Topic: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

Up front, I must admit that I am no Linux guru whatsoever! I switched to LinuxMint for office/programming/everyday use about a year ago and didn't miss Windows for a millisecond there - almost everything I need seems to work very well out of the box...

For pro-audio-use I am still booting into Windows, because I have all my old projects there and because I am more used to everything and therefore quicker there. Eg. I love DigiCheck for extensive live recordings etc. - I cannot really live without it anymore... wink

But for simpler applications I don't want to reboot all the time. If I only need "basic" access to the great inputs and outputs of my beloved Fireface800, I stay all in Linux now - and when you know how, it is quite simple, so this is how to set it up:

In LinuxMint (one of the most used Linux distributions today) all needed packages are ready to install right away. These are:

  • libffado2, ffado-tools, ffado-mixer-qt4

  • jackd, jackd2, jackd2-firewire

The FFADO packages are more or less the driver for the Firefaces, JACK is the audio environment in Linux...

A) Install those through the SoftwareManager, or manually in terminal with this one command:
$ sudo apt-get install libffado2 ffado-tools ffado-mixer-qt4 jackd jackd2 jackd2-firewire

During installation JACK will ask about adding rights for real-time-use to the "audio"-user-group, so you should consider to add your user account to the "audio" group also... (Of course, for advanced audio use Linux can be optimized in a lot of ways, which is not topic here...)

B) Then turn on the Fireface!

Open up a terminal and try this command to test if the Fireface is ready to use - it should show up:
$ ffado-test ListDevices

C) To start the Fireface-Settings-Window, use this command in a terminal:
$ ffado-mixer &

What you then get is a window where you can configure settings and input/output levels, comparable to the usual Fireface settings window and Totalmix (of course with very limmited functionality, but still...):

D) Restart your computer! Why I don't know, but I needed to in order to use the Fireface in the audio software...

Example use in Ardour (a very well know and highly sophisticated piece of DAW software):
* Ardour 2: When you start the program, settings pop up - just choose "FFADO" as driver, choose your quality settings and create your project... Then you've got all Fireface inputs and outputs available! These can be configured eg. in the mixer view or under the menu entry "Windows/Connections"...
* Ardour 3: When opening a new project, just select "JACK" as the audio system and "FFADO" as driver - then configure your inputs/outputs in the mixer, track settings, or in the menu under "Windows/Tracks+Busses"...

This is all you need to use your Fireface in a very professional audio software... Of course there is a lot more possible and a very huge selection of other DAWs and programs available, but I wanted to strip it down to the minimum here...

And don't be afraid of Linux! As I mentioned, I am no linux specialist, but find my way round quite easily! You don't have to enter any commands manually if you don't want to - all can be set up to work with buttons and starters very easily...

If you want to fiddle arround with the configuration of JACK, try "qjackctl" as a GUI: You only have to select "firewire" as the driver there and everything should work (Fireface inputs/outputs...)...

I tested this on two machines now (one very old, one newer) and it worked - so I hope it does for you too! But I cannot promise anything, so take it as a starting point to configure your own system... Have fun! wink

DC rules!

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

That's cool, it's always good to see people sharing information, especially well documented.
Nice screenshots of the ffado-mixer.

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

@laex: thanks very interesting. Currently I have no use case for working with Linux, but maybe I give it a try to see whats possible.

Are the realtime kernel extensions required ? I remember that Ubuntu studio had them applied.

Win7/Cub9, Supermicro X10SRi-F, E5-1650v3, Sonnet USB3-PRO-4PM-E

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

ramses wrote:

Are the realtime kernel extensions required ? I remember that Ubuntu studio had them applied.

I use LinuxMint and the standard kernel and therefore no realtime kernel - and I am no Linux specialist at all... So no, definitely not "required" as such...

But obviously there is a lot to optimize in Linux setup and there are more than one distributions prepared for realtime or even audio use! For all I need at the moment (mostly routing to multiple outputs with very little processing) it seems very stable out of the box... As I said, for more complex applications I still use Windows - maybe an old habit, future will tell! wink

DC rules!

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

I come from many Unixes, my Love is FreeBSD. But gaming and recording required to jump on Windows.

Win7/Cub9, Supermicro X10SRi-F, E5-1650v3, Sonnet USB3-PRO-4PM-E

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

Thank you for the well documented report and instruction.
Can you provide some technical information regarding performance?
Bit and sample rates
What are advantages of linux?

SamProX23 Suite-RME UFX+,FF800;X-Touch,21" Acer Touch,ASUS ROG G750JH-DB71-Win8,MSSurfbook-Win10

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

Lindsey wrote:

Can you provide some technical information regarding performance?

Sorry, I really cannot - because I only use Linux for very basic stuff that shouldn't bother any computer these days... wink

Personally, I think that a well configured Linux is at least as stable and performant as any other well configured OS. (Free) software is available en masse - and I am sure that 95% of users won't miss any functionality of common Windows/Mac-only audio software...

As I wrote above, I miss Digicheck and Totalmix! But apart of that it is only my habits and convenience holding me back from leaving Windows all behind, even for audio use... For everyday/programming/office use I kicked out Windows completely a while ago and only wonder why I didn't much earlier... wink

DC rules!

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

i was able to get it working
it so close

there are some issuse and i generally like to manually install so i know exactly what it going on and what is running
and all that good stuff

the main tricks i had to use to get it woking is

use jack verdion - 1   no more typo fiing - icant it becomes a engless game
i do not know if it is true - but it worked for e-me  that the firewire _must_ be installed / config in kernel as a module
i have it running -
i dont think i use pulse - i believe it uses alsa
there was many many many steps to building and compiling and finding out what is going on

and who is fighting who whom etc - it is a real soap opera behind the scenes ...   

but it works - and i dont have the final piece-
i guess - sigh - i need to rebuils it all because i switched back to jack 1  now it all needs fixing  ... /sigh

Re: [HowTo:] Setting up FF400/FF800 on Linux

First of all big thanks for taking the time and writing these instructions. I just installed Ubuntu 17.04 to get some hobby coding done and was hoping (but very skeptical) to get FF400 also working for some music playback. I did get it working but with too much artifacts. Fiddling with sample rate, frames/period and periods/buffer helped a bit but after first system hangup I decided to stop wasting more time smile. Built-in motherboard audio will do just fine. Maybe realtime-kernel could help or maybe not enough.

I'll stick with Windows for music production cause RME drivers for win (as well as osx) are pure gold and reliable as hell. Just didn't want to bloat my windows with development stuff and developing on windows is anyways a painful experience...