Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use
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Old 21-09-2017, 08:45 PM   #1
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Icon14 Tips: Optimizing Linux (and PulseAudio) for DAW Use

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^ ^

OK, the link above is where my personalized info is so far.

UPDATE: BE SURE TO CHECK THE LATTER PAGES OF THIS THREAD BELOW FOR MORE CONFIGURATION TIPS!!!!

I have another link up at ubuntuforums.com but they archived the Ubuntu Studio subforums, (which was lame!!!) so people can't really interact with that section. And the info is already starting to get old this year.

I will try and coalate modern (2017 and beyond) info on how to configure an Ubuntu Linux system such as Ubuntu Studio. Many of the tips are possibly similar to tips for Debian or Mint because of the design and derivatives relationships between those OSes. Ubuntu Studio came from Ubuntu which came from Debian, and Mint came from Ubuntu.

My motivation for doing this is to make it faster and easier for new Linux users to get up and running without having to discern between really old online Linux tutorials which are out of date, and modern tutorials or at least tips that really do work.

I apologize for the sloppiness of this. It's really just more of a group of tips rather than a complete tutorial, but it's a bit more than that too. I put most of the info into images and text because those are most accessible on the internet if you need to download or read from anywhere.

I don't have the time or resources to create a blog or webpage or to host files for upload/download/sideload. PNG images and GIFs are easy to deal with though, and they don't take up much bandwidth.

Also, you could open an image viewer to see the instructions and at the same time use your text editor to implement some of the tweaks without losing focus or accidentally deleting the instructions in a text file. Also, images are compressed though still visible for content and so you don't need an archive utility; no mess with that.

If anybody else has good tips, please post them here also. The goal is to make it as easy as possible for others to run a Linux DAW


I'm a strong believer in this, because I was helped by others and want to return the favor and because my Linux DAW works!

Most of my infos came from: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


This is an EXCELLENT article, but it's partially out of date and quickly getting too old in some parts. Most people can skip the entire section about compiling your own low-latency kernel, and the info is probably too old anyhow. Nevertheless, you should download a copy of that entire page and save it in your personal archives because nobody else on the net seems to have that type of info put together in one place. If the site disappears, we need to know all that stuff so we can create and run our DAWs!!!!

Other infos came from:
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(AVLINUX manual and forums)

If you do want to try AVLINUX, it's not bad: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


However, it's also not Ubuntu, it's Debian, which is slightly different. And the AVLINUX implmentation of JACK and WINE is different than other distros. That's part of it's success, yet it takes getting used to and is still a work in progress.

Also worth mentioning in this first post...

The KXstudio repos are really still useful, although also starting to get a bit out of date in parts.

They are probably still good to use; I use them. However, because each version of Ubuntu evolves over time, the repos are starting to become incompatible. If you look at the PPA/repo data, it's linking to resources as far back in time as being for Lucid Ubuntu. We are currently at Zesty Ubuntu... (the names flow alphabetically A to Z).

The alphabetical names are part of the version numbers.

In my personal experiences, some software designed for Trusty Tahr Ubuntu can still be run within Zesty Ubuntu, but time is running out for that. Lucid is probably too old, but it's files are in the KXstudio repos along with those for Trusty, Wiley, Xenial, and Zesty.

v14 = Trusty (older than Zesty, newer than Lucid)
v17 = Zesty


It's OK to disable or remove the entries for Lucid unless you are actually still running Lucid, which is unlikely. Also, it's important to realise that some items, such as Carla or FeSTige (both useful for running Windows 32-bit VST instruments and effects) pretty much run smoother on a 32-bit Linux even though we are now within 64-bit days.

The main idea, is that you don't want your upgrades and updates getting tainted by old files with incompatiblity to modern software contexts.

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
is where you can learn about WINE (Wine is not an emulator), the compatibility layer allowing Windows 32-bit programs to run on Linux. 64-bit programs can be run on Linux too via Wine. There are two different flavours, and you need to know which one you are choosing and using.

As for the version flavour, I stopped using basic wine because it lacked updates. First I tried wine-development (wine-devel), but even that lacks updates that are in wine-staging, which is what I use and I like it for it's extra features.

There used to be more info on this site from when I was here as Nystagmus, but a lot of those pages where lost.

