Linux Laptop For Renoise?

I will be buying a Linux Laptop at the end of May with the intention of running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. I’m ditching OS X which I have been using on a variety of Mac laptops since 2003.

I was looking at System 76. But, I’m not sure my options? This new XPS 13 Ultrabook™ looks more up my alley.

Simple things like when I close the lid the laptop goes to sleep, the sound card works out of the box, long battery life, minimum cooling fan noise… It would be nice to see some progress for Linux concerning these kind of things.

I’m not a Linux newbie. I run CentOS on my server, have a Ubuntu 10.04 LTS workstation at my job. I have no problem setting things up myself. But, why? I’d like to avoid having a shitty “welcome to 1998 beige box” experience in 2012.

Any recommendations? What are you using?

I’m using a lenovo B570, seems stable enough here, but I don’t use it as a laptop with all the power management stuff etc. I bought a laptop to save space in my limited area. I’ve expanded the RAM in the lenovo to 8gig, well it was cheap!

I have a Dell XPS 15 here. I bought it mainly as a desktop replacement (which still is portable). So it is pretty powerfull (Core -7 quadcore, 8GB RAM), but the battery is very poor. The high res screen is amazing, though!
I have Linux Mint and Arch Linux running on it, both without any major problems.

Lenovo T series is what we’ve standardized on where I work, we use a modified version of ubuntu LTS for our linux laptops, “goobuntu” They went through a quite laborious vetting process, and in the end the Lenovo T series (currently the T520) is what they ended up with due to it’s wide-ranging compatibility with ubuntu. I can’t tell you where I work, but it’s one of those tech giants in northern CA.

I’d recommend you get a laptop w/ an nvidia video card, NOT ATI or any other vendor.

My personal laptop is a sony vaio vpccw13fx which looks great and runs fast but also a little on the overheated side with a rather short battery life in linux compared to win7 no matter how I set my power management. There are problems though with the battery on this particular model anyway.

and no, I don’t think laptops come in beige any more. Linux installers on the other hand might remind you a bit of 1998, but you’ve already said you’re not new to linux so you probably are well aware of that.

I have an ASUS U46E running Debian Sid. Sid’s got a realtime kernel option at installation time. All the built-in devices on the laptop just worked. Sleep and hibernation work. All I did was run the XFCE installation task and add a couple of things to limits.conf per the Renoise on Linux FAQ. Couldn’t be happier.

I use a rather dated, yet loaded, Dell Studio 15 (2.8GHz Core2Duo). Everything works perfectly. Both headphone outs are even individually accessible with Jack.

Some of Dell’s business line seems like it would be well supported with Linux.

The gotchas on Linux with laptops is whether or not all of the features of the chipset work, and video support.
Personally, I’d avoid any of the integrated graphics solutions, although that situation might have improved.

If you’re concerned with the high performance real-time audio performance, some research might be required as to which audio chipsets are being used. I’d imagine some are better than others. (The latency with the integrated audio on my desktop is half of what it is on my laptop.)

Along similar lines, I’m curious about Linux support of various audio interfaces. What’s the climate like with Firewire interfaces vs. USB interfaces?

I wish I could give better advice, but it’s been a while since I’ve had to do the research. I’ve long since transitioned to that point where the focus is getting what you’ve got to work as well as it can, as opposed to finding what works best.

Research is key. With Linux, you’re always better spending time up front finding the stuff that works best than you are spending time at the back end getting stuff to work (some of which may never work at all.) All of this you probably already know, since you are asking questions. Best of luck.

My few cents & experiences:

  • best way to avoid troubles is staying away from the latest versions: In this case, prefer Ubuntu 10.04 or 11.10

  • if you have a piece of hardware that many people use (a Dell Laptop is a good choice here), it’s very likely that it will just work cause it’s used by many people in the community

  • to get audio and stuff working perfectly you have to be either lucky or have to do a lot of research. Trying out a realtime kernel definitely is recommended and an easy thing to do though (apt-get install linux-rt for Debian/Ubuntu and friends). Once again it’s good to avoid the latest dists because the audio stuff is usually not maintained by the core teams

12.04 is going to be a long-term stable release and as some of the developers will tell you will be far more trouble free than 11.10. From what I hear from TalkFX (Kxstudio developer) 12.04 will be a monster for audio.

