Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

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Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by jg1 » Wed Feb 22, 2017 10:59 pm

I have a collection of some 200 audio cassettes going back many years which I want to transfer to MP3 files. I've solved (thanks to Steve) the problem of getting reasonable reproduction without periodic gaps of 25ms every 0.6 secs but so far this requires me to use either my regular desktop box or the big laptop which I use for video editing. It would be nice to use a less capable machine that was not required for other things on a daily basis.

I ruled out the RaspberryPi as that is usually busy with torrents, and an old Packard Bell m/c which really wouldn't have enough horsepower. I therefore tried an old Dell Inspiron 1300 laptop.

This has a 1.6 GHz Celeron M 380 processor with 512MB RAM and a 60GB HDD without a separate graphics card. It is a dual boot m/c with a Xubuntu 16.04 partition and a WinXP SP3 partition. The Linux partition is used occasionally for email and other non-demanding tasks and the WinXP partition is there for use in extremis. Thus the m/c could be released for several weeks while the audio cassettes were transferred to disk.

Since the software build on the Xubuntu partition is the same as those on the other m/cs I used audacity v2.1.2 with the same preferences including the 48000 Hz default project rate that solved the recording skips issue. Sadly the recording would not proceed beyond 1 minute, stopping after anything from a few seconds to around 50secs. Fiddling about a bit I've found that it will run OK if in the Quality Preferences I set Default sample format = 16-bit and High-quality conversion: Sample rate converter = Medium Quality. The results appear to be OK as the quality of the source cassettes leaves a lot to be desired.

Undaunted, I then tried using WinXP on the same machine with the Audacity s/w that came on a CD with the cassette player, ie v 2.0.3 which ran like a dream with no I/O issues, no skips or hangs even when using full-fat default quality preferences. The only fly in the ointment was a blue screen of death which I put down to a maverick Lame encoding dll that I used to export to MP3, although even that seemed to work OK the rest of the time. I have not yet tried Audacity 2.1.2 on XP.

Question: ...
We're always told how much more efficient etc Linux is than Windows; what am I doing wrong on Linux? Is there something I could do to smarten up my config so that it will run Audacity as good as XP?
jg
Last edited by Gale Andrews on Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:10 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Reason: Windows not "Windose"
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:24 pm

Audacity does not officially support Pi operating systems.

Ubuntu from the last five years or so has become an extremely "heavy" operating system and the "lightweight" derivatives of it like Xubuntu are only somewhat less heavy. You can forget mainstream Ubuntu with only 512 MB of RAM - whatever Ubuntu may say, 512 MB is not enough.

Have you tried Puppy Linux which is very lightweight?

Are you still using EZCAp USB? Try rebooting the computer. With a machine like you want to use I suggest reboot and no other applications running before every recording. Yes 16-bit Default Sample Format might help. If the sample rate converter makes a difference this suggests there are still sample rate conversions going on, despite choosing 48000 Hz Audacity Project Rate. Perhaps it's only the sample format that makes any difference.


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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by autodctr » Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:56 pm

Poster did say that he is running Xubuntu which is much lighter RAM user than Ubuntu. Lubuntu would be a little lighter yet.

Let me give some info that might be of value and maybe Gale can explain why.

I use Xubuntu and Audacity to record 18 channels via USB cable from mixer to computer. The computer is a 2.8 dual core with 2 gig RAM. I have a system monitor running in the top bar. While I am recording, my CPU runs at about 15%, my memory usage is around 600 meg. I have no problems other than when the recording first starts, I get a glitch at about 5 seconds in. After that, and hour later and still no other glitches. I am running Xubuntu 14.04 and Audacity 2.0.?. I have a prior post here about never being able to get the newer version of Audacity to work w/Xubuntu 16.04.....even after lowering recording specs.

What I noticed was this:

Using Xubuntu 16.04 and Audacity 2.1, the recording was "finished" when I hit the STOP button. I could instantly go and create a file name and save the file. When using Audacity 2.0 and Xubuntu 14.04, there is a considerable period of time from when I hit the STOP button to when I can actually save the file. For instance, a one hour recording of 18 channels will take about 1 1/2 minutes from when recording is stopped until I can do anything at all: including naming it and saving it. There is obviously a difference in the way Audacity 2.0 and 2.1 operate. There could also be a difference in Xubuntu 14.04 and 16.04.

A little further info: I use one HD to run the program and I use a second HD to record. I have used that setup on both 2.0 and 2.1, and 14.04 and 16.04.

