Properly configured, a Linux system can breathe life into old hardware or finely-tune performance on new gear. The problem has often been not the OS, but having a comfortable tool for production when you load it. And so that means Linux fans – or would-be fans – will likely be pleased to see the image above.

It’s Tracktion, the lovely but oft-overlooked, bargain-priced DAW, running on Linux. (I highly recommend the just-released Ubuntu Studio. The update includes loads of fixes that solve the kinds of audio configuration problems that have kept many people from Linux, and the compatibility of that release is unparalleled. Ubuntu 12 is in fact directly supported here.)

First off, Tracktion has escaped its past. As some readers note, while developed by Mackie, the software fell behind, causing compatibility woes. Since then, Tracktion has again become independent – and is moving faster than ever, with a major reboot that makes it compatible with the latest and greatest stuff.

And Tracktion could have a future, too. Footholds in this business are largely to do with distribution, so a recent Behringer bundling deal, combined with a major upgrade earlier this year (and existing Mackie bundling), could give Tracktion a shot in a marketplace that remains pretty well dominated by a few players. You know, some trac– augh. Sorry. Never mind.

Of course, Linux isn’t likely to cause any explosion in users, but it’s nice to see 64-bit Linux alongside 32-bit and 64-bit Windows and Mac releases – and for enthusiasts, it’s nice to see attention given to a dedicated community regardless of its relative size.

There’s reason to root for Tracktion. It has a really nice, one-screen, drag-and-drop interface that eschews the mold other tools (even the mighty Ableton Live, in some regards) fit. Upgrades are $29.99; full licenses $59.99.

The beta test is free, so Linux users, please do test this and let us know what you think:

Tested on, say the developers:
• OSX 10.7.x & 10.8.x
• Windows 7 & 8 (64 and 32-bit versions)
• Linux (Ubuntu 12)

  • Mark Powell

    I hope they’ve improved things dramatically since Tracktion 3. I was a loyal Tracktion 2 fan, but V3 was unstable and completely neglected by Mackie.

    • Chris Roberts

      Julian Storer, the original engineer, owns and works on the product, once again. This should mean it will get the care and attention it deserves.

  • Dave

    Its good to see more and more powerful tools start coming out for Linux. As a Linux user I am extremely happy with what’s available (Renoise, Ardour 3, EnergyXT, countless LV2, LADSPA and DSSI plugins and soon enough Bitwig Studio) for Linux. I am definitely going to give Tracktion a shot.

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  • http://agargara.iiichan.net/ agargara

    Don’t forget to add a http:// to that Ubuntu link!

  • AutoStatic

    What is Ubuntu 12? 12.04, 12.10 or both? And Tracktion runs on a Core i5 but crashes on a Core 2 Duo even though the latter meets the system requirements (which do not mention Linux at all btw). But all in all great to see another DAW becoming available for Linux!

    • http://pkirn.com/ Peter Kirn

      Heh, good question. It makes sense to support LTS, so I hope it at least means 12.04; that’s the Ubuntu Studio version I’m currently recommending.

  • Axel

    I’m one of the people who used to love T2, then bought the upgrade from Mackie, got screwed over by them and finally settled Reaper which I have gotten to know and like in the between time. I think Tracktion on Linux is very good news. And Julian doing it again instead of incompetent Mackie is very very good news, although it might be too late for me.

  • YETI

    I’m not sure what I can do in this that I cant do in Live better (like clip manipulation, based on the tutorial videos they have on their site). I guess if I ever wanted that linux machine this would be a decent place to go.

  • Hansie Cronje


    Can you follow up on this article with a current state of audio hardware that will work on Linux? Last I looked, driver support for audio interfaces was hit or miss (mostly miss) on the platform. What is the attraction of digging through something like the ALSA project to see if anyone has tried an interface you’re interested in (or already have) to see if it “works” – works sometimes, works but doesn’t support this or that feature, etc. I think that may be the bigger issue. It’s nice to see Tracktion 3 on Linux, but the driver issue I think is what keeps most people away from the platform. After all, you already have Ardour and Rosegarden, etc. But free is still not enough to attract use of Linux.

  • Dubularity

    Tracktion was originally developed by Julian Storer – who provides a gorgeous cross-platform (Win/OSX/Linux/Android/iOS) framework called JUCE – see Raw Materials Software – http://rawmaterialsoftware.com/juce.php

  • http://melodiefabriek.com/ Marco Raaphorst

    like the way it looks. I love Linux but was never able to switch. I was more debugging problems than really doing anything. what I love is that most programs are more basic, with less options. millions of options are in the end not creative. but as for audio interfaces Linux is still a challenge I guess.

  • Odox

    Tried it under Ubuntu Studio but I was unable to get it to work with FFADO driver. My soundcard (Firewire Edirol FA-66) was not listed :-( under settings tab.