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Fedora Audio Spin: Creating Music With Fedora [Exclusive Interview]

Brendan Jones, a member of the Fedora Audio SIG and the Fedora Audio mentor for the Google Summer of Code, recently proposed the revival of Fedora Audio Spin / Music Creation efforts. Since Fedora is now accepted in GSoC we approached Brendan to understand the goal of the project. Here is an exclusive interview with Brendan Jones.

Swapnil: Can you tell us more about the Fedora Audio Spin, what is the goal of the project?
Brendan:
Traditionally Fedora has been known to walk the leading edge in free and open source software development but for some reason this has never been realised in the realms of pro-audio/music creation.

We see the Fedora Audio spin as a great way to encourage people to use Linux audio and strengthen and invigorate the community surrounding Fedora Audio. We are aiming at producing a spin which allows Linux audio enthusiasts to quickly setup up and configure their audio workstations for audio and music production.

Fedora Audio Spin

Swapnil: Who will be the target audience of Fedora Audio Spin?
Brendan:
The Fedora Audio spin will be targeted at both enthusiasts and professionals alike. We are also see the Live CD’s for new users who have always wanted to try out Linux Audio but weren’t sure where to start. Hopefully the live CD can also serve as a backup portable studio with all the packages you need!

Swapnil: What will be the core components of the Fedora Audio Spin, what kind or apps will be used?
Brendan:
The final make of the spin is really yet to be decided. We are throwing around a lot of ideas at the moment, but the way things are shaping up I anticipate the final spin will involve two releases, a Live disk and a larger DVD installer.

The final choice of the Live Desktop Environment has also yet to be decided, but of course all the major DE’s will be available at the time of install depending on preference.

As for software, we are hoping to provide a real showcase of Linux Audio on the Audio Spin. For Desktop Audio Workstations we will be shipping the latest releases of QTractor and Ardour. Music editing and sequencing is covered by Audacity, Lilypond, Fresobaldi, Rosegarden and Muse. We also aim to ship all of the currently released LV2 plugins, along with all of the legacy LADSPA and DSSI plugins to date. For the synth and sampler enthusiast we will be including great projects like Hydrogen, Yoshimi/Zynaddsubfx, Bristol and Fluidsynth along with various other plugins (such as Calf).

We will also be utilising Fedora Multimedia menus, a package which catalogues audio software into easy to find categories based on desktop file attributes. Along with all of this you’ll find the Fedora Musicians Guide, an invaluable tool, not just for Fedora users but anyone with an interest in Linux Audio.

Of course after installation people can install anything available from the Fedora repositories.

Swapnil: Can you also tell us about the availability and status of music production, audio mastering and audio editing applications on the GNU/Linux platform?
Brendan:
I think this is a really exciting time for Linux Audio! At the moment there are so many great projects undergoing heavy development, with DAWs such as Qtractor and the imminent release of Ardour 3. LV2 plugin development is also taking off and I think this is really going to change the landscape of Linux Audio as it matures. We are also seeing great improvements in audio session support (JackSession, Ingen, Ladish and others) which is finally allowing all of these great applications work together.

Swapnil: What is the need of Fedora Audio Spin when there are projects like Ubuntu Studio?
Brendan:
We see the Audio Spin as an alternative to people who are attracted to the underlying foundations of Fedora (Freedom, Friends, Features, First) and are also interested in Linux Audio. Fedora likes to track upstream projects very closely whilst others may be more focused more on the stability of established releases and long term support. Fedora is also a completely free and libre distribution (meaning we won’t ship any patent encumbered software) which is very attractive to a lot of people.

Swapnil: Can you tell us about the team behind Fedora Audio Spin?
Brendan:
The main team behind the Audio Spin is chiefly the Fedora Audio Creation Special Interest Group (SIG). This team is a collection of enthusiastic Fedora users driven by the common desire to make the best Linux distribution also the best for Music Creation and Audio Production. Team membership is open to all Fedora contributors, and participation on the Fedora Music mailing list and irc channels (#fedora-audio) is open to everyone.

Swapnil: How closely are you working with the Fedora team and the teams of audio projects?
Brendan:
Over the coming months we will be working very closely with a number of the Fedora project teams, such as the Fedora Spins team, Fedora Sound, Fedora Design Team, as well as Fedora QA and many of the audio package maintainers. As with all Fedora projects we will be working very closely with upstream projects by providing feedback on their releases and helping diagnose bugs.

We will also be working very closely with Planet CCRMA, a third party Fedora repository which has long been a great source of knowledge and software for Fedora audio users.

Swapnil: Hardware is one of the major issues with Linux-based distributions. I was looking at the Ubuntu Studio mailing list and people have a lot of hardware related issues. What are the issues according to you and how do you plan to solve it?
Brendan:
There are number of issues at play here and they are not just limited to hardware. Of course, like many hardware manufactures, some pro-audio hardware manufacturers are more Linux Friendly than others when it comes to helping ALSA or FFADO develop device drivers. Unfortunately, there’s really not much for an Audio spin to do here except to provide support to these projects as best they can by posting meaningful bug reports, testing and feedback to the upstream developers.

Hardware configuration and getting your device(s) to play nicely together with Jack and pulseaudio has proven to be very difficult for some people. We’re endeavouring to alleviate this burden by way of the Fedora Musician’s Guide and our other documentation efforts. We are also following projects like KXStudio who are also seeking to solve this issue with applications which allow you to easily configure and bridge the different audio subsystems. Obviously its impossible to solve all hardware configuration issues but this problem is
something that’s very high on our list of what we’d like to address.

Swapnil: What kind of funding do you have, or what kind of funding or support are you looking for?
Brendan:
We are not looking for any funding. We only request that people donate their time and good will if they are interested in helping us out.

Swapnil: If someone wants to contribute to the Fedora Audio Spin project, how can he/she do it?
Brendan:
There are a number of ways people can help. We are always looking for me people to package and maintain software, test updates and trying out the install media. People can also help by adding to the various wikis and documentation such as the Fedora Musicians guide.

One great way to help is the simple sharing of knowledge – joining in the discussions, sharing discoveries people have made and perhaps just letting us know how we are doing, good or bad, and what we can do to make it better.

Swapnil: Have you applied for the GSoC? How do you think GSoC will help the project? How will the project help the larger free software community and user-base?
Brendan:
Yes, we have listed the Fedora Audio spin as part of the Fedora Google Summer of Code submission. Fedora has since been accepted and we will be accepting applications from students after March the 26th.

We are looking for one or two candidates to assist us in the complete
development cycle of this project. The bulk of the effort lies in packaging open source audio projects and integrating many of the packages from the PlanetCCRMA repository into Fedora. Other tasks may include the testing of install media and developing small applications to better integrate with the Fedora Desktop.

I think this is a really good opportunity for students to learn more about Linux Audio and how open source projects like Fedora really work. It will also promote a lot more discussion on the mailing lists and hopefully provide the project with a more formalised/focused effort which can only be a good thing.

We are looking for aspiring bloggers and journalists for The Mukt. If you are interested, apply now!

Check out these links if you are interested in Fedora Audio Spin

Slideshow Image:
Swapnil Bhartiya

A free software fund-a-mental-ist and Charles Bukowski fan, Swapnil also writes fiction and tries to find cracks in the paper armours of proprietary companies. Swapnil has been covering Linux and Free Software/Open Source since 2005.

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