Saturday, 17 November 2012


Having run LPFM (Low Power FM) radio stations in NZ for a number of years, I have come to work exclusively with DirEttore as my preferred software of choice. I have found it easy to install, set-up and use. It's features are cutting-edge, easy on the eye and easy to configure.

DirEttore 2.1.0  in action under Ubuntu 12.04
DirEttore 3.0.0 in action under Ubuntu 13.04

So, when I grew tired of using Windows – 'blue screen of death', constant anti-virus updates and new learning curves with each implementation, I started researching alternatives. After some exhaustive research, I found Ubuntu – a free-to-download, install and use Linux operating system that can be used along side of (or instead of) Windows.

Linux has come a long way as a viable alternative to Microsoft's Windows offerings. It's not perfect, but then neither is Windows. But in terms of security and stability, it beats Windows hands-down, which is possibly why many Government departments around the world use Linux as their backbone in IT systems.

My next dilemma was to find a suitable Linux radio automation alternative to DirEttore. It's fair to say that there wasn't anything that matched for quality, usability, functionality and looks. So, I looked for ways to make DirEttore work under Linux.

Some have questioned why I'm “trying to re-invent the wheel” with this project, when after all, DirEttore works well under Windows - what it is designed to work with. There is, ofcourse, no disputing this. However, many radio stations seem to be moving away from Windows' environments, preferring more stable platforms. Both Linux and Mac platforms are now becoming more of an obvious choice. DirEttore, whilst not designed for either Linux or PowerMac, can now run seamlessly on either. Intel-based iMacs should be able to run DirEttore natively. 

There are many versions (or distributions) of Linux available. So, why choose Ubuntu?
Ubuntu is believed to be the leading distribution of choice for Linux users, it also has a very helpful community of users who are keen to support the community and the distribution itself. Ubuntu itself is very advanced, is appealing to the eye & easy to use.

In the following paragraphs, I hope to provide a step-by-step tutorial how to set-up DirEttore Broadcast 2.1.0 (and v3.0.0) under Ubuntu Linux. Other variants of DirEttore have not, as yet been tested, but may be in due course.

DirEttore may work under other Linux distributions, but these haven't been tested by the author.

What works well...

It's fair to say that once correctly set-up and fine-tuned, DirEttore works surprisingly well under Ubuntu considering it's not designed for it. Some things, believe it or not, seem to actually run better! For instance, it seems to have a faster launch time, about 1-3 sec to splash screen and a further 2 secs to load completely.


Whilst DirEttore works seamlessly under Ubuntu, there are some minor issues which do not render well. These are mainly GUI issues...
  • The CPU meter on the main play-out windows doesn't work.
  • The sliding progress bar is only half the thickness as in native Windows.
  • Sweepers are slightly delayed over music tracks.
Everything else works as you'd expect in Windows.

CPU and RAM under Ubuntu USB. PC was 4g dual core with 4g RAM.

For the most part, I tested this project on a bootable 320g USB HDD loaded with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (and later with 13.04). I did this for two main reasons.
  • Being on a USB HDD made DirEttore truly portable, allowing me to test on a variety of machines
  • Running a complete OS from a USB HDD tends to take more resources and slows down operating speeds. This gave me a clear picture of how this project works under load – somewhat akin to a worst-case scenario.
I also have Ubuntu installed on our family laptop and tested there too.

DirEttore was also run continuously via the USB for more than seven days and had no errors in that time. It has also been playing out through our sound system and no abnormalities were observed. 

Setting up...

I'm going to make the assumption that one already has a freshly installed copy of Ubuntu installed on your computer. If not, email me and I'll provide some further info.

You'll need to acquaint yourself with 'terminal', the Linux version to Windows 'Command line'. Don't worry, setting up is really easy providing you know how to cut and paste.

Installing WINE.

WINE is the vehicle by which Ubuntu can run Windows programs without the need of a Windows OS installed.

First we need to tell Ubuntu where to find the Wine packages, download and install them from.

Open terminal, and cut and paste the following:
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:ubuntu-wine/ppa; sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install wine1.4

Don't use wine1.5, as it is in development and thus not stable.

When prompted, enter your password then click enter. You'll notice no characters follow you as you type, this is normal. When prompted to click enter again, do so.

When completed, you should now be able to launch the Winetricks module. Go to the Ubuntu icon in the top left of your screen and click on it. This should launch your applications menu. Type 'wine' into the search box and click on the 'Winetricks' icon.

This will allow us to set up our premium audio drivers for Wine. Ubuntu, by default uses it's own 'winepulse' drivers, and while these work for the majority of PC's, some users will have problems with playback. Once launched, select
  • 'Select the default wineprefix', then OK
  • 'Change settings', then OK
  • Scroll down to, and click the box next to 'sound=alsa' then OK.
Close winetricks.

Open up 'Configure Wine' from the applications menu, and verify the wine-alsa drivers are installed.

Click on the 'Audio' tab, and under 'Driver diagnostics' you should see 'Selected driver: winealsa.drv'. This means you have successfully changed drivers in Wine.

Wine is now ready for DirEttore to be installed.

Download DirEttore to your Download folder. Open your Download folder, unzip DirEttore to the Desktop. Open the DirEttore folder on your Desktop and right-click over the DirEttore .exe icon, and select 'Properties'.

Because Linux uses a completely different file system to Windows, we need to tell Linux how to treat this file. So, click on the 'Permissions' tab, and click on 'Allow executing file as a program'. Next, click on the 'Open with' tab and make 'Wine windows program loader' the default.
Once done, you can now double click the 'DirEttore.exe' file, install and configure as you would under Windows.

For more info, feel free to email me or reply to my blog.