10.04 is great but there have certainly been advances in 12.04 you wont get in 10.04 that in many cases may elevate any potential troubles… For instance, things like the power manager may not play well with newer laptops manufactured after 10.04.

Really imo the best answer here is try them both/all out on your system. just create a new partition, share the same swap and select which kernel you want to boot into in grub to compair.

I’d personally recommend starting with ubuntu Studio 12.04 to get a baseline, (do some jack latency tests, test things like behavior for closing the lid, battery power, screen brightness etc) Then if you do find issues go back to 10.04 and give it a spin.

As far as audio working out of the box, i dont think you’ll have to worry about that too much but I’d recommend (for whatever that’s worth) going with an express card, something like and echo I/O. They are fully supported in Linux. If you can spend more go with RME.

I am curious, why are you breaking up with OS X??

I’m not into the direction they are taking with iOS, overzealous curating, lock down, and cash grabbing. I get paid to do PHP in real life which runs on Linux in general. Renoise runs on Linux. The rest I don’t really have time for anymore.

I liked OSX because it’s Unix. This seems to be changing. I’m going to try something else and see what happens for a couple of years.

this is bugging me too. Also the limited hardware options (soon to be even more limited once they kill off the mac pro workstations) … I do a lot of computation stuff for work, and I’d pay a premium to have high performance in a nice form factor. My MBP isn’t quite getting the job done.

Isn’t linux too limited for audio production? (lack of decent plugins)

Hi, lurker here, just wanted to mention mint 12 as a possible contender. based on gnome 3, (or deb.,k or xface) its the first time literally everything worked for me out of the box. Including the dreaded wifi drivers etc. that make every install for newbies into a complete nightmare. the interface has been tweaked just a teensy bit from ubuntu 12 and is just that little bit more intuitive. I really couldnt recommend a better flavour for ease of use.

^^^linux has been criticised for lacking in a few important areas, mostly those who work with vsts a lot tend to run into problems but with wine or something you can run many of them too. I personally found that i concentrated much more on sound waves and how they actually come together to form the things im looking for when i switched to linux and no longer had access to all the vsts i had painstakingly dled on xp.

anyway, just my 2p, take care all.

edit: i installed mint 12 on a shitty little 1ghz 1gb hp netbook with all the worst hardware and it still worked out of the box. couldnt actually play a full song without it freezing lol but it worked.

In fact it’s just a myth. A myth of Mac OS(sometimes windows) based commercial quality studios. “How will I live without my 500 VST(i) torrented collection???”
And if the collection wouldn’t be torrented, when the topicstarter label cash grabbing won’t be a matter.
Since I saw Conner_Bw reply in some topic about him staying clean with VST(i) and using freeware too, I am sure if you can’t live without them they can be run in wine. I’ve run NI Massive, which is cpu intensive, and still it ain’t that bad.

P.S. You guys may hate the dubstep trend, but if you heard Skrillex (he had 320 shows in the past year, made his debut EP in 2010 like this

Back to the topic. Well firewire suppost in notebook would be great appreciated, or at least through ExpressCard → FireWire.
But if you have a USB Card, and it suits you well (and is supported in Linux too), maybe there is no need for firewire stuff. The support of it in Linux ain’t that complete eh…

I am also interested in running linux again at some moment, since I doubt I will ever again afford running Mac computer. My trusty macbook is 4 years old and in one moment, it will stop working inevitable, so I have to be ready. I have tried linux a lot of times before, and there were problems every time: drivers not working, real-time kernel crashing, rough edges everywhere… always some obstacles running system and doing what I like to do, music. I’m just afraid that I will be lost in all those laptop models, brands and different configurations.

I’ve done recently a mastering experiment with Ardour and JAMin. I think my result with giving the track more bassy fell has been acomplished. Maybe I am wrong, but I like the output.

