I am a long time Linux user but had to keep a windoze box around for recording. This was frustrating beyond measure as I despise windows and never could sustain a stable windoze box. There is just no driver support to record in Linux so I invested in a Mac Mini hoping at last to have a stable recording platform that I could also use for multi-media.

Mostly I've enjoyed the Mac Mini. My external breakout box a Tascam US 144 has been all but an utter failure. Tascams support for the Mac is mostly lip service. The drivers barely install and if I cross my eyes right and don't stick any USB devices in, use a powered USB hub and don't install anything or open up the wrong apps it works after a fashion. Not well but at least it's better sound quality than trying to pipe stuff in through the sound card. However if I look at it wrong the US 144 cannot be seen or garbles the sound coming in and even on it's best days it's driveling the left channel in and clipping on the right channel no matter how I tweek the settings on my pedals or the Tascam 144.

So far Audacity is my primary recording software. I would love to find something a bit more advanced like pro-tools or cakewalk but cannot afford to purchase anything like that right now. Garage band is great to play around in but appears to be missing many essential features. The most glaring is support for stereo effects. Many of my pedals effects use stereo effects and to mix them down into a single channel then try to unmix them is just not practical.

My recording set up is

Guitar, bass mixer & drums
|| ||
Effects pedals ||
(Pod X3 live, GT-6, RP7 ||
Genisis 3, Zoom) ||
|| ||
Tascam US 144
Audacity and or Garage band

I'm VERY VERY VERY unhappy with Tascam. I have an Maudio Delta 66 but that's not going to fit in my mini obviously.

My questions.

What hardware is well supported with Mac drivers? Obviously buying Tascam is a stupid waste of money. Can't afford it but would love to go to firewire rather than USB. What I don't want to do is waste any money on another lemon like the Tascam.

Anybody have any problems using audacity strait too a WD external HD? That's my next purchase so I don't burn up the internal HD, I want to record strait to an external drive. Any way to set it so all the cache files and everything related wind up on the external drive?

Any free multi-track recording software out there y'all can recommend. Full featured I mean. Not limited stuff like Garage band. I need stereo tracks, punch ins, mix down capabilities, faders, etc. Software I can use for serious commercial quality recording.

Any good tab creation software for guitar and bass for the Mac?

Thanks in advance.