One open source DVD with an operating system and all the free tools you need for creative work, ready to run on any PC or Mac — it’s an interesting vision. That’s the idea behind Ubuntu Studio. Details are sketchy on development so far, but the basic idea is bundling together the tools you need on a single disc. One of the challenges of Linux has been installing all the various apps and dependencies, and it often takes a tweakhead to get the OS operating to its full potential. A quick look at what they’re planning on bundling suggests this could solve much of that.

Audio bundles include:

aconnectgui alsa-tools alsa-tools-gui ams amsynth ardour-gtk ardour-session-exchange audacity beast bitscope bristol cheesetracker creox csound denemo ecamegapedal ecasound fluidsynth freebirth freewheeling freqtweak galan gmorgan gnusound gtick horgand hydrogen jackbeat jackd jackeq jack-rack jack-tools jamin jdelay kaconnect kluppe lilypond-data lilypond linuxsampler lmms meterbridge mixxx muse mx44 om patchage puredata qamix qarecord qjackctl qmidiarp qmidicontrol qmidiroute qsampler qsynth rezound rosegarden4 seq24 shaketracker solfege sooperlooper soundstretch soundtracker specimen spiralsynthmodular supercollider swami sweep tapiir terminatorx timemachine timidity tk707 vkeybd xmms xmms-jackasyn xmms-modplug zynaddsubfx linux-lowlatency

There’s some good stuff in there: Ardour is the open source audio/MIDI DAW. Cheesetracker it a retro-styled tracker program. Hydrogen is an excellent drum machine. Rosegarden does notation as well as sequencing. And there are plenty of hard-core sound generation tools. I still think there are some major deficiencies when compared to commercial software (especially when it comes to choice of software instruments, notation tools, and the full range of music creation), which is why I’d like to see commercial apps make the leap to Linux for those who can afford paying for tools. But this still has a lot of appeal for democratizing computer music.

The bundles also include various plug-ins, down to even a modeled DX7 soft synth. You can find the full list on the metapackages breakdown.

Also interesting: they’re looking for contributors to build samples for the distro, since so many sampled instruments / soundfonts out there that are free are, admittedly, pretty lame.

My only real criticism here is that you could easily go into tool overload, since they’re distributing almost everything. But it’ll be worth trying when this comes out, and you can always choose what to install. (Hopefully they’ll do a reduced install with only the best bits for newbies.) More on this when it’s released.

Ubuntu Studio landing page / wiki

Via onetonnemusic

[Updated] See also:
pure:dyne, as seen here, a Linux distro/app bundle with special attention to Pd, Max/MSP’s open source cousin (and an Intel Mac version due any day now)

64 Studio, a 64-bit Debian-based studio. Like Ubuntu Studio, it’s built for both graphics and music, but unlike Ubuntu, there will be optional commercial (for-fee) support offered and there’s an emphasis on supporting 64-bit CPU architectures. A 32-bit version is available, as well. Thanks, Malte.

A good place to track all of this is at the Linux consortium. You’ll find goodies like (finally) a project to bring FireWire audio interface support to Linux.

  • bliss

    I thought about installing Ubuntu on my Mac but decides otherwise because I'm not familiar with compiling binaries which many warned me would have to be done in order to get it working up to my liking. But this new project looks great!

  • This does look nice. I love that Ubuntu is putting a specific effort in this area. Linux is a pain in the ass to learn how to use to its potential, as I can attest to personally.

    I look forward to trying this out, even though I'm unlikely to switch from my Windows XP / Cubase 4 system I'm running for music now.

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  • George Jeffery

    I'm not sure if you've posted this yet….but there's a similar idea (admittedly only for windows and Intel Mac) called pure:dyne

  • Also interesting is 64 Studio which gives me a good performance with latency around 2ms on a Turion Notebook in 64bit mode, but its available for 32bit architectures too.

  • <blockquote cite="George Jeffery">I’m not sure if you’ve posted this yet….but there’s a similar idea (admittedly only for windows and Intel Mac) called pure:dyne

    Its not "for" Windows or Mac, it is for x86 systems, which includes all PC's and Intel Macs.

