Archive for February, 2009

a real-time kernel on a netbook

As I hoped it would be I can now give you some good news about using a real-time kernel on an ATOM platform. Basically: it works!

I bought an eeepc 1000h, one of those small laptops, which has an N270 chip from intel, 1GB of memory and a 160GB hard disc. I thought, this cannot have much less performance than my old laptop (see the About-page). I have an ubuntu 8.04 installed and usually run the linux-eeepc kernel.

To have good audio performance, I installed the real-time kernel from the 8.04¬† repositories and did what I wrote in the first post. Then I started the jack daemon with “/usr/bin/jackd -R -dalsa -dhw:0 -r48000 -p1024 -n2” and it worked quite well. I expected a lot of problems, but no. For some cutting, single track recording or trying bits and pieces it should be okay. I’ll give it a go and will try it out more. With an external audio card it could even be better…

So this is not bad. What the standard real-time installation still misses is a working  network. The camera and special keys do not do anything either. But I think, for the moment, this does not really matter.


sound databases

Well, before going on to the promised topics I’ll tell you something else. When you are looking for samples, sound bites, weird noises or any other piece of sonic experience you might go out and record at your will. But you might not have recording equipment or there is no chance for you to find a suitable source. Then you will probably search the internet for help. There are a few resources where one can find samples for free but to me the most intriguing is

the freesound project
At one finds a growing number of Creative Commons-licensed samples. Anybody can listen to them, downloading is only possible after registration. This, however, is free of charge and easily done in an instant. You need a valid e-mail adress to do so.
The sounds are documented by the uploading user and furthermore tagged with single words. The site has a section with geo-tagged sounds to find the sound of a Waikiki thunderbolt or of a Greenland river.

not-so-free sound projects
Apart from above database, there are many more resources, but it is not always clear if the material is free to use or not. So it will be up to you to find it out. There is a sound search engine which will find a lot of links to sounds throughout the internet but you cannot be sure about the license. One would have to ask the provider of the samples concerned.

probably-copyrighted sound project
A different kind of resource is the wav planet where you find lots of quotes from movies and TV shows. This service is probably not legal in many countries of the world, so check with your lawyer or with your government.

things to come

Since the last post it has been a while, but the blog is not dead! That concert drained a lot of energy, therefore the publishing had to wait. Back on track, at the moment I am working on new posts. If working out as planned, there will be

  • a follow-up to the “Introduction to Sooperlooper”,
  • some insights into sound generation with python
  • and hopefully good news about using ATOM powered platforms for making live music.

I know that most people think, only the fastest and the best computer is good for music generation. But music has been made on computers for many years by now. Actually, this ATOM cpu seems to be close to the performance of the 1.4GHz Centrino, with which I have made some very good experiences. So, what is more important in the end is the creativity of the musician rather then the capacity of the equipment.

I haven’t been able to find a working real-time kernel for an ATOM cpu and my efforts on compiling my own haven’t been very fruitful. But I’ll keep looking for it. Maybe one should launch something like a netbookRT.sourceforge project? Any comments/ideas?