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Note 10/23/2017: This OS was built in 2013, so drivers for some newer motherboard components (such as Ethernet) may not be compatible. The only way to tell is to try it. We hope to release an updated version by spring of 2018.
Note (June 9, 2014) – an updated version has been uploaded. The RTOS now includes CD ripping software, a Mytek USB driver and an updated M2Tech driver.
This project is a Real-Time operating system for audio, designed just for playing computer music files, with a mouse and computer screen or TV (no other frills). I’ll eventually make it available to a wide audience, but for now I want to get it out for a few of you to try it.
This operating system uses a real-time Linux kernel. The goal of realtime is to give audio processes priority, to prevent interruption by non-audio processes (those that aren't system critical). In studio production environments these interruptions can result in latency, which is a problem for recording. We're not concerned with latency, but we can do without audio processes being interrupted. The theory is that these interruptions could disrupt the precision of the clock timing and result in jitter. Of course there are other factors that affect your sound quality, particularly your player's driver. However, there’s no question realtime operation is different; a little Nu-Force headphone amp requires a latency setting of 17.4ns to remain stable with a generic kernel and can go as low as 8.6ns with the realtime kernel.
DAC USB compatibility can be an issue for Linux, because DAC manufacturers who develop proprietary USB drivers usually develop only for Windows and Mac. However, if your DAC doesn't require special driver installation you can connect with USB. If you use a SPDIF connection to a soundcard that should work too (most soundcards support Linux). A Linux driver for M2Tech products is also installed, though I don't have an M2Tech unit on hand to test.
The OS is easy to run without installation, just burn a Live DVD or create a bootable thumb drive.
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