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Hi-tech, low-tech

I've bought two sound-related items today: a V-string for my turntable (a Phillips whose origin is lost in the mists of time) and a SB Audigy LS soundcard for my computer, because the onboard sound card is a piece of crap.
Contrary to assurances from the shop, I'm now finding that the Audigy isn't easily supported under linux, although it can be supported with a little work.
In my experiences, a little work tends to balloon into a lot of work, so before I even start, I'm opening a comments thread for tips for installing newer versions of alsa sound and resolving the recursive dependency problems that I will undoubtedly encounter. I'll update this post with my experiences and problems as they happen, below the fold.

Comments (9)

Dan.e:

"comments threat"

No, please, what did we do to deserve this? :-)

I threaten smartassses with comment spam these days, that's how evil it is.

GNUman:

If you so desire, I can make myself available to you for assistance. What kernel are you running these days anyway? 2.6.x had built in support for ALSA and the Audigy sound cards. (from the 2.6.9 config help):

CONFIG_SND_EMU10K1:

Say 'Y' or 'M' to include support for Sound Blaster PCI 512, Live!,
Audigy and E-mu APS (partially supported).

I know my SB Live! is fully supported under ALSA. What distro are you running? there may even be tools that make this easier. . . You can contact me via email if you so wish, as I do not often view this area (I will be monitoring it for the next few days, though, in case you wish to converse here instead of email. . .

I'm running 2.4.21, and maybe it's time to upgrade. I've held off on that because I had no real reason to do so, and a decent reason not to: I had heard horror stories about scanning in 2.6.
Also, I expect a kernel upgrade, presuming a non-precompiled kernel, would turn out to be another dependency nightmare.
I'm running SuSE 9.0, which I stopped using the online update over 6 months ago when the status bar on the updating gizmo kept getting stuck. It hasn't been succesfully updated that way in 244 days (I know this, because I tried yesterday). There's been minor tinkering since then, but no major changes from the out-of-the-box version, as far as I remember.

In other news, the new V-string has improved things a little, but not as much as I'd expect. There may be something else wrong with the turntable, or a whole bunch of my vinyl records may have warped at the same time.

MGD:

Here are some thoughts ...

You have a valid concern about the stability and operational features of the newer Linux kernel (2.6.x, 2.6.9, ...).

You want to test the newer release, but you don't want to disrupt your day to day operation.

If you had an 'extra' HDD and temporarily added it to your configuration, you could your testing and still be able to work on your current configuration. The switch over would be as simple as this: with all power off, move the HDD ribbon cable from one drive to the other.

Things I don't know: (a) are you comfortable about working on the inside of your PC?; (b) what would the additional HDD cost where you live?

Using pricewatch.com and looking at drive prices, I see that for an EIDE drive, the prices range between $1.00 and $0.50 per Gigabyte ... e.g. 20GBy = $20; 40GBy = $36; 80GBy = $45. YMMV

BTW, if you selected a new HDD that had the same capacity as the existing drive, after your linux testing was complete, it might be possible to configure your system as RAID-1 -- fault tolerant.

MGD

I have to say that that sounds like a lot of work just to get a sound card working.
Right now, I've got two hard drives in the machine. For historical reasons, linux lives on the second, newer drive, bought in 2001 or thereabouts. That one has 40 Gig and is less than half full at the moment. The older drive still have a Windows file system, partitioned into 4, totaling a modest 8 Gb. Neither drive has ever had any serious failure, but I'm in the process of sorting through the material on the older drive, moving the important files to the newer one and backing up all the ROCR-related files. It's a long process because it's a big mess and because I'm also running all final images through PNGout.

For my purposes, I don't think I need RAID. I would also prefer not to have to reformat the old drive to house another linux file system. While moving the important files off it, I'm moving my MP3 files to it, so it's still in use :)

As for question a) I *hate* mucking about with the guts of my PC with a passion. In fact, I think the part of the process that is most likely to go wrong is that I stick the sound card partly in/partly outside the slot, causing it to fry. That's how clumsy I am. It's probably a better idea to have an emergency floppy or CDRom to boot from in case of a serious problem, so I could swap the old kernel back in.

I heard from the person who had the horror story about scanning that he was happier with his current kernel. But he's a hardcore fixer, and I'm not. He did educate me on the importance of building in support for the USB file system, which is worth remembering (but I put it here so I don't have to remember it).

Thanks, MGD and Gnuman! Keep the suggestions coming - the more I know, the more secure I'll feel about what I need and don't need to do.

GNUman:

If you modify your /etc/lilo.conf to have a second paragraph pointing to your current running 2.4 kernel, you can switch between them with a simple reboot (just select which one you want to use on startup). The only dependancy with the 2.6 kernel that you would not have with a 2.4 kernel is the new module tools (module_init_tools), which will live happily on a 2.4 kernel based system. Do you configure using configuration menu (I'm thinking ya-something, it has been a while for me on SuSE. . .) or do you edit config files by hand? Either way, I can help. Email me and I can set up a way that I can walk you through the whole thing, step by step, or even do it for you. I do long distance configurations all the time for people that want the stability of Linux, without having to learn all the innards. . .

Unless I'm wrong about this, you have my email (I provided that info when I made the comments). You say that the Online updater is not working (for almost a year), are you still able to install packages? If so, look for module-init-tools, and install that. If and when you install the 2.6 kernel, you will need it. What sound card are you using now (what is the onboard sound based on)? I'll grab the sources for 2.4.21 and see if the EMU10K1 is supported there, before I push you into a 2.6 kernel before you are ready (although you will likely find that it works a bit faster than the 2.4). . .

Thanks. I'm keeping this part of the discussion public, but I'll email you when I'm ready to. First order of business is to get the soundcard working; if that requires a kernel update then I'll do that, if not, I'll leave it as it is.
I use GRUB as a bootloader, also for historical reasons. Since I no longer dual-boot, I really ought to look into streamlining the boot process (you can tell this isn't exactly a hobby of mine, can you?). In any case, the principle is the same and I should be able to kernel-switch using that. Thanks for reminding me.

I use yAST, yes. The thing about that is that in my experience, there are no halfway houses. Either you use yAST for everything, or you use it for nothing. However, I should be able to get the module as an RPM and install it through yAST even if I can't do it directly through the online updater.

I'll email after the day's work.

GNUman:

I just checked, EMU10K1 is supported by the 2.4.21 kernel, but they do not list the SB Audigy LS. They do list the ES on the Sourceforge page. . . That kinks to the ALSA page that has your lizard on it. . . SuSE may be ALSA already. . . Look in YAST for the SB Live soundcard. . .

Do you want links to look up this info for yourself?

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