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Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dawg's Metaverse > Guitar-ZyX


Guitar-ZyX LiveOS for NDS & x86

gzmcp_attached       gzmcp_attached       gzmcp_attached       gzmcp_attached

Table Of Contents
Executive Summary
v0.5.0 'BlackBeauty' 2k10.02.24
download - release notes
v0.4.1 'Angelina(alpha6)' 2k10.01.21
download - release notes - announcement
project page (a.k.a. TouchScreenWhammyPad)
image galleries
[Screenshots(v0.3.1)] [The D1] [Building the D2] [The D2]


Please jump straight to the latest release notes for the best current documentation, including everything you need to know about Guitar-ZyX.

Executive Summary

With a 4Gb microSDHC containing the *FREE* Guitar-ZyX code distribution, you can boot-

  • an ordinary 3 year old PC,
  • an NDS portable game system (with homebrew flashcart),
  • any stereo speakers,
  • and an electric guitar,
into a completely free and open source digital audio workstation / live guitarist environment.


Guitar-ZyX(tm) is a LiveDVD/USB operating system distribution, that can immediately boot both your Nintendo(tm)-DS, and your x86/64 PC, into a guitar pre-amp f/x processing appliance, complete with wireless dual screen touchpad remote control. You can even velcro or embed the NDS in your guitar if so inclined. In addition to switching among 77+ different f/x presets, the NDS remote control's touchscreen can also linearly control any two of about a hundred independent f/x parameters in real-time. I.e. a very cost effective TouchScreenWhammyPad.

Guitar-ZyX-0.4.1 uses the excellent Rakarrack open source guitar-f/x software to provide effects. Guitar-ZyX-0.4.1 is derived from Fedora(tm)-11 and has compatable full access to the upstream software repositories including updates.

Guitar-ZyX is entirely free and open source software, with all source available, for both the PC and NDS components. All necessary compilers and build tools are also included, allowing anyone to modify and enhance in any way their imagination and code-fu skills allow.


Guitar-F/X via    Rakarrack

Add any of 77+ digital Guitar-F/X presets to your live playing, or create your own.

Master Control Program (M.C.P.)

Linearly control 2 or more of nearly a hundred live F/X parameters with the NDS acting as a TouchScreenWhammyPad.


Record and Broadcast Music to 'the cloud' using entirely Free and Open Source Software. Currently the tools involved in this are very manual, but improved automation will arive well before the 1.0 release.

Complete MultiArch Live Operating System

A 4Gb microSDHC containing all the code you need to run your x86 PC and NDS. No need to purchase or aquire ANY other software!

Free & OpenSource Software for the PC and NDS

Web Browsing/Serving, Email, IM, Online Poker, Office, Music Comp., Drum Synth, Image Editing, USB Webcam Security, Games, much much more...
VirOS and ZyXdevSuite

A complete collection of open source compilers and tools. All the source code for Guitar-ZyX is included within Guitar-ZyX along with all the tools needed to recompile with any modifications you care to implement. Create your own derivative FOSS appliance with a single command-line.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does Guitar-ZyX require an internet connection? A WiFi Access Point?

An internet connection - NO. A WiFi AP - YES. The AP is needed to allow the NDS to communicate with the PC, but otherwise, no other networking or internet connection is required. Most cheap (~$30) APs I've seen are perfectly happy to operate in default mode with no actual internet connection. The NDS side (the MCP) listens for a UDP broadcast presense message from the PC, and then connects. So not even DNS is required (though dhcp as found in typical APs is required). Note, that it should be possible for the PC to talk over wifi directly to the NDS via 'ad-hoc' mode. Unfortunately support for this does not yet exist in libnds. Hopefully that will change and the AP will not be required in some future version.

Do I need a preamp(or headphone amplifier) between my Guitar and my PC's line-in?

Need? Probably not. Want? Probably. While I have had acceptable success without one, I am not myself at the level of a serious guitarist with a paying audience. An excellent (AFAIK) explanation of the issues of an electric guitar signal versus common PC soundcard line-in/mic-in was given on the rakarrack-users mailinglist by Ryan Billing.

Rhythmox fails strangely with 'pad error'?

This bug has been filed upstream. Maybe trying 'killall pulseaudio' will reset pulseaudio and help this. Or maybe not. Looks like Guitar-ZyX is in this instance bug for bug compatable with ubuntu studio :) (as I found the upstream bug report in an ubuntu database reported by an ubuntu studio user. Perhaps similar jack interaction issues)

Something happened and the volume gets reset to 100% or MORE???

Pulseaudio, and particularly in conjunction with rhythmbox, has some problems in f11. I think I've successfully worked around them with flat-volume = no in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf, and a mechanism that less than gracefully whacks pulseaudio's initial volumes from 100% to 75% when its volume restoration is not working or uninitialized. But I can make no guarantees. By all means let me know if you experience a problem like this.

Derived from Fedora-11? Why not 12?

My intention for the foreseeable future is to lag my upstream's release schedule by one full release (6 months). Given that they support releases for a year, this means I can start with 6 months of their updates, by sacrificing having 2 concurrently supported releases in parallel. Given that Guitar-ZyX is a very very niche distro, this makes a lot of sense. More so if you know the history of living in the first 6 month window of this particular upstream. Lets just say that I have no desire to be that bleeding edge. Alternately though, after 6 months of errata, Fedora is IMHO a good distro (hence my continued use of it).

Why not derive from Debuntu?

Maybe someday, but for now, I've yet to hit that point where the pendulum will swing, and I'll switch my default distro, before another switch months or years later, etc... I'd be glad to offer help to anyone seriously interested in using my various GPL warez on a Debuntu base. An outline of what needs to be done is pretty straightforward. I've used preseed years ago, and allegedly kickstart works to some degree anyway. Other than that, it should be pretty straightforward, as the original design included support for different ancestors/upstreams.

Note: Nintendo and Fedora are protected trademarks of entities that do not support or endorse Guitar-ZyX in any way. Guitar-ZyX, VirOS, and CloudSession are official protected trademarks owned by Douglas McClendon. They may be redistributed in unmodified versions of software from this site that already contain them.

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