As for plugins TAP plugins are good, and also there are alot of LADSPA plugins. So yeah, I +1 it. Yoshimi(ZynAddSubFx) is an amazing synth, and it also has the microtonality feature. I have a huge collection of scala files, from some link on these forums.
Sometimes is good just to load some random scala settings, and play with some eastern or avant-garde scales.

Maybe it’s just a matter of luck. I’ve got an office-like Samsung R540, which is obviously not multimedia laptop. But the kernel hasn’t been crashing. I’ve got also real-time kernel. I compiled it following the tutorial on github from a Renoise user.
1st part
2nd part

I just changed the kernel version. I first compiled as it says in the tutorial — 3.0.14-rt31
It had some lags, and maybe even crashed a couple of times.
Then I followed the same guide but used, other version of kernel - 3.2.5-rt12
Now it works, not that bad.
Sometimes the JACK don’t want to start. But it may be because of some applications trying to access the soundcard at that moment.
But in the end the routing capabilities of JACK are so cool. Even when I want to sample 5 seconds from youtube, it works quite good.
I tried using JACK, Youtube, and Pure Data. I had a realtime glitch patch, changing the pitch and doing some stuttering. It was all on a fly, and was a funny experiment.

Well the ZynAddSubFx development seems to be frozen, but its fork Yoshimi is doing well. Also ZynAddSubFx had some problems with xruns (minor sound cracking) while running JACK. But in Yoshimi they have fixed it. They recently fixed the microtonality bug, so the devs of Yoshimi ain’t dead.
The output can be layered, so it sounds really great. Fat enough :) :rolleyes:

if you wanna do (pro)audio on Linux, you will need to have to put some work into it. you can either just go with something like AVLinux or Ubuntu Studio, who claim to have all the stuff for audio set up. however, depending on your hardware, you might run into issues. the fact that the audio-department is working doesn’t mean your wifi will work too. this is inherent with most linux distros. for those thinking ‘but why isnt audio working out of the box on linux!??!!’ or ‘but when my audio works why not my wifi?!?!?!?!’ and the inevitable ‘why is all this stuff so much easier on Windows!??!?!’: just take a look at the HDD and memory footprint of a basic Linux system as opposed to Windows. Windows installs everything there is to install immediately, while linux gives you the choice to set up your system the way you like. linux distros often focus on a certain aspect, like audio, and thus neglect to include drivers for your weird old wifi-card, for example.
also, lots of hardware-manufacturers just don’t care for linux too much because it is not their consumer-focus, so they just don’t develop drivers etc for it. that is why you’ll often have troubles setting up Broadcom cards or ATI graphics on linux. so consider that.

you can also just set up your own linux system for audio. this is the best way, if you ask me, because you have the added bonus of learning stuff and knowing how your setup works. you can also install a certain distro you like and works for you with respect to wifi and other hardware, and install the audio-stuff on top.

with respect to using Ubuntu and the like: in my experience a bloated Window Manager like Gnome3 or KDE etc will not very much improve your audio-experience because it slows your system down considerably. it wants to calculate glossy pixels while you need it to calculate audio-stuff. so it is a better idea to go for a slim and light system. if you need a recommendation: go for Crunchbang linux. on top of a very fast and lightweight system you get the friendliest linux community to boot.

also, if the only reason you’re not using Linux for your audio is the lack of VST support, you really need to reconsider your priorities. you don’t need VSTs to make good music.

good luck.

Yes, good hint, have been using ZynAddSubFx some years ago. Good
to see that the project has been revived!

My previous machine was a small Lenovo 300 V100 laptop running
debian and renoise worked fine.

Now I’m running Arch Linux and after following some of the excellent
Arch Linux guides I have sound through jack-dbus and renoise working
very well. I think the most difficult part was getting jack to work
with everything, but realtime audio was no problem.

Yes there is, in fact. There’s a thread at KVR with links to the windows port. But, like on the original, the UI will make your eyes bleed it you are not used to linux UIs. Maybe even if you are.