Thursday, March 24, 2011

Is GNUGuitarINUX a FOSS Gateway Drug?

Recently I heard an interview on Frostcast specifically this episode where the host Jonathan Nadeau interviewed Victor Rosales the creator of the GNUGuitarINUX linux distribution.
What is GNUGuitariNUX you ask? Well, it is a live boot only (not installable) FOSS Linux distribution with a focus on a minimal speedy environment for guitarists to jam out, study or make music in. Basically it's something you can put into your computer without changing your existing operating system to try out some great FOSS music tools for guitarists.

Hardware you will need in advance:
a 1/4 inch male phone jack to 1/8 miniplug male jack to put in your Mic in or Line in input on your PC - looks like this or a USB audio device that looks like this. There is a great article on the Rakarrack web site that covers the hardware in detail - click here. Otherwise if you already have a USB external soundcard then it will be a question of configuring it.

So where are we going to now? This means that someone with an old laptop P3 or above can download and write this ISO image to a USB stick /SD card using Unetbootin or to a CD-R using these steps or using the tutorial directly from the GNUGuitarinux web page. After getting the image onto the bootable media, you will need to reboot your PC and press whatever key that allows you to choose the boot device (device to look for an operating system on). Examples are F12 or F9 or F10 - read the screen on boot and it should mention which key - in the case of my HPMini 110, its F9 to choose the boot device. Once you see the GNUGuitarINUX bootsplash screen, press Enter on Default. You should now after a time be seeing the pretty guitar wallpaper and some icons on the left of the screen - it should look like this.

Now that your here - lets take a look at the main apps and describe what they do:

Rakarrack: (sound of pic on strings) - this is the guitar effects box in software form.
Guitarix: another guitar effects box in software form.
Sooperlooper: create, layer, trigger loops to play along with.
TuxGuitar: tablature editor and player - Guitar Pro compatible import/export.
Jackd2: the patchbay to route your signal into the programs that will shape your sound.
Jack Capture: Record to WAV or OGG/MP3 what is going through the jack patchbay.
Hydrogen: Drum machine you can program and play along to.
gNinjam: A server you can join to jam along with other musicians across the internet.
GNU Solfege: Ear pitch training software.

Many of you reading this may be starting to nod off - you already know the apps, you already know the distro ... I don't want to preach to the choir. For you, I have something different in mind.

Let's suppose we demonstrate or give away a sd/usb/cd of GNUGuitarINUX to a Windows using guitarist friend with a laptop... What would happen? Would it get used as a general copy device or would it inspire and delight? Could GNUGuitarINUX be a soft drug on the way to becoming a hard core FOSS enthusiast?

Let's find out. If you do end up giving away or showing GNUGuitarINUX off - I'd like to hear about it. Please comment.

To find out more about GNUGuitarINUX visit the sourceforge web site for the Project.
To find out more about Frostcast and Frostbite media visit and

Thursday, March 17, 2011

KVR One Synth Challenge 26: ZynAddSubFX

The softsynth KVR picked out for this month's One Synth Challenge happens to be nothing less than good old ZynAddSubFX! The challenge is quite simple: create a track by using a single softsynth. Beats, basslines, everything has to be done with only one softsynth. Multiple instances are allowed, external effects also as long as they are freely and easily available. Well, since practically all plug-ins or external effect applications for Linux are freely available you can use just about anything. I've asked about the 'easily available' part but it doesn't matter if there are no Mac/Windows binaries available or no possibilities for using the plug-ins or apps on the aforementioned platforms. Apparently it's also ok to use a ZASFX derivative like Yoshimi.

This is actually the very first One Synth Challenge focusing on a Linux based softsynth so I'm expecting loads of entries from Linux musicians. I'd like to call upon all the jaycapela's, bass akwardz's,'s, folderol's, doosc's, louigi verona's and squeakyshoecore's within the Linux Audio community to cook up an entry and go for the honour as the prices are basically useless for Linux users anyway. How cool would it be if first place would be taken by a musician using Linux? The challenge lasts until the first of April so still two weeks to go. I'm working on my entry right as we speak and hopefully I manage to enter even more than one track because it is really fun and instructive to just work with Yoshimi and a sequencer (seq24 in my case).

Jeremy Jongepier

Edit: I've also posted an announcement on the Linux Audio User mailing list. To my surprise the discussion is going into a slight different direction than I had hoped. Bummer.