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Free software for practical use


eSpeak is a commandline based audio synthesis programme.
It came standard with Ubuntu (8.04) and works perfectly on this amd64 bit computer.

This simple line of text does several lovely little bits of magic: espeak -vnl -f voicetest.txt -w TEST.wav
-vnl: choose the Dutch voice (more languages here: http://espeak.sourceforge.net/languages.html )
-f: choose a textfile as sourcematerial to read from.
-w: save this text in this soundfile.

Audacity “error while opening sound device”

Old faithful Audacity, the easy sound editing programme has been disappointing me for a while now, in the sense that I can open a sound, convert it to another format, but I cannot listen to it (highly unpractical for a sound editor)…

“error while opening sound device”

Now, I have looked for some solutions – and this Ubuntu forum post seems to be the most promising at the moment:::


I still need to try these suggestions – and promise to report back on the easiest one.

* System used: Ubuntu 8.04, realtime kernel 2.6.24*

Rocbox actually rocks – or how to change the firmware on your audioplayer to Free Software

A couple of years I ago, I bought a Iriver H340, a sound hard disc recorder for Constant, because the minidiscs were getting old and after some time, you really get sick of digitalizing the 567.273 minidiscs.

I was really not pleased about this machine, because you could for example, not easily change the sound input levels. You could also only record 80 minutes and then the recording stopped. All kinds of annoying glitches you would not expect. The machine (‘s software!) was dictating what you could do with it, and not the other way around.

After some moping about, and grumbling, I decided to try to put Rockbox on the recorder, because, hey, it could not get any worse! Rockbox is software, firmware, an “operating system” for sound devices from for example Apple, Archos, Cowon, iriver, Olympus, SanDisk, Toshiba.

I must say, that it took me a whole afternoon to install Rockbox, but I have not regretted it a minute since.
It is fantastic.
The menu’s are better, more intuitive, the choices are ample, it is flexible, coherent and transparent. The recorder works the way I – or someone else wants it to work and all previous annoyances are gone (quite special to realize that these were all due to software).
For people with a player from the fruit firm, Rockbox annihilates the necessity of iTunes, which I for many a reason consider to be a good thing.

All this to announce that Rockbox 3.0 is out and installing it has never been so simple.
Go check it out and download the installer here!

Thanks Boingboing for refreshing news on Rockbox

How to configure Jack

In the past I had the entention to write a manual on how to configure Jack, for a good performance.

Luckily the Ubuntu Studio blog called Ubustu beat me to it and they have published a great manual here:

**How to Configure JACK in Ubuntu Studio**

What soundcard(s) do you have?

I have recently been working on a manual for a certain script with which you can easily record interviews, without having to edit them. More about this script will follow later.

During the research and testing phase of this script, I have encountered many a challenge (euphemism for problem). At this moment in time, my computer has Ubuntu Gutsy Gibbon – Gnome desktop – and an Ubuntu Studio realtime kernel (installed through synaptic).

One of the challenges is the multiplicity of sounddrivers/sound servers.
Alsa – OSS- ESD -> and to make stuff more complex, I use an external soundcard..
Here is where you find the sound preferences of your Linux computer through the graphical interface (by using your mouse (^_^).

This is what I can choose from:

Now, as I try to work with a script, I need the command line version of this:
And this is where arecord comes in.
Arecord = alsarecord

This command displays all soundcards and digital devices that can be used to capture sound – at that moment:

$ arecord -l

On my computer I get a result indicating that my soundcard of my laptop is hardware device number 0 for capturing and the external soundcard (USB) is hardware device number 2:

$ arecord -l
**** List of CAPTURE Hardware Devices ****
card 0: ICH6 [Intel ICH6], device 0: Intel ICH [Intel ICH6]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: ICH6 [Intel ICH6], device 1: Intel ICH – MIC ADC [Intel ICH6 – MIC ADC]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: ICH6 [Intel ICH6], device 2: Intel ICH – MIC2 ADC [Intel ICH6 – MIC2 ADC]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: ICH6 [Intel ICH6], device 3: Intel ICH – ADC2 [Intel ICH6 – ADC2]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 1: Pro [FastTrack Pro], device 1: USB Audio [USB Audio #1]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

Now, I want to record a test sound through my external soundcard, via arecord (in the Terminal).

$ arecord -f dat -d 20 -D hw:1,1 test.wav

The sound is recorded in the file where you are on that moment in your Terminal.

Two commands which give handy results for trouble shooting:

– To see which soundcard(s) are installed on your computer:

$ cat /proc/asound/cards

– To check what sound modules are loaded:

$ cat /proc/modules|grep snd

Thanks to linuxquestions.org and Cyberciti.biz for the online inspiration.

Linux Audio Workshop Brussels

This is actually the fourth Linux audio workshop!

Some details:

** What: Workshop ARDOUR
** Where: Atelier du web, Rue du Fortstraat 39, 1060 Bruxel
** When: 14/06/07, 19:30 – 21:00
** Info and enrollment: http://wiki.bxlug.be/ProjetAudio/Mini-atelier_2

Thursday june the 14th an Ardour worksession is on the agenda. Learn how to make a radiojingle with Ardour. Ardour is a digital audio workstation with which you can record edit and a whole lot more).

Please take your headphones, microphones, ideas for slogans, and some sound and music!
This is one episode in a series of workshops taking place during the months of April, May and June, focussing on useage and knowledge exchange about free software for audio. The software presented include all major open source tools for capturing, editing, production, mixing and diffusion of sound. The workshops are a collaboration between Constant, Collectifs.net, Radio Campus, Radio Air Libre, Radio Panik and Bxlug. The workshops came about spontaneously.
See detailed program: http://wiki.bxlug.be/ProjetAudio/
(enroll by clicking on edit and adding your name in this wiki page:

Open source alternatives for proprietary software

Through the Make Magazine weblog I have found a website called Osalt (open source as alternative) which shows what alternatives there are for Commercial software in open source software.


Now, of course it would be better to start with open source software in the first place, but more often than not people are used to certain propietary software to do certain tasks, and they have a hard time changing those software habits.

With this website you can check whether there is an open source alternative for the proprietary software you use/know etc.
An example:

I want to replace Ph*t*sh*p by an open source alternative.

In the software directory I choose Graphic applications, low and behold, Ph*t*sh*p is in the list.

I get a list of comparable open source programmes, or applications that have similar possibilities (whether partial or completely) as the proprietary software.
What I really liked about this website was, that first of all I got more than just the Gimp (Gimp is good!!) and secondly that the compatibility with which operating system is also included (whether you are a linux, mac or wind*ws user).

Part of a screenshot:


Gimp 2 for photographers

A while ago, there was a question for Constant, concerning The Gimp, GNU Image Manipulation Program and possible tutorials on The Gimp. I stumbled upon a review of the following book: Gimp 2 for photographers.
And the review is positive!

Ubuntu studio

My sharp eye is always on the lookout for “multimedia” applications and Linux, especially where audio is concerned. Five minutes ago I learnt about the development of Ubuntu studio, throught Boingboing.

How far will Ubuntu go? What software and hardware support will be included? And above all, will it work easily…..

They plan to release Ubuntu Studio in april.

Curious, I am!


For those of you struggling in the world of images and free software (resizing, reworking photographs, drawings etc), there is of course Gimp, The GNU Image Manipulation Programme.
For those people using a certain proprietary sofware with a name ending with …shop, having difficulties to leave their …shop habits behind, yet they would like to use free software to edit their images, there is Gimpshop.
I quote the maker: “Longtime Ph*t*sh*p users should feel very comfortable using GIMPshop.”

HÚhÚ 🙂