OK, that's all for now. Sorry it's kind of messy starting out.
I will try and clean this up as time goes by.

Again, here's where the initial main info is: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]

Also, here's some of the already getting old info I posted on UbuntuForums.com before they archived/disabled access to their own good tech support: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


It's still an OK site, but it's been worsening. People can't easily find or even read the archive unless logged in. So that's lame too from a web search engine support perspective. IDMforums can be searched via web search engines though. So this helps anybody out on the web needing these types of answers a bit more in this year of 2017-2018.

BE SURE TO CHECK THE LATTER PAGES OF THIS THREAD FOR MORE CONFIGURATION TIPS!!!!

Last edited by Daggit; 05-10-2017 at 06:42 PM.. Reason: updated info

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Old 22-09-2017, 09:10 AM   #2
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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Old 29-09-2017, 02:58 PM   #3
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Icon6 HOW TO INSTALL A LOW-LATENCY KERNEL (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, etc)

HOW TO INSTALL A LOW-LATENCY KERNEL (Ubuntu, Xubuntu, Lubuntu, Kubuntu, Edbuntu, or other Ubuntu)

This should work with any Ubuntu-based/compatible system.
I have personally tested this on Ubuntu Studio, Xubuntu, and Lubuntu, and it works.
It should even work on WattOS if you have the right repositories linked.

1) open a terminal console
2) at the prompt type:
Code:
sudo apt-get update
3) wait a while for it to download updated paths to repositories; it shouldn't take too long.
4) next, at the command prompt type:
Code:
sudo apt-get install linux-image-lowlatency
5) wait for it to download and install the low-latency kernel and related needed files. It will automatically update GRUB for you as well.
6) to try out your new kernel, restart the computer.
7) if given a GRUB menu, there should be an option for "Advanced options for Ubuntu*" or something like that. Select that and it will bring up a secondary menu where you can select the Low-Latency kernel which will be numbered. The higher the number, the more recent the kernel.
8) press ENTER to continue booting with the Low-Latency kernel.

Now, it should be using that kernel and audio programs should work much better.

To validate which system type you are using, at the command prompt in a terminal console type:
Code:
uname -a
and press ENTER.

And then type:
Code:
lsb_release -a
and press ENTER.

That's it. Pretty easy.
If for some reason the install fails for the kernel, check your repository origin settings in the Application menu: choose "Software & Updates"

Check the first 3 tabs.

Also, be forewarned that Proprietary video drivers are incompatible with low-latency kernels!
But unless you are gaming, that shouldn't matter much anyhow. You should still be able to watch videos, etc.

Last edited by Daggit; 29-09-2017 at 03:06 PM.. Reason: added more info

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Old 02-10-2017, 05:57 PM   #4
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Icon2 DAW Composing/Performing Preparation Script

DAW Composing/Performing Preparation Script

OK, next is a script you can create (and modify) to run before you begin composing or performing. It's designed to temporarily turn off intenet and network stuff, printer stuff, bluetooth stuff, and to increase the speed of audio functions:

Code:
#!/bin/sh

modprobe -r ppdev    # stop parallel port device
modprobe -r lp       # stop line printer
modprobe -r uvcvideo # stop webcam device
modprobe -r videodev # stop video device
modprobe -r ath9k    # stop a Wireless driver
modprobe -r r8169    # stop a NIC driver
modprobe -r btusb    # stop Bluetooth USB

/etc/init.d/bluetooth       stop &
/etc/init.d/cups            stop &
/etc/init.d/cups-browsed    stop &
/etc/init.d/networking      stop &
/etc/init.d/network-manager stop &
/etc/init.d/NetworkManager  stop &
/etc/init.d/ModemManager    stop &
/etc/init.d/dovecot         stop &

killall cups           # stop printing
killall cupsd          # stop printing
killall cups-browsed   # stop printing
killall dovecot        # stop email (internet)
killall modem-manager  # stop internet
killall ModemManager   # stop internet
killall NetworkManager # stop internet
killall nm-applet      # stop internet
killall ssh-agent      # stop internet
killall wpa_supplicant # stop internet

modprobe snd-hrtimer  # Load the ALSA high resolution timer for MIDI

echo -n performance | sudo tee /sys/devices/system/cpu/cpu*/cpufreq/scaling_governor     # Set the CPU scaling governor to "performance" (fastest)
setpci -v -s "*:*.*" latency_timer=b0                                                    # improve PCI scheduling for better speed
After rebooting, you should be able to type
Code:
sudo prepdaw
Copy this into a new document in your text editor and save as "prepdaw.sh"
Then change the properties of it to allow execution as a program.
Last, as root, copy it into /usr/local/bin/

...and it should run the script and get a somewhat more audio-friendly system.
To turn the stuff back on, restart the computer. That's the easiest way.

