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I'm considering moving from stock Ubuntu to Ubuntu Studio. My only concern is the low latency kernel. I've looked into what exactly it is, and know it will be great for my audio work, but I am wondering if it has any downsides?

Does it cause compatibility issues? Does it reduce the lifespan of my hardware?

Basically I am aware of the pros of the low latency kernel, I just want to know what the cons are so I can make an informed decision.

Thanks in advance :)

marked as duplicate by Panther, karel, Eric Carvalho, edwinksl, waltinator Nov 5 '17 at 4:27

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  • What will you be using for audio work? I'm using Ardour on the generic kernel, with a Behringer xr18 and have not noticed problems (yet) with latency issues. – Charles Green Nov 2 '17 at 16:44
  • Audio and video production as well as gaming and general use. – AdLinux Nov 2 '17 at 17:33

Does it cause compatibility issues?

It should not, but it since less people use it, it is a little bit less well tested.

Does it reduce the lifespan of my hardware?

No. This kernel is optimized for a lower latency (versus throughput). Running the -lowlatency will mostly change in which order the load will be handled, it will only change the load quantity by a small amount (because switching task is a load in itself).

Since the workload is mainly the same, I expect the wear to be mainly the same. It is perhaps a good idea to look at the temperature (of the CPU, HDD and mainboard) if you switch to the -lowlatency kernel, since it's possible that some power-saving features could be disable while using this kernel.

... but I am wondering if it has any downsides?

The -lowlatency kernel is somewhere between the -generic kernel and the real-time linux kernel.

According to this wikipedia article, real-time operating systems are optimized for the response time and not the throughput. The -lowlatency kernel will be able to switch to a task faster and more frequently than the -generic kernel.

The -lowlatency kernel is thus recommended for studio work, because you need the computer to respond as fast as possible at your requests (i.e: MIDI events and so on). The -generic kernel is for when you want to browse the internet, while the same computer is serving the files for the whole office.

  • Just to be a bit more specific about the 'reducing hardware lifespan' part of my question. I was wondering if the faster response time would cause more cpu usage or require it to work harder to a point where it is under strain? – AdLinux Nov 2 '17 at 15:47
  • Here you go, I added some arguments to the lifespan question – pim Nov 2 '17 at 16:33

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