Ubuntu Studio Grows Stronger Everyday

•August 28, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I am very impressed with Ubuntu Studio 14.04! After many years of struggling to get my notebook and desktops to meet my demands, I no longer struggle when using this Ubuntu distribution. I find more freedom and possibilities using this distribution for music recording (this includes vst-host for windows dlls!).

Here is a screen-capture of my 3 monitor setup running the various recording apps:

Screen Capture of my Ubuntu Studio Setup

I finally abandoned Ninjam (wineasio was a constant pain!) and switched to “jammr” (http://jammr.net/). I am using “cairo-dock” in the XFCE4 desktop (removing the main XFCE panel). I find XFCE4 a better environment to work in (and have used GNOME and KDE for years). I can use compiz in XFCE4, and am pleased to see that wobbly windows and other compiz effects finally work without doing a complicated song and dance!

One Big Paper-Clip

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

One Big Paper-Clip

I once used a volume control pedal for the band I play in, but it broke a few years ago…

A small “toothed strip of plastic” broke-off from the main pedal, and it didn’t look like it would be easy to repair. After going to several music stores, I was informed that a replacement unit would cost between $80 and $100. I decided to try to repair the unit. To be more accurate (and honest), it turns out I “waffled” between repairing and buying a new pedal for a couple of years…

This weekend, I screwed up my courage to repair the pedal while saving $100. This was easier said than done!

First, I crazy-glued the base of the broken piece, but it didn’t hold (strike 1!). I then tried to “knock out” the small metal pin holding a portion of the broken plastic strip from its base (with a hammer and nail) in order to re-drill and reattach the “toothed stip”, but one side of the rotating base broke-off (strike 2!).

As a “last ditch attempt”, I broke-off the other base, drilled a tiny hole at the bottom of the plastic strip and then drilled two holes beside where the toothed strip was to be attached to the pedal base. I found a BIG paperclip, straightened it out, fed it through the based of the plastic strip, made a 90 degree bend on both sides, fed both wires through the holes in the base pedal and simply secured the wire ends to “clip onto” the base pedal (home run!). It isn’t the “pride of Muskoka”, but it works, and very well I might add…

One BIG paperclip, 5 minutes of labour, and now I can use my volume pedal! There must be a little “Mcgiver” in me waiting to get out!


Murray Saul

I’m Loving It…

•March 25, 2014 • Leave a Comment

I'm Loving It...

Portable Keyboard stand (quite stable): $24 (Long & McQuade)
2 Laminate Flooring Samples: Free (Home Depot)
Bottom Keyboard: (24 year old roland u20 – loaned from my bandmate)
Upper Keyboard controller (maudio axiom49): Free (Given to me by colleague)
Maudio Uno Midi-to-USB adaptor: $40 (Long & McQuade)
Netbook Computer (Acer Aspire One): $100 (5 years old, wasn’t being used)
Chair: $4.99 (XS Cargo)
OS: Free (Linux – Ubuntu Studio 13.10)
Software:Free (Jack Audio, Qsynth, setBfree)

Total Cost: $170 (although $70 for me since netbook computer was just “sitting around”)

Not listening to “music experts” that state you MUST spend thousands of dollars on dual keyboard ($2400), expensive dual layer keyboard stands ($500 – $800), and expensive software solutions ($300 – $2400) to play live (which I have done with the “Linux” solution – for “years”):


Come together

•February 17, 2014 • Leave a Comment

Rare video of my daughter singing with the band I play in. You can see me “groovin'” in the background on keyboards. This was a gig we did on Feb 1st 2014 in Kingston Ontario during a terrible snow storm, but you can’t tell from the crowd’s response at the end 🙂

Best heard with headphones…

Peace out…

Promoting Open Access in GTA Public Libraries

•March 12, 2011 • 1 Comment

Occasionally, I go to the Public Libraries in the GTA (Greater Toronto Area) to complete my work.

I do this to make better use of my time while waiting for band practice, or waiting (as a chauffeur) until my daughter has finished her rehearsals or actual performances. Currently, she is performing in a Disney theatrical production of Camp Rock, but I digress…

Normally, public libraries in the GTA provide wireless Internet access. Unfortunately, I have been unable to connect to their wireless systems with my Ubuntu Linux netbook during past visits. When I brought this to the attention of the front staff, they suggest that I “fill out a comment and put it in the complaint box”, or fetch their resident “computer expert”, which in turn, informs me to: “fill out a comment and put it in the complaint box”.