There are ways of individually turning the items back on, but honestly, I don't know how to do that yet. But I can confirm that this does try to stop various services and programs. You can also add your own custom commands in here. Just be aware that it needs to run in a terminal console (command line).

If you prefer not to put it into /usr/local/bin, you could move it where you like and then trigger it by typing:
Code:
sudo bash prepdaw.sh
Good luck and happy Linux DAW computing!

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Old 05-10-2017, 06:39 PM   #5
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

SETTING UP CPUs FOR DAW PERFORMANCE (disable CPU throttling)

OK, this is arguably the easiest DAW setting for Linux/Ubuntu Linux...

Code:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install indicator-cpufreq
Enter each line one at a time into a terminal console (command line) and press enter and wait.
After it's done, in the panel window area where you see sound, time/calendar, and network status there will be a drop-down menu of CP settings choices.

The one you want for DAW work is "Performance" and the one you want for battery energy saving on a laptop is "OnDemand" or "PowerSave". This is pretty easy to use. "OnDemand" is the default. The icon is a microchip with a tiny meter of CPU load.

That's it; no need to edit any configuration files.
However, in one of my other pages I explain how to do that too, something good to know in case the downloads go missing in a few years.

Happy Linux DAW use!

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Old 05-10-2017, 06:55 PM   #6
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

HOW TO REDUCE VIRTUAL RAM USE (reduce "swappiness" of the "swap" file or partition):

OK, so Ubuntu systems typically com preconfigured for a swappiness of 60 on a scale of 0 (no disk use unless needed) to 100 (a lot of disk use!). Most older DAW guides suggest 10 to be a good number, yet as RAM gets more plentiful and cheaper, we could probably sneak this down a bit more.

1) With root privileges, edit /etc/sysctl.conf
Each distro comes with a plain text editor, which one varies. Common ones are mousepad, geany, leafpad, or gedit.
Be sure to use one that saves in Linux text format and not Windows text format.
Use your plain text editor in sudo mode and then save and quit:
Code:
sudo mousepad /etc/sysctl.conf
...OR...
Code:
sudo gedit /etc/sysctl.conf
...OR...
Code:
sudo geany /etc/sysctl.conf
...OR...
Code:
sudo leafpad /etc/sysctl.conf
2) Change or add this line to the file:
Code:
vm.swappiness = 10
3) Reboot the computer

Or, if you want to disable virtual memory entirely:
Code:
vm.swappiness = 0
That's pretty easy.

You can value while the system is still running if you like:
Code:
$ sudo sysctl vm.swappiness=0
If you have a lot of RAM, and don't use multiple programs at the same time, this might really help stuff out. Good luck. It will overall reduce disk thrashing and allow programs to run faster since they won't need to be swapped on and off the hard drive so much if at all. This is very important for WINE use and DAW use. We need all the power we can get to prevent audio buffer underruns/xruns and CPU load. So yes, this does help.

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Old 05-10-2017, 07:04 PM   #7
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

INSTALLING WINE-Staging (to be able to run Windows REAPER) Part One:

This is a somewhat involved multi-step process.
Luckily, most of it is already well-described here, at WINE headquarters:

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


As you can see on that site, Wine isn't just for Ubuntu or Debian Linux; various other Linuxes are supported as well.

The main steps are on the site linked above, so I will only be supplementing that info as we go along.

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Old 12-10-2017, 12:00 AM   #8
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

GENERAL TIPS for LINUX DAW SUCCESS:

1) Use ext3 instead of ext2, ext4, or other filesystems.
Ext3 is modern enough to provide good jouraling to prevent data loss yet is still more stable than ext4 "in the wild" because ext4 is still being developed and implemented. Ext4 oriented Linuxes will already provide a backwards-compatible boost to ext3 and you can still upgrade to ext4 in future years if you really feel the need to. Ext3 also doesn't have the complexity and risks of ext4's security permissions locking the entire partition. So there's no risk of being locked out of your all of own data simply due to a configuration snafu.

