Monthly Archives: October 2006

Linux Recording – Second Thoughts

A short time ago, I wrote about using arecord (the ALSA recording programme) with lame to record and code mp3s. After further research, I have discovered that there is a much easier way, at least for those working with a graphical user interface.

I have only just installed audacity, but it is looking very good indeed. Once installed, I was recording, trimming, cutting and pasting audio in just over a minute – compared with the hour or so of research into using the command line tools.

Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing sounds. It is available for Mac OS X, Microsoft Windows, GNU/Linux, and other operating systems.

Sounds good, eh?

An audio transcript of this article is available. The recording has been speed and pitch-shifted, using audacity, to cut play time and thus file size (583kb).

Linux ALSA Recording Very Mini HOWTO

This is the information that I wished that I had had earlier this morning. The object of the exercise was to create an mp3 file by talking into my Logitech USB headset.

  1. Have a working ALSA audio system – mine uses standard Gentoo ebuilds.
  2. Find out what device your headset is – with USB this can vary session to session unless you do some clever stuff with udev: arecord -l. My headset was Card 2, subdevice #0.
  3. Do the recording: arecord -f cd -D plughw:2,0 -t raw | lame -x - foo.mp3 …where plughw:2,0 is Card 2, subdevice #0.
  4. Use CTL-C to stop the recording.
  5. Play back foo.mp3 to make sure that it worked.

For more details use man arecord, remember that Google Is Your Friend, and visit the ALSA Web Site.

I have used this method to provide an audio transcript of this article (size: 1.9Mb).

New Blog – Getting There

Slowly and steadily, this web log software grows. On the client side (the bit the public sees), I have now implemented an RSS 2.0 feed; there was already and RSS 1.0 feed, but this lacks category support, which is needed to provided tags to Technorati.

On the authoring side, I have implemented a mechanism to ping Technorati, although I am currently having a little trouble with this due to receipt of invalid responses…

Google site maps can now be generated on-the-fly and there is an option to ping Google to check the latest map when a post is created or modified.

Next, on the "to do" list is getting comments working.

Better Performance and a State of Fluxbox

I have been using KDE as my window manager for nearly as long as I have been using Linux as a desktop environment. I have looked at Gnome – very briefly, on a Solaris machine – and hated it and never expected to change.

KDE is resource hungry, and I have always known this. An extremely elderly ThinkPad that serves as a terminal in the kitchen has always run TWM, as KDE would have just ground it to a halt. My old and much-repaired Toshiba laptop was also on its way to grinding to a halt so, when I had cause to do a clean re-installation (Gentoo), I looked at alternatives and came up with Fluxbox. I really could not believe how much faster the system ran with Fluxbox, compared with KDE.

Following my initial success, a re-installation of the ThinkPad (Debian) included replacing TWM (yuck) with Fluxbox. Another success!

Having then put Fluxbox on my Sun Blade (which rarely runs X), I was left with just my main server/desktop machine running KDE. I knew that the performance of this machine could do with a boost – KDE utilised a lot of resources that the mail and Web server software could have done with. Having just configured KDE to launch applications from a right mouse click to emulate Fluxbox on other machines, I had to ask myself exactly why I needed KDE.

Konsole, Konqueror and KWorldClock. Three KDE applications that I would rather not live without. That is why I need KDE. And that is where I had been confused. One does not need the KDE desktop to run KDE applications. For the last hour, I have been running Fluxbox on what was the last bastion of KDE – and quite happily using Konsole, Konqueror and KWorldClock. Although those applications all cause a large number of KDE processes to run, when terminated, those processes go away, wasting memory and CPU cycles no more. Things are looking up.