The Linux Setup – Christie Isaac, Musician

I usually run interviews in the order they come in. As luck would have it, Christie came up as I was recording music again. I haven’t been recording in Linux because of disk space and latency issues (I don’t want to swap out the kernel of my daily machine…), but as my ideas get more fleshed out, I was already thinking Linux would be a great place to edit recorded tracks. Christie’s love of Ardour has convinced me to check it out again.

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  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    I’m Christie Grinham (aka Christie Isaac), I’m a musician from Colchester, UK. I DJ and perform live as part of my solo music project and I work as the technology supervisor for a company in London that runs a jazz bar and a recording studio.

  2. Why do you use Linux?

    I use Linux because it works for me. Whenever I use Windows or Mac I feel restricted, as if there are things that I am not allowed to do. Under Linux I feel no such restrictions. My data is my own and I can act as I wish.

  3. What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?

    I run Ubuntu 15.10 on both my laptop and desktop with a low-latency kernel. Mainly because I need something well-supported and solid, and because there are Ubuntu packages for most projects. I am very intrigued by Arch though, however I think for my daily driver, it might just be too much work. I also use Raspbian on my Raspberry Pis.

  4. What desktop environment do you use and why do you use it?

    I use Unity as my desktop environment across the board. I know there are many people that dislike Unity but for me it presents the best use of screen space and allows me my beloved workspace grid. All my Raspberry Pis are run headless, or without a DE.

  5. What one piece of Linux software do you depend upon? Why is it so

    If there is any one package that I could not live without on Linux, it is Ardour. I use it for for recording all of my music and I love it. Like Linux itself, I find that Ardour always works with me and not against me. I have used Cubase, Logic and ProTools and always come back to Ardour. I know there aren’t as many plugins or as much support, but the community is great and the software is extremely professional.

  6. What kind of hardware do you run this setup on?

    My laptop is a 2-in-1 Dell Inspiron 7000, laptop/tablet converter thing. Definitely my favorite laptop I’ve had (apart from the issue it seems to have with the i8k Dell fan control kernel module), the battery lasts a long time, it’s powerful, and the touchscreen works very well (I do in fact occasionally use it…). My desktop is a custom build for recording music: a Gigabyte motherboard (specially chosen for its legacy PCI slot), Intel 4970 CPU, 4GB RAM (some broke, oops…), 128GB SSD, and 4TB of HDD space. Connected to the desktop is a M-Audio Delta 1010 audio interface (that’s where the PCI slots comes in), for recording and playing back up to 10 channels of audio at a time.

  7. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    Can’t say it’s very exciting! This is my laptop desktop. My desktop desktop (haha) might be more exciting but I’m currently sitting on a train, so it’s not with me.

Christie Isaac's desktop

Interview conducted January 18, 2016

The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.

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