Music Notation Software for Linux: a Progress Report, Part 2
In this article, I conclude my status report on the development of some of the most active notation software projects for Linux.
In one sense, MuseScore is the "odd man out" in this article. It does not employ LilyPond in any way, but it does support MusicXML. That support gives it an entry into the LilyPond environment by way of LilyPond's musicxml2ly utility. However, MuseScore is intended to be a complete workspace for the composer who wants a true WYSIWYG music notation environment for writing and printing scores. The program thus supports the same range of features seen in other notation programs, but it handles its printing functions internally, without assistance from external applications or utilities. MuseScore supports an unlimited number of staves (with up to four voices per staff); note entry by mouse, keyboard or MIDI device; import/export of MusicXML and MIDI files; immediate audition and score playback; and extensive language integration (14 languages supported so far).
MuseScore is available in binary packages for Debian, Ubuntu and Windows. Program dependencies are not strenuous, but they include up-to-date versions of Qt, X11, ALSA and (once again) the cmake build utility. The fluidsynth soundfont synthesizer is required for internal playback, but it is not absolutely necessary. MuseScore is a GPL'd application, so, of course, the source code also is available (along with some helpful instructions on building the program on Ubuntu systems).
I apologize to MuseScore users for not going into the program in further detail. However, MuseScore is very easy to learn, and I found myself using it without consulting the documentation at all. Of all the programs presented here, MuseScore has a "look and feel" closest to the actual pen and paper process of score preparation, and it does live up to its description as a true WYSIWYG music notation editor.
Although Dr. Joerg Anders ceased development of his original NoteEdit, he eventually decided to revive his work toward a WYSIWYG notation editor for Linux. NtEd is the excellent result of those efforts.
As we might expect, NtEd's user interface is heavily indebted to NoteEdit. However, significant changes in the development track indicate that NtEd is its own project with its own unique goals. The GUI is now based on the Cairo libraries; MusicXML files can be imported, and a neat "floating toolbox" has been added for faster program operation.
NtEd works more or less like the other applications profiled here. Symbols are placed on or removed from a staff with keyboard, mouse or file input, and scores can be printed directly from the program. Alternately, you can export your work to a variety of graphics formats (including SVG, PNG, PDF and PostScript) or as a MIDI file. And, of course, you also can export your work in the LilyPond file format.
The original NoteEdit neatly resolved the problem of working with multiple voices within a single staff. While editing, users can choose one of four voice selectors to create a wholly independent part—that is, symbols will have their own stem directions and other unique characteristics. NtEd is generally smart enough to represent difficult symbol concatenations, and, of course, its LilyPond export gives users the opportunity to fine-tune their publication-ready scores.
NtEd is available in packages for Fedora 9, OpenSUSE, Debian and Slackware. The source package requires no unusual dependencies and can be compiled easily on any mainstream Linux system with the libraries and development packages for GCC, ALSA, Cairo and GTK. The NtEd Web site provides complete instructions for building the program; see that site for the latest news regarding the build procedure.
This program is truly a superb work, representing the enormous efforts of its developer to provide a notation editor with high-quality features and an easily apprehended user interface. Version 1.5.0 continues to expand its already considerable feature set, and it appears that the good doctor has some fine plans in store for his creation. I look forward to seeing and using his improvements.
Just as I put the final touches to this article, fellow LAU member David Baron posted a message regarding Noteflight, a new Web-based music notation service. Alas, I was unable to test Noteflight, but I wanted to let my readers know about it. According to the Web description Noteflight is:
...a full-featured application that displays, edits, prints and plays back music notation in any standard Web browser. You can create your own scores, choose to share them with others, or publish them to Noteflight's browsable, searchable online library of music.
The software is already at release stage 1.0 and runs on designated browsers for Windows, Linux and Mac. Alas, it is not software libre, but it is available at no cost for individual users. One more thing: Noteflight's advisory board includes the legendary Donald Byrd, a famous name in the development of music notation software. With his imprimatur on the program, I'm inclined to look into it in some depth. I'll work up a report about Noteflight as soon as possible, but in the meantime, my readers should feel free to post their own reports in the Comments section below.
Although it may be argued that Linux does not yet have its own Sibelius or Finale, it must be admitted that Linux notation software developers are working overtime to address that need. The programs reviewed in this article are growing into wonderful applications, and I advise interested readers to try them all. If you're a power user of any of them, be sure to let the developers know what you'd like to see in their software. Who knows, we might wind up with something even better than those Win/Mac stalwarts—at least, that's what I'd like to see.
Next up: who knows? I'm looking at new developments in ecasound and a new version of Guitarix (complete with new UI for the latest version of the amazing jconv), and I'm still busy testing features in the latest and greatest versions of Ardour. By my next article, the Linux Audio Conference 2009 will have completed its course, so perhaps I can get some reports from presenters and attendees. You'll just have to check back in a couple of weeks to see what I come up with. Until that time, stay tuned, breathe, keep your gear clean and your powder dry.
Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.
Practical Task Scheduling Deployment
July 20, 2016 12:00 pm CDT
One of the best things about the UNIX environment (aside from being stable and efficient) is the vast array of software tools available to help you do your job. Traditionally, a UNIX tool does only one thing, but does that one thing very well. For example, grep is very easy to use and can search vast amounts of data quickly. The find tool can find a particular file or files based on all kinds of criteria. It's pretty easy to string these tools together to build even more powerful tools, such as a tool that finds all of the .log files in the /home directory and searches each one for a particular entry. This erector-set mentality allows UNIX system administrators to seem to always have the right tool for the job.
Cron traditionally has been considered another such a tool for job scheduling, but is it enough? This webinar considers that very question. The first part builds on a previous Geek Guide, Beyond Cron, and briefly describes how to know when it might be time to consider upgrading your job scheduling infrastructure. The second part presents an actual planning and implementation framework.
Join Linux Journal's Mike Diehl and Pat Cameron of Help Systems.
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With all the industry talk about the benefits of Linux on Power and all the performance advantages offered by its open architecture, you may be considering a move in that direction. If you are thinking about analytics, big data and cloud computing, you would be right to evaluate Power. The idea of using commodity x86 hardware and replacing it every three years is an outdated cost model. It doesn’t consider the total cost of ownership, and it doesn’t consider the advantage of real processing power, high-availability and multithreading like a demon.
This ebook takes a look at some of the practical applications of the Linux on Power platform and ways you might bring all the performance power of this open architecture to bear for your organization. There are no smoke and mirrors here—just hard, cold, empirical evidence provided by independent sources. I also consider some innovative ways Linux on Power will be used in the future.Get the Guide