Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Linux as A Musician's OS?

CmdrTaco posted more than 7 years ago | from the but-there's-no-protools dept.

Music 309

lazyeye writes "Keyboard Magazine has an in-depth article about the state of music production on Linux. While it does introduce Linux to the average musician, the article does get into some of the available music applications and music-oriented Linux distributions out there. From the opening paragraph 'You might think there's no way a free operating system written by volunteers could compete when it comes to music production. But in the past couple of years, all the tools you need to make music have arrived on Linux.'"

cancel ×

309 comments

Twofo GNAA (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19021739)

University of Warwick file sharing faggots. [twofo.co.uk]

                        GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
                              Version 2, June 1991

  Copyright (C) 1989, 1991 Free Software Foundation, Inc.
          59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA
  Everyone is permitted to copy and distribute verbatim copies
  of this license document, but changing it is not allowed.

                                Preamble

    The licenses for most software are designed to take away your
freedom to share and change it. By contrast, the GNU General Public
License is intended to guarantee your freedom to share and change free
software--to make sure the software is free for all its users. This
General Public License applies to most of the Free Software
Foundation's software and to any other program whose authors commit to
using it. (Some other Free Software Foundation software is covered by
the GNU Library General Public License instead.) You can apply it to
your programs, too.

    When we speak of free software, we are referring to freedom, not
price. Our General Public Licenses are designed to make sure that you
have the freedom to distribute copies of free software (and charge for
this service if you wish), that you receive source code or can get it
if you want it, that you can change the software or use pieces of it
in new free programs; and that you know you can do these things.

    To protect your rights, we need to make restrictions that forbid
anyone to deny you these rights or to ask you to surrender the rights.
These restrictions translate to certain responsibilities for you if you
distribute copies of the software, or if you modify it.

    For example, if you distribute copies of such a program, whether
gratis or for a fee, you must give the recipients all the rights that
you have. You must make sure that they, too, receive or can get the
source code. And you must show them these terms so they know their
rights.

    We protect your rights with two steps: (1) copyright the software, and
(2) offer you this license which gives you legal permission to copy,
distribute and/or modify the software.

    Also, for each author's protection and ours, we want to make certain
that everyone understands that there is no warranty for this free
software. If the software is modified by someone else and passed on, we
want its recipients to know that what they have is not the original, so
that any problems introduced by others will not reflect on the original
authors' reputations.

    Finally, any free program is threatened constantly by software
patents. We wish to avoid the danger that redistributors of a free
program will individually obtain patent licenses, in effect making the
program proprietary. To prevent this, we have made it clear that any
patent must be licensed for everyone's free use or not licensed at all.

    The precise terms and conditions for copying, distribution and
modification follow.

                        GNU GENERAL PUBLIC LICENSE
      TERMS AND CONDITIONS FOR COPYING, DISTRIBUTION AND MODIFICATION

    0. This License applies to any program or other work which contains
a notice placed by the copyright holder saying it may be distributed
under the terms of this General Public License. The "Program", below,
refers to any such program or work, and a "work based on the Program"
means either the Program or any derivative work under copyright law:
that is to say, a work containing the Program or a portion of it,
either verbatim or with modifications and/or translated into another
language. (Hereinafter, translation is included without limitation in
the term "modification".) Each licensee is addressed as "you".

Activities other than copying, distribution and modification are not
covered by this License; they are outside its scope. The act of
running the Program is not restricted, and the output from the Program
is covered only if its contents constitute a work based on the
Program (independent of having been made by running the Program).
Whether that is true depends on what the Program does.

    1. You may copy and distribute verbatim copies of the Program's
source code as you receive it, in any medium, provided that you
conspicuously and appropriately publish on each copy an appropriate
copyright notice and disclaimer of warranty; keep intact all the
notices that refer to this License and to the absence of any warranty;
and give any other recipients of the Program a copy of this License
along with the Program.

You may charge a fee for the physical act of transferring a copy, and
you may at your option offer warranty protection in exchange for a fee.

    2. You may modify your copy or copies of the Program or any portion
of it, thus forming a work based on the Program, and copy and
distribute such modifications or work under the terms of Section 1
above, provided that you also meet all of these conditions:

        a) You must cause the modified files to carry prominent notices
        stating that you changed the files and the date of any change.

        b) You must cause any work that you distribute or publish, that in
        whole or in part contains or is derived from the Program or any
        part thereof, to be licensed as a whole at no charge to all third
        parties under the terms of this License.

        c) If the modified program normally reads commands interactively
        when run, you must cause it, when started running for such
        interactive use in the most ordinary way, to print or display an
        announcement including an appropriate copyright notice and a
        notice that there is no warranty (or else, saying that you provide
        a warranty) and that users may redistribute the program under
        these conditions, and telling the user how to view a copy of this
        License. (Exception: if the Program itself is interactive but
        does not normally print such an announcement, your work based on
        the Program is not required to print an announcement.)

These requirements apply to the modified work as a whole. If
identifiable sections of that work are not derived from the Program,
and can be reasonably considered independent and separate works in
themselves, then this License, and its terms, do not apply to those
sections when you distribute them as separate works. But when you
distribute the same sections as part of a whole which is a work based
on the Program, the distribution of the whole must be on the terms of
this License, whose permissions for other licensees extend to the
entire whole, and thus to each and every part regardless of who wrote it.

Thus, it is not the intent of this section to claim rights or contest
your rights to work written entirely by you; rather, the intent is to
exercise the right to control the distribution of derivative or
collective works based on the Program.

In addition, mere aggregation of another work not based on the Program
with the Program (or with a work based on the Program) on a volume of
a storage or distribution medium does not bring the other work under
the scope of this License.

    3. You may copy and distribute the Program (or a work based on it,
under Section 2) in object code or executable form under the terms of
Sections 1 and 2 above provided that you also do one of the following:

        a) Accompany it with the complete corresponding machine-readable
        source code, which must be distributed under the terms of Sections
        1 and 2 above on a medium customarily used for software interchange; or,

        b) Accompany it with a written offer, valid for at least three
        years, to give any third party, for a charge no more than your
        cost of physically performing source distribution, a complete
        machine-readable copy of the corresponding source code, to be
        distributed under the terms of Sections 1 and 2 above on a medium
        customarily used for software interchange; or,

        c) Accompany it with the information you received as to the offer
        to distribute corresponding source code. (This alternative is
        allowed only for noncommercial distribution and only if you
        received the program in object code or executable form with such
        an offer, in accord with Subsection b above.)

The source code for a work means the preferred form of the work for
making modifications to it. For an executable work, complete source
code means all the source code for all modules it contains, plus any
associated interface definition files, plus the scripts used to
control compilation and installation of the executable. However, as a
special exception, the source code distributed need not include
anything that is normally distributed (in either source or binary
form) with the major components (compiler, kernel, and so on) of the
operating system on which the executable runs, unless that component
itself accompanies the executable.

If distribution of executable or object code is made by offering
access to copy from a designated place, then offering equivalent
access to copy the source code from the same place counts as
distribution of the source code, even though third parties are not
compelled to copy the source along with the object code.

    4. You may not copy, modify, sublicense, or distribute the Program
except as expressly provided under this License. Any attempt
otherwise to copy, modify, sublicense or distribute the Program is
void, and will automatically terminate your rights under this License.
However, parties who have received copies, or rights, from you under
this License will not have their licenses terminated so long as such
parties remain in full compliance.

    5. You are not required to accept this License, since you have not
signed it. However, nothing else grants you permission to modify or
distribute the Program or its derivative works. These actions are
prohibited by law if you do not accept this License. Therefore, by
modifying or distributing the Program (or any work based on the
Program), you indicate your acceptance of this License to do so, and
all its terms and conditions for copying, distributing or modifying
the Program or works based on it.

    6. Each time you redistribute the Program (or any work based on the
Program), the recipient automatically receives a license from the
original licensor to copy, distribute or modify the Program subject to
these terms and conditions. You may not impose any further
restrictions on the recipients' exercise of the rights granted herein.
You are not responsible for enforcing compliance by third parties to
this License.

    7. If, as a consequence of a court judgment or allegation of patent
infringement or for any other reason (not limited to patent issues),
conditions are imposed on you (whether by court order, agreement or
otherwise) that contradict the conditions of this License, they do not
excuse you from the conditions of this License. If you cannot
distribute so as to satisfy simultaneously your obligations under this
License and any other pertinent obligations, then as a consequence you
may not distribute the Program at all. For example, if a patent
license would not permit royalty-free redistribution of the Program by
all those who receive copies directly or indirectly through you, then
the only way you could satisfy both it and this License would be to
refrain entirely from distribution of the Program.

If any portion of this section is held invalid or unenforceable under
any particular circumstance, the balance of the section is intended to
apply and the section as a whole is intended to apply in other
circumstances.

It is not the purpose of this section to induce you to infringe any
patents or other property right claims or to contest validity of any
such claims; this section has the sole purpose of protecting the
integrity of the free software distribution system, which is
implemented by public license practices. Many people have made
generous contributions to the wide range of software distributed
through that system in reliance on consistent application of that
system; it is up to the author/donor to decide if he or she is willing
to distribute software through any other system and a licensee cannot
impose that choice.

This section is intended to make thoroughly clear what is believed to
be a consequence of the rest of this License.

    8. If the distribution and/or use of the Program is restricted in
certain countries either by patents or by copyrighted interfaces, the
original copyright holder who places the Program under this License
may add an explicit geographical distribution limitation excluding
those countries, so that distribution is permitted only in or among
countries not thus excluded. In such case, this License incorporates
the limitation as if written in the body of this License.

    9. The Free Software Foundation may publish revised and/or new versions
of the General Public License from time to time. Such new versions will
be similar in spirit to the present version, but may differ in detail to
address new problems or concerns.

Each version is given a distinguishing version number. If the Program
specifies a version number of this License which applies to it and "any
later version", you have the option of following the terms and conditions
either of that version or of any later version published by the Free
Software Foundation. If the Program does not specify a version number of
this License, you may choose any version ever published by the Free Software
Foundation.

    10. If you wish to incorporate parts of the Program into other free
programs whose distribution conditions are different, write to the author
to ask for permission. For software which is copyrighted by the Free
Software Foundation, write to the Free Software Foundation; we sometimes
make exceptions for this. Our decision will be guided by the two goals
of preserving the free status of all derivatives of our free software and
of promoting the sharing and reuse of software generally.

                                NO WARRANTY

    11. BECAUSE THE PROGRAM IS LICENSED FREE OF CHARGE, THERE IS NO WARRANTY
FOR THE PROGRAM, TO THE EXTENT PERMITTED BY APPLICABLE LAW. EXCEPT WHEN
OTHERWISE STATED IN WRITING THE COPYRIGHT HOLDERS AND/OR OTHER PARTIES
PROVIDE THE PROGRAM "AS IS" WITHOUT WARRANTY OF ANY KIND, EITHER EXPRESSED
OR IMPLIED, INCLUDING, BUT NOT LIMITED TO, THE IMPLIED WARRANTIES OF
MERCHANTABILITY AND FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. THE ENTIRE RISK AS
TO THE QUALITY AND PERFORMANCE OF THE PROGRAM IS WITH YOU. SHOULD THE
PROGRAM PROVE DEFECTIVE, YOU ASSUME THE COST OF ALL NECESSARY SERVICING,
REPAIR OR CORRECTION.

