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As a Fedora developer and amateur musician, I really couldn't recommend Fedora (or Linux in general) for music. The DAWs I've tried are terrible. They all have horrible UIs, trouble doing basic stuff and are crash-prone (hint to developers: the DAW should never ever ever crash!) My band uses free GarageBand on Mac which is not very good but night and day better than any of them I've tried. Setting up Jack instead of Pulseaudio is horrible and invasive. Routing USB midi is an exercise in command line randomness.

Can we make this better? Probably. And I guess I should work on it. But right now it's not there.






Things have come leaps and bounds on Linux in the past 5-ish years. Linux is now viable (if not recommendable) for professional audio production. It wasn't before.

Not only has Ardour gotten better, but also Bitwig is available, and Reaper too. Bitwig has the most polished UI, but Reaper has a particularly dedicated user base and is very extensible, if a little hard on the eyes.

Routing MIDI is mostly a matter of using QJackCtl, which isn't pretty, but it gets the job done (and really, MIDI routing isn't pretty on any platform).

Again, I wouldn't recommend someone building a system from the ground up for music production to go for Linux, but for someone who's already a long-time Linux user, it is now finally possible to do music production at a non-toyish level without switching OSes.

As a side note, loads of audio "devices" (synths, grooveboxes, etc.) these days are just ARM devices running a modified Linux audio stack.


I use Fedora to jam online several times a week and to record a few times a year. The open source Linux music software ecosystem is behind proprietary software available on Windows and macOS but it can do what I need.

Audio system: JACK

DAW: Ardour 5

Synthesizer: zynaddsubfx

Pianos: PianoTeq 6 (proprietary)

Drum machine: Hydrogen

The lack of good drum kits and patterns is my current pain point.

I haven't tried Reaper or Bitwig on Linux yet, but they should be decent if you are willing to use proprietary software.

The Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 USB soundcard that I use is a class-compliant USB audio device and I've never had trouble with it.


Reaper and Live have spoiled me. I tried to like Ardour, and it would be great if it's all I had, but it has too many rough edges.

LMMS is good though. I must have made 200+ songs in it before switching to Reaper. I could get by with LMMS and the included synths if I had to. It makes me wish Reaper supported LV2.


I would agree, re: rough edges, if we were talking about Ardour 2 or 3, which both missed some important features and weren't as stable as I'd like. But in the last few years, ardour has improved. I do most of my work in it now. Would recommend it to anyone who wants a FLOSS DAW and isn't too dependent on mental models from other audio software.

If anything, LMMS has the rough edges. The interface lacks polish and consistency. There are some awkward things about using it (why do I have to make a blank bar before I copy and paste a bar into it?). And I've noticed some glitchy behavior - for instance, I just made a ZynAddSubFX patch that sounded different as a plugin in LMMS than when I used it in Zyn's own application. Strange behavior like that, but fortunately it's rare.

But all that considered, LMMS is still great, and I appreciate the work it's authors put into it. I don't think of it as a daw; more of a sequencer. But if your music is 100% digital synths and samples, it serves all your needs.

Right now I'm using: LMMS (sequencer), Ardour (daw), JAMin (mastering suite), and Audacity (swiss army knife). I like Reaper. I've used ableton live many times, and I still don't get it - I guess the workflow is optimized for live mixing? I found it less than ideal for recording in a studio.


>> "Would recommend it to anyone who wants a FLOSS DAW and isn't too dependent on mental models from other audio software."

I recommend against this kind of framing. It comes off as judgmental. My mental models form based on my needs and experience. They're just as valid as your mental models, needs, and experience. Your way of seeing my perspective leads to faulty assumptions about my experience and models.

For example...

>> "I would agree, re: rough edges, if we were talking about Ardour 2 or 3, which both missed some important features and weren't as stable as I'd like. But in the last few years, ardour has improved. I do most of my work in it now."

I tried 5 from Mint's repos. Yesterday. I try every version to see if it'll work for me. Ardour continues to be critically lacking for me, based on my needs. Take a step back any time you want to assume someone's view is based on not knowing something you know. It's much more likely you don't know what they know.


> My mental models form based on my needs and experience

Except that the workflow for e.g. Live or FL Studio or Bitwig is entirely different from the workflow for e.g. ProTools or Logic or Ardour.

