Ardour on Ubuntu

Ardour running on Ubuntu

Linux naysayers get mighty grumpy about all the Ubuntu hype. I can certainly imagine some Ubuntu fatigue, but Ubuntu is actually gaining some real traction in a way that previous attempts to be a “Linux for the rest of us” have not. For that reason, it’s significant that there’s an Ubuntu release for creatives — not just one niche group of people, like audio, but for multimedia creative work in general. We’ve seen Ubuntu Studio before, but the big news is that you can go and download it now, and give it a shot on your Intel Mac or PC:

Ubuntu Studio

Note that there’s no live CD version, so you will have to install it to try it (though if you’re curious about Ubuntu, you could use a live CD of that).

We’ll be testing Ubuntu Studio CDM over the summer, both for the music and motion side. I will say, though, the music and audio end of this release seems to pale in comparison to Ubuntu Studio’s video and graphics tools. There’s Ardour, yes, a terrific DAW, and built-in JACK support. Other than that, though, the choices are generally far weaker than what’s available in commercial and even free closed-source software — or, for that matter, even other Linux audio distros. Compare the 3D application Blender, or Cinepaint for video, which easily stand alongside commercial tools. On the other hand, there are lots of terrific music packages that just didn’t make it into Ubuntu Studio — and that’s okay, because it’s not necessarily that hard to install the other apps. And there is a full complement of JACK audio utilities and some neat toys (trackers and whatnot). The big remaining question will be how the distro itself does in terms of performance and ease of use, which we’ll definitely be testing here.

Beryl on Studio64

Help! My studio is on a big, spinning cube!! Beryl, the 3D window manager, running with Studio 64 — a reminder that, hype aside, Ubuntu really isn’t the only game in town — especially for audio and music on Linux.

Before we get into another boring Mac vs. Windows vs. Linux argument, I have to say one sure-fire potential use for this is as an educational tool, as a common-denominator OS-with-apps everyone could use. So I’m eager to try it out regardless. It’s telling that Ardour just got renewed funding from SAE, the audio school — more on that soon.

If you are focused on music and audio, two other distros for me really stand out. One is the Debian-based 64 Studio. It’s been around a lot longer than Ubuntu Studio, it’s got audio performance as a major priority, and has a deeper set of tools and tweaks for audio users. There’s also Stanford University’s Planet CCRMA at Home, a tried-and-tested academic distro filled with unusual sound tools that you can’t get anywhere else. I saw the CCRMA folks at Maker Faire, and they were showing off their distro. The students really loved it, and I think one key difference is that there are real “killer apps” there that don’t live on Windows and Mac, all ready to run.

Ubuntu Studio still looks very polished, though, and if mixing in visual work appeals to you, it should definitely be on your list. Full audio package list. And “Swiss Army audio editor”? I wasn’t aware the Swiss issued audio editors to their soldiers, but I can’t say I’m surprised:

aconnectgui – graphical ALSA sequencer connection manager
audacity – Swiss army audio editor
ardour – Digital audio workstation (graphical gtk interface)
beast – music synthesis and composition framework
bitscope – diagnosis tool for JACK audio software
creox – real-time guitar effects
denemo – A gtk+ frontend to GNU Lilypond
timemachine – JACK audio recorder for spontaneous and conservatory use
gtick – Metronome application
hydrogen – Simple drum machine/step sequencer
jackbeat – audio sequencer
jackd – JACK Audio Connection Kit (server and example clients)
jackeq – routes and manipulates audio from/to multiple sources
jack-rack – LADSPA effects “rack” for JACK
jack-tools – various JACK tools: plumbing, play, udp, ctl, scope, clock
jamin – Audio mastering from a mixed down multitrack source with JACK
jdelay – A small command line JACK app you can use to measure the latency of your sound card.
lilypond-data – LilyPond music typesetter (data files)
lilypond – A program for typesetting sheet music
meterbridge – A collection of Audio meters for the JACK audio server
muse – Qt-based midi/audio sequencer
vkeybd – Virtual Keyboard program
qjackctl – User interface for controlling the JACK sound server
puredata – realtime computer music and graphics system
rosegarden4 – music editor and MIDI/audio sequencer
timidity – Software sound renderer (MIDI sequencer, MOD player)
seq24 – Real time MIDI sequencer
shaketracker – MIDI sequencer with tracker GUI
sooperlooper – Looping Sampler LADSPA plugin
swami – SoundFont editor
csound – powerful and versatile sound synthesis software
tapiir – A tool for real time audio delay and feedback effects
freqtweak – Realtime audio frequency spectral manipulation
mixxx – A digital DJ interface (for beat-mixing)
terminatorx – A realtime audio synthesizer
xmms – Versatile X audio player that looks like Winamp
xmms-jackasyn – JACK Output plugin for xmms
xmms-modplug – ModPlug plugin for XMMS
zynaddsubfx – Realtime software synthesizer for Linux
fluidsynth – Real-time MIDI software synthesizer
bristol – vintage synthesizer emulator
freebirth – Bass synthesizer/sample player/sequencer similar to Rebirth
qsynth – fluidsynth MIDI sound synthesiser front-end
tk707 – drum sequencer for a sound card or MIDI device
linuxsampler – software audio sampler
wired – A professional music production and creation free software running on the Linux operating system.
linux-image-lowlatency – Low latency kernel

  • bliss

    LOL@ Swiss Army audio editor! Ardour has a nice face lift. By the way, no PPC support?

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  • carmen

    ubuntu runs on ppc, ardour is likely in the repos.

    this ubuntu studio release was kind of weird. ive seen people talking about it for years, but apparently there was no alpha/beta downloads. just some mythical release date (Which thankfully arrived..)