    12. IN NO EVENT UNLESS REQUIRED BY APPLICABLE LAW OR AGREED TO IN WRITING
WILL ANY COPYRIGHT HOLDER, OR ANY OTHER PARTY WHO MAY MODIFY AND/OR
REDISTRIBUTE THE PROGRAM AS PERMITTED ABOVE, BE LIABLE TO YOU FOR DAMAGES,
INCLUDING ANY GENERAL, SPECIAL, INCIDENTAL OR CONSEQUENTIAL DAMAGES ARISING
OUT OF THE USE OR INABILITY TO USE THE PROGRAM (INCLUDING BUT NOT LIMITED
TO LOSS OF DATA OR DATA BEING RENDERED INACCURATE OR LOSSES SUSTAINED BY
YOU OR THIRD PARTIES OR A FAILURE OF THE PROGRAM TO OPERATE WITH ANY OTHER
PROGRAMS), EVEN IF SUCH HOLDER OR OTHER PARTY HAS BEEN ADVISED OF THE
POSSIBILITY OF SUCH DAMAGES.

                          END OF TERMS AND CONDITIONS

                How to Apply These Terms to Your New Programs

    If you develop a new program, and you want it to be of the greatest
possible use to the public, the best way to achieve this is to make it
free software which everyone can redistribute and change under these terms.

    To do so, attach the following notices to the program. It is safest
to attach them to the start of each source file to most effectively
convey the exclusion of warranty; and each file should have at least
the "copyright" line and a pointer to where the full notice is found.

        Copyright (C)

        This program is free software; you can redistribute it and/or modify
        it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
        the Free Software Foundation; either version 2 of the License, or
        (at your option) any later version.

        This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
        but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
        MERCHANTABILITY or FITNESS FOR A PARTICULAR PURPOSE. See the
        GNU General Public License for more details.

        You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
        along with this program; if not, write to the Free Software
        Foundation, Inc., 59 Temple Place, Suite 330, Boston, MA 02111-1307 USA

Also add information on how to contact you by electronic and paper mail.

If the program is interactive, make it output a short notice like this
when it starts in an interactive mode:

        Gnomovision version 69, Copyright (C) year name of author
        Gnomovision comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY; for details type `show w'.
        This is free software, and you are welcome to redistribute it
        under certain conditions; type `show c' for details.

The hypothetical commands `show w' and `show c' should show the appropriate
parts of the General Public License. Of course, the commands you use may
be called something other than `show w' and `show c'; they could even be
mouse-clicks or menu items--whatever suits your program.

You should also get your employer (if you work as a programmer) or your
school, if any, to sign a "copyright disclaimer" for the program, if
necessary. Here is a sample; alter the names:

    Yoyodyne, Inc., hereby disclaims all copyright interest in the program
    `Gnomovision' (which makes passes at compilers) written by James Hacker.

    , 1 April 1989
    Ty Coon, President of Vice

This General Public License does not permit incorporating your program into
proprietary programs. If your program is a subroutine library, you may
consider it more useful to permit linking proprietary applications with the
library. If this is what you want to do, use the GNU Library General
Public License instead of this License.

Preference... (4, Funny)

dsginter (104154) | more than 7 years ago | (#19021807)

As a musician, I prefer Windows Vista Musician 64-bit System Builder Edition.

Re:Preference... (5, Funny)

rob1980 (941751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022221)

You are attempting to add a 28 minute drum solo to this song. Cancel or allow?

Re:Preference... (5, Funny)

Bob_Sheep (988029) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022901)

Your 28 minute drum solo may infringe on Led Zeppelin copyright, do you want me to contact your lawyer?

Re:Preference... (-1, Offtopic)

A Wise Guy (1006169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022907)

Damn it Jim! I thought I deleted the file 1 hour ago. Do I have to wait another hour?

slashdotted (4, Insightful)

Hatta (162192) | more than 7 years ago | (#19021839)

No comments and it's already slashdotted. Ah well. What are your thoughts on these products?

RoseGarden [rosegardenmusic.com]
Ardour [ardour.org]
CSound [csounds.com]

Do you really need anything else?

Re:slashdotted (3, Informative)

guruevi (827432) | more than 7 years ago | (#19021995)

You're forgetting the actual Jack tools (not the command line, the graphical ones), wonderful especially if you have large setups with lots of inputs/outputs

A good start, but still some holes to fill. (5, Interesting)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022077)

RoseGarden fills one big gap (score editing, like Finale and Sibelius), but what I'd really like to see is an alternative to SmartMusic (practice music with the computer playing the accompaniment). Bonus points if it will playback scores prepared in RoseGarden.

Re:A good start, but still some holes to fill. (2, Interesting)

drinkypoo (153816) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022415)

I second that, actually what I want is an application that provides a singing tutor. I have a pretty good voice, but I flub quite a bit of notes and my sense of pitch could be better. I've seen them for sale for Windows, but who wants to pay for software? :)

Re:A good start, but still some holes to fill. (2, Informative)

Coryoth (254751) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022803)

I second that, actually what I want is an application that provides a singing tutor. I have a pretty good voice, but I flub quite a bit of notes and my sense of pitch could be better.
I suspect that Solfege [solfege.org] may be what you're after. It's a nice little program that can test you on recognising and singing various intervals etc. Definitely worth checking out if you want to improve your ear.

Re:A good start, but still some holes to fill. (1)

Reality Master 101 (179095) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022715)

Score editing was going to be my big question, so thanks for pointing that out. Any other recommendations for that area? Anyone?

Also Jokosher (3, Informative)

Marcion (876801) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022079)

Also Jokosher ( http://www.jokosher.org/ [jokosher.org] ) is on the verges of having a stable release, for people that use a Gnome based system and want something as simple and easy as Garageband then it could be just the thing if Ardour and some of the others are too much like Darth's Vador's bathroom.

(BTW, I have no association with any of these projects).

Re:Also Jokosher (1)

WoggerRotters (945521) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022873)

For those looking for a multi-track studio, and an alternative to Jokosher or Ardour...

I think Traverso http://traverso-daw.org/ [traverso-daw.org] is worth trying, though it's not strictly linux-only. (It claims to do it's thing on OSX & Windows too).
It features non-destructive editing, support for lv2-plugins, an interface (Qt4) focused on soft-selection, etc ...
Oh, and for those interested, the devs are on the verge or releasing a new version. Give it a few days, and give it a shot.

Ingmar

Linux Music at the brink of "plausible promise" (5, Informative)

mtaht (603670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022269)

One of the marvelous things about most Linux based music apps is that they run on any architecture. This might seem like a no brainer to some, but as someone that has struggled with 64 bit issues on another (to be unnammed) platform, Linux+Music on x86_64 is pretty impressive. What's even more impressive, to me, is how Ingo's RT patch is working on x86_64 these days. I've had a week of solid uptime since the 2.6.21-rt1 patch.

Rosegarden: Pretty good.

Ardour: The 2.0 release (just out last week) is AWESOME! Get it!

CSound: I like to leave my programming mind behind when I'm working on music.

Sooperlooper: very cool

Freewheeling: also cool

Music distros this summer ought to be pretty good - with new releases scheduled for many of the music distributions.

What bothers me the most these days is plugins and soft synths. There are not enough plugins, the ones we have (like swh-plugins, tap-plugins, caps-plugins, and cmt) aren't heavily optimized for modern architectures (I just spent a weekend working on that) and not enough people out there do dsp programming (myself included) to really gain critical mass for the "perfect EQ" or the "perfect reverb". Still, the plugin solutions are adaquate, just not generally something to rave about. If you know a dsp programmer bored in his day job, show him 64 studio [ferventsoftware.com] or Studio to go [ferventsoftware.com] and try to enlist his/her help!

Soft Synths are coming along. Linuxsampler [linuxsampler.org] is very nice. Bristol is coming along. There are quite a few more.

I think Linux music is on the brink of plausible promise. I've got 16 tracks of live audio working almost flawlessly right now.

Re:slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022439)

I hereby propose the new offical law of slashdot. If the article is there, it's a shameless plug for page hits. If it's slashdotted, it's some poor innocent sap who was hit by the slashdot ray beam and obliterated.....

Re:slashdotted (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022513)

Or find an alternative source (Google cache, etc.) when the link is posted to reduce load.

Re:slashdotted (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022493)

It wasn't Slashdotted -- it was Dugg yesterday: http://digg.com/linux_unix/Music_Production_on_Lin ux_easy_and_fun [digg.com]

By the way, thanks for the links. I went to the Ardor page, and I love this comment regarding Ardor running on a Beryl desktop (under the post "3D desktop and Ardour"): "Honest, OS X, we still have feelings for you, but your pretty cousin is in town ..."

Re:slashdotted (3, Informative)

CowboyBob500 (580695) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022725)

As a musician myself, I really wouldn't bother. Each shows promise, but all of them have fatal flaws that make them useless for anything but the most basic recording - the most obvious being stability in the case of Rosegarden, and the poor quality of the plugins across the board. There's no equivalent of things like guitar amp simulations, or professional grade mastering tools such as Ozone that I could find.

None of this software comes anywhere close to stuff like Cubase, Logic, MOTU Digital Performer and the like. Even Garageband is superior IMO. I have a Linux machine for everyday work, but a Mac for music related stuff.

Bob

Re:slashdotted (1)

eneville (745111) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023005)

I think you forgot x11amp [xmms.org] :)

Re:slashdotted (2, Informative)

robbiethefett (1047640) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023259)

you'll need Jack and JackQT, the gui frontend to jack. also, as far as i know, unless you use a music-specific distro, you'll have to tweak the kernel to allow low-latency realtime operation. in short, linux is far from an "out of the box" solution for musicians, however it's becoming a viable option for those of us who enjoy such tweaks. IMHO, linux is not an acceptable environment for pro production. it is however, a hell of a great solution for the weekend warrior who wants to do basic tracking and recording, and doesnt want to break the bank. if you want to produce professional tracks, my preference is a mac running logic 7. aside from a decent interface, thats really all you need.. i even sold off some of my highly-prized analog gear because some of the built-in vst effects in logic are actually better, and offer more customizable sounds. now dont get me wrong--i love linux--but as far as creating music with it goes, it's more of a fun, geeky way to play around, rather than a serious production environment. but look at the bright side.. i know of exactly 0 pro shops that use Vista, and at least 2 studios in my area have a running linux box intended for tracking and recording. they are.. let's say.. "under-loved" but hey, at least they are there.

Re:slashdotted (1)

MostlyHarmless (75501) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023359)

Last time I tried CSound, I couldn't really get into it, but Pd [puredata.info] is nice. The learning curve is admittedly something of a learning cliff, but I think the interface it presents -- a blank canvas on which one draws networks of operators, subpatches, unit generators, etc. -- is close to ideal for this kind of work.

I've still found it to be too much work to build, say, an entire softsynth in Pd (although people have done so), but I've had a lot of luck creating nifty effects boxes, delay units, and audio/data gadgets. Combining it Pd with LADSPA plugins has been especially effective.

My bro tried this (3, Informative)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#19021855)

and the problem he ran into was the lack of inexpensive hardware that worked on Linux.

Re:My bro tried this (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022061)

What kind of hardware was too expensive? An Audigy card with a breakout box can be had for $99, and any new pc can handle the computation.

Re:My bro tried this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022235)

What kind of hardware was too expensive?
When you can't even afford a haircut or a pair of shoes less than 8 years old, any hardware is too expensive.

