you're the kind of person who might want to try Kernel Mode Linux. Toshiyuki Maeda explains how to make any application into a part of the kernel on page 62.

Hans Reiser follows up with more on the Reiser4 filesystem, one of several that are new for 2.6, on page 68. And, you might notice a few changes when you configure and build the new kernel. Greg Kroah-Hartman fills us in on what to expect on page 62.

Free software will always be an excellent choice for security and network applications, and a good example is the beginning of Mick Bauer's tutorial on Firewall Builder on page 30. The kernel is only a beginning. Freedom works. Use it.

Don Marti is editor in chief of Linux Journal.

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Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

What does he refer to with "page 52" etc? Is it a joke or is it some material that will be released when 2.6 is released? Forgive me for being daft.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

It is referring to the printed Linux Journal - buy it and read it.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

Page 52 of the printed version of the Linux Journal.

linux sound

Anonymous's picture

Linux tends to have better quality sound output for the very top cards, yes - but the mid-to-low range cards often sound apalling and don't work too well. Of course, this is mostly because of reverse-engineered drivers and crappy hardware, but that doesn't change the end result. Most AC97 boards are much nicer under windows for example.

Of course, the real fix is get a decent sound card. The SB Live series are very affordable and very, very nice.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

Linux certnaly deserves better sounds system, i'm running gentoo 1.4rc2 with 2.4.20 kernel, and i have PCI 512 sound card, and it sounds much better under windows, though i'm full time linux user, i have windows xp running in deep courner of my room just for sounds

---

Regards, Daniel Harik

Blog: http://www.dharik.com/

Re: linux audio

Anonymous's picture

Redhat users might find this interesting http://ccrma-www.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software/

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

Well, as far as I can tell, my SB Live! sounds pretty much the same in Linux as it does in Windows XP. And I'm using the OSS driver.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

yeah same here my sblive 5.1 platinum sounds near the same i aint had probs with skipping etc. it plays very very smooth.

Just havent got all of the bells and whistles such as changing your voice on the mic.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

in regard to:

If your need for raw software speed is greater than your attachment to little features like hardware memory protection, or if your embedded application is so important that if it goes down the machine might as well have crashed, you're the kind of person who might want to try Kernel Mode Linux. Toshiyuki Maeda explains how to make any application into a part of the kernel on page 62.

Hi I am a linux user, do mean to say that through this new innovation "Kernel Mode Linux" we can now have a O/S that can emulate Windows (3.1 to ME)

and crash when an app crashes.

I usually don't reply to many stories, but this sounds idiotic, how is this better than having an old copy of ME an a partition.

P.S. After Win95, I tried to get as far away from MS as I could.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

look at it this way. if you are designing a system, say embedded, that will run one application on a very low spec system then it would be beneficial. Of course you could code and compile the app with special techniques to prevent bugs from trashing the system on a regular basis.

Read http://web.yl.is.s.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~tosh/kml/ for more info.

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

As the other reply says, give ALSA a try. Further, plain old 2.4.20 (and even Gentoo's ultra-patched 2.4.20) isn't that great, latency-wise, even with the preempt patches. If you feel like being adventuresome, give mm-sources a try (though I'm having trouble with 2.5.67) or if you feel less adventuresome, give the ck-sources a try. That's what I'm running at the moment; I'm emerging mm-sources version 2.5.66-mm3, running a couple of other things, typing this and JuK and aRts are still providing a steady stream of audio to the sound card -- and this is on a K62-300. The things that are being done to the scheduler, as well as latency-problem fixes, are astounding. As I said, if you're not adventuresome enough to try 2.5 just yet (it is, after all, a development kernel) give the ck-sources a try. Many of the new scheduler, latency, etc. fixes that are floating around the dev kernel are there. :-D

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

You can always try alsa

www.alsa-project.org

for a better quality sound than that of windows

Re: From the Editor, May 2003: Linux 2.6: Can You Break It?

Anonymous's picture

Not on my Dell Inspiron 4150. The snd-intel8x0 driver degenerates into static fuzz about every 10 seconds (no such problem with the OSS driver). I'm a bit mystified by people who point to alsa as being an example of great linux software. In my experience it's always been a pain to build, a pain to install and not terribly reliable.

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