KXStudio – no looking back
Recently I posted how impressed I was with KXStudio and how it might find it’s way on my podcasting desktop. Well, that moment has indeed arrived, KXStudio is now on my desktop and I’ve got no regrets – KX is the future of Linux audio and the future is now.
From what I can see, Falktx – the maintainer for the distro is working very hard testing and packaging the latest apps – Jack2, VST support, Ladish and Ardour3, Mumble with Jack support are just a few examples. He is also doing things like patching older applications here and there – an example being the gNinjam client which no longer compiled under Ubuntu Lucid. I expect to see other projects such as Ubuntu Studio benefit from the experimental playground that is KXStudio.
There have been a few changes in KXStudio recently and you can read all about them in the atom feed here: http://feeds.launchpad.net/kxstudio/announcements.atom
Chiefly, the most recent change in direction to run audio from Alsa to Jack vs Alsa to PulseAudio to Jack as detailed here:
While it does appear that PulseAudio bridge is still running, it is not the preferred way to go unless you have to.
So, if Alsa is layer 1, and PulseAudio sits upon layer 2, then Jack is either on layer 2 (no PulseAudio – just Alsa then Jack) or layer 3 which would be Alsa -> PulseAudio -> Jack. The more layers involved or the more complexity involved.
For those that don’t understand what all this means. Alsa is one of the main sound servers running under Linux to handle audio, and if you have an Alsa supported sound card you could get sound with just Alsa. Alsa however doesn’t handle situations where more then 1 application wants the audio card at the same time, therefore workarounds such as PulseAudio which is a layer above Alsa allows for the sound card to be accessed by many applications at the same time and offers volumes controls from each application in a PulseAudio mixer as well as the ability to stream audio on the network.
PulseAudio has come under fire (unjustly or justly – you decide) for not being a very good resolution to the common challenges that have plagued Linux audio for years. Be as it may, PulseAudio under KXStudio is stable for me under the Generic and the Lowlatency kernel, so I can’t complain at all – it runs stable.
Which brings me to the part of the post I am most excited to announce.
As a co-host of The Open Source Musician Podcast separated from the host by geography, we had relied on a closed source application to handle our phone call to one another. This was always a sore spot because all the other software we use is Open Source, however this was one last hurdle we couldn’t get over. Recently this all changed and we did our first fully open broadcast Friday using the GPL’d VOIP client called Mumble. The Mumble team has added experimental integration with JACK (Jack Audio Connection Kit). This completely solves our VOIP issues. The quality is excellent and Dan and myself can record a good track of local audio and each other’s VOIP call into its own track in the Ardour DAW software, we stream this all out on the internets and it all takes place with just 1 PC on each end – no double-ender, no extra hardware – it’s all in the box and its pure gold.
So life is peachy. Our audio woes are virtually non-existant. A big thanks goes to Falktx of KXStudio for packaging this experimental Mumble version, and of course to the Mumble developers themselves for making this all possible!