Linux For Audio Production

Although a huge number of professional musicians and audio producers use a Mac OS as their platform of choice, and the rest are sticking with Windows, a third option is now breaching the horizon – Linux.

Linux is an open-source platform, which means that anyone can access and modify the code. This may seem like a security nightmare to anyone used to the endless procession of virus threats associated with a Windows system, but in fact Linux is pretty much virus-free. If something isn’t working as it should, it may be a bug in the code, but a quick pit-stop in a forum will usually iron it out for you. Linux is essentially community-based, and there are hundreds of coders out there who are happy to help with any problems you might have.

Up until recently, there just haven’t been any audio applications available for Linux that could rival the likes of Pro Tools. This is set to change, now that applications such as Ardour, Wired and Rosegarden have begun to push the potential of Linux as a viable alternative platform for high-quality audio production. Despite a lack of corporate funding, the sheer enthusiasm and dedication of the programmers behind these projects enables them to evolve products that respond to user feedback in a very direct way, and their feature-sets are increasing by the week. Paul Davis is the instigator of the Ardour program, a DAW that provides an impressive array of features.

However, it may not be time to make the switch just yet. Jono Bacon is a musician who uses Linux for some of his audio production needs, but he advocates a cautious and informed approach – Linux is definitely not for the faint of heart when it comes to DAW implementation. A major problem for the platform is a lack of hardware support – hardware manufacturers generally do not cater to open-source platforms, and so compatibility is a big issue here. Usability is also a concern, as getting everything working properly may well require some fairly in-depth modifications of your system – things aren’t plug-and-play just yet.

I’m sure that quite a few musicians will be keen to get on the Linux bandwagon (so to speak) as soon as they feel it has everything they need. Personally, I would need to have a Linux version of Reason up and running before I make the change, but that may be some time away yet…

By the way, anyone who has a copy of Windows Vista will undoubtedly be wondering how to get rid of all those pesky alert boxes that pop up every time you move your mouse. This is amusingly called User Access Control (meaning you can’t use your PC) and it can be turned off – the downside is that you lose some ‘security’, but at least you do get to use your computer. To do this, turn User Account Control on in Control Panel, and then uncheck the UAC box. When you restart your computer, the UAC will be gone.


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