Therefore, this time (before going to the library) I tried a different approach:

  1. I researched and I found a web-site link that solves this particular problem:


    (Ironically, it requires Internet access to download some applications, but perhaps you can do this now prior to going to the library)

  2. Before leaving for the library, I made several printouts of the solution, which in turn I:
    • Handed to the front staff to inform them that I have already solved the problem, and would like to contribute to make the library more “open”
    • Asked them to give a copy to their “expert”.
    • Stapled another printout to the “comment form”, and stuffed the comment into the “complaint box” (although it is not a complaint)

This procedure also works for access to City of Brampton’s WIFI sites… This is very useful in case you need to work in areas such as community centres. In that way, if the library closes, and you need to work while still waiting to pick up your daughter from rehearsals… >;)

By the way, I have made this post from one of the public libraries in
Brampton, Ontario,

Enjoying the journey of discovery, and non-conformity…
Murray Saul

Get Battery Inidacator to work in AWN (Acer AspireOne Netbook a751h)

•March 2, 2011 • Leave a Comment

One of the last remaining “tweaks” I needed to perform on my Acer AspireOne Netbook (a751h), was to get the battery indicator to work on my Avant Window Navigator docking panel. Previously, upon boot-up, the battery was not recognised.

Here is a solution that worked for me:

  1. Install acpitools application. Go to Administration -> Synaptic Package Manager. Search for acpi tools, and mark for download and install.
  2. Login as super-user
  3. Edit the file called /etc/rc.local and add the command: acpitools
  4. Reboot your computer
  5. Add the battery indicator to your awn docking panel (This will require you have AWN-extras (and extras python) installed on your system)

    To add the battery indicator applet to AWN:

    • Right-click on awn docking panel, and select Dock Preferences
    • Select the Applets tab
    • Select the Battery applet
    • click the down arrow (below) to add to your docking panel

Your battery indicator should know appear correctly in your docking panel.

If you are looking for a different look for your battery indicator, check out this link: html


Improve Computer’s Performance in Ubuntu Studio

•February 12, 2011 • Leave a Comment

I am running Ubuntu studio on my Acer AspireOne a751h netbook. have noticed when running other Bristol keyboard emulators, the CPU usage is very high in the Jack audio server – this can cause sound distortion. This is no doubt attributed to the limited power of the arm processor – adding RAM will not have a considerable impact on the quality of multiple Bristol emulators.

There is a method to change your Acer AspireOne (or any computer that has the SpeedStep feature) into performance mode in order to keep CPU Usage within acceptable levels. By default, Ubuntu Studio has set the default CPU frequency (i.e. performance) of newly installed computers to “On Demand”. This is for a number of reasons including not constantly requiring fan to draw down the battery (although I would be plugged in for practice and performance anyways). The Acer Aspireone a751h CPU has the “speedstep” feature, and will now show the step to change it to “performance”.

Steps to Enhance CPU performance (Acer AspireOne a751h):

  1. ATTENTION:.Take time to read these instructions. Flashing BIOS can come with risks and I take no responsibility for any disasters encountered, but this procedure did work for me…
  2. Check BIOS version. I had version 3010, which didn’t support Speedstep feature, but version 3012 does support that feature (which means you need to download version, and flash your BIOS).
  3. I have dual boot, so decided to perform the BIOS flash in my MS WIndows XP portion of notebook:
    1. Boot netbook into MS Windows (not Ubuntu Linux)
    2. Go to following page to download most recent BIOS version from ACER webpage: http://support.acer.com/us/en/productdefault.aspx?tab=5&modelId=1112
    3. Unzip the file folder in c:\windows\system32
    4. Make certain you are logged into MS Windows as ”administrator” (if you have not created password for account, you should do so, or procedure may not work!)
    5. Use Windows Explorer to navigate to the BIOS_Acer_3212 subdirectory you unzipped, and proceed in the subdirectory called Windows.
    6. Right-click on the WinPhlash file and then select Run.
    7. You will be prompted for ”authorization”. Select for account, then enter your administrator account name and password.
    8. Carefully read all instructions before proceeding with flashing your BIOS. Your machine should be plugged in. It would be a bad, bad thing if your machine is powered off in the middle of flashing your BIOS! The decision to flash you BIOS is yours, not mine.
    9. Proceed with the flashing of your BIOS. When completed, the system will reboot.
  4. When your system reboots, select Ubuntu Linux at the Grub boot-loader menu.
  5. There is an applet for the Gnome panel called CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor. Add this applet to your gnome panel by right-clicking on your panel and then selecting “Add to Panel” and select that applet. Note: If you are running another panel system like ”’Avant Window Navigator”’ (like me), you can open a terminal and run the command gnome-panel, and add the ”CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor” applet. Don’t worry, when you reboot your machine the settings you make to the CPU Frequency and Scaling Monitor will remain, although the gnome-panel will not be present.
  6. Click the icon for ”CPU Frequency Scaling Monitor” and select Performance.
  7. Launch your Jack audio system and keyboards, and you should notice a noticeable improvement in the performance and CPU usage.

Murray Saul