Tried the Brave browser

I’ve read a few good reviews about it lately, so I decided to try the Brave browser on my OS of choice (Debian GNU/Linux, currently the stable 10.0 “Buster” version). The brave website discovers your OS and offers an appropriate download method, on Debian it’s the way it should be: with installing another repository plus a key for it, so that updates and upgrades are automatic from then on. Cool.

It works very well so far, and it looks nice as well (haven’t imported any bookmarks or anything from other browsers yet):

Its background pictures cycle, and the statistics and the clock also look very nice. From first impressions, I like it a lot – plus it seems to have sane default settings as all the reviewers wrote already.

Nice. And Chromium based, so it’s also fast. I’ll report more when I have more experience with using it for a while.

And as always, thanks for reading.

Ardour 6.8

Just read about it this morning on my mobile phone, but as a supporter of Ardour I had it since yesterday already – and installed it on both Linux and Windows:

Ardour 6.8 on my Debian 10 “Buster” OS

I sat down with the guitar to record a bit with it, but got interrupted after 15 minutes or so – can’t always record with a microphone. But Ardour works as a charm, I’m using it since at least 2017 and couldn’t wish for anything else really.

A download of the binary file costs an amount of your own choice (starting at 1$/1€ I think), but it’s worth it. If you’re on Linux, you might have an older version from your repositories, or even this one from third party offerings like KXStudio and the likes.

Enjoy…

Your computer can’t run Win11? No problem – use Debian instead ;)

Here’s a list of Intel processors which are good enough to run the upcoming Win11. I have an older Core i5 (4th gen) in my desktop, and a Core i7 (6th gen) on my employers’ notebook – so both wouldn’t be able to run Win11 (not even considering TPM2.0 which is also needed).

No problema compañeras y compañeros – use the upcoming Debian 11 instead. It’s way better anyway. Comes with everything I’d ever need, built in, and free. What’s not to like?

Although a bit too early, the praise is still well deserved

Found this very positive article about the new and upcoming version of Debian 11 “Bullseye” in The Register yesterday. And although its author writes about a “release” a bit too early (RC2 is just out), his praise for this universal operating system is still well deserved, and his thoughts on topics like Debian vs. Arch or other things are very much congruent with my own ones.

So although I really recommend reading the article – especially if you heard about rumors of an upcoming Windows 11 (which will force you into using a Microsoft account if you got the “Home” version) – the real facts are here:

Full Freeze starts on 2021-07-17

The current RC2 (release *candidate* 2) can be downloaded here – most normal PCs would need the amd64 variant of this.

The work-in-progress release notes – and this page also tells you that it’s *not yet* released – can be found here. The planned release date is July 31st which could still change, so let’s wait and see.

But I know what I will download and use for the next 4- 5 years or until Debian 12 will be out. For those of you who don’t know much about it, see more on the Debian homepage. And thanks to the whole team for your work!

Ventoy

Yesterday I’ve found and then later installed Ventoy (see its Wikipedia page), an open source multiboot tool to create bootable media with – looks like the picture on its Wikipedia page:

In my case, I’ve put four different operating systems on my cheap 32GB stick, see them here on my file browser on Linux:

That’s the current Arch Linux and Windows 10 from this half year (21H1), plus live iso images of both the currently stable Debian 10.9 “Buster”, and the 20.04 LTS version of UbuntuStudio. Plus I have an own folder on it which I cleaned up a bit as well, so now the stick is less than half full.

This is cool – I’ve tried it on my own machine after work, and booted into UbuntuStudio to verify that it works. And if you want to change any of these operating systems to newer versions, simply swap out their iso files, and that’s it, which makes upgrading and staying current really easy.

Look at the Ventoy webpage in case you’re interested. And it will format your stick with the exFAT file system so that even images with more than 4GB (like the Windows you see above which has some 5.3 or so Gigabytes) can be stored – FAT32 can’t do that.

RRS (Really recommended stuff), and thanks to “longpanda” and the Ventoy team 🙂

Update, from June 2nd: just added Fedora Workstation 34 to the images on my USB key. This is a live image like Debian and Ubuntu so it’s bootable without changing anything on your machine. And while it’s not as current as the rolling release Arch distribution, it still comes with Gnome 40. It also invents Pipewire as the default audio system which is supposed to replace both Alsa *and* Jack one day, so playing around with that (as a musician) could also be interesting. Fedora is the development testbed and free version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and like it comes with free software only (by default). So it’s well worth having a look at in case you don’t mind using RPM and dnf (or yum) instead of apt (Debian/Ubuntu) or pacman (Arch).