So the extent that your needs and experience dictate a Live-style workflow, then sure, you're right. But if you don't actually know what you're doing or alternatively actually need the linear-timeline recording model of PT/Ardour, then there's no judgement here, just a correct observation.


I think we agree, and you should heed your own advice not to assume what someone else thinks.

What I mean by mental models: Some producers rely on their favorite DAW's workflow. I'd never tell someone to ditch the DAW they're more productive in. This is not a judgement. I'm not implying you don't "get" Ardour. On the contrary, I'm endorsing your approach: choose the DAW that meets your needs.

I said Ardour had improved a lot for me. I never said it would work for you. My comment was for the benefit of other people here. Giving a counterexample to your experience. No DAW is good for everyone. Ardour doesn't work for you. It does work for me. And if someone's looking for a DAW, I think Ardour is worth trying. I wouldn't tell you to try it.

And you already know it doesn't work for you, so you don't need to try again. I support you in sticking to the tools that you're most productive in. Nothing is more annoying than someone dictating what tools you use to do your job.


I love LMMS cause it's like FL Studio. I used to use FL Studio (pirated when I was a teenager) to make rap beats and even once a dubstep beat, though it crashed and I lost all my progress.... LMMS is awesome cause it's free so I can just experiment with it. I havent found the time to make some serious tracks though.

Also where do you get audio samples for LMMS? This is mostly my dilemma.


The best percussion I've ever had came from TAL-NoiseMaker. There's a Linux port.

https://www.kvraudio.com/product/tal-noisemaker-by-togu-audi...

LMMS also has its own percussion synth.

https://lmms.io/wiki/index.php?title=Kicker

As for samples, Echo Sound Works sends out occasional freebie packs on their newsletter. Their samples are usually good.

https://www.echosoundworks.com/free-downloads

Black Octopus Sound has a huge sampler pack that you can use in commercial stuff.

https://blackoctopus-sound.com/free-downloads/

Also keep an eye out for SFX packs around GDC (Game Developers Conference). Sonniss publishes one every year. You can probably find the (legit, official) torrents for past years.


This is wonderful, thanks! I had no idea GDC gave out free assets!

The company gives out free assets around GDC as promo, but I don't think it's from GDC.

> The lack of good drum kits and patterns is my current pain point.

True. But I have little tip for you: There's an experimental feature in Carla that lets you use Plug-Ins that rely on wine. Currently I use this feature with MT Power Drum Kit (decent sounding - still not ideal) and some other free Plug-Ins. But I will agree that this increases the fiddling and virtual wiring. As Carla is able to save all that, it's still quite handy.

By the way: I use the Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6, works like a charm (and only uses hardware switches). Do you use Gen1 or Gen2 of the Scarlett? - I've heard of some issues with Gen2.

Edit: I use the drums for making Metal music. Might not be ideal for other genres.


Thanks, I have heard that MT Power Drum Kit is nice and have tried some Windows VSTs like TAL NoiseMaker and U-NO-LX successfully.

I use the Gen1 Scarlett 2i4 and have also heard that later generations have some issues. My understanding is that the latest generation Sclarett devices are class-compliant USB audio devices but also rely on vendor software to enable certain features.


> The lack of good drum kits and patterns is my current pain point.

If you mean electronic drum samples, and are on a Ubuntu-based distro, give Sitala a shot:

https://decomposer.de/sitala.html


Thanks for sharing!

I looking for acoustic drums that have multi-layer samples so you can get the dynamics and detail of a real drum kit. A basic sampler instrument plays the same sample at different velocities (volume levels). Advanced samplers have multi-layered sample libraries so there are separate samples for different velocity levels and other nuances (they even have scripting engines so sample library authors can add logic for selecting which samples to play).


Ardour is pretty sweet. I do have Bitwig, but not latest as I can't afford to keep it upgraded!

I mostly would agree in the past.

Now that Reaper is available on Linux this has changed for me! I record on Linux all the time now.

There are fewer plugins. You still have to wrestle with jack / pulse. There are other warts but it is a vast improvement. :)


Have you Tried Bitwig? I have found it works pretty damn well, and is the most polished interface. It's just expensive.

I've tried numerous packges, and MIDI devices etc. and I agree that things can be hard and decisions like "do I set up low latency kernel etc." have implications if you're using your machine for work other than music production, but I think things are better.