He's got an audigy (1)

rsilvergun (571051) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023091)

it's not that well supported. Works fine as a sound card, but it's a bitch getting all the inputs working. Also, he's got a cheap 'Guitar Pod' I think it's called that works great for recording, but doesn't work under Linux. There's a ton of cheap USB input and mixer devices out there that don't work in Linux.

Re:My bro tried this (2, Funny)

mauriatm (531406) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022215)

"the problem he ran into was the lack of inexpensive hardware that worked on Linux."

Out of curiosity, does that imply that there is expensive hardware that does work with linux?

Good, expensive, audio hardware for Linux (4, Interesting)

mtaht (603670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022863)

This is my ardour setup:

RME-Audio Multiface - up to 14 channels of sweet sounding 96khz/24 bit converters - 8 line inputs + ADAT + SPDIF
Prosonus Digimax FS - 8 nice pre's with an ADAT out.
Dual processor opteron (3 years old) - with 3GB of ram. Given the huge samples I use (bardstown bosendorfer being one), I have linuxsampler compiled for 128 voices, and configured to use up 1.6GB of ram all by itself.
4 drives in a striped terabyte.
System works way better than my motu ever did under the evil os - works like a champ at latency levels down to 1.5ms. I generally run at 5.2ms however, as I tend to run linuxsampler+rosegarden+ardour+hydrogen a lot. One day soon I hope to get a dual core with 8GB of ram.
The RME-audio design might be 5+ years old, but it's still superior to "normal" firewire, IMHO. The fact that I have both PCI and PCMCIA cards for it means I can take the gear on the road easily...
Rest of the machine: a bunch of edirol midi converters (they just work), a roland XV88, and PodXT (fully supported by rosegarden) - the M-audio keyboard.... Dual heads provided by a 19 dollar matrox M450 card. I tried the latest nvidia card in this machine, could never get it to work...
Last important note:
[m@mingus ~]$ uptime 09:23:22 up 12 days, 6 min, 11 users, load average: 1.39, 1.31, 1.33

Re:My bro tried this (1)

sarathmenon (751376) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023141)

I know you are joking, but there are _really_ expensive [rme-audio.com] cards/dsp boxes out there with terrific alsa support.

Re:My bro tried this (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022323)

Ever heard of M-Audio. I use the Audiophile 192 under linux for my music productions. It works great. And only cost $150 shipped to my door. Quality is outstanding. Better than any of the creative junk I've heard. I have also used the Delta 66 card(also $150 shipped) it also is a great performer under linux. M-audio.com

Re:My bro tried this (1)

Dpaladin (890625) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022773)

I ran into much of the same thing, though to be honest, the software I tried wasn't too impressive either. This was a few years ago, and I can only assume (can't RTFA at this point) that the software side has improved. Regardless, I'm pretty certain most professionals on the mixing scene would prefer a fully-loaded Mac to anything *nix or Windows can offer right now for that same reason.

Re:My bro tried this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022961)

There are drivers out there for some reasonable (under $200) multiple-in/out cards for Linux. Support for the USB-audio device I have (I wanted something that could be used on a laptop too for live recording) is patchy. The sound quality often seems to be poor, subject to drop-outs on playback or recording, with multiple audio files even on supported hardware, which is probably a kernel issue.

What would be nice is if some of the mac tools could be ported from OSX to Linux. That's probably the easiest set to port over. I'd pay for them. However the cost of XP is less than the software.

Re:My bro tried this (1)

orielbean (936271) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023177)

I would check into M-Audio's Delta series. They have linux drivers and will give you 2 balanced xlr, 6 rca l/r inputs, 2 midi in/outs, a time-code cable, and some other connector (which I don't use and can't remember) for under 200.00. It is a fantastic card! They also make the same thing, but in a breakout box vs a pci style internal card for more money.

Re:My bro tried this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023273)

For 200-400USD you can purchase an M-Audio Delta 1010. Works great with Linux.

Nonlinear audio recording is not a cheap hobby.

All that and a bag of chips. (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19021863)

"But in the past couple of years, all the tools you need to make music have arrived on Linux.'""

Cubase?

Finale-class Notation program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19021985)

Is there a notation program on par with Finale available for Linux???

Re:Finale-class Notation program? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022135)

Maybe not in ease of use. But lilypond creates better output.

Re:Finale-class Notation program? (1)

Lockejaw (955650) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022237)

An earlier comment [slashdot.org] mentions RoseGarden, which looks like it's worth checking out. I'm not currently running a supported distro, but an Ubuntu LiveCD should be enough to at least try it out.

Re:All that and a bag of chips. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022315)

Sorry. I didn't see where you could download the source code for Cubase. Do you have a link?

/yes, this comment is of relevance

Who Cares?!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022503)

I don't care about the source of the program (seeing it, Hax0ring it, whatever else you do with the source?!@?!), I just want an easy-to-use program that gives me the results I need, like Cubase. If that program runs on Linux, i'll take a look, but I don't care about 'seeing the source'....

Simple as That!

Re:All that and a bag of chips. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022501)

You don't *need* cubase to make music.

If your music and creativity is tied to a single software product, I would question the value and integrity of your music.

Well ... (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19021921)

this is music to my ears!

What would JACK do? (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022049)

I'd like to run music software on my *nix systems - I have three - but have yet to be able to successfully get JACK to start a server. Somehow it seems that - if I'm going to run music software such as Rosegarden or Ardour - that I shouldn't have to setup a server to do it. Though I'm a huge Linux fan, I have found that Wintendo makes things easier with software such as Acid, on which I did this: http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/kai-groundforces .mp3 and this: http://www.perfectreign.com/stuff/kai-giddyup.mp3 some years ago, with little to no effort.

Interesting article, none the less.

Re:What would JACK do? (1)

cheftw (996831) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022391)

well that's no excuse, just because you can't sudo....

The problems comes (3, Interesting)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022093)

With tracking down things that work. Hell even on the Mac I hit this issue recently because there was a shift going on a few years back to the PC that only recently has shifted back to the Mac. While if you where geeky enough you could fiddle around and get it working, most musicians I know want it to JUST WORK out of the box no questions asked, and get annoyed if it doesn't since for a lot of people musical inspiration is a hit or miss opportunity (I know friends who keep digital recorders on them at all times because of how often they hummed something out and forgot it 2 hours later)

I would love for free and cheap solutions to present themselves, i think musical programs as well as most programs are overly expensive for what they are, but given the choice between a 600 dollar mac mini with garageband, or fiddling around in linux to get something to work, a lot of the type of people I know musicians to be are going to go with the former.

Re:The problems comes (1)

garcia (6573) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022291)

While if you where geeky enough you could fiddle around and get it working, most musicians I know want it to JUST WORK out of the box no questions asked, and get annoyed if it doesn't since for a lot of people musical inspiration is a hit or miss opportunity (I know friends who keep digital recorders on them at all times because of how often they hummed something out and forgot it 2 hours later)

This isn't limited to musicians and, in fact, it's not even limited to those that have been running Linux for 10+ years. Sometimes even I just want something to work w/o me fucking around with kernel modules, third party software that I might have to compile, etc.

Ardour runs on mac! (1)

mtaht (603670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023009)

I note that even more popular than Ardour 2 on linux is Ardour 2 on Mac OSX. It works pretty good on a mini - Aside from getting X installed, which seems to be a painful process for some users (answers for this are on the forums)
Ardour [ardour.org] is much more sophisticated than garageband. For me, the killer app in ardour is the anywhere to anywhere routing model.

Site is slammed (2, Insightful)

Dramey (1098829) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022143)

I'm not able to read the article, the page getting is slammed. I'm curious about driver issues, I have had several audio interfaces over the years, and don't remember seeing any Linux divers for any of them. I'm using a MOTU UltraLite ATM and they cant even get their Windows drivers to work right. That doesn't give me a lot in the way of hope. I'm also curious if any plugins I already own (VSTs and the like) would work under Linux? That would be a deal breaker as I have so much money invested in them :/

Re:Site is slammed (1)

shotgunsaint (968677) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022303)

Well, the article does mention a wrapper program that can make linux-friendly plugins out of VST ones, but it did mention it has some problems with USB or serial copy-protection dongles.

Re:Site is slammed (2, Informative)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022349)

Google to the rescue...

http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:Zo5bcBIDaccJ:w ww.keyboardmag.com/story.asp%3Fstorycode%3D17973+k eyboard+magazine+linux&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us&cl ient=firefox-a ...tinyurl to the rescue...

http://tinyurl.com/2n65uq

To hell with MOTU & Sonar (3, Interesting)

mtaht (603670) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022469)

I used to own a motu 24i and run Sonar - and tascam gigastudio on a different machine. Sonar 1 and 2 was unreliable as hell, I could never record at low latency, and sonar over the course of 3 versions kept crashing - permanently - so it would not restart without a complete reinstall, and I was always misplacing the license key.

I had this happen in the middle of a critical, paid gig, and I lost not only a lot of money, but a lot of respect from the customer. I was incredibly angry, as you might imagine, and resolved to never again be dependent on code I couldn't fix.

100 bucks a year for sonar upgrades wasn't worth it as my bugs weren't getting fixed.

So... After begging the motu guys *for years* for specs for their board so I could write a driver for linux, and/or begging them for a driver, and getting the same "hell, no" response over and over again...

1) I researched companies that had a good history of linux support, and chose the RME-audio multiface.

2) Publically denounced motu's squareheadedness as loudly and bitterly as possible. I sold my motu 24i's to a dedicated mac-head.

3) Threw out my windows PC and Sonar and upgraded to a dual opteron 64 bit linux box...

... And, today, admittedly after some rough spots - I couldn't be happier. Ardour2 ROCKS! It works great 64 bit Linuxsampler does a great job with gigastudio files And I just added a digimax FS (via ADAT) to the rme-audio multiface, giving me 12 tracks of 96khz audio or 16 tracks of 44.1 - and it sounds great.

I sold the used Motu 24is for something like 400 dollars each. I haven't upgraded my sonar in a few years - so I've saved at least 300-400 bucks in upgrade fees, just on sonar. Gigastudio has come out with a few new versions (but is worth buying just for the sample libraries). There's a new windows version out - doesn't work terribly well for 64 bit, and costs some serious money.

So, all in all, throwing windows out of the studio entirely has resulted in:

1) Vastly improved reliability, with an os (linux-rt)truly targeted at multimedia
2) A huge cost savings in software, letting me buy much better hardware
3) I can run all my applications on a single dual-core machine with very low latency
4) A sense of satisfaction of "sticking it to the man"
5) The ability to participate in the process at any level you might choose. In my case, I've been speeding up plugins lately...
A windows based platform costs a lot more than linux platform. Windows + Sonar + Gigastudio is nearly a thousand dollar investment just in software. Linux + ardour + rosegarden + linuxsampler are subscriber supported.

Re:To hell with MOTU & Sonar (1)

dzogchen (200579) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023283)

What linux are you using? I'm running an old version of demudi (for the 2.4 RT kernel) but will soon upgrade and am looking for recommendations from someone actually using it....

Re:To hell with MOTU & Sonar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023329)

It seems that a lot of your problems in the first place had to do with having a Windows setup. I know there are some people out there that can and do use them, but everybody that I know that've done professional audio work (I know a few engineers and music editors) have done it on a Mac. The reason they give: precisely the sorts of problems that you detailed at the beginning of your post (bad latency and iffy stability on Windows).

Re:To hell with MOTU & Sonar (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023383)

"Windows + Sonar + Gigastudio is nearly a thousand dollar investment just in software. Linux + ardour + rosegarden + linuxsampler are subscriber supported."

