Making music on Linux
Trying to build a productive music-making environment as a Linux purist.
Initial setup, no matter what you will use later on
- The first thing is to get JACK working on your system. Arch Wiki page should have everything you need, also for non-Arch distros.
- QjackCtl is a useful GUI app for managing your JACK configuration, it comes packaged in most Linux distros. Use the "graph" view to configure your audio devices, this is incredibly useful when debugging audio routing which gets messy very quickly!
In my opinion, the most mature DAW available for Linux is Bitwig. It is somewhat pricey and is not open-source, however it makes up for it with its broad range of available synths, effects and other features. The UI feels snappy and very intuitive. On my personal machine I feel like Bitwig is 1.5-2x times faster than Ableton in "just doing the general DAW stuff".
If you feel more adventurous and would like to try a more experimental interface, Bespoke could be the DAW for you.
- Anything from U-he works on Linux and sounds great, but you'll have to pay for it. I especially recommend Diva
- Dragonfly Reverb is a good sounding reverb, which comes in multiple versions, modelling reverberation in various spaces
- Arch Linux's
pro-audiopackage group provides many VSTs (and other audio-related programs)
- Cardinal offers a wide of range of Eurorack module clones, my favourite being Mutable Instruments
- todo: write something about Modarrt
Novation's Companion software is built around Web MIDI API, so it works on any OS which can open Google Chrome (tested myself, unfortunately Firefox and Chromium do not work yet). This can get you around the limitations of OS-bound apps, which are unfortunately used by most MIDI gear manufacturers.
When picking a controller, first check whether it is supported by DrivenByMoss. It will get you an out-of-the-box full Bitwig integration, just like between Ableton & Ableton Push. I cannot recommend it enough!