Linux Tips?

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Surely I can't be the only Linux neckbeard in the house. . . do any of you have any hot tips for recording demos on Linuxboxen?

So far for the 2020 50/90, I've been forced to record everything as a one-track on my phone, but I'm getting my new computer set up the way I like it, and will be back to multitracking through a real microphone pretty soon.

When I'm not suffering with brokenputeritis and being forced to record with my phone, I use Audacity, which you may scoff at as being the cretinous little brother of real recording software, but hey, it's free and it works and it was developed for Linux, and you don't have to grow any extra lobes on your brain to figure out how to use it. I'm a songwriter, not a recording engineer.

I know that Audacity is capable of using a whole slew of different types of plug-in, but I'm not all that 'hep' -- as the kids say -- to the dizzying array of Nyquist, LV2, VST, Ladspa, etc. plugins that are available out there. If you're more conversant, I'd love to hear you hold forth on that topic as well.

Hi, @motisbeard!

I've been using Linux since 1998, so a couple years after I start producing songs on Mac OS + Ableton I decided to try migrating to Linux. I tried for the first time in 2015, and felt that the workflow was more complicated and the quality of my songs was much worse, so I went back to Mac OS after a while. A few years later I decided to try again and persist more, and after a dip in the quality of my songs I'm not a sold user.

Here are my tips, in no particular Ardour:

1. If you're trying to produce music on Linux but still wants to use Windows VST through emulation layers, things are going to be much harder. I strongly recommend embracing Linux and its ecosystem of tools. There are really nice plugins covering most of what you need (synths, effects, simulators), and if you're willing to use commercial plugins there are few really good ones. Jack can be used to interconnect multiple applications easily, and in my opinion some of the limitations can be great for creativity and growth. For example, many great plugins come without presets, so I have to learn to listen and to make my own, which helped me with sound design and understanding compression better.

2. For recording, the best open-source DAWs are Ardour and Qtracktor. Ardour is great for recording and working with audio, but the MIDI editing has its quirks which are being addressed but not until version 7.0 is out (6.2 just came out). Qtracktor is better for MIDI, from what I heard. There's also some great commercial DAWs, like Bitwig and Reaper, which have native versions.

3. For effects plugins I like the CALF plugin suite (, the Dragonfly Reverb, LSP (, the EQ10Q line (( I also love the OvertoneDSP line of plugins, which are commercial but extremely cheap and definitely worth the price (

4. For synths, Helm (, Yoshimi ( and ZynAddSubFX ( are good options. U-he makes some great commercial plugins that have native Linux versions as well.

5. I would stay away from LADSPA plugins. It's an old standard, and in my experience the quality is not as good as LV2. I use some native VST plugins as well, but LV2 has a standard way of adding metadata to plugins so it's easier to organize them.

Overall, as you can imagine, I'm very happy with using Linux and mostly open source tools. Let me know if you have any questions.

Ah, thanks for the tips, @Elesimo!

I'll take a look at Ardour, but if it's not dead easy, I'll probably stick with Audacity and resign myself to being belittled and laughed at by audio nerds everywhere.

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@motisbeard let them laugh, while half of them secretly use it themselves Wink Honestly if you don't use many plug-ins, I'm a pedal junkie, or use a lot of midi controllers,'s more than a capable daw and as you said, doesn't take a rocket scientist to use it Wink I pretty strictly just use windows anymore, but was a linux user for quite a while, but new to even using a daw to record with, I'll edit tracks with audacity still because of its ease of use, or if just doing a quick something as a reminder that just needs one track. Most daw's just seem hellbent on out complicating each other......guess if it's hard to figure out and expensive it must be good right? hah!

Hey, @Motisbeard, I turned over to linux audio a couple of years ago. I use Reaper as my primary DAW, I've had the license for over a decade and when they started to offer linux builds, that was it for me. Jackd was made usable by my personal hero FalkTX, who made Carla, Claudio and Cadence (and others: I use linVST to run a lot of Windows VST's, sadly not all plugins run perfectly, but a lot of them do. I also have Mixbus licence as a way to support Ardour development, but I only use it for mastering, because Reaper is so much more usable for MIDI. None of them are dead easy, but at least Reaper has great video lessons.

I'll admit to being amazed - but also delighted - that a Google search just now found this page with a list of the "top seventeen DAWs for Linux."

Ardour and Reaper, not surprisingly, take the #1 and #2 spots.

Been a user of Linux Mint xfce for nearly a decade, more for my amusement than anything else. The humble ASUS Eeee netbook I'm running on would struggle with anything but the most basic audio, though. And as of version 20, they're not supporting 32-bit processors any more, which is a shame.

