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Old 11-09-2007, 05:50 AM   #1
hargal
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Registered: Nov 2007
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Linux as an audio workstation?


I'm a musician and I've have used Windows to produce/compose music for more than 15 years.

Because of a recently bad LIVE-experience I had with my 4 year old HP laptop (WIN XP) - where sound card suddenly disconnected - I am more that willing to enter the world of Linux - where stability is the one of the great principles.

Specs:
  • Intel P4 2,66 ghz
  • 1 gb RAM (max possible)
  • 60 gb HD (I also use external hard drives)

I have several questions I really would appreciate some help to:

1) What is the best distro if I want it to use Linux as an audio workstation?

2) I use both firewire and USB2 to connect soundcards and external hard drives. How hard is it to get those connections to work?

3) What are the best audio softwares like Cubase and Wavelab in Linux?

I also use a notation editor - Sibelius. Are there any available for Linux?

4) I also have a lot of VST-plugins avaiable for Windows. Can I use those in Linux?


I will appreciate any help from you guys :-)
Thanks in advanced.

Sincerely,
hargal
 
Old 11-09-2007, 06:24 AM   #2
oskar
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Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Austria
Distribution: Ubuntu 12.10
Posts: 1,142

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Quote:
Originally Posted by hargal View Post
I'm a musician and I've have used Windows to produce/compose music for more than 15 years.

Because of a recently bad LIVE-experience I had with my 4 year old HP laptop (WIN XP) - where sound card suddenly disconnected - I am more that willing to enter the world of Linux - where stability is the one of the great principles.

Specs:
  • Intel P4 2,66 ghz
  • 1 gb RAM (max possible)
  • 60 gb HD (I also use external hard drives)

I have several questions I really would appreciate some help to:

1) What is the best distro if I want it to use Linux as an audio workstation?
Ubuntu(Studio) - just install ubuntu, and then install the Ubuntustudio-audio meta package through synaptic

Other possible choices are:
Fedora with CCRMA - a little bit harder to handle

JAD - haven't tried in some time, didn't install the last time I tried.
and 64studio - some people like it. I haven't tried it yet.

Quote:
2) I use both firewire and USB2 to connect soundcards and external hard drives. How hard is it to get those connections to work?
If its using a standard protocol it shouldn't give you any problems. Google for the name of the interface+linux. You won't be the first one to try.

Quote:
3) What are the best audio softwares like Cubase and Wavelab in Linux?
Depending on what you want to do :P
No, seriously, that can't be answered that easily. Are you mainly doing sampling, midi, score editing, multitrack recording...?

For multitrack recording Ardour is a promising project, but I just can't get comfortable with it. It is however very stable.
Hell, if you are comfortable with cubase, Ardour shouldn't be that bad :P
(I've been a cubase users for years, I switched to Cockos's 'Reaper' when it came out, and I'm much more comfortable with it)
Quote:
I also use a notation editor - Sibelius. Are there any available for Linux?
Quick answer: no
You can try to run Sibelius with wine or in a virtual machine with virtualbox.

Longer answer: Rosegarden - but not for serious score editing. It can't handle multiple staffs, you have to split them up to muliple tracks, and you can't notate two independent voices on one track/staff.

Lilypond can do all that, but you have to learn the typesetting language. I personally had no luck with Noteedit Canorus or Denemo, which provide a graphical interface to write scores that can be exported to lilypond.
While Denemo seemed to be the most promising project to me - it just didn't work - maybe you have better luck.
If you get it to work you will most likely end up with splitting up the tasks between different Programs - Sampling with Rosegarden, Recording with Ardour, playing back midi with Qsynth...
Most audio programs in linux can be easily synchronized and connected with Jack - could be compared to Rewire, but does a little bit more.

Quote:
4) I also have a lot of VST-plugins avaiable for Windows. Can I use those in Linux?
Yes and no. I only use them with reaper running in wine.
There are ways to use them with Ardour.

http://www.linuxjournal.com/node/1000224
Here is a quick introduction to ardour.
You can browse the Linx Journal for articles by Dave Phillips, he has been writing them for years (look at the date - some are pretty old)

Last edited by oskar; 11-09-2007 at 06:38 AM.
 
Old 11-09-2007, 06:33 AM   #3
matthewg42
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Registered: Oct 2003
Location: UK
Distribution: Kubuntu 12.10 (using awesome wm though)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hargal View Post
I'm a musician and I've have used Windows to produce/compose music for more than 15 years.