    When I read your comment I thought pure:dyne was actually a Windows / Mac program!

  • I hope I didn't give that impression, Andrew — I think Windows and Mac users are only now waking up to the idea that they can run Linux and continue to run Mac OS X / Windows if they want. But, yes, absolutely — x86 PC hardware (with or without a Windows license!), x86 Mac hardware.

  • Peter, I was replying to George Jeffery!! Thanks for the info, love the blog.

  • Don't forget Studio to Go!. Also a Live CD and comes with the popular KDE as the display manager. In its second version. I review it here.

  • Don’t forget agnula, demudi, musix, dynebolic, pclos, gentoo-proaudio. the possibilities (and duplication) are endless.

  • can't leave out Planet CCRMA. the only thing more duplicated than linu-music-distros is praobly crappy-linux-stereo-wave-editors or proprietary-daw(protools/live/tracktion/sonar/logic/cubase/etc)

  • Yeah, this wasn't really intended as a roundup — but then, the more I thought about it, the more I've realized a roundup is exactly what we needed. (Especially as Computer Music magazine in the UK just ran a story but left out some important options, like Planet CCRMA.)

    For any of those of you who have actually used some of these (since there are so many options), I'd love to have your contributions, even if it's just a couple of sentences of impressions on your favorite.

    peter (at) create digital music (dot) com

    or try the contact form (which was down, sorry; we were disabling plug-ins while diagnosing server problems and I forgot to put it back in!)

    CDM Contact

  • Found your blog on a completely unrelated Google search. I like what you do here.

    Sadly, I don't think Linux will ever be able to catch up to the market for whom home digital studios are most necessary – those of us who need more than the digital equivalent of a four- or eight (or 64-) track tape machine. Where I live musicians are scarce and most of them have frighteningly disproportionate egos which means I get a better experience with, say, a drummer, out of Toontrack's EZDrummer instrument. And with things like IK Multimedia's Miroslav Philharmonik, I can have a very detailed, nuanced, and living orchestra part on a track in the time it takes me to play it on a MIDI controller.

    Whether Linux, Mac, Windows, or hardware (even cheap Tascam/Fostex multitrackers) you'll always get EQ and a few effects sends. Sadly, the motivation to go full digital now is the *good* extras – the channel-strip plugs that are supposed to sound like old Neve consoles, the orchestra and drum instruments, and even the licensed emulators of classics like the Korg Legacy Collection. The basics are there and I certainly, more than you know, appreciate the people working to make LiveDVDs so I can make music and not spend all my time tweaking and going through dependency hell. But the pressure needs to be put on the software companies – IK Multimedia, Toontrack, Waves, Antares, Tascam, Roland/Edirol, and the rest – to start developing Linux versions… you're never going to get a free or open source version of Miroslav Philharmonik, for example… there's just too much work and too many people who have to be paid for it… but I want a stable, solid platform onto which I can install new things that I don't mind paying for if I find I need them.

    Actually, perhaps the people who are involved with this stuff should contact the people at – the people responsible for the Receptor, which is a rackmount Linux-based hardware device that lets you load VSTi's on it. You find a way to do the same thing on a Linux studio LiveDVD and the battle of operating systems is over.

    Thanks for what you do here, and I hope to see enough progress made on the Linux side that digital audio companies will begin to take it very seriously. I can't afford enough of a Mac for serious music production so that I can be granted permission to run OSX; I've got my XP machines solid *enough*, but Linux would still be the holy grail for these things.

  • Mark, I appreciate your post. I don't think I want to argue with your overall tone at all. A couple of points of information though.

    First, the idea of an open source version of Miroslav Philharmonik is actually not as far fetched as you might think. About 14 months ago I was involved in negotiating with a very big name in large scale sample libraries regarding the development of a new sampler that they wanted to create that would get around issues they had/have when forced to work with Kontakt etc. Open source was the goal, and even though I eventually didn't participate in the effort, it did start up. I don't know at this point whether its ever going to be finished. The important point here is that its the *data* you are really paying for with something like MP, not the sampling engine. The sampler is the only thing that needs to be "open source".