The investment most people make in their Windows audio software is just getting an internet connection.

The pirates are generally those who 'need' Cubase+Gigastudio+Waves Diamond bundle+Reason, but even after spending $10,000 on software still use something like a Soundblaster sound card. They will also be ignorant of their own requirements or the capabilities of the software as they have never had to make a cost/features evaluation.
Quite easy to spot after a while.

I know it's wrong and illegal, but that is the competition Linux audio software is up against.
The people who use the cracked software don't care about freedom, or long term recovery and support for their software and music.

A Slashdot story on Linux Audio generally brings a lot of replies from pirates, which confuses the issue of whether they would benefit from using free audio software, as it's not exactly a level playing field.

Re:Site is slammed (1)

iamchaos (572797) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022625)

As far as the MOTU goes, I don't think it will work. To look for your specific card go here [alsa-project.org] to see if it is supported by ALSA. There is a DSSI plugin that will allow for use of VST plugins. I have not tried it so I can not condone or condemn the use of it. I am in a fortunate position with the music work I am doing on Linux. I need a new sound card, so I can browse through mailing lists and see what will/won't work before I purchase anything. All of my VST instruments and software was given to me by reps, so there will be no money lost. Good luck!

Re:Site is slammed (1)

growse (928427) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023015)

I echo this. No drivers exist for my M-Audio FW410, which is one of the few things preventing me going fully to a linux desktop on my main PC. That said, M-Audio havn't released any Vista drivers either, so I'm presuming their driver team only work weekends, or something.

Two Notes (3, Funny)

Roger W Moore (538166) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022155)

It can at least play C and C#.

Re:Two Notes (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022871)

There is a catch though, C# only plays in mono on linux...

Re:Two Notes (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022919)

I am hacking little C, I can hack it well you C...

Nice article but... (1)

autojive (560399) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022157)

Why bother when most I/O devices on the market come with 'Lite' versions of already tried and proven software from MOTU, Albleton, Steinberg, etc? For just the purchase price of a cheap USB or Firewire box you've got a really good software and hardware solution for creating music.

Re:Nice article but... (1)

tulcod (1056476) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022265)

don't forget that you need to have windows for those tools, whichs costs 600 dollars these days. and, honoustly, i haven't ever got a COMPLETE product on any CD on any hardware in my whole life.

My Linux Audio Setup (5, Informative)

phatmonkey (873256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022183)

I have just recorded and mixed a live album with this software on Ubuntu Feisty:

http://ardour.org/ [ardour.org]
http://jackaudio.org/ [jackaudio.org]
http://www.ffado.org/ [ffado.org] (aka Freebob) with a Mackie Onyx desk & firewire interface
http://jamin.sourceforge.net/ [sourceforge.net]

Very very good indeed, I vastly prefer it to my previous Windows based Cubase setup.

Ready? I don't think so. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022195)

Goodness knows I've tried. But it's just not there yet.

Jokosher looks interesting, but it's still in alpha. I've tried RoseGarden and Ardour, but they didn't click. If they work for you, more power to you!

I've heard Audacity is moving in the direction of being usable as a multitrack, but it lacks specialized features of other music software.

Don't tell me about LADSPA - there's no real UI support. I know - I've written a couple plugins.

The most promising thing I've seen so far has been Reaper running under WineASIO, so I'm keeping my eye on that. Yeah, it's not a "native" Linux application. I can live with that. There have been rumors of a Linux version of Reaper, but support for VST/VSTi is important, and that's never going to run "pure" native.

Site ultra-slow. Here's the article text. (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022209)

wget is patient... :)

Linux: It's Not Just For Computer Geeks Anymore

By Carl Lumma [keyboardmag.com] | May 2007

You might think there's no way a free operating system written by volunteers could compete when it comes to music production. But in the past couple of years, all the tools you need to make music have arrived on Linux.

For years, Linux has enjoyed market leadership as a server operating system -- Google's servers run it, for starters -- while struggling with the stigma that it isn't polished enough for desktop use. Those days are over, and word is getting out. Linux is quickly becoming the OS you'd set up for your grandmother, with no fuss over activation, software updates, or viruses. Unlike any version of Windows or Mac OS, Linux is open-source. What does this mean to musicians? For starters, there are no company secrets to keep or non-disclosure agreements to sign, so software developers and users alike can get on the same page very quickly, speeding the flow of bug fixes and feature additions.

Linux demands more nuts-and-bolts computer knowledge for pro audio than for web browsing, but if you've ever tried to troubleshoot a latency or driver issue on a store-bought laptop, you're probably still listening. If you upgrade your hard drive, you won't have to reactivate all your apps due to the hardware change, and when you discover a cool tool or workflow, you can share it with friends without them shelling out hundreds of dollars or resorting to piracy. With the exception of Linux versions that include commercial tech support, most everything in the Linux world is free for the asking, Many developers accept voluntary donations, which we encourage you to make.

HOW IS IT DONE?

Let's look over the shoulder of Aaron Krister-Johnson, the keyboardist and choir director at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He also composes incidental music for local theater, and is half of the electronica duo Divide by Pi, Keyboard's June '04 unsigned artist of the month. The core of his home studio is a PC running Linux (see Figure 1).

To obtain Linux, you download a particular distribution or "distro," which is a particular version of Linux someone put together, for free or a donation. Some distros are available boxed at very low cost. Ubuntu (www.ubuntu.com [ubuntu.com] ) is popular for home-computer tasks, but Aaron uses Zenwalk (www.zenwalk.org [zenwalk.org] ). Software compiled for a particular distro will only run on that distro, so most come with several free applications that you can install along with the basic OS. We recommend Fedora (www.fedoraproject.org [fedoraproject.org] ), because you can then install the Planet CCRMA package (ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software [stanford.edu] ), which includes just about every Linux audio application in existence.

Speaking of music applications, the most popular DAW for Linux is Ardour, and Aaron also uses JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK?" below), a soft synth called ZynSubAddFx, and an arpeggiator he wrote called Pymidichaos. Some distros come with binaries -- apps that have been compiled, i.e. converted from the programming language the developers used to the ones and zeroes computers understand at their innermost level. Three such distros are meant to provide install-and-go solutions for Linux-curious musicians: Studio to Go (www.ferventsoftware.com [ferventsoftware.com] ), Musix (www.musix.org.ar/en [musix.org.ar] ) and 64Studio (www.64studio.com [64studio.com] ).

But sooner or later (most likely sooner), you're going to have to take some groovy, free program you've downloaded and compile it yourself. This is where musicians used to commercial software might get scared off. Fear not, and remember that all the actual programming is already done. To compile a given program, you use a Linux command called "make," and with a little practice, it becomes just one of those things you do when installing software. Though a complete how-to is beyond the scope of this article, there are many tutorials on the web, and Linux music software authors are usually happy to point beginners in the right direction by email. When was the last time you got support directly from your music software's designers?

The Linux philosophy of choice extends all the way to the desktop. Where Mac OS and Windows pre-determine this and give you a few cosmetic options, there are dozens of desktop environments that let you browse your hard drive, launch applications, etc., available for Linux. The two most popular ones are KDE and Gnome, which feature snazzy graphics and look and feel a lot like Windows XP. For music production, Aaron suggests a less flashy option that will leave more system resources free to crunch audio. He uses Xfce, which is the default desktop in the Zenwalk distro. Newer computers should be able to run the default Fedora desktop, called Gnome, just fine.

So just how does Aaron go about laying down a tune? Here, we'll follow the production of the track "On This Good Soil, Let Our Automatons Play in Peace," which begins with a MIDI stream coming from the Pymidichaos arpeggiator, which Aaron wrote in his favorite programming language, Python. Don't feel like writing a fancy arpeggiator yourself? No problem -- you can download the Pymidichaos source code for free from Aaron's web site at www.akjmusic.com [akjmusic.com] . Let him know how you like it.

As the name suggests, pymidichaos is no ordinary arpeggiator -- it uses chaos math (think of fractals) to constantly vary the patterns it produces. It also has a GUI that lets you tweak this process in real time, which is just what Aaron did for this piece, essentially an improvisation performed on Pymidichaos and ZynAddSubFx. Zyn, as it's friends call it, is a fantastic software synth. Aaron used very quick decays to create the percussion patches for the piece. A couple of Zyn's built-in effects (tweaked as the piece was being generated) complete the sonic picture.

Pymidichaos sends MIDI by saving data to a virtual MIDI port. Virtual MIDI ports come courtesy of something called snd-virmidi, which is part of ALSA, the audio framework that comes standard with the most recent versions of Linux (kernel versions 2.6 and up). This MIDI "port" is just like a file on Aaron's hard drive that his Python script can save data to -- no fancy MIDI API to deal with -- and Zyn can read MIDI directly from it, in real time.

Zyn has a built-in audio recorder, but in this case Aaron chose to send Zyn's stereo outs to Ardour for recording. He used QjackCtl, which is just a graphical user interface for JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK" below), to patch the audio across. Further effects could be applied in Ardour, of course. Finally the LAME mp3 converter was used to make an MP3 file for posting on the web. Want to hear it? It's at www.akjmusic.com/works.html [akjmusic.com] .

AN OPEN-SOURCE SUCCESS STORY

Linux wasn't always a suitable musician's tool. That's what Paul Davis found in 1999 when he wanted to make a recording. Pro Tools was the de facto standard, so Paul did what any earnest programmer would do -- he called Digidesign and asked for the Pro Tools source code so he could port it over to Linux. It didn't surprise him when they declined, and if you'd told him he'd spend the next seven years of his life spearheading the first production-ready free DAW, he wouldn't have believed you. "It's fitting that I called the project Ardour," he laughs.

Paul was one of the first two programmers at online retail giant Amazon. Shortly after the famous web store launched, he left the company to pursue personal projects, most of which have turned out to be related to that DAW. "If I had known what I was in for, I never would have started," he says. Perhaps it's fitting that he called the project "Ardour."

Paul is the first to admit that Ardour's mission was to mirror Pro Tools' feature set. He also maintains that Ardour's architechture is superior to that of Pro Tools, but concedes that the feature set lags behind: "If you took two groups and gave one Pro Tools and the other Ardour, you'd be likely to have more feature requests at the end from the Ardour group. But you'd probably get significant lists from both groups."

Ardour's development is managed, as are most open source projects, over the 'net with mailing lists and chat. Anyone can read or contribute to the conversation. There are about 30-40 people active on Ardour's chat channel in any given month. Some companies see commercial opportunities in the open-source culture. Paul was paid to work on Ardour for a year by mixing console maker Solid State Logic, and in 2006, Harrison announced their Xdubber console, which internally runs a special version of Ardour designed to allow destructive editing for post-production film dubbing. See "Ardour and Top-Shelf Studio Gear" below for more on the Harrison Xdubber. In the keyboard realm, the Muse Receptor (reviewed Nov. '04) runs a custom version of Linux, as does the Lionstracs MediaStation, a mega-arranger keyboard from Italy.

WHAT ARDOUR DOES; WHAT IT DOESN'T

Ardour's biggest weakness is MIDI support. It can import and play MIDI files, and display and move them relative to other tracks, but doesn't yet have tools to edit MIDI data, though they are scheduled for version 2.0. You can get separate audio/MIDI sequencers for Linux, though. Rosegarden is a popular choice, and you can route its output into Ardour via JACK (see "If You Don't Know JACK" below).