I’m on a Mac, so using Linux but it’s hidden from me. Things work, it’s painless.

I am most recently a Mint Linux user, but I've been all over the map in the past.

I was using Mint with the Cinnamon desktop, but my venerable old laptop died in a way that I couldn't fix, even though I've totally disassembled and reassembled the beast in the past. I mean, OK, I COULD fix it, if I bought a new motherboard for it, and that would be almost $400, because it was a loaded ASUS RoG beast. Instead, I took advantage of 4th of July sales and bought myself a new Lenovo ThinkBook 14S.

Mint Linux installed very easily on the new ThinkBook, but much to my chagrin I had issues with the audio stuttering a LOT when I tried to play music. . . OR RECORD MY OWN MUSIC, which is obviously a big thing for me. It's really Intel's fault for being so in bed with Microsoft and therefore Linux-hostile; they made the sound card in my new box.

I managed to fix the stuttering audio and get back to recording, but it was kind of a pain in the ass; the culprit was Pulseaudio, which often has problems working with Intel audio devices. I thought I could just get rid of Pulseaudio and use Apulse, a Pulse emulator for ALSA, but when I tried to uninstall Pulseaudio, it turned out that the Mint developers in their less-than-infinite wisdom have entangled it inextricably with the Cinnamon desktop! Uninstalling Pulseaudio also unavoidably uninstalls Cinnamon, d'oh!

So here I am using the MATE desktop instead. Fuck you, Pulseaudio!

@motisbeard don't apologise for Audacity. I use a stripped-down version of Cakewalk for normal production (well, I paid for it, you see...) but still use Audacity for final levels, trimming, tagging. If I'm recording raw and one off, it's so much easier just to switch Audacity on and go. And if I didn't have a 25-year history with Cakewalk, I'd probably use Audacity. (Win7 64bit main system. but also Win732. And one machine still XP) (why not Win10? apart from my hatred of Windows, I have a lot of legacy stuff and guess what? Won't work in Win10. Won't work in Linux either. Though my favourite MIDI recorder-notator-sequencer, Notation Composer, will)

My laptop is eighteen years old, with a single threaded 32 bit processor. Ubuntu runs fine when windows wouldn’t. I’ve installed audacity and almost 400 plugins using synaptic, it’s more than I’ll ever need and it’s the software I’ve always used, never needed another. It is a bit hands on, less automation and more linear perhaps than some expensive DAWs but it is pretty mature now, and I can route the sound in and out through the laptop or usb sound box and can offset the latency without too much issue, but are you having any specific issues? Learning how to do things easy hasn’t always been easy sometimes!

@standup macs don’t actually use Linux, they use a modified version of BSD, because the licences allow Apple to modify the code without publishing the new code, and to charge for modified Free software.

GPL licenced software such as the Linux kernel would not allow that.

@Calum Carlyle That's exactly right; Macs use modified FreeBSD, not Linux. They're very compatible softwarewise because all *NIX systems are to some extent.

I hate Apple even more than I hate Microsoft. Bill Gates tried to build a software monopoly -- I get to say that, because that judgment has been made against Microsoft in court -- but the one good thing I'll say about Gates is that he saved us from Steve Jobs, who tried to build a software AND hardware monopoly.

Both Microsoft and Apple build operating systems that try to assert ownership over YOUR computer. I don't care that in Apple's case they built the computer and not just the OS, because once I pay for something I feel that it belongs to me, not the company I bought it from.

One of the things I have always loved about Linux is that it respects the fact that YOUR computer is YOUR computer; if you're savvy enough (or monumentally blundering enough, and running as root or using sudo), it's actually possible to type in a command that will physically damage the machine. . . and instead of blatting some error noise at you, putting a frowny-face icon on your screen, and telling you YOU CAN'T DO THAT, Linux will simply ask you if you're sure, and then -- if you say 'yes,' -- will obediently proceed to do something as horrific and extreme as putting your hard drive into an overspin condition that will cause it to literally catch fire.

That is an incentive for users to learn how to properly operate their own machine!

Also, I'd rather hose my own system and be responsible for that than have a mac or windows system do it for me against my wishes! Smile

However, while Apple does deliberately break standards and try to force proprietary formats at least as much as microsoft, at least they have come up with original technology some of the time, unlike microsoft, who really are the Thomas Edison of personal computing imho!

And yes, Linux is the Nicola Tesla in that analogy, or in fact maybe RMS' forever unrealised GNU system is the real Nicola Tesla there.