It's been a while! Thanks for your input everyone! I hope this thread helps someone else to select an interface in the future. The Focusrite arrived a day or two ago, for the sake of future users here's how I managed to get it recording in Ardour on vanilla Maverick.
Because in Natty the legacy stack has been removed, and the new stack currently only supports recording (not playback). I can only assume that the FFADO developers are working on this... In Lucid, the FFADO drivers available in the repositories (libffado2.0.0) are do not work with the Saffire Pro 40. Maverick alone satisfies both criteria of having the old stack as well as libffado 2.0.1 in its repositories. I was alerted to this fact here.
It may be that it will work on other Ubuntus if you compile FFADO yourself, but I was unable to get it working using the steps over at http://subversion.ffado.org/wiki/Dependencies/Ubuntu.
My device was brand new, so initially I had trouble setting up ffado-mixer correctly. Following the advice here, I used Windows XP with a firewire card to install the Focusrite drivers from the CD (without connecting to the internet -otherwise it tries to update the installer and perhaps the firmware - I have come to be very suspicious of this making things not work properly and what not!!). From the newly installed Saffire MixControl, File > Restore Factory Defaults > Save To Hardware. Thankfully, that's all I had to do using Windows, which is more than I can say for my Ipod Classic...
Now, from Maverick. In a terminal, type:
Select yes when jack asks for access to realtime priority. After that is finished, go System > Administration > Users and groups > Advanced Settings > User Privileges. Check "use audio devices" and "use video devices" (video devices may not be necessary, but that's what I did).
sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get install ubuntustudio-controls ardour libffado2 ffado-dbus-server ffado-tools ffado-mixer-qt4
Next, go System > Administration > Ubuntu Studio Controls. Check all three boxes. I don't know yet if these settings are optimal, but I chose 70% memlock, -3 nice. If someone knows a more elegant way to do this, i.e. from the terminal rather than installing the ubuntustudio-controls package, please let me know.
Next, in a terminal type:
Make it look like this:
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/blacklist-firewire.conf
Rebuild initramfs. Don't skip this if you want these settings to be permanent.
add dv1394 and raw1394 to /etc/modules
sudo update-initramfs -k all -u
Now you can reboot, pray, start the Saffire Pro 40 and start ffado-mixer. If everything's okay it will ask you to register your device with FFADO to prove that linux users do exist or somesuch. Hooray!
sudo nano /etc/modules
Start Jack Control, choose firewire, start Jack server, start Ardour. That's it! I haven't tested this in a recording environment yet, but I'm able to get sound from every input which is leagues ahead of anything else I have experienced in Linux so far. I'll give updates in a week or so and mark as solved if everything's still okay. Thanks for reading, hopefully this will encourage you guys to post the steps you took to get your hardware working and we can get some great reference material around here!
PS. 8ms latency without even installing the lowlatency kernel!
- I'm a newbie, if there's a better way to do any of this please let me know.
- Tested using Ricoh Co Ltd R5C832 IEEE 1394 Controller on a Dell Inspiron 9400.
- I'm not very knowledgeable about security, but I heard that having a firewire card poses a security risk. To counter this, I think you can just blacklist everything here and sudo modprobe the drivers as needed. SECURITY EXPERTS! Please tell me if this reasoning is sound. I'm only a little bit paranoid.
- essential reading: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/FireWire