Ubuntu Jingle

I decided to do an Ubuntu jingle for LUG Radio. If you don’t already know, LUG Radio is a Linux radio discussion show that goes some way to recreating the loud, opinionated and very funny nature of our Wolves LUG meetings.

The jingle was to be based on a running joke from LUG Radio and our LUG meetings, where Aq would sing Ubuntu to the Um Bongo theme tune. Um Bongo is a kids fruit juice drink with the coolest advert ever, available when we were kids and judging by the site, it’s still available now.

So, I set about making a proper version for a jingle. As a test case, I was determined to use open source software, in this case the Hydrogen drum machine software for Linux to make the drum track (thanks to Mr Ben’s reply on the LUG Radio forums) and the Eastern Hip-Hop drumkit.

After having trouble getting the JACK server to start, I had to abandon Rosegarden and Ardour, so I decided to use Audacity instead. It’s not that complex a project to require serious multi-tracking anyway.

So, export the drum track as a .wav out of hydrogen, create a click track in Audacity and import the .wav. All cool. Plug in my crappy PC mic into the mic slot of my soundcard, try to record my hideous tribal “Ubuntu Ubuntu” chanting. Play it back. Umph. Sounds like a crap, crackly mess with heavy breathing and unintelligable, slightly out of time words. You can’t really tell I’m talking at all. Try another 2 crap PC mics and get the same result. Double check Gnome sound controls, no problem there. Try Dynebolic Linux, a Linux sound recording Live CD, same problem but less out of time (probably to do with the low latency patches that help with sound recording issues under Linux). Try Audacity under Windows, even worse (ie no recorded sound at all).

So, I dig out my ‘proper’ mic from my musician days and buy an adapter to connect the quarter inch jack to a 3.5 mm soundcard input. Same problem. Shit.

So there lies my problem. I think this jingle would be really cool, I even had plans to make a version to submit to Ubuntu as a sound test wav file or something. No go. I think the latency problems with Linux sound recording can be overcome by using Dynebolic, but I think the main problem is my crap Via VT8233/A/8235/8237 AC97 Audio Controller (to quote lspci ;)).

So my fantastic project is on hold for now, until I can work out how to record a decent vocal track. I could maybe dig out my old 4-track tape recorder and use my mic through that and into the line-in or mic socket, but thats a major ball-ache.

Linux Sound Recording (with reservations) 1 – 0 Crap Hardware.

UPDATE 17/02/2005:

Dynebolic can’t play the file back without significant stutter on my laptop. It will boot on my dad’s machine but can’t recognise his bog standard Creative PCI 16 soundcard which I vaguely recall uses one of the ensoniq modules. Modprobing either ensoniq module supplied with dynebolic produces an error about depending on a PCMICIA module which blah blah… Audacity under Windows works great with my microphone on my dad’s machine. This means the problem with my machine is the soundcard.

I’m running out of machines. Don’t make me use Windows…

UPDATE 21/02/2005:

The latest developments are in another post.

4 thoughts on “Ubuntu Jingle

  1. Have you actually tried recording on Windows with equivalent hardware? Just wondering if it would really be any better. I think you should try that just for comparison, but maybe not for actually making the song. If it does work just fine, then there is a real problem. It still could be a hardware problem though if the Linux driver just happens to be a piece of crap. If it works just as crappy in Windows, it’s a hardware problem, and you’ll just need to invest in a better soundcard perhaps.
    Philosophically, it would of course be best if you could record the jingle on Ubuntu Linux. The next best thing is then using Dynabolix or some other Linux distribution. After that, I think it’s still better if you use traditional recording hardware (say, the 4-track recorder). Using Windows would probably be the worst option in that sense.

  2. Yes, Windows is worse on the same machine. My soundcard is obviously poor quality, I’ve never really put it to the test before. I have a few more idea before I have to resort to Windows…

  3. Try the creative 128 (ensoniq) it should work. Else splurge on a creative soundblaster live which everyone says is the best soundcard for linux (and recording). I think it is about $30.

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