  • poopoo

    I don't understand why this needs to be a different distribution. To me it should just be a set of packages under Ubuntu. The Patched kernel is the interesting part, other than that most of the software has been in the Ubuntu repos for sometime. Their time might be better spent packaging apps rather than customizing GUI's and icons.

    I'll be interested to see how this last. Most other audio specific distros apart from PlanetCCRMA have disappeared (demudi, agnula, audioslack etc.) fairly quickly.

  • Symbiotic

    I'm curious to see how Jacklab is received. That seems to be the most promising of the full audio-specific distros at the moment.

  • sleen

    More promising than studio2go? The low latency support has been built into the kernel, that most distros can take advantage of, so thats not a feature anymore. To me, what is important as a player is VST support and in that department it seems like studio2go is the only one that has actually addressed this specifically by writing their own vst server, and implementing DSSI. Fervent software also develops their own recording software / sequencer called Rosegarden, which looks somewhat primitive, but hosts vst's.

    Again, as a player I am attracted to linux in general because of performance and for one particular reason – you can hack the kernel. The size and contents of the other platform kernels are offlimits to customization. Linux, can be used in embedded devices like the Korg Oasys and Muse Receptor. The kernels in those devices only contain drivers and code to support the task at hand. OSX, XP, and Vista have enormous kernels that include everything you don't want on a musical instrument.

    For example, if you could create your own distro to just run guitar rig, that boots off a 128mb usb key, you could cut everything out and leave so much more of the system resources available for realtime throughput and processing.

    This is really an issue for instrumentation, much more so than airconditioned studio PDC 1024 track count pop music DAWS.

    Artifacts in live digital audio are statistical. RME finally included some hint of this in their latest HDSP driver text. This relates to the relationship between cpu load, and the number of dropouts or artifacts that occur. Most equipment manufacturers or solution providers simply say, raise your buffer size, without providing any of their own data or testing for real operating boundaries. The result is actually a surface – buffer size vs cpu load vs artifacts. Each driver will have its own signature surface that would probably reveal its design and suitability for recording or live use. In other words, RME has stated in their text where to expect artifacts with buffer size constant, over a range of load. Most of us know that yeah, more load, more artifacts; and that some drivers are much more robust than others. But few companies acknowledge the behaviour of their drivers and equipment over load range.

    All of this is to suggest that Linux should succeed as a platform for live instrumentation because it is so open to modification, and offers the most potential for performance.

    I am now of the opinion that microsoft and apple operating systems have simply become advertizing platforms for garbage. The quality of communications are so poor, and the lack of progress so aggregious that hardcore engineering just isn't possible anymore.

    Science is progessive, technology is persuasive.

    And you can quote me on that!

    Thanks for the update Peter!


  • jorgerosa

    like, poopoo, said: "why this needs to be a different distribution", ubuntu could bring this stuff, by default, in a DVD.iso for download, anyway UBUTU STUDIO is welcome! Thx Devs :))

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  • Tweaksource

    "poopoo" and "jorgerosa"

    The Ubuntu Studio Packages are available to install in Ubuntu.

    ubuntustudio-audio – Ubuntu Studio Audio Package

    ubuntustudio-audio-plugins – Ubuntu Studio audio plugins Package

    ubuntustudio-controls – Ubuntu Studio Controls is a small app that changes A/V settings.

    ubuntustudio-default-settings – Default settings and artwork for the Ubuntu Studio desktop

    ubuntustudio-desktop – Ubuntu Studio Desktop Package

    ubuntustudio-gdm-theme – Ubuntu Studio – GDM theme

    ubuntustudio-graphics – Ubuntu Studio graphics Package

    ubuntustudio-icon-theme – Ubuntu Studio Icon theme

    ubuntustudio-look – Ubuntu Studio look

    ubuntustudio-menu – Menu for Ubuntu Studio

    ubuntustudio-screensaver – Ubuntu Studio screensaver

    ubuntustudio-sounds – Ubuntu Studio's GNOME audio theme

    ubuntustudio-theme – Ubuntu Studio look – GTK and Metacity theme

    ubuntustudio-video – Ubuntu Studio video Package

    ubuntustudio-wallpapers – Ubuntu Studio – Wallpapers

    usplash-theme-ubuntustudio – Usplash theme for Ubuntu Studio

  • Ethnopunk

    What happens if you install the audio packages into Ubuntu, is it a seperate session, or the resources immediately available? Any conflicts with pulseaudio in Hardy?

  • Not Ubuntu

    I have owned Ubuntu Studio 14.04 for about 5 months. I have spent many hours trying to use it. Many of the programs do not work properly. By way of only one example, attempting to utilize Audacity in Ubuntu Studio is an immensely frustrating experience. I have used Audacity in Windows XP many times. I know Audacity quite well. In Ubuntu Studio, using Audacity is a very different and significantly worse experience compared to Audacity’s use in Windows XP. Believe me, I have read many hours worth of instructions, following each one to the very letter and nothing, absolutely nothing has worked successfully when attempting to record with the Ubuntu Studio version of Audacity.
    I have also spent some time trying unsuccessfully to record with Ardour having also followed instructions exactly. I am absolutely certain every connection was correct and no matter which one of the selections in either Ubuntu Studio, Audacity or Ardour I selected none of them enabled either monitoring or recording. Attempting to use QJackCtrl was also a frustrating waist of time.
    I have sited only one example here (sound recording in Ubuntu Studio) but there are also other programs in Ubuntu Studio that do not function properly or do not funciton at all.
    I strongly suggest that you stay away from Ubuntu Studio 14.04. As for myself, I am either going back to Windows or I might try Mac. Ubuntu Studio will be thrown out with the rest of the garbage.