On the other hand, Ardour has something most commercial DAWs do not: Open Sound Control support. OSC is a next-generation MIDI replacement proposed by the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at U.C. Berkeley. Synthesis apps like Cycling '74's Max/MSP, Plogue Bidule, and many Native Instruments products (including Reaktor) already support it. OSC works over the internet, and has successfully controlled a machine running Ardour in Philadelphia from Helsinki, Finland.

Next is the plug-in story. Linux has its own format called LADSPA. You can find LADSPA plug-ins on www.kvraudio.com [kvraudio.com] , and some are of very high quality, though their interfaces tend not to offer much eye candy. "The only noticeable deficiency is the lack of a really good EQ," laments Paul. Ardour can run VST plug-ins using a wrapper called FST. Due to licensing restrictions on VST technology, FST is one of those programs you have to compile yourself. Another caveat is that you may have additional problems if your favorite VST plug-ins use a dongle such as iLok or Syncrosoft for copy protection.

What about hardware support? In the past, a lack of drivers for audio and MIDI interfaces was the bugaboo of Linux. Now, class-compliant USB and FireWire audio interfaces should simply work on most recent Linux distros. Also, a partial list of supported FireWire devices is available at freebob.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net] .

You may know that Intel-based Mac users can boot Windows, but did you know that many Linux applications, Ardour included, can run on Mac OS X without any modification? Your Mac must have X11 installed. If it doesn't, you can add it from your OS X installer disc. In fact, Paul reports that OS X users download more copies of Ardour from than Linux users.

You Don't Know JACK?

Jack Audio Connection Kit is a low-latency audio utility that lets you pipe audio channels between different applications, much like ReWire does on Windows and Mac OS X. JACK is available for Linux as well as Mac OS X. Learn more at www.ardour.org/jack [ardour.org] and www.jackaudio.org [jackaudio.org] .

Jargon Jockey

ALSA:
Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. This serves the same role in Linux as ASIO does in Windows XP and Core Audio does in Mac OS X. Namely, it provides a standard way for applications send and receive audio data to and from a sound card or audio interface.

LADSPA:
The Linux Audio Developer's Simple Plugin API. It's like VST for Linux.

PORT:
To adapt a piece of software so that it will run on a computer platform it doesn't currently support.

SOURCE CODE:
All the information needed for a computer to run a piece of software, and also for users to change it if they have the inclination and programming ability. Retail software comes in compiled (binary) format, which means no one but the company who made it can change it.

OPEN SOURCE:
Software is open-source when its source code is available for anyone to see, under an agreement that users can change it however they see fit, as long as they pass along the same rights to future users. Think of Wikipedia: Anyone can contribute, but no one can claim copyright or earn royalties on content they've submitted there.

FREE:
Open source aficionados distinguish two meanings of this word: "free as in speech" and "free as in beer." Linux and Ardour are free in both senses. You can read and change the source code (which is like an act of speech, since a programming language is a language that can be used for personal and creative expression), and you can download software without paying anything for it. Pirated commercial software, on the other hand, is free only in the latter sense, and unlike software for Linux, illegally so.

COOL LINUX PROGRAMS

Here's a partial list of cool music-making apps that run on Linux.

Aeolus
Pipe organ modeling instrument with convolution reverb
users.skynet.be/solaris/linuxaudio/aeolus.html [skynet.be]

Ardour
Multitrack digital audio workstation
www.ardour.org [ardour.org]

Bristol
Vintage synth emulator
bristol.klik.atekon.de [atekon.de]


Freewheeling
Realtime loop-based creation software
freewheeling.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

Hexter
Yamaha DX7 emulator that can load most DX7 patch bank files
dssi.sourceforge.net/hexter.html [sourceforge.net]

Hydrogen
Advanced pattern-based drum machine with integrated mixer
www.hydrogen-music.org [hydrogen-music.org]

JAMin
Suite of audio mastering plug-ins
jamin.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

Rosegarden
Multitrack audio and MIDI sequencer with score notation
www.rosegardenmusic.com [rosegardenmusic.com]

Rtsynth
plucked-string modeling synth
www.linux-sound.org/rtsynth/ [linux-sound.org]

ZynAddSubFx
Additive/subtractive synth
zynaddsubfx.sourceforge.net [sourceforge.net]

MORE COOL LINKS

Linux Sound
Dave Phillips' portal site, with a ton of links to Linux developers on the front page
www.linux-sound.org [linux-sound.org]

Planet CCRMA
Gigantic bundle of audio apps for Fedora Linux
ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software [stanford.edu]

Xfce
desktop OS environment
www.xfce.org [xfce.org]

Zenwalk
Linux distribution
www.zenwalk.org [zenwalk.org]

ARDOUR AND TOP-SHELF STUDIO GEAR

Ben Loftis of Harrison Consoles explains why the company chose Ardour as the basis for their "Xrange" product line, including the Xdubber console mentioned above:
"From our standpoint, the high-end audio community has been stagnant for several years. Our original DSP product, the digital.engine, was designed with 40-bit floating point math before that was common. It gave us a huge sound quality advantage at the time. However, with our new generation of consoles, we realized that it's still not enough. In a complicated project, with multiple stages of recording, pre-production, post-production and mastering, it's important to maintain higher bit depths from start to finish. This means you've got to record and play back across multiple devices in floating point -- which isn't supported in the one-size-fits-all workstation world. We investigated making our own product from scratch, or partnering with an existing vendor, but luckily we found the Ardour project and started working with them. The open-source nature of Ardour allowed us to verify that the signal path meets our standards, to customize it for our needs, and it also comes with a built-in community of users and developers. I've seen users report bugs and have it fixed in minutes. You can't get that kind of response with a traditional software product.
"The Xdubber is the culmination of over a year's collaboration between the Ardour developers and Harrison. An interesting side effect is that our feature additions, bug fixes, and documentation improvements are now
available to the audio community for free! As more manufacturers adopt this software model, I expect we'll see a dramatic acceleration in the quality of audio tools."

1997 called. It wants its tech story lead back. (0, Flamebait)

xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022225)

You might think there's no way a free operating system written by volunteers could compete when it comes to...


1997 called. It wants its tech story lead back. Seriously: it's 2007: if "Linux" hasn't yet established itself as a brand name in the OS world, it never will. (Also, I'd love to see the looks on the average Red Hat or Novell employee's face if HR told each one of them that instead of a paycheck, they're all volunteers now.)

MIDI (3, Insightful)

camperdave (969942) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022253)

Around the turn of the century, Atari STs were the computer of choice because they had a built in MIDI interface. I imagine that musical instruments are making the move to USB, or some sort of USB/MIDI hybrid. That being the case, the choice of OS is going to be chosen by how technologically comfortable the musician is, with my guess leaning towards "not very" and thus Windows.

Re:MIDI (1)

Gordonjcp (186804) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022477)

USB MIDI is not supported in any version of Windows. No matter what device you try, it asks for some kind of driver.

On Macs and on Linux, you plug it in and it works straight away with no faffing about with silly control panels and installers and other tedious, productivity-killing shite.

Line 6 (1)

phos-phoros (787999) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022295)

If only there was support for Line 6's Guitar Port/Tone Port.

Re:Line 6 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022733)

Take a whack at
http://www.gnuitar.com/ [gnuitar.com]
or
http://www.wakkanet.fi/~kaiv/ecamegapedal [wakkanet.fi]

After playing a guitar through both of the open source packages for about 5 minutes you will probably come to the same conclusion I did. The quality of the sound produced by the guitar port is far better than that of the free programs. that is if you consider the guitar port to be capable of producing good emulations relative to true tube based distortions.

By all means if there were good free programs I would not shell out the money for a software emulation package or a real amplifier. The cost in speakers necessary to produce high quality live sounds with any software package is considerable. The software packages such as guitar port and amplitube are fine for recording but when you try to use them for performance they are not as flexible as using a real amp.

Re:Line 6 (1)

phatmonkey (873256) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022965)

My Bass Pod XT Pro works out of the box with ALSA on Ubuntu Feisty.

Free as in beer (3, Interesting)

CokeJunky (51666) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022313)

One notable flub in the article: There is a terminology section following the article. It takes the time to discuss free (as-in-speech) vs. free (as-in-beer) -- this is a good thing. However it suggests that pirated commercial software is free-as-in-beer, albeit illegal... That's like saying knocking off a beer store with pantyhose over your head nets you free beer. The article misses out on software that is free-as-in-beer, but not free-as-in-speech (i.e. some hardware drivers, etc.)

Re:Free as in beer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022511)

*removes pantyhose*

Wait, you mean this won't get me free beer?

Still not ready. (2, Interesting)

qweqwe321 (1097441) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022367)

There's two reasons for this. First, getting a software synthesizer to work was a royal PITA. MIDI isn't supported out-of the-box, and the directions online are both contradictory and useless. I know there's probably a way to get it to work, but for now it's a hell of a lot easier just to boot into Win2K and use Sibelius. The second reason is that the notation software itself isn't exactly the best-- I'm more into writing choral music, and Linux has yet to produce any software notation that matches Sibelius. Those that do come close often have stupid limitations, like NoteEdit-- which doesn't let you copy and paste, for instance.

Re:Still not ready. (1)

vonFinkelstien (687265) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022661)

Lilypond [lilypond.org] beats the snot out of Sibelius and Finale. It produces the most beautiful music with the default typeset of any other program. Copy and paste work too. However, you have to learn to code a little.

Good progress, but lots of work still needed. (2, Informative)

Xtense (1075847) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022393)

As a musician myself (no kidding! I actually made music for some obscure PC and cellphone games, what i consider "extremely lucky" ;) ) , I am actually surprised by the progress most of these projects have achieved. I remember the times when not even making, but GETTING sound on Linux was troublesome - and that was, what, about five or more years ago? Now I see not only sound support has gotten good enough to actually be idiot-proof (myself-proof too actually ;) ), but the software evolved from a bunch of unusable dependancy-hell ridden projects to quality studio equivalents. Even my favored tracking type of software is developing nicely, although i always have some buts and mehs that keep me from using them and in the end i end up using the old ones with DOSBox instead.

All in all, there still aren't "good enough" alternatives to make me revert from my windows-based software (FL Studio, Adobe Audition, Reason... and Impulse Tracker, just for the hell of it ;) ) in full, but i do see some interesting concepts that may make me shift my workflow to a double-boot system. And, keep in mind, as an amateur (or semi-pro ;) ) musician, my needs are quite low, considering, so it's a tough road ahead to get to the true professionals.

Availability in Repos for "X" Distribution (1)

lazyeye (24949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022411)

I have tried a few applications like LMMS and Ardour and have installed them through the distributions package management system (particularly in Ubuntu). Adding these applications usually added all of the other necessary files such as JACK and whatnot. And for the most part, there shouldn't be too much tweaking by the user.

I've even taken the time to get this going on a Slackware box and downloading all of the files from the slacky.it website. Once everything is working, there really isn't much to it. I already have LMMS running with a synth connected to it through USB. Granted no end user is going to do what I did with Slackware, but thankfully distros like Ubuntu and even more so the music-oriented distributions like Ubuntu Studio Edition, 64Studio, and the others listed on that page (if it ever revives from its slashdotting :-)) should make it easier for any musician to get up and running on Linux.

Here's a link to another site that lists the available apps and music-oriented distros out there:

http://linux-sound.org/ [linux-sound.org]

can't RTFA since its slashdotted . . . (1)

Satanboy (253169) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022419)

. . . but I gotta say there really is a lack of support for hardware in linux for real music production.

I had a real tough time just getting an maudio delta 44 to work and thats pretty standard, not to mention soft synths, there aren't really any out there that are as good as the stuff you can do in windows (fruity loops, cubase etc. )

I'd love to be able to record using linux, however I am using windows XP as a harddisk recorder as the software is much easier to configure and honestly, ease of use is much more important when you are dealing with something you create, you don't want to have to mess with configs etc to be able to record, you need to be able to hit a button and go, and interoperability between my 2 pcs is much easier to set up than linux to windows. Yes I know I can set up a samba server etc, however when I'm trying to move files between 2 PCs for editing quickly, I don't want to deal with it, I'd rather just turn on file sharing internetwork and get it done fast.

As far as worries about crashes etc, well, thats why I have 4 harddrives and 2 PCs, one PC has a dump drive I can slam all my files onto in case my main PC dies.

I guess it really comes down to the fact the software is relatively immature, and the OS is just not easy enough to configure hardware for.

I don't know about prottools setups or motu setups, but I have a sneaking suspicion you aren't going to get those working in linux, anyone got info on that?

Re:can't RTFA since its slashdotted . . . (1)

lazyeye (24949) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023125)

I do agree with you there. This is why I have my iMac G5 with the software that I need. But I would love to use my Linux PC for a lot of the music work that I do. LMMS, Ardour, Jokosher, and a lot of other projects look VERY promising, but yes this genre of use on Linux is still in its infancy. Only recently has it been picking up pace with all of the podcasting going around.

Getting there (1)

cyberchondriac (456626) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022429)

Ardour is certainly looking better and better everytime I check on it.
The use of VSTs is a major point for me, but the article says they're supported only via a wrapper.
There is still a long way to go, before it can match something like SONAR or Cubase or Logic on features and flexibility.
At the end of the day, I would far prefer to use a linux system for music production, (rather than Windows), but for the time being, SONAR is my choice. Cubase is just too expensive and a little too quirky. Pro-Tools is just now catching up on MIDI features with the other big players, and MOTU and Logic are Mac only. I haven't looked at Orion, but I really do hope someday to be satisfied with Ardour or something very similar - but that's probably several years away still.

What about video? (1)

ickyellf (903367) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022483)

I'd happily ditch Mac OS X and use Linux full-time if there were compelling alternatives to Final Cut Pro and other multimedia apps. Ubuntu Studio looks promising.

Choices (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022489)

I use XP Pro for my music (not Vista - I don't see the need for it). I backup to a Linux samba server. Linux is great and reliable but I don't have the same choices for software & hardware. I'm reminded of an AS400 - it's reliable, easy to use, and has a fractional amount of application/capability choices when compared to intel Linux/Windows (except the AS400 costs 4-10+ more than intel systems, Linux is less than XP).

I use/have Korg Legacy, DR8, Maudio delta, Sony Acid, loads of commercial and open-source VST plugins, and low latency monitoring via ASIO. These don't work or don't work as well with Linux.

I just bought the Keyboard issue and liked the article since it shows Linux as an alternative. For some who don't have all the equipment I own it might help them choose Linux. I got more from the other items listed as open-source like Audacity, several excellent VST plugins, etc.

Been using this for a while (1)

djauto23 (1091453) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022499)

Actually I've been using this for a while, for semi-/professional music and audio production. Ardour compares well to known DAWS like Nuendo and ProTools, and the power of jack is in many cases beyond what you can do with proprietary software. Also, all applications wich you can sync and use in conjuction with Jack make for an amazing software audio tool. For example, you can easily run a MIDI sequencer in sync with Ardour, even though it hasn't got MIDI editing features of it's own. Ardour, and generally all free music applications mentioned in TFA, are also quite better when it comes to speed and sometimes in reliability. Nice article, outlining the most important things and informative when it comes to setting a GNU/Linux DAW up.

music production in linux (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19022517)

I've been producing music on my computer for the past 11 years in windows and linux --- I develop audio production equipment (hardware) professionally. My major indictment of the Linux audio community, and Linux software developers in general, is that they suck at packaging software in an easy to install way. So far I've had the best experience with Ubuntu, which has releases for many audio applications and is specifically designed with the goal of making things easy to install. Ardour and Rosegarden still can't touch ProTools, Cakewalk or Cubase. Seq24 is probably the most useful toy out for linux since it's especially good for sequencing live shows. Most other software synthesizers on linux aren't even worth the frustration with getting them to work. I find that I cannot install many of the software synthesizers and samplers out there usually because of problems with dependencies and incompatibilities with my distro (FC6). I'm not a novice at this, but I definitely can't imagine any newbie's to linux or to audio produciton getting anywhere with Linux audio production tools.

It's pretty durn good (1)

capseed (1002778) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022551)

I'm a hobby musician, by no means a pro, but I'm in no way disappointed by the musical options on linux. I wouldn't recommend it to someone who is a *nix newcomer (as the article says, you still have to compile your own apps sometimes, you have to fiddle with qjackctl to get the best performance, etc), but it's not terribly hard to get your DAW up and running.

However, it's ridiculous to judge Linux as a "musician's platform", because that's far too general. Do you want to work with MIDI? Seq24 is great. Do you want to mess with synths? Amsynth and ZynAddSubFX are easy and powerful. Do you want to record your live performances and do some quick editing/mastering? Audacity and LAPDSA plugins. Using a $1000+ software suite to record your amateur musical ideas seems like overkill to me.

That said, if you do want to run a professional studio, you have a bit more configuration to do and a new learning curve. After you get qjackctl tweaked, patch a kernel for realtime (or whatever installation method is fashionable these days), and learn the basics of Ardour, you would have a professional quality DAW. Once Ardour gets full midi capability (thanks to Google SOC), it will probably be the All-In-One environment for Linux.

Oh yeah, don't forget EnergyXT2!!! It's only $50 and runs on Windows or Linux.

Ugh. Not again. (2, Interesting)

SocialEngineer (673690) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022595)

I've been an independant recording musician/songwriter for a number of years now, and have worked under Linux and Windows.

Linux is certainly a usable platform, but it can't do everything. Ardour is great (from the screenshots and reviews I've seen, at least - never been able to actually INSTALL the sucker, because of the dep. hell), but as far as synthesizing goes, the choices are less than ideal (in my opinion).

I use Windows for my needs, primarily, and it has served me well. There are a variety of great resources available - sure, for a cost - but the quality is superb. I use Reason 3.0 to sequence simple orchestral work for my new albums, and can do strings, piano, synthesizers, anything, with a rich, controllable sound quality. Not to mention the fact that there are a number of EXCELLENT refills/samples available for it. I also use Reason to sequence my percussion - ranging from funk jazz to industrial.

I use Cooledit Pro 1.2 - an old multitrack recording program - to record and mix. It's cheap, and it works very well without being resource intensive.

I'm not a fan of Csound, nor do I really like much of the other alternatives in the Linux market. I did use Audacity to record and master some monologues for a play a while back, and Rosegarden to do some sequencing/songwriting. Rosegarden is actually a superb piece of software - for sequencing. IIRC, that's all it can do. If you've got your external instruments hooked up properly, I'm sure it'd be perfect. I can't afford to buy all the outboard gear I'd need to match what I have with Windows based softsynths.

Re:Ugh. Not again. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023093)

Umm I use rosegarden hooked up to a yamaha keyboard, midi guitar (EZ-AG), and midi trumpet (EZ-TP). It works great. You don't know what you're talking about. Also... who wouldn't use midi? Do you not like having the flexibility of notation?

Muslim terror is bad.
Women's rights is worse.
You are gay(?).

MIDI interfaces? (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022611)

I know this sounds like a dumb little issue, but it was actually one that kept me from playing around with music production on Linux: finding MIDI-interface hardware that is known to work well under Linux.

I've got several MIDI keyboards that lack decent sequencers and sound patch managers. So being able to manage those details from a host computer (running Linux in this case) would be great. But when I asked around the message boards, I couldn't find anyone saying, "Yes, I use product XYZ to let my computer connect to MIDI devices, and it works great."

So I'm willing to play with Linux for multi-track recording and (if I can get the latency lower) real-time effects processing. But I'm not yet ready to plunk down $100+ on MIDI interface hardware to complete the system until I can get a strong recommendation.

Re:MIDI interfaces? (1)

fishbowl (7759) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023021)

"But I'm not yet ready to plunk down $100+ on MIDI interface hardware to complete the system until I can get a strong recommendation."

It's not clear from your question which latency you are most concerned about.

There is latency in the MIDI channel, where the delay between the input to the I/O device and output to the synth is unacceptable.

I think it's more likely that you are concerned about audio latency.

I wholeheartedly recommend a PCI M-Audio device. If you can work with two audio channels (stereo), get the Delta AP2496, and if you need a multitrack device, get the Delta 1010 -- the one with the outboard patch unit. These cards work particularly well in Linux, they are very high quality (well beyond any limits of human perception), and the company behind their chips doesn't play any "IP" games. In fact, the company openly and affirmatively supports the community.

That's for audio I/O as well as MIDI. If you are actually just talking about MIDI (that is, you aren't necessarily recording audio, you have hardware synths and want to control them from or through the computer), I have the same situation (lots of hardware synths, several controllers, in a live situation.) I use an Edirol UM-880 for MIDI, which works well using the midi-usb driver in ALSA.

That said, I don't generally use Linux for my music, at least not for performing or recording. I have a Linux audio machine setup for experimentation, and I use it for certain types of processing. I'm also beta testing the Linux version of energyXT http://www.energy-xt.com/ [energy-xt.com] but the thing that stops me from converting fully to Linux for my music studio is the fact that certain of the virtual instruments and effects that I want to use, only work on Windows. This is the *only* situation where I use Windows, and I tweak my music studio machine to the point that the OS is nothing but a loader for my applications. I realize there are binary-compat ways to run Windows VST's on Linux. This summer I may have time to explore that as well.

I think there's a certain amount of irony in that I was a solid Linux user who switched to MacOSX, and ended up putting a Windows machine together for music. Like I said, this summer I may have some time to turn that whole situation on its head.

Slashdotted (1)

petehead (1041740) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022639)

More can be found on the Google cache (http://72.14.253.104/search?q=cache:Zo5bcBIDaccJ: www.keyboardmag.com/story.asp%3Fstorycode%3D17973+ keyboard+magazine+linux&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=1&gl=us [72.14.253.104] ), but here is the main portion of it:

Linux: It's Not Just For Computer Geeks Anymore
By Carl Lumma | May 2007
You might think there's no way a free operating system written by volunteers could compete when it comes to music production. But in the past couple of years, all the tools you need to make music have arrived on Linux.
For years, Linux has enjoyed market leadership as a server operating system -- Google's servers run it, for starters -- while struggling with the stigma that it isn't polished enough for desktop use. Those days are over, and word is getting out. Linux is quickly becoming the OS you'd set up for your grandmother, with no fuss over activation, software updates, or viruses. Unlike any version of Windows or Mac OS, Linux is open-source. What does this mean to musicians? For starters, there are no company secrets to keep or non-disclosure agreements to sign, so software developers and users alike can get on the same page very quickly, speeding the flow of bug fixes and feature additions.
Linux demands more nuts-and-bolts computer knowledge for pro audio than for web browsing, but if you've ever tried to troubleshoot a latency or driver issue on a store-bought laptop, you're probably still listening. If you upgrade your hard drive, you won't have to reactivate all your apps due to the hardware change, and when you discover a cool tool or workflow, you can share it with friends without them shelling out hundreds of dollars or resorting to piracy. With the exception of Linux versions that include commercial tech support, most everything in the Linux world is free for the asking, Many developers accept voluntary donations, which we encourage you to make.

