Hi, I am looking into getting a dedicated netbook to place on my piano for using with PianoBooster. Any suggestion on which might be the best? It should be as cheap as possible while at the same time being compatible with a standard USB-Midi adapter and being fast enough to have PB with midi rendering in realtime.
But I found the Linux did not work properly with the touch pad. So I installed Eeebuntu Standard instead. (I DO NOT RECOMMEND THIS FOR THE NON TECHNICAL PERSON get a windows one instead)
There usb midi seems to work for both windows and linux so this is not an issue.
The main problem with real time is the sound generator. I am using an external one which is recommend. However a soft synth puts real strain on the PC as both PB and the softsyth eat up cpu time. I found there was too much latency with fliudsynth (although the latency fix does help) with windows see this thread http://n2.nabble.com/The-Microsoft-GM-Wavetable-latency-issues.-td2090172.html.
There is a new version of fluidsyth just release which may be better.
There are things which can be done to reduce the load in future releases of PB.
I know Dan has just bought a net book and so may give his input.
I don't really know which netbook to recommend right now but certainly what I can tell you is to avoid the Dell Mini 10 (aka Inspiron 1010) and Mini 12 or any other device that features intels GMA 500 aka poulsbo graphics chipset if you are wanting to run Linux.
I bought the Mini 10 for 2 main reasons:
* Intel gfx w/ HDMI output
* 'Full size' keyboard
Intel have traditionally been a flagship company in their support for Linux. Yes, their integrated gfx chipsets are weedy compared to what AMD and Nvidia offer but, up until the GMA500, their chipsets always worked great under Linux. Nobody knows if or when we'll see a stable and fully functional open source driver for the GMA500 and I'm considering returning my Mini.
If you want to follow the tribulations of myself and other Linux/poulsbo victims then see this lengthy, unfortunate thread:
Yes, the silent/cool(er than my other laptop) aspect played a major role in me buying the mini 10- I just wish I'd done some proper research before buying.
Are you not going to be using pb with an external midi keyboard? If you are then the chances are good that your keyboard will have a midi input too. This is the prefered playback method as it provides the lowest latency and is much nicer on your CPU. Any intel cpu from the last 5 or so years is going to have no probs in doing this, hence the only real concern is that you have a semi-decent graphics card with fully working drivers so you can achieve the opengl acceleration required for smooth scrolling. Practically every other intel graphics chipset released over the same period will have no probs doing this and are very well supported by all versions of Linux and other free nixs.
As you say, there really isn't that much to separate the different netbooks, thanks largely to intels continued near monopoly of the x86 market, which obviously they're getting fined heavily for as we speak. Thankfully, ARM netbooks are right round the corner and will likely totally out-do the atom in terms of energy efficiency, but you will of course lose the ability to run wine/virtualbox and any chance of running real Windows. I would imagine future ARM chips would eventually be fast enough to let you run virtualbox though?
I found this comparison of most netbooks currently available
As it stands, if you're hoping to run Linux then you want to avoid any netbook that uses the intel gma 500 or VIA (C7 /VX800) graphics or specifically states that it has no 3D acceleration. Maybe in time these chipsets will be better supported under Linux, I sure hope so!
I have tried using my digital piano also as a sound module, ie, keyboard sends midi controls to my mac, where PB combines them with the sound from the midi file and sends everything back to the keyboard for playback. On certain midi files, especially complex ones, this produces some weird sound, because sometimes wrong instruments are used. I am not sure if my piano has a full general midi instrument set or if there is some other problem.
Regarding performance, if I understand Louis correctly, the problems come up when you have pb's opengl display on screen with the netbook doing the midi synthesis at the same time. Is this only a problem in Linux (maybe because of bad display drivers?), or does the same happen in windows?
Anyway, I am very torn between buying some very cheap netbook right now (asus eee 901?) or waiting a bit until something better comes out (maybe some arm cortex device, I do not care about windows...). Or maybe Apple will come out with its own variation on the netbook theme ;)
The eeepc 900A with a Eeebuntu installed I find is absolutely brilliant and works perfectly for me. There was virtually no issues when I first installed Eeebuntu. I run everything on it including developing and compiling all the PB code (while on the train travailing to and from work). It has not even got a hard disk. (For non techie users -- this may not be for you it involves install Eeebuntu from a usb stick as the eeepc does have a CD drive. But you can run Eeebuntu from a usb stick without installing to try it out first)
It works very well with an external synth with zero latency and the display is just fine.
I have just tested my eeepc 900A with the fluidsynth and it does seem to work OK. There is a bit more tearing on the PB screen with the fuildsynth running which is a bit irritating but it is not too bad. Hopefully this can be fixed on future releases of PB. There are few other things that can be done in the PB code. I think ubuntu generally has less tearing than windows.
The other problem is with the latency which I think is about 100 msec I think this is a problem across all Linux versions. (I managed one to get zero/low latency on Ubuntu Studio once but only using QSynth)
I have posted this problem to fluidsynth devlist so we will see what they recommend see: