[Consortium] RE: Linux Audio

Ivica Ico Bukvic ico at vt.edu
Mon Nov 27 22:49:14 EST 2006

Hi Collin,

There is really no short answer to your concerns as you've touched upon many
facets, all of which require an individual attention. What I can try to do
is jumpstart discussion that may shed some light as to what can be done to
assist you in transition. Here are some pointers you may want to be aware

1) Native VST on Linux is very much feasible (as a matter of fact there
were/are a number of projects which are designed to make transition of VST
plugins onto the Linux platform as seamless as possible). So, the problem is
not in Linux, but rather the viability of its market and subsequently
interest of VST makers to port their plugins over.

2) Apart from stuff stated in 1), we also have a somewhat dubious license
from Steinberg (something we are working on right now, but no particular
deadline and/or projected outcome can be given at this point in time) which
discourages its seamless implementation into GNU/GPL and/or LGPL
environment. So again, it is not necessarily that Linux audio platform is
not capable and/or community is not willing, but it is a matter of factors
outside our control.

3) There are a number of projects which utilize Wine engine to run Win32
code VSTs in Linux, but as you may guess, their success rate is difficult to
quantify as neither Wine project nor the way how some of the proprietary
VSTs utilize Win32 API are consistent. Hence, it is a hit'n'miss deal.

4) FWIW, Linux has now two frameworks for VST-like plugins (which are IMHO
superior to VST API). Apart from the older LADSPA format, we also now have
DSSI and L2. Alas, it is again a matter of the community (and more
importantly industry) adopting these frameworks in order to allow for
cross-pollination of plugins.

5) As far as the streamlining of the UI/GUI eye-candy and/or UI friendliness
are concerned, I hope you'll agree that beyond the basic serviceability,
this is pretty much in the eye of a beholder. Personally, as an artist, I
would rather prefer to make a really cool piece with my laptop's screen
looking like bunch of ugly glyphs, than wasting precious cycles on eye-candy
whose UI merit is dubious at best (and more often than not serves to hinder
my real-time-oriented endeavors, i.e. can you imagine repatching Reason in a
live performance, using its pretty but otherwise in essence kludge
interface). That being said, there are genuine efforts at beautifying
audio-oriented UIs (see Hydrogen, Ardour, Jamin), but please also understand
that most of the LA contributions are labor of love and as such are designed
around very limited resources. That being said, since our efforts are freely
shared within the community, it would be nice to see everyone's involvement
in making the overall experience as enjoyable as possible. What this means
is that even if someone does not have the programming chops, they could
still contribute graphics and/or other things that would help us get there.

As for the rest, perhaps the community would like to comment more?

Best wishes,

Ivica Ico Bukvic, D.M.A.
Linuxaudio.org Director
Virginia Tech
Department of Music - 0240
Blacksburg, VA 24061
(540) 231-1137
(540) 231-5034 (fax)
ico at linuxaudio.org

> -----Original Message-----
> From: Collin Donnell [mailto:collindonnell at gmail.com]
> Sent: Monday, November 27, 2006 1:59 PM
> To: ico at linuxaudio.org
> Subject: Linux Audio
> Hi. You seemed like you might be the kind of person to answer a couple
> questions that have come up regarding myself trying to use Linux as a
> DAW. I'm not sending this as a challenge in any way - these are just
> some real obstacles I've come up against in trying to convert from a
> Windows based system.
> I love the flexibility and power of Jack, and after getting to a point
> of understanding the OS a little better have not had any problems with
> it. What I do have a problem with is that most of the software it
> interfaces with seems to be at best "alright". Ardour is the only one
> that I was able to more or less get up and running that had any of the
> capabilities that I need, but even then as far as overall flexibility
> and stability of the program itself I don't feel it's what I would need
> for a professional audio workstation. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
> The other major problem I'm having is the quality of plug-ins that are
> available through LADSPA. If there's any relatively easy/fast/stable way
> to make all my VST's work in Linux - that would be a big step for me.
> I think the biggest challenge has just been that, although the platform
> itself seems almost ideal for the kind of work I'm trying to do... and
> the sheer volume of free software is astounding... But it's not about
> money if none of it can truly replace it's OSX or Windows equivalent
> program by being just as powerful, easy to use, and stable.
> Like I said, none of this is meant as a challenge against anything - I'm
> just assuming that you've probably seen a lot people go through these
> same problems and there might be some good answers to them.
> Please check out the program Reaper(www.reaper.fm) as a small
> almost-free program that has been around I think only about a year and
> has great midi/audio recording and editing capabilities, full VST
> support, and is extremely intuitive(also attractive) and easy to use-
> It's only major flaw for me being that it runs only on Windows. Why
> can't something like this exist in Linux?

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