Unplanned Upgrade

Just a few hours work and the Mac Pro at the heart of my lab is mostly back in working order. Thankfully, I didn’t even have to dip into my newly implemented backup system though it was nice to know it was there if I need it. A possibility exists, though slim, that some file or other has gone missing or been overwritten. If that turns out to be the case, I still have my backup and can pull the specific version of a file as it was within a day.

As I noted on my social networks, I used a newer disc image for this reinstallation. There is a point release of the LTS on which I’ve been stuck because of my mixer and video issues. While I still had to use the alternate version of that image and hit to set an obscure kernel parameter to boot for installation, since then the system actually has required none of the additional boot configuration I’ve had to do in the past. I am very glad this was so as part of my anger with myself and frustration was re-treading all the custom steps I’ve carefully noted in the notebook I keep for this purpose.

In the spirit of simplifying, I actually took a look to see what the price point is for the USB 2.0 version of my current FireWire mixer. As it happens the figure is two hundred dollars less than I was expecting. To the best of my research, the USB 2.0 mixer can indeed do full multiple track recording, something its USB 1.0 predecessor could not do. I read the return policy for my favorite, local audio gear vendor and formulated a plan.

Instead of hand compiling the FireWire driver for my current mixer, I ordered the newer USB 2.0 model. I will finish all the restoration work on my lab computer including install the stock Ubuntu Studio packages for audio recording. Before I undertake the hassle required to get my FireWire mixer working again, I will drop in the new USB 2.0 mixer after it arrives and see if it will simply work out of the box. I suspect it will as I already make use of a dedicated USB audio device both with this machine and with my laptop.

Worst case, if the new version of my mixer doesn’t work as is, I can simply return it, no questions asked. I have decent instructions and the exact same source code I used last time to get my FireWire mixer work. Best case, if the new model works then I will have saved myself some trouble and have upgrade my mixer to one that could potentially work with the latest version of my chosen operating system. The sole remaining barrier will be my video card which I suspect, after my savings have had a chance to recover, will be even cheaper to swap out than this mixer.

An additional benefit of this mixer if it works is that it is an easier, cheaper bit of kit for me to build into the talk I am planning to submit to the Ohio Linux Fest. I may even be able to drive it with my laptop, something I haven’t been able to do since I replaced may last Mac portable with my current ThinkPad. If everything goes to plan, I could carefully bundle up the mixer, appropriate cables, mics and stands to take with me to Columbus to do a live demo.

I am still thinking about that last bit, whether I want to risk a new purchase so soon after getting it but I like the idea, at least, of being able to endorse a cheaper, more compatible mixer that has all the feature on which I already rely.

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