pure:dyne is a new free, open source, Linux-based, bootable, low-latency, high-performance operating system with Pure Data (Pd) as its main emphasis. Pop a CD, USB key, or bootable hard drive into your PC or Intel Mac, and you’re ready to go.

pure:dyne, the Art + Music Performance OS for PCs and Intel Macs [Create Digital Music]
pure:dyne Wiki

Now, needless to say, a big appeal of this isn’t just tuning the OS to your needs — it’s taking performance gigs wherever you go, ready to go, without having to worry about OS crashes. It’s installing a pre-built installation on a home-built Linux computer or Mac mini. It’s having a backup when your machine dies.

pure:dyne is completely tuned for Pd, the open-source cousin of Max/MSP. (Pd was created by Max’s creator, Miller Puckette, and Max and Pd have shared code and exchanged ideas since the very beginning.) Pd comes with an awesome lineup of Pd extras: PDP, PiDiP, Gem, GridFlow, RRadical, PixelTango — all the additional libraries that normally take some time and dependency-managing to install (and some of which just don’t work or don’t work as well on Windows or even Mac). So, if you’re ready for some free patching of custom visuals, you’re already happy.

But this got me thinking. Processing runs under Linux, and one challenge is often tuning a distro with the right drivers and settings (think webcam support, for one) and different Java versions. It’d be a no-brainer, if Processing is to be as successful as it could be, to tie it to a perfectly-tweaked, bootable distro. Flash, now with the robust Flash Player 9 for Linux, which also promises video4linux webcam support for live input, could do the same. (In fact, for my own purposes, a custom Pd+Flash+Processing distro would be heaven for live visualist work.) And that’s just the beginning.

This also makes a nice bridge between commercial software (the comfort of Adobe Creative Suite for assembling visuals, for instance) and free software (a perfectly-tuned, custom performance and installation environment).

So, what do you think? Who’s with me? And what would you want out of such an OS — or do you know of some places to get started? (One obvious starting point would be dyne:OS, the core on which pure:dyne is built.)

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  • http://www.todaycreate.com Mike Creighton

    I took a peak at the dyne:OS bootable CD a while back (maybe about a year ago) on an HP laptop, with a not-so-hot ATI Radeon 9200. While everything seemed to work, I felt that the performance was awefully sluggish (since every app was launching from optical media).

    But now you've definitely got my interest piqued. I recently picked up a MacBook Pro (the new high-end 15") and am very interested in the low-latency factor and stability of this Linux distro. Has anyone actually tried this out on a MBP yet? Or even doing a dual boot with BootCamp? I'll definitely check into this when I've got a few free hours, but it would be great if you chronicle any of your personal experiences with it.

  • http://createdigitalmusic.com Peter Kirn

    Hey Mike,
    Okay, this is actually not quite as nice as I'd hoped. The plan with dyne:II is definitely to support MacBooks and Bootcamp, but it sounds like it's a work in progress:

    From the mactel linux project re: dyne:II —

    "The latest version boots straight from bootcamp->CD, installation is easy as copying a directory in your harddisk and all partitions are recognized (but no 3d hardware support yet). For more informations see http://dynebolic.org (just for documentation, stable version 1.4.1 doesn't works on Mac-intel)"

    I also got a note from someone saying that they had trouble with it. Maybe they used the incompatible (but stable on PC) build.

    Before we fret, though, it sounds like what we need is just to gather together some Mactel owners and try it out. I should have a Mactel machine within the next couple of weeks, and some other CDMers may go that way, too, so I'll be sure to chronicle our own efforts here.

    And it might be worth working on a simple live CD distro version specifically built for this — maybe, as I suggested, with the addition of Flash and Processing (certainly Processing since it's open source).


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  • John Farrow

    can anyone tell me if there is a dist for old school G5 mac?

    get in touch— john DOT farrow AT mac DOT com