2) Don't use Compiz. Keep your display compositing simple. In general, don't use any special transparency or animation effects and everything should be OK unless you installed Compiz. You can still do a lot of beautiful aesthetic customizations to your interface without suffering performance losses to audio. Transparencies and animations and 3D renderings use up CPU and RAM; and they just aren't needed or wanted on a DAW.

3) Disable unneeded and unwanted services. This is pretty normal and easy to comprehend. The more stuff is running simultaneously, the harder it is for any system to accomplish profession digital audio and synthesis and DSP. Most operating systems, no matter which flavor still come with plenty of stuff to disable and/or remove. This is why it pays off to choose a distro that isn't bulky and to familiarize yourself with the system settings.

Bluetooth and internet and network related services tend to be the worst offenders. You can still have internet connectivity to browse the web, but keep only the bare essentials and turn them off before you compose.

Even printing and printer buffering causes a performance hit. Turn it off. You can save your files to a flash drive and take them elsewhere to print. Don't bog down your system for stuff that is widely available anywhere else (library, fedex kinkos, a friend's system, etc.

4) Choose your distro carefully. For all the stuff you will want and need to do, some distros make this much easier than others. However, it's not as easy as it might seem to pick a distro, because some allow easy upgrading into the future while others don't. Some of it is a matter of personal preference, but I am actively doing research on this topic. Some call it distro-hopping, but it's really learning from experience.

You don't have to distro-hop if you don't want to. Just be sure to read all the reviews and comparisons of different families of Linux and their derivatives. There are only a handful of families of Linux even though there are dozens or hundreds of derivatives over the years.

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is the best resource around for finding out which is which and why some are precisely better than others.

Consider the community support also. It's worth browsing the community support pages and forums of a distro before you commit to installing it. If there's not adequate support, it won't be worth it to install it.

Nevertheless, just because a Linux distro community is large doesn't mean that it's better than smaller groups. Actually, in a lot of ways medium and even some growing small distros are a lot better supported. This translates to you having errors fixed quickly or prevented in the first place. It's also a lot more fun to communicate with other users who are accomplishing their own goals and feats instead of treading water in a giant pool of drowning users.

5) Put in the effort to update the installed programs. No matter what you choose, eventually you will want to update something that you like. It's actually a lot easier to update softwares by going directly to the author's website. The info there is usually more up to date, more explained, more expansive, and not plagued by technical snafus of generalised package managers and system updaters. It also helps avoid conflicts of PPA's/repos/DLL's/dependencies/libraries/etc. Just get what you need and get out. Don't mess up your entire system just to get what you want and need. Most programs list the author website in the "Help" or "About" menu or "Release Notes" sections of their programs.

6) Don't perform every single upgrade or download. Be the firewall. As sophisticated as distros and operating systems are these days, errors that can cripple your entire system temporarily can and do happen. A simple way to prevent this is to simply turn off system updates for a few weeks at a time instead of dealing with them every day. There is some risk of breakage if you wait too long to perform updates, but often by that time an entirely new system version is available and has it's own set of plusses and minuses.

By filtering out the trivial downloads, you can spend more time enjoying your system and not babysitting it. Truthfully, some system updates actually disturb or undermine optimizations even though they might provide some security enhancements. At this point in the history of distros and operating systems and hacking and malware, there is a tradeoff.

While I don't advocate for ignoring security, you are better off implementing the most important security procedures and keeping the operating system up to date with security fixes, but DO NOT download every single update for the non-system components.

The exceptions, are those programs that you like the most. Manually update those from the author websites directly, as mentioned before. This type of behavior should help you to dodge on the flux of constantly changing softwares, including developers who are sloppy or who go AWOL.

6) Read books, articles, magazines, and forums about whichever parts of Linux you are curious about or don't know much about. Knowledge truly is power. Take advantage of the wonderful plethora of helpful info from people who put in the time and effort to make your life and times more enjoyable.