HOW IS IT DONE?
Let's look over the shoulder of Aaron Krister-Johnson, the keyboardist and choir director at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He also composes incidental music for local theater, and is half of the electronica duo Divide by Pi, Keyboard's June '04 unsigned artist of the month. The core of his home studio is a PC running Linux (see Figure 1).
To obtain Linux, you download a particular distribution or "distro," which is a particular version of Linux someone put together, for free or a donation. Some distros are available boxed at very low cost. Ubuntu (www.ubuntu.com) is popular for home-computer tasks, but Aaron uses Zenwalk (www.zenwalk.org). Software compiled for a particular distro will only run on that distro, so most come with several free applications that you can install along with the basic OS. We recommend Fedora (www.fedoraproject.org), because you can then install the Planet CCRMA package (ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software), which includes just about every Linux audio application in existence.
Speaking of music applications, the most popular DAW for Linux is Ardour, and Aaron also uses JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK?" below), a soft synth called ZynSubAddFx, and an arpeggiator he wrote called Pymidichaos. Some distros come with binaries -- apps that have been compiled, i.e. converted from the programming language the developers used to the ones and zeroes computers understand at their innermost level. Three such distros are meant to provide install-and-go solutions for Linux-curious musicians: Studio to Go (www.ferventsoftware.com), Musix (www.musix.org.ar/en) and 64Studio (www.64studio.com).
But sooner or later (most likely sooner), you're going to have to take some groovy, free program you've downloaded and compile it yourself. This is where musicians used to commercial software might get scared off. Fear not, and remember that all the actual programming is already done. To compile a given program, you use a Linux command called "make," and with a little practice, it becomes just one of those things you do when installing software. Though a complete how-to is beyond the scope of this article, there are many tutorials on the web, and Linux music software authors are usually happy to point beginners in the right direction by email. When was the last time you got support directly from your music software's designers?
The Linux philosophy of choice extends all the way to the desktop. Where Mac OS and Windows pre-determine this and give you a few cosmetic options, there are dozens of desktop environments that let you browse your hard drive, launch applications, etc., available for Linux. The two most popular ones are KDE and Gnome, which feature snazzy graphics and look and feel a lot like Windows XP. For music production, Aaron suggests a less flashy option that will leave more system resources free to crunch audio. He uses Xfce, which is the default desktop in the Zenwalk distro. Newer computers should be able to run the default Fedora desktop, called Gnome, just fine.
So just how does Aaron go about laying down a tune? Here, we'll follow the production of the track "On This Good Soil, Let Our Automatons Play in Peace," which begins with a MIDI stream coming from the Pymidichaos arpeggiator, which Aaron wrote in his favorite programming language, Python. Don't feel like writing a fancy arpeggiator yourself? No problem -- you can download the Pymidichaos source code for free from Aaron's web site at www.akjmusic.com. Let him know how you like it.
As the name suggests, pymidichaos is no ordinary arpeggiator -- it uses chaos math (think of fractals) to constantly vary the patterns it produces. It also has a GUI that lets you tweak this process in real time, which is just what Aaron did for this piece, essentially an improvisation performed on Pymidichaos and ZynAddSubFx. Zyn, as it's friends call it, is a fantastic software synth. Aaron used very quick decays to create the percussion patches for the piece. A couple of Zyn's built-in effects (tweaked as the piece was being generated) complete the sonic picture.
Pymidichaos sends MIDI by saving data to a virtual MIDI port. Virtual MIDI ports come courtesy of something called snd-virmidi, which is part of ALSA, the audio framework that comes standard with the most recent versions of Linux (kernel versions 2.6 and up). This MIDI "port" is just like a file on Aaron's hard drive that his Python script can save data to -- no fancy MIDI API to deal with -- and Zyn can read MIDI directly from it, in real time.
Zyn has a built-in audio recorder, but in this case Aaron chose to send Zyn's stereo outs to Ardour for recording. He used QjackCtl, which is just a graphical user interface for JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK" below), to patch the audio across. Further effects could be applied in Ardour, of course. Finally the LAME mp3 converter was used to make an MP3 file for posting on the web. Want to hear it? It's at www.akjmusic.com/works.html.

AN OPEN-SOURCE SUCCESS STORY
Linux wasn't always a suitable musician's tool. That's what Paul Davis found in 1999 when he wanted to make a recording. Pro Tools was the de facto standard, so Paul did what any earnest programmer would do -- he called Digidesign and asked for the Pro Tools source code so he could port it over to Linux. It didn't surprise him when they declined, and if you'd told him he'd spend the next seven years of his life spearheading the first production-ready free DAW, he wouldn't have believed you. "It's fitting that I called the project Ardour," he laughs.
Paul was one of the first two programmers at online retail giant Amazon. Shortly after the famous web store launched, he left the company to pursue personal projects, most of which have turned out to be related to that DAW. "If I had known what I was in for, I never would have started," he says. Perhaps it's fitting that he called the project "Ardour."
Paul is the first to admit that Ardour's mission was to mirror Pro Tools' feature set. He also maintains that Ardour's architechture is superior to that of Pro Tools, but concedes that the feature set lags behind: "If you took two groups and gave one Pro Tools and the other Ardour, you'd be likely to have more feature requests at the end from the Ardour group. But you'd probably get significant lists from both groups."
Ardour's development is managed, as are most open source projects, over the 'net with mailing lists and chat. Anyone can read or contribute to the conversation. There are about 30-40 people active on Ardour's chat channel in any given month. Some companies see commercial opportunities in the open-source culture. Paul was paid to work on Ardour for a year by mixing console maker Solid State Logic, and in 2006, Harrison announced their Xdubber console, which internally runs a special version of Ardour designed to allow destructive editing for post-production film dubbing. See "Ardour and Top-Shelf Studio Gear" below for more on the Harrison Xdubber. In the keyboard realm, the Muse Receptor (reviewed Nov. '04) runs a custom version of Linux, as does the Lionstracs MediaStation, a mega-arranger keyboard from Italy.

WHAT ARDOUR DOES; WHAT IT DOESN'T
Ardour's biggest weakness is MIDI support. It can import and play MIDI files, and display and move them relative to other tracks, but doesn't yet have tools to edit MIDI data, though they are scheduled for version 2.0. You can get separate audio/MIDI sequencers for Linux, though. Rosegarden is a popular choice, and you can route its output into Ardour via JACK (see "If You Don't Know JACK" below).
On the other hand, Ardour has something most commercial DAWs do not: Open Sound Control support. OSC is a next-generation MIDI replacement proposed by the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at U.C. Berkeley. Synthesis apps like Cycling '74's Max/MSP, Plogue Bidule, and many Native Instruments products (including Reaktor) already support it. OSC works over the internet, and has successfully controlled a machine running Ardour in Philadelphia from Helsinki, Finland.
Next is the plug-in story. Linux has its own format called LADSPA. You can find LADSPA plug-ins on www.kvraudio.com, and some are of very high quality, though their interfaces tend not to offer much eye candy. "The only noticeable deficiency is the lack of a really good EQ," laments Paul. Ardour can run VST plug-ins using a wrapper called FST. Due to licensing restrictions on VST technology, FST is one of those programs you have to compile yourself. Another caveat is that you may have additional problems if your favorite VST plug-ins use a dongle such as iLok or Syncrosoft for copy protection.
What about hardware support? In the past, a lack of drivers for audio and MIDI interfaces was the bugaboo of Linux. Now, class-compliant USB and FireWire audio interfaces should simply work on most recent Linux distros. Also, a partial list of supported FireWire devices is available at freebob.sourceforge.net.
You may know that Intel-based Mac users can boot Windows, but did you know that many Linux applications, Ardour included, can run on Mac OS X without any modification? Your Mac must have X11 installed. If it doesn't, you can add it from your OS X installer disc. In fact, Paul reports that OS X users download more copies of Ardour from than Linux users.

a link to the google cache 'cause it's /.ed (3, Informative)

General Lee's Peking (954826) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022647)

I think you should be able to read it here [72.14.253.104] .

State of UbuntuStudio.org? (2, Informative)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022897)

I was looking forward to Ubuntu Studio [ubuntu.com] for Ubuntu 7.04 to pull together a useful collection of packages related to music production. But despite a website that shows a lot of polish, it's at least a month out of date (the homepage still says, "Coming in April").

Does anyone know what's up with that project?

Learning software (1)

random_handle (1098885) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022983)

How about software for learning music? In particular I'm looking for a 'teaches typing' for piano. Play and get feedback. Drills, etc.

It's getting there. Maybe ubuntustudio? (2, Informative)

mrjb (547783) | more than 7 years ago | (#19022989)

It's not there yet but it's getting there. Last time I still needed to recompile my kernel, but that supposedly won't be needed anymore. Right now I'm waiting for ubuntustudio. Yes, it's late a bit. The team is not making estimates about how much longer it will take but I've overheard them saying 'maybe this week'. Ubuntustudio will include the Ingo Molnar low latency stuff by default. Most of the last bit of work is being focused on Ardour- the rest of the packages is already available on Feisty. There are a few tricks on getting audio to work properly on Linux. It helps to get a proper, supported sound card (EMU10k1-based sound cards such as the Audigy that are internally locked to a 48kHz sample rate will cause you a lot of frustration). It helps a LOT to have synaptic and/or apt-get. That said, I'm still running Dapper, which has been a big step forward since anything before it, but for actual recording work I'd still recommend a stand-alone solution, then mix the recorded audio 'in the box'. My Behringer DDX3216 and Alesis ADAT HD24 do the trick for me for recording purposes- but mixing on Ardour instead of the Behringer gives better sounding results. For all you HD24 users out there, go grab a copy of hd24tools.

musician vs recording (3, Interesting)

mrcdeckard (810717) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023051)

just some of my experiences as a musician and engineer:

i bought a 12" powerbook with the motu traveler, and it was a rock solid set up. i recorded and mixed a few albums [pitchforkmedia.com] on it last summer, and it stood up, and this is with 20+ tracks and effects (including altiverb) -- although there were a few times i thought the laptop was gonna melt. these ppc chips run hot.

this is why i won't be going open source for a while -- when you're with clients, it's a problem if you say, "oh hold on, i have to recompile the kernel". macs, for production, are solid -- which is not surprise since it's one of their major demographics.

but as a musician, i get the sense that linux is there. it would be nice if there was something like reason for linux, but that is asking quite a lot. otherwise, the freedom and programming-friendly environment of linux is very conducive to music-making (assuming electronic-based music, of course).

on windows, soundforge is the greatest 2 track editor evar. (problem is, you can't let anyone touch the machine, just looking at a windows box will get you a few viruses) i havce yet to use a 2 track editor as responsive as souindforge. i use audacity now, and it sucks for editing. also, it wants to save project files, which is ridiculous for 2 track files. it would be nice to know of a stripped down 2 track editor that let you zoom in to a sample level and out immediately, allowed for fades, crossfades, and basic stuff like normalization -- support for audio units, and that's it. i spent so much time just editing mixes -- it's nice to have a program that just let's you do that quickly.

i will say this, i had a PII 266 about 8 years ago, runnin linux 2.2 kernel with a low-latency patch. i could get audio in and out of that box in 8ms -- it still amazes me (i was using csound). i think this is where linux could shine, as real-time effects boxes -- you can strip all the other stuff away.

anyway, more and more i'm thinking of putting together a linux workstation, especially after reading about blender yesterday. i wonder how video is on linux?

mr c

It isn't the software or the OS... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023073)

Does the DAW support my I/O interface?
Does the DAW support my software plugins and hardware inserts?
Does the DAW support my control surface?
Does the DAW export sessions in a pro-tools compatible way so that I can share the session with others who may not be using pro-tools, but are using a DAW that reads/writes pro-tools sessions?

