The Podcaster’s Studio in Linux

After yet another frustrating and disappointing experience with Windows, I’m making a fresh, updated and serious attempt to use Ubuntu Studio as a platform for our Podcast.

Audio_mixer_fadersAfter yet another frustrating and disappointing experience with Windows, (which I spoke about elsewhere), I’m making a fresh, updated and serious attempt to use Ubuntu Studio as a platform for our Podcast. As I make a change to the configuration of Studio fresh from its shiny wrapper, I shall update this blog to document my steps. So that I shall be able to see, if/when it all goes horribly pear-shaped, what I have to do to get back to the last known fully-working state. For that reason, it is just as important to record failures as it is successes. For my own benefit, as well as anyone else that may/may not be following my procedures, it is vitally important that I record the successes or failures as I progress.

To summarise my needs, I’ll briefly explain that I need a computer as a Digital Audio Workstation (DAW), a graphical design environment, a place to write and compose and finally, to provide me with the tools to maintain our website(s). I also use my PC for web browsing (the inevitable Book of Face) and for playing games as R&R. By switching to Studio as my primary OS, I will lose access to the majority of my Steam library which is a serious Pain. I have to ask myself whether working or playing is more important – and, for me, there is no contest.

So…

Installing Ubuntu Studio for the first time

I used my laptop to download the latest Studio ISO (version 16.10) and made a bootable USB Flash Drive from it. Next, started my PC from a cold boot, pressing F8 for the Boot selection menu. I chose the USB DISK as the boot device and, once loaded, chose to install Studio. I chose not to install any 3rd party proprietary drivers of META packages at this time as I could always do that later, and I just wanted a clean install to start with. So, I entered the installation details as normal, i.e., location, user account, timezone etc. – and away she went!

A little while later, 1 nice fresh little dual monitor, blue XFCE mouse displaying an installation of Studio that was ready to use. Interestingly enough, Studio did not find any USB drivers to power the interface to my 3rd Monitor so I’m still down to just the two monitors. A problem to try and fix later, I feel! ๐Ÿ™‚

Filebot for renaming Video files

I wanted my first task to be a simple one. Having experienced a superb application in Windows called Filebot that will happily rename and organise Video files, I was overjoyed to see that a Linux version of this program was available. So.. onto the task with gusto!

I headed on over to the Filebot website at http://www.filebot.net/ and chose to download what I thought was the most likely installation choice for my 32-bit installation of Studio – “filebot_4.7.2_i386.deb“. I selected ‘Open in Software Manager’, entered the root p/w and clicked Install when it came up.

I found it had added a menu entry for filebot under Video Production, but when I clicked it – nothing happened. A bit confused. So, I opened a Terminal window and

So, I opened a Terminal window and just typed:

filebot

at my user command prompt. Head-desk! An error message that politely informed me that I didn’t have Java installed. Now I knew that Filebot required Java, but for some reason I completely forgot at the critical moment – d’oh! So where to find an installation of Java?

Well, I found the following Q&A on the Ubuntu forums and it looked both recent enough and simple enough for an eedjit like me, so:

sudo apt-add-repository ppa:webupd8team/java
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install oracle-java8-installer

to add the Oracle repository, refresh and install Java. Everything proceeded without a hitch. The tutorial then asked me to set an envirnment varibale with:

ย export JAVA_HOME=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-oracle

Worked like a charm. Now to test the program. I clicked on the menu entry, and Bingo! the app launched beautifully! Happy Gary!

Success.

Preparing for Installation

As the workstation is using 3 monitors, I was somewhat concerned that I would lose functionality with Linux but a little bit of research told me that the chances of getting the third monitor to work were good.

The first step was to download the Ubuntu Studio distro (12.04 LTS) which I did from UbuntuStudio.org. I chose the 64 bit version to make full use of the hardware in the Workstation. As I wanted to install the distro from a USB Flash drive and not a DVD, I then downloaded the wonderful little tool from Pendrive Linux that does it all for you.

There are excellent instructions on how to install the iso image that you download from the studio website onto your flash drive, so I’ll skip over that bit…

As the workstation is using 3 monitors, I was somewhat concerned that I would lose functionality with Linux but a little bit of research told me that the chances of getting the third monitor to work were good. Two of the three monitors are plugged straight into the graphic card. The third is using a USB to DVI interface for which there is no official Linux driver … but there may be some workarounds.

So, once the BIOS had been set to boot from the USB drive first, it was time to give Ubuntu Studio a test drive and check how much of the hardware was still working!

The First Major Problem: Partitioning!

Everything seemed to work well, including the wireless mouse and so on. The third monitor had a nice green screen, which I was hoping to see. It indicated to me that I had a good chance of getting it working – as promised.

I started the installation program and it confirmed I had at least 7,5 Gb of HDD space, a working internet connection and asked me whether I wanted to download updates as I installed (“yes, please”) and whether I wanted third-party licensed software, such as MP3 decoders (“definitely, yes, please!”)! So, I hit continue, and after quite a while waiting…..

….I was faced with my first problem.

I was offered 3 choices: 1) Install alongside Windows (the choice I wanted!), 2) Replace Windows or 3) Something else (????). I clicked on the first choice only to discover that it would not allow me to install Ubuntu on my C Drive, but only on the external Hard Disk! I was not a happy camper! ๐Ÿ™‚

Exploring all of the options in Choice No. 3 seemed to offer no safe way of making any room on my Primary disk for the Ubuntu installation. It was then I remembered using a partition resizing utility from the days back when…!!! A quick search through the system utilities menu revealed the program I sought: Gparted.

Gparted – Holy Grail of Partitions

Identifying which of the drives was my boot drive (the Hitachi and not the Seagate) as windows labels weren’t applied was a minor irritation, and I soon found that by right clicking on /dev/sdb I could click on the re-size option and actually drag the boundary to left to make enough room. I left about 200 Gb and noticed that for formatting this new partition I had lots of choices, including a swap drive (I had forgotten that Linux required a swap drive!) and the new ext4 format. So, I chose this – leaving about 10 Gb to be formatted as swap drive.

Following a reboot, I again entered the Installation program and was disappointed to find that Choice 1 was still only showing my external HDD. Choice no. 3, however showed all my new partitions – yay! I had an /dev/sdb2 as ext4 and a /dev/sdb3 as swap!

Almost there now…

I needed to show the installer where to put its Linux. I had to set a mount point. The column is clear in the partition table, but how to do it? Doubling clicking the partition line brought up a dialogue where I was again asked what type of formatting I required (ext4 – d’oh!), whether I wanted to change the size, a tick box for formatting (ticked this as it was probably best to format it afresh) and a mount point option! I clicked the drop-down and selected theย  ‘/’ symbol, which I remember as being the symbol for ‘root’ or the starting point.
All looking good…. and all that remained was to click the “Install now” button! So here goes…..

It’s asking me my time zone (guessed it correctly), then the keyboard layout I want to use – all the while copying files in the background – and then asked me for my login details. You then get to play with a pretty slideshow showing you all the wonders of your soon-to-be-in-your-grubby-mitts installation! Ooh – exciting stuff! ๐Ÿ™‚