Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Yvon, Jan 24, 2005.

  1. Yvon


    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    Is there any free program that could let me do some recording on linux?
    I don't need anything fancy, a few audio tracks basic effects (compressor) and midi.
  2. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    There are quite a few open source projects that would meet some or all of your needs (for example, audacity is a capable program for dealing with audio files and mixing multiple tracks together). What distro are you using?

  3. It really doesn't matter what distro you are using (although it could mean more or less work)

    Audacity is pretty popular, but the multitrack abilities aren't that great (single file editing works nicely) ( )

    MUsE should be better for multitracking ( ) although im not 100% sure about recording with it (never tried)
  4. wulf


    Apr 11, 2002
    Oxford, UK
    With my current setup (onboard audio facilities in a laptop running Ubuntu Linux) I found that recording while playing back the other tracks didn't work very well. However, it was fine for putting multiple tracks together (recorded on a Fostex MR-8 unit I'm borrowing). I haven't tried MUsE...

  5. RLT


    Jul 10, 2004
    South Central OH

  6. I use Ardour.

    And as for MIDI, check ok ZynAddSubFx. Pretty good beginner MIDI interface.
  7. Yvon


    Nov 2, 2000
    Montreal, Canada
    I use SuSE 9.2 pro 64 bit.
  8. slinkp


    Aug 29, 2003
    brooklyn, NY, USA
    I've been using linux exclusively for about oh, 7 years now. Currently running Gentoo linux, but I don't recommend that for newbies.

    If you're new I would probably suggest running Fedora plus the Planet CCRMA
    add-ons that make it easy to get up and running with a lot of cool apps and a well-tuned kernel.

    I use Ardour for recording, Hydrogen for drum machine, Seq24 for pattern-oriented midi work, and various soft-synths - I'm partial to amSynth.

    Also, the linux-audio-user mailing list is usually a good place to be.
    I unsubscribed after a recent political flamewar but will probably go back sooner or later.
  9. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    I am interested to hear you guys' experiences doing multitrack recording with Ardour. What hardware are you using? What are some good/bad experiences you've had?

    I've been a Unix nerd for over a decade now (in fact my first recording rig was based around an SGI Octane) but I haven't jumped into Linux for recording yet because it doesn't support my hardware. It would simplify things a lot for me though if I didn't have to deal with Windows at all.
  10. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    Msquared, just curious--what hardware are you using that won't run Linux?

    Hey Yvon--are there low latency/realtime capabilities kernels available in the SUSE repositories? If you're doing much audio stuff in Linux they really make a difference. Depending on your hardware configuration, if you're planning on doing serious audio you might be better off multibooting into a specialized Linux audio distro like dyne:bolic, aGNUla DeMuDi, or Planet CCRMA. If you have broadband you'll be able to download the necessary CD images in a couple hours.

    I've been using all three. Dyne:bolic is a streamlined multimedia live CDROM--you can run the programs without having to install anything to your computer. It has JACK, Ardour, MUSE, Audacity, Rezound, Hydrogen, Jack Rack FX, Jamin, TimeMachine, and a number of other audio/video programs. Dyne:bolic was created by Italian Rastafarians; it has a cool vibe but there are a number of bugs (Rezound and Firefox are crashing on me in the latest test release, 1.4).

    Agnula DeMuDi is Debian based, which means that it has great hardware detection and runs very solid. You can install it in less than an hour, and you will have a serious audio production setup. There are a few bugs in the latest testing release, 1.2.1rc1--the Jamin mastering program won't open..grrrr...and the Jack Bristol synth doesn't has the latest version of the Hydrogen drum machine, but not the latest set of drumkits for it. For two years the Agnula project had funding from the European Union, now I think it's strictly volunteer so the pace of updates has slowed down a little bit. All in all, very good.

    Planet CCRMA comes from the Center for Computer Research in Musical Acoustics at Stanford University, one of the world's premier electronic music labs for more than 40 years. It's based on Red Hat/Fedora Linux--not my favorite flavor, but they've beefed it up with a large APT-based repository that is extremely well-maintained (updated every few days) and virtually bug-free. Depending on which version you install, you may have to manually install the kernels and ALSA sound modules, but IMO it's worth the effort. There are also instructions for tuning hard disks and CD ROMs for the best low-latency performance.

