Ok, I'm just beginning to get the feeling I've heard so many others express, a desire for a computer that "just works". Linux has been satisfactory for me so far because of the limited nature of what I've been doing: using the web, writing plain text, gnucash (good app!) and coding.
Now, I'm trying to set up a working musical composition environment, and I'm up against the wall. I've installed Rosegarden 4, which looks great (especially because it reminds me of the package I used to use on the Amiga, Music X), but I can't get it to make a sound. What I've gathered from perusing the net is that I need to install a "softsynth" -- a program which will read MIDI signals and generate sounds from my soundcard (Soundblaster Audigy), and then I'll need one or more "soundfonts" -- uhh, samples for the different MIDI instruments. Alternatively (but somewhat less desirable), I have a Yamaha TG-55 MIDI sound module sitting right by my computer here, and I could send MIDI output to it.
I don't mind digging around on the web for information, but I still haven't found out how to do this. I guess I'll be digging around hard this weekend, searching and grovelling, burning incense and waving chickens, trying to get my Debian box here to make a musical sound. (Any hints would be greatly appreciated!)
Last week sometime, my wife said "do you think we could get one of those digital camcorders and make movies on our computer?" Now I'm starting to think, damnit, why not just get a Mac OS X box and be done with it? I've heard about iMovie, and I bet I could get the sound stuff to "just work", and many other things. Doing real video editing from a digital camcorder on linux sounds like a pipe dream.
(small) frustration solved
One of the things that has annoyed me about Debian is that the only way I know of to see what packages are installed on my system, dpkg --list, truncates long package names. It's especially annoying when you want to uninstall a package and you can't get the name right. I've surfed the web about this from time to time and found no clue, but today I decided to look at the source code.
I found out that dpkg looks for the environment variable COLUMNS to determine the width of the terminal window, which it divides up proportionally. I have no idea where COLUMNS is supposed to come from; it certainly isn't set by xterm. In my five or so years of using Debian, I've always just had to put up with this annoyance. Now, with export COLUMNS=150 (or whatever) I can finally see the full package names. Yay!
I guess I'll be looking at source code more often, but it's unfortunate that should be required.