Note

As a general rule, I recommend avoiding hardware for which open source drivers aren't available. There are usually alternatives to such products, and it's better to support hardware manufacturers who support Linux by writing open source drivers or making specifications available to those who want to write them. If you already have 10

a sound card from a manufacturer that doesn't release programming information, though, licensing the commercial OSS drivers is probably more cost-effective than o buying a new sound card. d c

Part III

Installation of the commercial OSS drivers involves running an installation and configuration script included with the drivers. This script provides a text-based menu system (shown in Figure 10.8) to help you get your sound card drivers up and running quickly. In fact, it's often easier to configure the commercial OSS drivers than the standard kernel drivers. The commercial OSS drivers' configuration script helps you to set the various configuration options that might otherwise have to go in several different configuration files, such as /etc/isapnp.conf and /etc/conf.modules. The commercial OSS drivers handle these aspects of sound card configuration independently of the normal Linux configuration options.

Figure 10.8

The commercial OSS configuration menu is simple but effective.

Figure 10.8

The commercial OSS configuration menu is simple but effective.

The commercial OSS drivers offer excellent compatibility with standard Linux sound utilities. The two sets of OSS drivers do, after all, share a common code base. Like the standard kernel drivers, the commercial OSS drivers include the SoftOSS software wavetable functionality. You must enable this feature as another sound card. (Figure 10.8 shows SoftOSS and a VIA 82c686 sound driver configured.)

One drawback to the OSS drivers is that, because they're available only in binary form, matching the driver to your kernel can be difficult. You must specify your kernel version when you download the driver, and the downloaded files include driver modules optimized for a variety of specific Linux distributions. If you need to recompile your kernel for some reason, or if you use a rare distribution that's not supported by 4Front, the installation scripts need to perform extra work, and are more likely to fail in their task of configuring drivers.

Chapter 10

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