Jackd, performances and harddisks

So you have your sample loading working in a separate thread to your realtime audio code and the interface i/o communication is also tucked away in it’s own thread. You have a lock free mechanism for communicating between all threads and still, sometimes – when loading data from disk jackd chucks your program off for blocking – usually during a live performance, and you have to fumble around restarting the audio server. What’s going on?

Well, it turns out that when your hard drive goes to sleep, the spin up resulting from a disk access request (such as mid-performance sample loading) can cause the kernel to block, which causes jackd to panic and either stop entirely or detach your client. This is even with jackd running with the –nozombies switch, so it must be the watchdog thread at work.

The solution is simply to prevent your drive spinning down when you are performing, by adding “hdparm -S 0 /dev/yourharddisk” to your live audio startup script. Thanks to ClaudiusMaximus for helping me fix this at Piksel – it’s been bothering me for ages.

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