Back to your question, from what I see, your 1/2 gig is really light. If possible, you may want to try Lubuntu 14.04 and install the Audacity that is in the reopitories: that will be 2.0.?. I also have eveything turned off such as Bluetooth, print applet, power management, and auto updating. I do the updating from the command line.
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:09 pm

autodctr wrote:Poster did say that he is running Xubuntu which is much lighter RAM user than Ubuntu.

Yes I saw that, but my point was that lightweight derivatives of Ubuntu are not (in my experience with a 1 GHz / 1 GB RAM notebook) that much lighter - I could get the same marginal improvement by shutting down Nautilus on mainstream Ubuntu.

But I have seen good reports of Puppy Linux and that should work with only half the RAM the poster has.


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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by Gale Andrews » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:34 pm

autodctr wrote:from what I see, your 1/2 gig is really light. If possible, you may want to try Lubuntu 14.04 and install the Audacity that is in the reopitories: that will be 2.0.?. I also have eveything turned off such as Bluetooth, print applet, power management, and auto updating. I do the updating from the command line.

I don't think your problem running *buntu 16.04 is general so if the poster wants to try Lubuntu they could probably try 16.04. As a base operating system, 16.04 does seem a little nippier than 14.04.

autodctr wrote:I use Xubuntu and Audacity to record 18 channels via USB cable from mixer to computer. The computer is a 2.8 dual core with 2 gig RAM. I have a system monitor running in the top bar. While I am recording, my CPU runs at about 15%, my memory usage is around 600 meg. I have no problems other than when the recording first starts, I get a glitch at about 5 seconds in. After that, and hour later and still no other glitches. I am running Xubuntu 14.04 and Audacity 2.0.?. I have a prior post here about never being able to get the newer version of Audacity to work w/Xubuntu 16.04.....even after lowering recording specs.

What I noticed was this:

Using Xubuntu 16.04 and Audacity 2.1, the recording was "finished" when I hit the STOP button. I could instantly go and create a file name and save the file. When using Audacity 2.0 and Xubuntu 14.04, there is a considerable period of time from when I hit the STOP button to when I can actually save the file. For instance, a one hour recording of 18 channels will take about 1 1/2 minutes from when recording is stopped until I can do anything at all: including naming it and saving it. There is obviously a difference in the way Audacity 2.0 and 2.1 operate. There could also be a difference in Xubuntu 14.04 and 16.04.

A little further info: I use one HD to run the program and I use a second HD to record. I have used that setup on both 2.0 and 2.1, and 14.04 and 16.04.

It would be much preferred to start a new topic for your own issue.

The Audacity version should have three numbers, see Help > About Audacity... .

It is unlikely to be anything to do with Audacity, rather the file manager and/or the operating system. Even if it was Audacity, we are no longer producing 2.0.<anything> and there will not be retrospective fixes for those older versions.

If you are curious to test your theory, you could uninstall the 2.0.5 repository version of Audacity on Xubuntu 14.04 and install 2.1.2 from the Ubuntu Handbook PPA: https://launchpad.net/~ubuntuhandbook1/+archive/ubuntu/audacity. If 2.1.2 does open the save dialogue quicker, I assume it to be an improvement in wxWidgets, which we advanced to 3.0.x with the 2.1.2 release.


Gale
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* * * * * Tips * * * * * Tutorials * * * * * Quick Start Guide * * * * * Audacity Manual
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by steve » Thu Feb 23, 2017 3:40 pm

Gale Andrews wrote:Yes I saw that, but my point was that lightweight derivatives of Ubuntu are not (in my experience with a 1 GHz / 1 GB RAM notebook) that much lighter

On my machine, Xubuntu is certainly lighter than vanilla Ubuntu, but Debian with Xfce is noticeably "lighter" again.
Also I find Lxde noticeably lighter than Xfce, though Xfce feels more "full featured". I often use Lxde on virtual machines.

For an even more lightweight (but less pretty) system, Linux may be installed without a Desktop Manager at all. Just add a lightweight Window Manager (such as WM2), plus whatever else is required by the applications you wish to run. Another options for an ultra-light weight system is Tiny Core Linux, but these approaches are probably too minimalistic (and geeky :ugeek: ) for most users.

I'd agree with Gale that Puppy is a good "off the shelf" option for a very lightweight system.
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by jg1 » Thu Feb 23, 2017 5:28 pm

These are really interesting replies which I have not had chance to digest properly yet.