    I've tried all three versions on both my computers: a 600mhz Dell Celeron with 256 MB RAM and M-Audio Delta 24/96 card; and a 3 ghz HP P4 with 512 MB RAM and an M-Audio Delta 1010LT card. The soundcards of both computers are hooked together via S/PDIF and they're on a network; I haven't tried it yet, but I know that with dyne:bolic running on both machines they act as a cluster, sharing the CPU workload.

    After 4 months of learning how to use Linux in general (bootloaders, mountpoints, dmesg, fstab, modules.conf, command line, vi text editor--ai yi yi!) I've only started to delve into the workings of Ardour in the last few weeks. It's taken some work to figure out how to balance JACK between very low latency and having enough processor power available for running many different programs at once. This is obviously more of an issue for the 4 year-old Dell than the hyperthreading HP.

    I have managed to record a few tracks of synths/drum machine and external audio into Ardour, with good results. I'm hoping to set up my own site soon so I can start to share the fruits of my labors.

    It kinda goes without saying that it's very helpful to have good soundcards in order to get good sound--the results I got before getting the Deltas were much inferior in terms of sound quality/latency. The M-Audio Delta and RME Hammerfall PCI cards are very well-supported under Linux. I've heard of people having success with USB audio interfaces but latency can be an issue. USB MIDI seems pretty well supported. AFAIK FireWire audio support in Linux is a couple years behind the Mac/Windows world. Be sure to check the ALSA soundcard matrix to see if there are modules for your card.
    Also, if you're using a laptop you'll probably want to check

    In all, I think the biggest hindrance to adopting Linux audio is the lack of comprehensive, well-written documentation that keeps up with the pace of software upgrades. Be prepared for some swearing and lots of Googling.
  11. Are there any linux drivers out there that work with the M-Audio Firewire Audiophile? (couldn't find any, which is the only reason i am currently using windoze...)
  12. The last version of Knoppix that I downloaded had Audacity in the distribution. Sooooo nice to have a bootable CD witha quality stereo editor.

    As for driver support... ?????
  13. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    Winston.. thanks for the great post. To answer your question, I use a MOTU 828. MOTU refuses to release any specs on it and last time I checked, nobody had reverse engineered it. It's tough to just up and replace because it's so easy to use it with either my desktop workstation or with a laptop. I've been pretty seriously considering jumping to Mac lately so I can keep the Unix side but not have to do a lot of swearing. :)
  14. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    It's cool, a lot of CD-bootable distributions (Knoppix, Mepis) are starting to include editors, MIDI players, and even modular synths.

    One of the reasons I decided to check out Linux: last year I spent about $1400 on the new HP setup with Window$ XP. I wanted to do some stereo mixdowns of 4-track recordings I'd made. I went to the "recording" section on the computer and found that I'd have to spend $30 to get an "upgrade" from Micro$oft that would allow me to record more than one minute of CD-quality stereo sound at a time. The computer was advertised as a "media center" but it came hobbled so Bill Gates could get even richer.

    I first put Linux on the Dell, which had been running (limping?) Windoze ME which literally would crash on at least every other boot. It runs like a top under Linux. I kept ME on a small partition so I can practice rescuing a broken system.

    With the strides Linux is making in biz and government, I 'm hoping hardware manufactures will soon realize that they stand to start losing money by not supporting Linux. Until then it's a matter of bugging them and Linux developers to work on FireWire support. I don't think hardcore audio types will look at Linux as more than a curiosity until its hardware support gets more cutting edge, and that's a real good reason to get a Mac.
  15. Thats exactly the same reason i want a mac as well, too bad they cost so much.
  16. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    As my Windows XP box was crashing in the middle of a mixing project last night, I thought of this thread.

    Then when Sonar refused to open one of my "restore point" files for this project without crashing, I thought of it some more.