I've tried Bitwig with external midi keyboard, USB keyboards, and Ableton Push - It's probably not my suggested setup for most musicians, but it's not a bad one.


Do you mean that the Linux versions of DAWs are worse than their non-linux counterparts, or just that some linux-specific DAWs are worse than DAWs that are not linux specific?

Because Bitwig for example is amazing, and it supports Mac/Win/Linux - but I haven't used it outside windows. I'd worry about sound drivers and plugin support (I doubt plugin makers spend a lot of time on linux GUI support) but I'd trust the core functionality to be the same across all platforms.


The second - I only tried free software DAWs on Linux. I've not tried proprietary DAWs on Linux, because if I'm going to do that I might as well go all-in on the Mac (not least because Macs and Windows don't have two competing sound systems that you have to switch between to use a DAW and do regular stuff like watching videos).

Windows actually does have two competing sound systems. ASIO is, even in the far future of 2020, an absolute bear. My Windows machine has an audio interface with headphones and a separate set of speakers to play stuff while Ableton or Reaper is open.

(Nobody really uses WASAPI. They should, though. It's great.)


I’ve used bitwig Linux. Coming from ableton on Mac. I haven’t used it for much yet but it works quite well (pop-os).

A little work to get it set up but nothing difficult.


You might want to look into Pipewire - it's a next-gen A/V framework being developed by one of the creators of GStreamer.

It isn't ready for prime time yet, but the long-term goal on the audio side is to replace both PulseAudio and Jack.


You can actually do a lot with FOSS music production software like Ardour these days, although I’ve been using Ableton for over a decade so it’s unlikely I’ll be taking the time to learn another DAW any time soon. But if you’re interested, check out unfa [0] on YouTube. He puts out a lot of tutorials on free / libre audio production.

[0] https://www.youtube.com/user/unfa00


As someone developing a daw (https://ossia.io) - "hint to developers: the DAW should never ever ever crash!"... yeah, I'd like it not to have bugs too but there are only so many hours in a week-end :)

I also had some cases / user projects where it was much more important to have maximum performance than guarantees of not crashing.


May be that isn't the only approach that will yield good results, there are really powerful tools on a fundamental level like csound etc that I think fully leverage programmed computers and music.

I know its Debian / Ubuntu based but have you tried Ubuntu Studio at all? It seems geared towards music and video editing out of the box so it might involve less command line incantations.

I tried Studio with a MIDI keyboard for input, but getting it to register the input was still a hassle to figure out. Had to go through JACK and explicitly wire the inputs and outputs of the various devices and apps to get everything working, which on a hack-everything level is kind of cool but on the other hand I just wanted to jam on a keyboard, not fiddle with a network of devices and applications.

I can say, though, Studio is a huge step up from trying to get this sort of thing working in stock Ubuntu.


Gotcha, I have used Studio but in my case I havent wired up my Piano / Keyboard. I mostly use LMMS cause I dont have space for my Keyboard, and cause it's a free rendition of FL Studio which I love to be honest. I dont do a whole lot though, just things here and there.

Good to know your side on it though. I think that might be the best thing till someone streamlines some of these libraries / programs is to focus on a Distro that makes it as seamless as possible, and push the fixes back to the original projects.


Funny, I never had issues with my Midi-Controller. It's a USB-Class Compliant Controller. At least in Ardour its a simple task to do that. Haven't tried in Reaper so far. And also, I never found it difficult to connect devices, at least when using Claudia.

I think that Ardour 5.x has only crashed on me due to a bad plugin, and even at that it's usually a plugin that I'm developing when I haven't worked out the bugs yet.

Can I ask you what your opinion on LMMS is? It seems to get recommended a lot and I wanted to use it to get into DAWs at some point.

Pretty sure I tried out LMMS, but don't recall anything specifically. The main ones I looked at and stuck with for a while were Ardour, Rosegarden, plus Audacity which is more of a sound editor. Just found out on this very thread about Non, which looks promising, so that's one I'm going to try next.

I want to say the main problems are: having to set up Jack and switch between that and PA - why isn't there one sound system? - the whole USB midi routing situation, software with obscure UIs, and software that crashes. Apart from the first one these are all fairly easily solvable.

These days I mostly write stuff using synths. The Deluge for example has enough built in that you don't need to use a DAW at all.


I've had good results with Renoise on Ubuntu



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