Integration of mobile phones with Linux

On the KDE Plasma site I’ve seen this:

KDE Connect

And after reading about it a bit, I’ve found that you can have the same for Gnome, as a shell extension which can be installed and configured from your browser, like in my case, Firefox. It’s called GSConnect, see here:

Of course I had to try that, so I installed KDE Connect onto my Android phone, and GSConnect onto my Debian/Gnome desktop. And indeed, I can move my mouse on the big screen with my phone, transfer files like music or photos between both devices, receive notifications and/or SMS, the possibilities are seemingly endless… oh, and in case you forgot where you’ve put your phone, let it ring from your computer.

Very nice. Works only with Android phones, for iOS and Apple devices or for other operating systems than Linux you’ll have to search for alternatives. Shouldn’t be too hard to find, since we’re talking free and open source software here, as always.

Fun! 🙂

Thanks for reading. And thanks to the developers who make stuff like that! 🙂

The new Ardour 6.3 is out, and it has a really cool feature

As you might know in case you’re reading this blog once in a while, my DAW (digital audio workstation) of choice is the free and open source tool called ‘Ardour‘. And almost 2 weeks ago, the project announced its latest release 6.3, with the list of changes here.

And today I finally found the time to download (I’m a supporter, otherwise that would cost you at least 1$) and to try this version, which I did on Windows (I normally use it on Linux, but on that platform I always wait for new software being added to the repositories – too much to explain here and now). And I tested this new feature, the new Loudness Analyser, with a cool song from a few friends from Wikiloops which I had downloaded but not worked on yet (so it doesn’t have a bass) – hear Marc’s original remix and keyboard add here if you wish:

Ok; so I’ve put this track in a shared drive which the machine can “see” both from Windows and Linux, so first of course I started Ardour 6.3:

Then I added the track above (“Sunny Garden”), and checked the tracks loudness with right-clicking on it. Result:

As you can see, the integrated loudness is -15LUFS, and the True Peaks are +0.9dB – so integrated is perfectly fine depending on what you’re about to do with it, but the peaks are a bit hot and even distorted.

You’ll find the new Loudness Analyser tool in the master channel/bus of the DAW, on the right hand in the following screenshot, above the master fader where it says ‘LAN’ and ‘0.00dB’:

If you click on that LAN tool, a dialog with an explanation opens:

And if you further click on ‘Analyze’ it will show you its default setting which is EBU R 128:

Now EBU R 128 is for the European TV standard loudness which as you can see is -23 LUFS (integrated), with True Peaks of -1dB. And while that is perfectly fine and always recommendable in case you want to send something to a broadcasting station, most of us don’t do this, but rather use some streaming services to upload to – all of which have different settings to which they’ll reduce your track in case it’s too loud for them. Here’s a list of choices you have:

You see that for instance Youtube which is currently selected would (and will) reduce such a track to -14 LUFS and to -1dBTP – and under the ‘Measured’ column you can also see that for Youtube the integrated (average) loudness could even be higher, but since the true peaks aren’t -1 but +0.9 it will reduce the total gain by an amount of -1.93dB. If we do that ourselves here we can at least check the result *before* uploading it elsewhere…

I always use -16 LUFS and -1dBTP as my target, which is what the choice of the ‘Apple Music’ streaming service would also do. So all of the tracks of all of my albums in Wikiloops (which *I* remixed last) have that same loudness, and to you, dear listener that means that you won’t have to always look for the volume knob in case you’ll hear one of those in the car or elsewhere… and note that the loudness reduction for *this* track would be absolutely the same as when deciding on Youtube as the ‘target’ – because of that peak of +0.9dB somewhere (and note that peak also shown in both the channel and master strips in this screenshot:

So the reduction in this case is also -1.93dB. So, ok – I applied this as my setting for this song and export, which leads to this changed part in the master channel:

So during exporting of the song, I checked that I want another analysis *after* that export (to see the result), with setting the checkmark here:

And after the exporting is done, I see the new analysis:

So now the track is at -16.9LUFS and -1dBTP which is fine, unless of course you even care for that last 0.9 dB of integrated loudness – in that case you’d have to go back to the channel and find that peak marked in yellow in the left channel of the above screenshot, correct that a bit (like with an automated fader down of a dB or so over it), and repeat – it’s an iterative process if you really want to be the ‘master’ engineer of your track(s).

Anyway, I’ve listened to that normalised track with my calibrated headphones again, and be assured that Marc’s (and Oliv’s and Martin’s) track still sounds wonderful.

