Monday, March 2, 2015

Cheaper Music Making - part 3 KxStudio

So from part 1 and part 2, we have a Linux environment on a chromebook that will hopefully become our music studio. In this installment, we will add a new repository to the Linux environment and install a huge amount of sound-making software.

The Linux environment we have so far is pretty generic. We have a basic GUI and not a whole lot else so far. Since we are using Chrome OS as our base kernel, we have a few constraints on what we do Linux-wise. There are a few Linux distributions that are geared towards music making including Unbuntu-Studio and KxStudio to mention two of them.

For our installation, we are going to use KxStudio, but we are not going to install a full Linux since we already are running Chrome OS. What we are going to do is to add the KxStudio repository to our installation and then add only the pieces of KxStudio that we need to make music.

The first step to add KxStudio applications to our already installed environment is to add the repository into our Linux chroot. For that we need to:

  1. Press Ctrl-Alt-T to open our Crosh shell
  2. Type shell and press enter
  3. Type sudo startxfce4 -n kxstudio to go into our linux environment
  4. Click on the Terminal icon in our Linux environment to open a shell window
  5. Type sudo add-apt-repository ppa:kxstudio-team/kxstudio (you'll be prompted to enter your password)
  6. Type sudo apt-get update to refresh the packages available
  7. Now type sudo apt-get install kxstudio-repos
  8. and one more time sudo apt-get update
  9. and last to update any packages that kxstudio has newer versions of, we will run sudo apt-get dist-upgrade
After doing all of this, the package manager in our Linux installation will now have access to the tons of music programs availabe via kxstudio as well as its original installation. Package managers in Linux are there to work out dependencies so that when you install something, all the pieces needed for it to work will be installed as well and if there is a conflict, the package manager should tell you. 

To make our lives easier moving forward, let's install a graphical package installation tool instead of always using "apt-get" from the command line.

  1. In our terminal window, type sudo apt-get install synaptic to install the package management tool.
  2. Once this is done, you should see in your applications menu (upper left of laptop), under the System menu, an option for Synaptic package manager. Clicking this will prompt you for your password and will display a graphical window that we can use to install future programs into our environment.

Now we have an easier way to filter and install our software. I suggest pressing the "Search Results" button and type "kxstudio-meta" into the quick filter box. This will show several "meta packages" which contain groups of applications that can be installed all at once.

I started by clicking the box next to kxstudio-desktop. This will install tons of software and drivers for the kxstudio environment including an office suite and a fair amount of productivity software. I like having these, but technically you might not need these for just music. In any event, selecting this and pressing apply installed some 800+ files onto the environment - it takes awhile! 

The next selections you will need include:

Make note of the others, you may want to install more of the codecs (MP3 for example) and some of the other files. Please avoid anything related to the linux kernel since we are sharing the Chrome OS kernel in our environment. Once you go through installing these options, your Applications menu will have a huge multimedia set of programs for music creation. Next comes the fun task of configuring this mess to actually make noise! 

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