If you answer yes to all the above, it doesn't matter what the OS is...

Great VST Host Support Is A Must (4, Insightful)

justindnb (1098861) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023135)

One of the major problems (for me) with MAC/Windows audio software is it's high price, which is unusual considering that most musicians are poor and starving. For this reason, I've dropped Sony Soundforge and now use Audacity as my primary wave processing tool. However, Audacity only supports VSTS under Mac/Win and until there is stable VST host support in Linux and a sequencer comparable to Cubase/Logic/Sonar, it will not good enough to run a modern, competitive, software-based DAW.

Article Text (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#19023137)

Linux: It's Not Just For Computer Geeks Anymore

By Carl Lumma | May 2007

You might think there's no way a free operating system written by volunteers could compete when it comes to music production. But in the past couple of years, all the tools you need to make music have arrived on Linux.

For years, Linux has enjoyed market leadership as a server operating system -- Google's servers run it, for starters -- while struggling with the stigma that it isn't polished enough for desktop use. Those days are over, and word is getting out. Linux is quickly becoming the OS you'd set up for your grandmother, with no fuss over activation, software updates, or viruses. Unlike any version of Windows or Mac OS, Linux is open-source. What does this mean to musicians? For starters, there are no company secrets to keep or non-disclosure agreements to sign, so software developers and users alike can get on the same page very quickly, speeding the flow of bug fixes and feature additions.

Linux demands more nuts-and-bolts computer knowledge for pro audio than for web browsing, but if you've ever tried to troubleshoot a latency or driver issue on a store-bought laptop, you're probably still listening. If you upgrade your hard drive, you won't have to reactivate all your apps due to the hardware change, and when you discover a cool tool or workflow, you can share it with friends without them shelling out hundreds of dollars or resorting to piracy. With the exception of Linux versions that include commercial tech support, most everything in the Linux world is free for the asking, Many developers accept voluntary donations, which we encourage you to make.

HOW IS IT DONE?

Let's look over the shoulder of Aaron Krister-Johnson, the keyboardist and choir director at Temple Sholom in Chicago. He also composes incidental music for local theater, and is half of the electronica duo Divide by Pi, Keyboard's June '04 unsigned artist of the month. The core of his home studio is a PC running Linux (see Figure 1).

To obtain Linux, you download a particular distribution or "distro," which is a particular version of Linux someone put together, for free or a donation. Some distros are available boxed at very low cost. Ubuntu (www.ubuntu.com) is popular for home-computer tasks, but Aaron uses Zenwalk (www.zenwalk.org). Software compiled for a particular distro will only run on that distro, so most come with several free applications that you can install along with the basic OS. We recommend Fedora (www.fedoraproject.org), because you can then install the Planet CCRMA package (ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/software), which includes just about every Linux audio application in existence.

Speaking of music applications, the most popular DAW for Linux is Ardour, and Aaron also uses JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK?" below), a soft synth called ZynSubAddFx, and an arpeggiator he wrote called Pymidichaos. Some distros come with binaries -- apps that have been compiled, i.e. converted from the programming language the developers used to the ones and zeroes computers understand at their innermost level. Three such distros are meant to provide install-and-go solutions for Linux-curious musicians: Studio to Go (www.ferventsoftware.com), Musix (www.musix.org.ar/en) and 64Studio (www.64studio.com).

But sooner or later (most likely sooner), you're going to have to take some groovy, free program you've downloaded and compile it yourself. This is where musicians used to commercial software might get scared off. Fear not, and remember that all the actual programming is already done. To compile a given program, you use a Linux command called "make," and with a little practice, it becomes just one of those things you do when installing software. Though a complete how-to is beyond the scope of this article, there are many tutorials on the web, and Linux music software authors are usually happy to point beginners in the right direction by email. When was the last time you got support directly from your music software's designers?

The Linux philosophy of choice extends all the way to the desktop. Where Mac OS and Windows pre-determine this and give you a few cosmetic options, there are dozens of desktop environments that let you browse your hard drive, launch applications, etc., available for Linux. The two most popular ones are KDE and Gnome, which feature snazzy graphics and look and feel a lot like Windows XP. For music production, Aaron suggests a less flashy option that will leave more system resources free to crunch audio. He uses Xfce, which is the default desktop in the Zenwalk distro. Newer computers should be able to run the default Fedora desktop, called Gnome, just fine.

So just how does Aaron go about laying down a tune? Here, we'll follow the production of the track "On This Good Soil, Let Our Automatons Play in Peace," which begins with a MIDI stream coming from the Pymidichaos arpeggiator, which Aaron wrote in his favorite programming language, Python. Don't feel like writing a fancy arpeggiator yourself? No problem -- you can download the Pymidichaos source code for free from Aaron's web site at www.akjmusic.com. Let him know how you like it.

As the name suggests, pymidichaos is no ordinary arpeggiator -- it uses chaos math (think of fractals) to constantly vary the patterns it produces. It also has a GUI that lets you tweak this process in real time, which is just what Aaron did for this piece, essentially an improvisation performed on Pymidichaos and ZynAddSubFx. Zyn, as it's friends call it, is a fantastic software synth. Aaron used very quick decays to create the percussion patches for the piece. A couple of Zyn's built-in effects (tweaked as the piece was being generated) complete the sonic picture.

Pymidichaos sends MIDI by saving data to a virtual MIDI port. Virtual MIDI ports come courtesy of something called snd-virmidi, which is part of ALSA, the audio framework that comes standard with the most recent versions of Linux (kernel versions 2.6 and up). This MIDI "port" is just like a file on Aaron's hard drive that his Python script can save data to -- no fancy MIDI API to deal with -- and Zyn can read MIDI directly from it, in real time.

Zyn has a built-in audio recorder, but in this case Aaron chose to send Zyn's stereo outs to Ardour for recording. He used QjackCtl, which is just a graphical user interface for JACK (see "You Don't Know JACK" below), to patch the audio across. Further effects could be applied in Ardour, of course. Finally the LAME mp3 converter was used to make an MP3 file for posting on the web. Want to hear it? It's at www.akjmusic.com/works.html.

AN OPEN-SOURCE SUCCESS STORY

Linux wasn't always a suitable musician's tool. That's what Paul Davis found in 1999 when he wanted to make a recording. Pro Tools was the de facto standard, so Paul did what any earnest programmer would do -- he called Digidesign and asked for the Pro Tools source code so he could port it over to Linux. It didn't surprise him when they declined, and if you'd told him he'd spend the next seven years of his life spearheading the first production-ready free DAW, he wouldn't have believed you. "It's fitting that I called the project Ardour," he laughs.

Paul was one of the first two programmers at online retail giant Amazon. Shortly after the famous web store launched, he left the company to pursue personal projects, most of which have turned out to be related to that DAW. "If I had known what I was in for, I never would have started," he says. Perhaps it's fitting that he called the project "Ardour."

Paul is the first to admit that Ardour's mission was to mirror Pro Tools' feature set. He also maintains that Ardour's architechture is superior to that of Pro Tools, but concedes that the feature set lags behind: "If you took two groups and gave one Pro Tools and the other Ardour, you'd be likely to have more feature requests at the end from the Ardour group. But you'd probably get significant lists from both groups."

Ardour's development is managed, as are most open source projects, over the 'net with mailing lists and chat. Anyone can read or contribute to the conversation. There are about 30-40 people active on Ardour's chat channel in any given month. Some companies see commercial opportunities in the open-source culture. Paul was paid to work on Ardour for a year by mixing console maker Solid State Logic, and in 2006, Harrison announced their Xdubber console, which internally runs a special version of Ardour designed to allow destructive editing for post-production film dubbing. See "Ardour and Top-Shelf Studio Gear" below for more on the Harrison Xdubber. In the keyboard realm, the Muse Receptor (reviewed Nov. '04) runs a custom version of Linux, as does the Lionstracs MediaStation, a mega-arranger keyboard from Italy.

WHAT ARDOUR DOES; WHAT IT DOESN'T

Ardour's biggest weakness is MIDI support. It can import and play MIDI files, and display and move them relative to other tracks, but doesn't yet have tools to edit MIDI data, though they are scheduled for version 2.0. You can get separate audio/MIDI sequencers for Linux, though. Rosegarden is a popular choice, and you can route its output into Ardour via JACK (see "If You Don't Know JACK" below).

On the other hand, Ardour has something most commercial DAWs do not: Open Sound Control support. OSC is a next-generation MIDI replacement proposed by the Center for New Music and Audio Technologies at U.C. Berkeley. Synthesis apps like Cycling '74's Max/MSP, Plogue Bidule, and many Native Instruments products (including Reaktor) already support it. OSC works over the internet, and has successfully controlled a machine running Ardour in Philadelphia from Helsinki, Finland.

Next is the plug-in story. Linux has its own format called LADSPA. You can find LADSPA plug-ins on www.kvraudio.com, and some are of very high quality, though their interfaces tend not to offer much eye candy. "The only noticeable deficiency is the lack of a really good EQ," laments Paul. Ardour can run VST plug-ins using a wrapper called FST. Due to licensing restrictions on VST technology, FST is one of those programs you have to compile yourself. Another caveat is that you may have additional problems if your favorite VST plug-ins use a dongle such as iLok or Syncrosoft for copy protection.

What about hardware support? In the past, a lack of drivers for audio and MIDI interfaces was the bugaboo of Linux. Now, class-compliant USB and FireWire audio interfaces should simply work on most recent Linux distros. Also, a partial list of supported FireWire devices is available at freebob.sourceforge.net.

You may know that Intel-based Mac users can boot Windows, but did you know that many Linux applications, Ardour included, can run on Mac OS X without any modification? Your Mac must have X11 installed. If it doesn't, you can add it from your OS X installer disc. In fact, Paul reports that OS X users download more copies of Ardour from than Linux users.

Not a Musician's OS (2, Informative)

Safiire Arrowny (596720) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023229)

I'm sorry but Rosegarden and Ardour are not able to replace Cubase or Ableton Live for me. No, not LMMS either. If they were able I seriously wouldn't have switched back to this horrible piece of shit windows OS. Jack is the only thing that Linux has that I have used and thought was useful. I have been a Linux User for probably 8 years, but when I started making music, it had to go, and don't think I didn't try for a solid year to produce music with Linux before I gave up. Linux can potentially do everything, but it cannot actually do everything yet, it is no musicians OS.

Hardware? (3, Insightful)

NEOtaku17 (679902) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023253)

Isn't finding Linux drivers for your high-end audio hardware the real problem with making music on Linux, not the lack of sound editing programs?

Re:Hardware? (1)

justindnb (1098861) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023385)

Not if you have a primarily software-based setup. If you're producing all of your music with software synths and fx, all that you really need is a simple MIDI keyboard.

Yes yes yes... (1)

dublinclontarf (777338) | more than 7 years ago | (#19023321)

But does it run Linux?
Load More Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...