The information won't always be there; I can guarantee you that. Libraries throw away or sell off old books and magazines, websites and organizations go out of business or are shut down, authors die or retire, sometimes a successful set of info is hacked out of existence, sometimes business trends supercede the wonders of freeware and open source. Sometimes even copyright and patent laws change. Some authors are fickle and redact their own good infos and files and take them offline.

So download and archive whatever you think is helpful and fun to know. And then take the time to read it when you are offline. It might only take a few seconds to archive a nice set of knowledge that you could spend days or weeks carefully reading and studying.

7) Consider purchasing a distro if downloading the gigantic .ISO gives you headaches. There's a really nice business called [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
(OSdisc.com). They sell DVD-ROM's and CD-ROM's and even flash drives of Linux LiveDVD distros. The cost is usually about 5 dollars plus shipping options. For less than ten dollars you get a decent and stable way to test out a distro without going nuts over bandwidth and having to babysit a download. And the data is already neatly archived for future use in case you get sidetracked on other activities.

Just remember which mode your BIOS is in so the startup actually work; UEFI mode typically for 64-bit distros to load, otherwise "Legacy" or 32-bit mode is fine.

Some people want everything to be UEFI, but 64-bit computing is older than UEFI mode and UEFI actually shouldn't be needed to boot every 64-bit system. It's just that UEFI has become popular due to the effects of Microsoft Windows requiring UEFI for GPT and booting. But several earlier versions of 64-bit Linuxes didn't require UEFI/EFI boot files. Regular vmlinuz files instead of efi files used to be extremely common and still are for Puppy Linux.

If you want to use AVLINUX, you will need to be able to boot into BIOS mode still! Yes, you are limited to only 4 primary partitions, but it's not that bad since these days hard drives and flash drives and even solid state drives are cheap. If you need more separations, add another storage volume!

Well, that's it for now. I hope this was helpful.
More info is still forthcoming.

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Old 12-10-2017, 12:32 AM   #9
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

I'm aiming for Renoise as my DAW on Linux, no Wine necessary! Maybe pureData on the side.

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Old 12-10-2017, 01:28 AM   #10
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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I'm aiming for Renoise as my DAW on Linux, no Wine necessary! Maybe pureData on the side.
Nice, I will have to check out ReNoise. I've heard of it for several years but never tried it. Same with PureData.

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Old 12-10-2017, 02:06 AM   #11
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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Nice, I will have to check out ReNoise. I've heard of it for several years but never tried it. Same with PureData.
Have you heard of trackers? That's what Renoise is. PureData is more like coding, except with visual objects you connect with little lines that send messages here and there. I use Max/MSP, which is based on PureData but with more stuff and a nicer GUI. It's also not free (PureData is), and does not run on Linux (PureData does tho).

I've been thinking of trying out the tracker style of production, and PureData would be more of a way just to access the kinda stuff I do in Max/MSP, only on Linux. That's part of my whole thing, is since I can't run the programs I normally use on Linux (not without using Wine anyway, which I don't want to do), I need to find usable alternatives. Renoise I've messed with and am intrigued by, so i could use that, assuming I've gotten my audio fixed. Then I could also use Audacity as my editor. And from there, I might try to write my own little applications for certain fx or edits and go from there, and I may just become a full fledged Linux user!

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Old 12-10-2017, 04:18 PM   #12
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

This is not directly related to the topic of this thread, but it's something anyone using a Linux system might be interested in..of obvious reasons. It's called [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
..basically a way to block ad servers on Linux-bases systems..stopping ads from being downloaded onto your system, which is supposed to translate into a better performing system.

I've not used this myself yet..only found out about it today, but it looks like something that would be useful..and it's free / donations accepted.

Apologies for the semi-derail there..just passing on something I thought would interest some of you.

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Old 12-10-2017, 05:55 PM   #13
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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This is not directly related to the topic of this thread, but it's something anyone using a Linux system might be interested in..of obvious reasons. It's called [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
..basically a way to block ad servers on Linux-bases systems..stopping ads from being downloaded onto your system, which is supposed to translate into a better performing system.

I've not used this myself yet..only found out about it today, but it looks like something that would be useful..and it's free / donations accepted.

Apologies for the semi-derail there..just passing on something I thought would interest some of you.
Just a clarification, Pi-hole runs on Linux, but it provides ad blocking/DNS redirect to the whole network. You point your router's DNS queries to it, so it works for everything attached to that network (phones, tablets, computers), not just Linux machines.