Because of a recently bad LIVE-experience I had with my 4 year old HP laptop (WIN XP) - where sound card suddenly disconnected - I am more that willing to enter the world of Linux - where stability is the one of the great principles.
Hi hargal, welcome to LQ.

Before you take my advice too seriously I would like to point out that I'm not a big user of audio software - I'm somewhat curious about it, but I'm not very knowledgeable about it - these suggestions are mostly things I've heard about rather than used extensively, so I can't reliably vouch for the stability of completeness of any of these suggestions...

Quote:
I have several questions I really would appreciate some help to:

1) What is the best distro if I want it to use Linux as an audio workstation?
I'd recommend having a look at Ubuntu Studio. I'vee not actually used it, although I do use regular Ubuntu and think it's a good base. Ubuntu Studio is a customised version of Ubuntu with pre-installed audio applications and (I hope) pre-configuration done to make it easier to get started with the audio apps.

Quote:
2) I use both firewire and USB2 to connect soundcards and external hard drives. How hard is it to get those connections to work?
I've never connected a USB sound card. I have heard that some work, but YMMV depending on the model of the card.

USB hard drivers should be easy. If they are pre-formatted with Microsoft's NTFS filesystem you might want to consider re-formatting them with a native Linux filesystem (e.g. ext3) to make life a little easier. Having said that, most modern distros support NTFS - at least for reading. Writing to NTFS has been possible for a while, but there is some nervousness about it, just in case there is some secret sauce in the way NTFS works which might break things in rare cases.

Most USB flash thumb drives are formatted with the FAT32 filesystem, which is supported and stable in pretty much any Linux distro.

In most modern distros, just just have to plug in the drive, and it will be auto-mouted for you... .removing it is usually a matter of right clicking on the icon for the drive and selecting "unmount" or "disconnect" or something like that. "mount" is Linux/Unix terminology describing the process by which a drive's contents are made available... when mounted, the files on a drive are available in a directory in the main filesystem - the so-called "mount point". But don't worry about it - it should just work.

Quote:
3) What are the best audio softwares like Cubase and Wavelab in Linux?
I haven't used either of these, but I get the impression that the nearest thing to cubase is probably Ardour. If wavelab is a sample editor, probably audacity is one app in the same area, but there are several.

Quote:
I also use a notation editor - Sibelius. Are there any available for Linux?
Again, I've not used Sibelius, but I'm guessing from your description that the closet thing is Rosegarden. If you want professional quality music typesetting software, have a look at Lilypond. This is a markup language. If you're comfortable with that sort of thing I think it's extreme flexible and the output is very pretty. If you prefer a GUI to edit your score, Rosegarden can export to Lilypond for printing.

Quote:
4) I also have a lot of VST-plugins avaiable for Windows. Can I use those in Linux?
Sorry, I don't even know that VST is, hopefully someone more expert than me can help here.
 
Old 11-09-2007, 06:38 AM   #4
matthewg42
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Registered: Oct 2003
Location: UK
Distribution: Kubuntu 12.10 (using awesome wm though)
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heh, oskar and I were typing much the same things at the same time. He was faster, be he didn't provide URLs.

One thing to note - you don't have to download the software from the sites... In Linux distros thousands of programs are packaged and stored in repositories managed by the makers of the distro.

Usually all you have to do is open a "package manager" tool, and search for the name of the program you want to install - the downloading and installing is done for you.
 
Old 11-09-2007, 07:26 AM   #5
hargal
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Registered: Nov 2007
Posts: 6

Original Poster
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Thanks a lot :-)

Wow!
I am impressed and really greatful for the quick and helpful replies :-)
A million THANKS!!!
That's also why I love the world of Linux. You guys are so helpful :-)

Unbuntu Studio will be on my hard drive this afternoon. And I will let you know how it worked out. And maybe in the future, I also can contribute with some of my knowledges.

Have a nice weekend :-)

sincerely,
hargal
 
Old 11-09-2007, 07:52 AM   #6
oskar
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Registered: Feb 2006
Location: Austria
Distribution: Ubuntu 12.10
Posts: 1,142

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One last word on the harddrives with ntfs - mounting them with read/write access is no problem as matthew said, and I think it's even done automatically in recent versions of ubuntu. You don't really have to worry, it's fairly secure. But it does use a lot of system resources, so recording directly to them won't work very well I guess.
 
  


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