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Low latency kernels in GNU/Linux

3 replies [Last post]
libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04

Since Ubuntu Studio came out I've been thinking of giving it a try, but I today noticed (as I expected actually) its package is available through synaptic (or apt-get) which means I probably don't need to download the whole iso and burn it on separate partitions to have it.

And in fact I would prefer to do everything on one system, including experimenting with music production. But since music production requires a specially tuned kernel (for real time audio processing) I would have to install a different kernel. I believe this would be the low latency version of the default Ubuntu kernel, which is easily available for install.

My question is rather simple, how does running a low latency kernel, tuned for music production, on a system which is also used for every day work affect this every day work? Or better yet, why don't GNU/Linux distros ship the low latency kernel by default (so that those who want to experiment with music can have low latencies out of the box)? What's the downside of it?


free-zombie's picture
Joined: 2006-03-08
This is rather easily

This is rather easily visible when configuring a kernel: low-latency options are generally described as being good for desktops and bad for servers. High data throughput isn't very important on desktops, so a preemptive kernel ("low-latency desktops", it says) is no problem. Timer frequency is trickier: On servers and SMP (multi-processor/core) systems, low timer frequency is good, while for multimedia work high frequency is good. On non-SMP systems that should be used for multimedia (like the one I'm configuring), the highest frequency seams the natural option, on SMP systems for the same job I'd chose something in the middle.

libervisco's picture
Joined: 2006-05-04
I've been using low latency

I've been using low latency for a while now and, though that's easy to guess, it's been good. The thing is it probably doesn't matter much anyway. The problem with my audio seems to be either with the onboard audio system itself or maybe the driver support for it.

Joined: 2007-10-20
there is no noticable

there is no noticable difference between a default kernel and low-latency kernel that i have witnessed. There is a great repository for Fedora users called CCRMA which provides not only a low-latency kernel, but also all the audio programs available right from them (however, it will require disable some other repos because their versions will conflict with "official versions").

i installed a low-latency kernel on my laptop hoping that it would fix this slight hiccup on TerminatorX when selecting mouse grab (only affected on my laptop, not my desktop). as it turns out, my laptop is just bearly pushing the system requirements for it, so thats why there is a hiccup.

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