I've been using Pi-hole since it went public, and DNS blocking before that. Pi-Hole is really great, though it does require a bit of knowledge and tinkering to get working. I definitely recommend it in conjunction or as a replacement for local ad blocking.

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Old 12-10-2017, 06:21 PM   #14
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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Just a clarification, Pi-hole runs on Linux, but it provides ad blocking/DNS redirect to the whole network. You point your router's DNS queries to it, so it works for everything attached to that network (phones, tablets, computers), not just Linux machines.

I've been using Pi-hole since it went public, and DNS blocking before that. Pi-Hole is really great, though it does require a bit of knowledge and tinkering to get working. I definitely recommend it in conjunction or as a replacement for local ad blocking.
Thanks, A..appreciate the insight. I posted it here, as they listed on their site a number of Linux distros it supports and I mistook that as meaning it was for Linux only..but I understand now.

One question..how would this effect the likes of Netflix and sites that pop up messages asking you to turn off AdBlocker..would you have to set up exceptions for such sites..or would they even be effected in the same way by this as they would by the AdBlocker browser plugin?

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Old 12-10-2017, 08:26 PM   #15
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

It works fine, in my experience. The black/whitelist is tweaked really well at this point.

To expand: DNS is the network service that translates domain names like google.com or idmf.com or whatever into associated IP addresses. The internet doesn't know what google.com means, it needs DNS at some level to translate that into numbers, the same way a phone book translates people's names into phone numbers. That's a great opportunity to take a list of those names and send them somewhere else, which is exactly what Pi-Hole does. It takes requests for [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
and replaces it with a local redirect to what pretty much is just a single pixel square, thus removing the add. It's a DNS black hole (made to work on a Raspberry Pi), thus the name.

The beauty here is that shitty-ad-service never gets the request, so a lot of times, those popups never show up because they never even tried to send anything. There are some webpages that check whether the ad service fulfilled their end of things and that can generate a pop up, but most of the time it just carries on like nothing happened. In drastic cases, it's easy enough to either turn Pi-hole off temporarily or to whitelist the site you're trying to visit. Anecdotally, I've never had a problem with Netflix or similar.

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Old 12-10-2017, 08:59 PM   #16
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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It works fine, in my experience. The black/whitelist is tweaked really well at this point.

To expand: DNS is the network service that translates domain names like google.com or idmf.com or whatever into associated IP addresses. The internet doesn't know what google.com means, it needs DNS at some level to translate that into numbers, the same way a phone book translates people's names into phone numbers. That's a great opportunity to take a list of those names and send them somewhere else, which is exactly what Pi-Hole does. It takes requests for [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
and replaces it with a local redirect to what pretty much is just a single pixel square, thus removing the add. It's a DNS black hole (made to work on a Raspberry Pi), thus the name.

The beauty here is that shitty-ad-service never gets the request, so a lot of times, those popups never show up because they never even tried to send anything. There are some webpages that check whether the ad service fulfilled their end of things and that can generate a pop up, but most of the time it just carries on like nothing happened. In drastic cases, it's easy enough to either turn Pi-hole off temporarily or to whitelist the site you're trying to visit. Anecdotally, I've never had a problem with Netflix or similar.
I was using the services of [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
for a while, in conjunction with the [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
service, but these days I just have VPN Unlimited. Would Pi-Hole work with both of these together or individually..and if so, how would that service chain look? Would I even need all of them or would that be over-kill?

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Old 12-10-2017, 09:48 PM   #17
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Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

VPN services work differently. They create a direct funnel between you and their service, so that everything you send out goes through them, and thus looks like it originates with them. It's like you ordering take away for me - you get it delivered to your house and then drive it to mine. The take away place has no idea who I am or the fact that I'm paying for it or eating it. That means if you stiff the delivery kid because I didn't give you enough money, they're mad at you and not me. So if you search for 'how to overthrow the government', google and the feds and whoever else see that as coming from the VPN's servers, not yours, and they don't come kick in your door. It adds privacy because it obscures the origin of what's happening*.