    Secondly, the biggest issue of all in these matters is, sadly, money. It takes manpower to do linux ports (or even write new stuff for linux), and manpower means salaries. Nobody that is rooted in digital (except Digidesign) is really making very much money at all (just look at market valuations of Steinberg & Mackie, two of the most successful brands), and as a result, the idea that these companies would have the ability to start supporting/developing on Linux as well is a really tough sell. What we actually need from companies is not that *they* do stuff, but they stop acting so negatively towards Linux support created by the community. MOTU is a case in point. Its likely that in the next month or three, we will see working support for MOTU firewire interfaces on linux, but this has been done without one millimeter of assistance (and actually, with some considerable negative energy) from MOTU themselves. If Linux audio developers could stop having to worry about h/w actually working on Linux, it wouldn't be long before you'd see some amazingly cool software emerging from the unpaid open source sector, independently of what existing proprietary software developers are doing. Thankfully, both BridgeCo and TC (BeBob and DICE-II ieee1394 chipsets) seem intent on aiding Linux driver development as much as possible, and so its possible that this issue may slowly go away.

    Finally, I would point out that the other related issue is the silly level of proprietary "standards". The entire audio tech industry got boosted into outer space by the development of MIDI, but can you tell me of even *one* equivalently open standard that has been developed since then? Instead, we have a bunch of tiny companies fighting over the crumbs that Digi leaves on the table or floor, each convinced that their latest idea for (AudioOverIP | SampleLibraryFormat | NetworkSharing | LiveCollaborationViaIP | etc.) will be thing that will make them the Next Big Thing. Users get screwed big time, open source developers can't collaborate, and we continue in the stagnant technology vein that Digi has created for us over the last 5 or 6 years.

    In addition, users are balkanized by OS and preferred DAW, something which never had to be the case, and when something new and interesting comes along, people face huge hurdles in trying it if it clashes with their existing toolset. This is wrong, unnecessary and needs to change.

  • I'm very much looking forward to the release of UbuntuStudio. I used to have a stable Windows/Cubase set up, until I purchased new hardware preloaded with Vista. After that, nothing was compatible with anything else, rendering my studio pretty well dead.

    I'm going to try the UbuntuStudio over trying Studio To Go, only because, if for some reason Studio To Go doesn't work with my hardware, I don't want to shell out $98 US for something that is unusable.

    Does anybody know the exact release date for UbuntuStudio?

  • kalik

    nullfactor – a quick google search has led me to a release date of April 19th!

  • elis

    hm google led me to believe it will be the 18th.

    it amazes me how little i can find about the release date, first because a lot of people are talking about the release and secondly because the people who are working on it are bound to be online 24/7. hm. Maybe the have some really cool pact of silence. google does not have the answer to everything.

  • Andy

    Hey, just a quick post from a 'ubuntu' box. Letting all now that it is the BEST Distro I have ever tried, and I have had experince with debian, red hat, suse linux and many others. Ubuntu out of the box picked up my harware which is an audiophile 2469 from M-Audio. Newly installed, no tricks, I am listening to trance and posting this up in ubuntu on firefox. Truly awesome, oh and SPDIF recording on the M-Audio, shows up in the recording tool that comes with ubuntu. I just installed audacity, which does not ship with the standard install, and it was very simple. So I have a working audiophile box on ubuntu feisty in 2 days! Can not wait for the Studio!!

  • Trey

    "Hydrogen is an excellent drum machine." I agree with this statement… that is if it is comparing hydrogen to toothpicks/toothpick box drum machines.

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  • Eduardo


    which hardware can we use in ubuntu studio?

    i have a digi 002 and i need to know if i can use it in the ubuntu studio or if i can use protools in ubuntu…

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  • Hi i did enjoy the blog as well as topics i am looking forward to any updates thanks!