  17. mnadelin


    Apr 6, 2003
    Kalamazoo, MI
    Yeah linux never crashes right? Linux gets kernel panics every bit as frequently as a good XP machine gets a genuine BSOD. It's not the software that's the problem, most of the time. It's usually PBCAK. I've had this XP machine for over 2 years and really only got one legitimate crash, and that was due to a video driver issue, which was promptly corrected. Linux isn't the end all and be all solution to all your problems. It's much more work to install software and maintain it. We nerds may not mind it, but it's definitely never going to be mainstream.
  18. Except for the "more work to install software" part my experience was quite different, I have had only very few real crashes with linux and lots of them on windows (in the same timeframe) even though my linux machine was running 24/7 unlike the windows machine
  19. winston

    winston Supporting Member

    May 2, 2000
    East Bay, CA
    My experience has also been quite different. I have probably logged 30-50 hours a week on 7 or 8 Linux distros over the last 4 months. The only kernel panic I got (once) was the result of an error I made manually installing a kernel--the proverbial Problem Between Chair and Keyboard. That's not to say I haven't had applications crash on me. But I am choosing to use several bleeding-edge testing/unstable distros, and when recording with multiple softsynths and FX, any OS will freak out when you're pushing your hardware to the limits.

    As for more work to install, I'm really not sure what you're talking about. I'm writing this from within the Simply MEPIS distro, which after partitioning took all of 20 minutes to completely install. It contains the whole Open Office suite, a bunch of multimedia/streaming software including Audacity, a modular synth, the GIMP (open-source Photoshop equiv.) and Mozilla with all the plugins. Many distros take longer to install, but that's only because they allow you to choose exactly which programs to use and how you want your system configured.

    In comparison, both XP and ME take at least an hour to install. If you use a Linux live CD, you're up and running in under 3 minutes.

    And regarding maintenance, you chan choose your repositories and track (stable, testing, unstable) etc. to suit your needs. If you want to download individual programs to install, it's really easy--there are unzip and MD5 checksum utilities built into just about every modern distro. Not so with XP--you'll have to buy or download freeware for these most basic functions, and FTP downloads can be a hassle.

    Nowhere on the windows update site was I told that I had to turn off my firewall to get SP2--I had to find that out on my own after getting conflicting notices that "SP2 is ready to install" but "you are not currently eligible to download SP2". And so many times when installing windows updates you are told that individual packages must be installed on their own, and you must reboot for them to take can easily reboot 10 or more times if you have a lot of updates to install. Also...many windoze updates tell you that you won't be able to uninstall them once they're on your system...any Linux package management system will let you roll back your system if you need to.

    Let's not even talk about Window$' vulnerability to spyware/viruses or pitiful networking capabilities. Why is it that I can't get a network happening in XP after following the instructions to the letter, whereas several Linux distros on both machines are networked no problem? Dunno.

    I think the reason most people use MS products is because they didn't have the choice not to buy the stuff that came packaged with the computer, not due to any intrinsic merits of the product. Linux may not currently be mainstream, but its increasing adoption by business and government, computer nerds, and average folks like me are pushing it in that direction--not because of marketing or being forced to buy it bundled with our hardware--but because it serves our needs better.

    I hope this doesn't come across as a flame--it's not meant as such, I'm just sharing my own experiences. Now if you were to claim that GHS Boomers were the best strings ever made...THEN you'd have a flame war on your hands!
  20. msquared


    Sep 19, 2004
    Kansas City
    PBCAK? Is that the "error between chair and keyboard" thing?

    I'm not sure what qualifies you to be taken seriously on the topic of Windows stability, but I've been using both Windows and Linux personally and professionally for years. The amount of sleep I've lost over the years because a service or an entire OS failed on a well-tuned Windows server running on a piece of enterprise-class hardware cannot be calculated by mere mortals. I do know how to make it behave though, and as noted in a different thread it is my OS of choice for audio stuff.

    During the day, one of the things I am paid to do is to make sure that Linux servers owned by the Feds are able to stay online for scientific processing jobs which take several months at a time. Some of the Windows admins I work with have been doing sysadmin longer than I've been alive and have been doing Windows admin since before anyone had ever heard of service packs. All of us have decent budgets to blow on expensive servers built by large corporations with full time R&D labs.

    Would you like to guess whose machines need to be rebooted more often? Or perhaps whose machines have OSes and services which crash more often? Or which of us is more likely to invoke words beginning with F when referring to our server farms' operating systems?

    I've seen Linux crash plenty of times. But it's always a moment of "you have got to be kidding me" when it does, and it's usually because of a hardware thing or because it's SuSE.

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