And what I also find wonderful is that even in a no cost (or low cost with the 1$ for the download as minimal selectable amount) environment we now have tools like these which really make life a lot easier even for us non-technicians. So for today, thank you for reading, and I’ll let Zuleikha (an older photo of her) greet you from the background of my Windows partition:

Ubuntu Studio 20.04 LTS

Current home page of Ubuntu Studio

Yesterday I’ve tried and downloaded Ubuntu Studio 20.04 LTS “Focal Fossa” (with its standard XFCE desktop), wrote the Live image to a USB stick, and booted my work notebook from it after work.

That’s quite a nice release, and everything I tried worked right out of the proverbial box, even from that “Live” USB stick. There were some packages I’ve never even seen before, like for instance OBS Studio with which you could make training videos or even live stream some computer games to Youtube if you’re into that kind of thing.

Ardour is still in version 5 on it, and the reasons for that are explained in their news section.

Otherwise, it’s what the home page says: a free and open operating system for creative people, very nice, and everything which is difficult when using ‘normal’ distributions like my Debian (on which Ubuntu is based of course), or which would require some extra work like the audio and/or realtime stuff is preconfigured already, so you can simply start making music, or developing your photographs, make movies or drawings, whatever creative people might want to do.

Documentation including some really nice books is/are here.

Very nice, and highly recommended – that one costs nothing, makes things really easy, and brings the fun back into computing.

As always, thanks for reading.

Thoughts about switching to Linux

Marko Saric wrote an interesting article on opensource.com with the title ‘How to know if you’re ready to switch from Mac to Linux‘.

Just yesterday I was complaining about everything non-Mac or non-iOS in an email to my brother, and the reason for that were the audio system, the general focus on arts like music, photos, and videos, which no other system except those out of Cupertino handle as well in my opinion. Now comes someone and goes back from there, as did others before…

For me, I’m on Linux like forever now. I was some 20 or more years younger than now when I decided to switch from an OS which couldn’t in my opinion be supported anymore because it was deliberately a ‘black box’ (Windows) to something open source. My team lead at work during that time suggested to concentrate on Solaris instead of Linux, so I did both, and learned about both.

Like many here in Germany, I started with Suse, then later switched to Red Hat for a while, and decided sooner or later that I had enough of its ‘RPM hell’, so with a brief side-step over the BSDs to learn about proper package management and Gentoo (make it all yourself, a bit like Arch now) I ended up with Debian due to a tip of a younger colleague in the healthcare IT company I was working for by then.

Marko, in his very nice and recommended article above, recommends Fedora – and although he’s right about the Gnome desktop environment and many other things, please keep in mind that opensource.com is sponsored by Red Hat (which were by now bought by my current employers), while Debian is strictly non-commercial which I prefer by far. The fact that it’s no company at all means that it can’t be bought or sold or otherwise ruined by bad management and/or shareholder or other interest than the interest of those who actually make it. The best model of all IMNSHO.

So why was I complaining about not being on a Mac or on iOS in that email to my brother? It was mainly because of this article (in German) on gearnews, about Steinberg’s Cubasis 3 now also being available for the Android operating system (formerly iOS only).

Of course that’s a clever and bold move from Steinberg (who belong to Yamaha, the world’s biggest vendor of musical intruments in case you didn’t know that). But it’s the underlying Android OS (by Google mostly) which neglected audio during the last years, and which – in opposite to its Apple counterparts – still isn’t really fit for multitasking at all. Plus Apple makes (or has someone make) their own processors, and their A13 chip in the new iPhone SE is pretty much without any real competition (look at benchmarks if you don’t believe me) – even if the current Google Pixel 3a is still the best value per Dollar (or Euro) for the general public and user(s), for artists there’s still nothing better than an iPhone, an iPad, or a Mac, no matter the cost.

So there you have it. Why am I still on Linux then? Well, first because of the costs (can’t afford a MacBook Pro and an iPad Pro and whatever), but mostly because of the freedom. The freedom of choice, the freedom to build my own hardware, or to tinker with my OS and system as much as I like, the freedom to recommend or even give it all to friends if I like to, and, last not least, on Linux we’re having some real ‘badass’ stuff as well, and it’s getting better day by day. Try Ardour as an example, yes it also exists for Windows or a Mac, but it’s native on Linux – and that makes all the difference. Or Blender, or Gimp, or RawTherapee – we’re getting there, people, even the so-called ‘creatives’ amongst us.

So go and read that article of Marko’s, even if you’re currently not on a Mac. And substitute ‘Fedora’ with either ‘Arch’ (or ‘Manjaro’ if you want an Arch which is a bit easier to install), or with ‘Debian’ (or ‘Ubuntu’ or ‘Mint’ or whatever) if you want the best package management (which is pretty much irrelevant for a rolling release distro like Arch or Manjaro & Co).

Recommended reading.