However, for info, I have tried Lubuntu but the performance gains over Xubuntu were trivial compared with the benefits of having the same build across 5 out of 6 machines, the exception being the Packard Bell which is stuck at Xubuntu 12.04 due to hardware limitations.
I've also run Puppy, DSL and several other light-footed systems but most need too much reliance on command line and scripting which are not my forte. Nevertheless, I like Puppy a lot and have a load and go portable system on a stick for use in Internet Cafes etc but there lots of things it wont do which is why I stick with Xubuntu.

I could roll back to 12.04 which was quite small and nimble but there loads of packages that are still crashy with that build, and I'm not sufficiently expert to do my own compiles with updated versions. However, I'll look more closely at your suggestions and maybe give them a try on a test box. Watch this space!

Meanwhile, I have installed 2.1.2 on the XP partition which works fine and has many improvements over 2.0.3. All I need now is some NTFS storage.
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by autodctr » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:52 pm

It would be much preferred to start a new topic for your own issue.

Sorry, Gale: I was not trying to start a new topic or get help with what doesn't work for me. I was just giving him another option if he wanted to try it.

The Audacity version should have three numbers, see Help > About Audacity... .


I understand that, but that machine is about 5 miles away at the church and I wasn't running out to check it. :-) I believe it is 2.0.5.

It is unlikely to be anything to do with Audacity, rather the file manager and/or the operating system. Even if it was Audacity, we are no longer producing 2.0.<anything> and there will not be retrospective fixes for those older versions.


I understand that, too. But after re-installing Xubuntu, Lubutnu, and Studio Ubuntu numerous times and also both 32 and 64 bit versions of each, I went back to what worked and it will stay that way until it doesn't work or I find a newer version that works at least as well. The machine is not hooked to the internet, so I don't have to worry about security updates.

If you are curious to test your theory, you could uninstall the 2.0.5 repository version of Audacity on Xubuntu 14.04 and install 2.1.2 from the Ubuntu Handbook PPA: https://launchpad.net/~ubuntuhandbook1/ ... u/audacity. If 2.1.2 does open the save dialogue quicker, I assume it to be an improvement in wxWidgets, which we advanced to 3.0.x with the 2.1.2 release.


I may just do that one of these days and report back on what happens. But again, what I have now works great considering a lot of people said that what I was doing was beyond the ability of the HD to write that amount of data that quickly. I am happy that it works and glad you folks wrote such a simple but capable program.
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by autodctr » Thu Feb 23, 2017 10:55 pm

One thing I forgot to mention: a one hour recording of 18 channels and at WAV specs yields about a 20 gig file. :-)
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Re: Why is WinXP better at running Audacity than Xubuntu?

Permanent link to this post Posted by jg1 » Sat Feb 25, 2017 11:21 am

Thanks again for your replies to my original post.

A bit more info on the Xubuntu issue ...
There are several things one can do to make it slicker. The first is to choose apps carefully. For example most of the time I use Midori unless I need the bells and whistles (and security add-ons) of Firefox. I like Nemo as a storage manipulator but Thunar is quicker and for big moves I use rsync or dd. The second thing is to look at the processes that are running when things are going slowly. For example I discovered that zeitgeist was eating me for breakfast and then some. Most apps don't need it and there are replacements for most of those that do.
I've done all this and rearranged the partitions on the internal HDD so they go faster with Linux and shifted everything not needed immediately on to external media so the HDD acts as a kind of cache. However, having done all that and relegated WinXP to a logical partition way down the disk, it still does Audacity better than Xubuntu.

I suppose I was hoping to pick up some explanations/tips along the lines of Steve's solution to my gaps issue where there may be tweaks that one could do to overcome the fact that *ubuntu tries to paint the world one colour - there are simply hundreds of apps in my Xubuntu build that have no relevance either to my hardware or the application build but they are generally small and as they are not used I haven't bothered to remove them. Does the simple fact that they are installed impact kernel performance, eg when doing table look-ups? If so, can I apply an 80/20 rule to clear out the main offenders? Or is the linux kernel smart enough to organise its lists so that the most often used are easily accessible? Does it do a binary chop to get to things or simply run down the list for a match? These are probably questions to ask a system forum but I was looking for some Audacity-focused pointers.

Meanwhile I've found that I get cleaner recordings with the big processor and Linux so I've set that up for Audacity and put the video editing on hold until, and unless, I can reduce the clicks, whirrs and other noises on the WinXP transfers. Oh, and btw, project data for 2 channels (ie stereo) at 48kHz runs out at about 1.7GB per hour which is pretty good pending editing and producing MP3 albums. All in all, Audacity is a pretty smart bit of s/w ... but I wish I could make it go faster !!
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