But your VPN will go fetch whatever you want, ads included. That's sort of the point of VPNs - they're there to go get whatever you tell them you want. They might have ad blocking similar to Pi-hole built in, but that's not the point of their service. It's an outward facing thing. Pi-hole, on the other hand, acts locally, before those requests get sent out. Pi-hole says "oh, you want something from shitty-ad-service! I'm just going to replace it with this white dot and not bother sending the request", so your VPN never gets the request because Pi-hole black holed it. That's actually one of the upsides of local DNS redirects - you have less traffic because Pi-hole is handling things locally instead of sending them out, leaving more bandwidth for good things.

Long story short, there shouldn't be any issue with running Pi-hole before a VPN, and it'd help clear congestion over the VPN by limiting some of the requests while maintaining privacy.

* that assumes your VPN doesn't roll over and show belly at the first sign of government involvement, and that your ISP doesn't get involved.

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Old 13-10-2017, 03:00 AM   #18
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Icon3 Re: Tips (preliminary, incomplete): Optimizing Linux and PulseAudio for DAW Use

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
It works fine, in my experience. The black/whitelist is tweaked really well at this point.

To expand: DNS is the network service that translates domain names like google.com or idmf.com or whatever into associated IP addresses. The internet doesn't know what google.com means, it needs DNS at some level to translate that into numbers, the same way a phone book translates people's names into phone numbers. That's a great opportunity to take a list of those names and send them somewhere else, which is exactly what Pi-Hole does. It takes requests for [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
and replaces it with a local redirect to what pretty much is just a single pixel square, thus removing the add. It's a DNS black hole (made to work on a Raspberry Pi), thus the name.

The beauty here is that shitty-ad-service never gets the request, so a lot of times, those popups never show up because they never even tried to send anything. There are some webpages that check whether the ad service fulfilled their end of things and that can generate a pop up, but most of the time it just carries on like nothing happened. In drastic cases, it's easy enough to either turn Pi-hole off temporarily or to whitelist the site you're trying to visit. Anecdotally, I've never had a problem with Netflix or similar.
While I'm generally against thread derailing, what you guys are both talking about is totally encouraging and interesting and useful and actually saves time and helps us focus more on our creative interests in the long run. So I'm thankful to you guys for talking about this type of thing.

This is exactly the type of innovation that helps to also keep systems a bit more secure from hacking and malware. And of course, if your DAW gets hacked down, you can't compose very well.

Also, if you need to look up online documentation about your DAW softwares or VST instruments and effects or your distro or whatnot. Getting your ISP bandwidth used up and/or slowed down by stuff that's irrelevant to your interests is counterproductive.

Personally, I find that it's only certain advertising networks that slow down my browsers the most, but they are harder and harder to block and I NEVER see the types of ads for anything I would ever buy! Also, I intentionally try to block tracking for political privacy reasons. Corporate interest groups are currently strangling America's liveliness in favor of the ultra-rich stealing from the poor and middle class, so I'm not really sympathetic to the ad industry who tries to sell us anything and everything non-stop without safety blockades or ethics for most of it.

Also, I believe and know from experience that other financial models exist for making money honestly and decently online and offline that don't involve advertising predation. I routinely buy really good FLAC audio files from [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
for example. They don't need to advertise. I just listen to the tunes that I like and when I can afford to, I buy them. And unlike Amazons several highly-frustrating download speedbumps, I just get the files and I'm done. There's no redirecting me to online hosting of the files that I bought. There's no preventing me from downloading multiple files. I just get what I paid for, and at a higher quality and a better user interface.

This in turn helps me to comprehend what's excellent about the electronic music scene and gives me enthusiasm and enjoyment to try and become a better musician also.

So then I come back here and share some of the good news about some of the best artists there or the niceness of the site, overall.

That's very much in keeping with the Linux philosphy of sharing good tools to make life better. So yeah, it all ties together.

EDIT: The only thing I would be concerned about is whether or not what you guys are talking about are any more vulnerable to "man in the middle" types of hacking attacks. I personally prefer not to use services that rely upon some unknown, stranger's web server to handle all of my data. That's a recipe for getting hacked into oblivion and is also why I don't use Tor (amongst other reasons). But if the servers can be be vetted somehow by the trusted internet communities to be free of malware and exploits, then I'm all for it.

Knowledge is power; I'm certainly not in favor of censorship when people are problem-solving.

Last edited by Daggit; 13-10-2017 at 06:08 PM..

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