Renoise + Linux is a delicious combination.

Ah, there’s nothing like bleeding-edge laptop performance. And to really convey to your audience that you’re indeed playing live, there’s nothing like glitches, dropouts, and crashing in the middle of a live set. It brings that homespun, digital authenticity to your performance, as you…

Okay, who am I kidding? You may be longing for a more stable, predictable, controllable mobile music rig. One way to get there is with the Linux operating system. The problem, however, is that if you don’t know what you’re doing, that setup can wind up being less stable, not more stable. Because Linux is about freedom and endless choice, you have the “freedom” to combine software in ways that … uh, doesn’t actually work.

I’m all for continuing to document ways of improving your Linux experience. At the same time, part of the free software business model – even according to the die-hards at the Free Software Foundation – is that custom configuration and distribution is a reasonable way to make money.

The best-available plug-and-play Linux music solution right now, hands down, is Indamixx. It’s got basically everything going for it:

  • A highly-tweaked Transmission OS, as developed by 64 Studio
  • Based on Ubuntu, so you can install recent Ubuntu packages for maximum software compatibility
  • Carefully-tuned, custom real-time kernel for maximum audio performance
  • Bundled with some great proprietary software, too, specifically ArdourXchange so you can import AAF files from your Pro Tools session – making your free software and proprietary software coexist peacefully
  • LinuxDSP suite of mastering effects and plug-ins, specially tuned so they’ll work well even on Intel Atom-powered netbooks

The surprise: with the setup tuned in advance for you, Linux can be the friendliest out-of-box experience of any OS for music performance – seriously. Don’t get me wrong – it’s possible to get glitch-free performance out of Windows and Mac OS X, too. But Linux does offer a level of control and inter-application connectivity, as well as uniquely-strong performance on certain audio interfaces, that makes it a strong choice.

With tools like Pd and SuperCollider and the superb Renoise now on Linux, there’s no reason you can’t migrate your live performance rig to Linux – even if you choose to keep your production tools on another OS.

Normally priced at US$69, the Indamixx digital download is on sale for $49, and if you use sale code CDM, you get it for US$39. You have to purchase by January 19, and you have to use “CDM” as the code when you check out.


Ardour DAW running with the exclusive LinuxDSP plug-in suite.

What you need to run it: Any PC netbook or laptop (and even UMPC/MID machines) should work. Note that Macs are not yet supported in this release; they’re trickier to dual-boot, but that support should come in the future. (If you know what you’re doing, it is possible to dual-boot the Mac, and honestly if you know your way around EFI and drivers I expect you could even use this distro.)

I’m not getting any money out of this deal, but I’m hoping for something far more valuable – it’d be great to have a little community of Linux users here on CDM so we can share tips with one another. As with, frankly, any OS, compatibility requires testing and tweaking. (That’s true even on the Mac, with a relatively limited hardware selection.)

Indamixx Digital Download

There’s also a USB key version, though it’s just as easy to buy or reuse a USB key of your own and use that.

I can certainly say, having tried various Fedora, SUSE, and Ubuntu configurations, I think the Indamixx/Transmission setup is the most painless and audio-friendly out there.

  • Dave Smith-Hayes

    I didn't realize it was built on Ubuntu, I would have complained about proprietary drivers for NVidia chipsets and what not. That has always been a problem for Linux on my notebook…unless I use Ubuntu.

  • I just ran ubuntu netbook remix over the break and renoise ran lousily, even with the suggested tweaks on the renoise faq. Has anyone did any benchmark testing to see how much better this is versus regular ubunutu?

  • @Peter: I've been testing it without issue. I haven't tested Netbook Remix, only Transmission on netbooks and vanilla Ubuntu on my laptop.

    But can you please define "lousily"?

    I should be clear: this is Ubuntu-derived, and even borrows bits from Netbook Remix, but it's ** not Netbook Remix **. Changing the kernel, for starters, makes a big difference. 😉 They've done a lot of tweaking work in there.

  • Renoise runs fine for us on Transmission. To compare netbook remix results to Transmission isn't accurate.

  • Chris

    I love the sound of this, but I have OSX running nice on my MSI Wind and am struggling to find reviews for how well the OS actually runs. Could I expect better performance than I currently have?

  • Toshiba NB205

    Will all of this run smoothly on a Toshiba NB205, last year's model? I've never tried ubuntu on it but I'm curious.

  • Franklin S.

    $39 seems like a nice deal. I'm curious if you buy this package will the renoise license also work with xp or osx? Also is it easy to setup the dual boot without blowing a previous xp install away? My time is limited these days and I'm not sure I feel like reinstalling xp again.

  • @Chris: Well… honestly, if you're happy with your Mac-on-Wind performance, it's tough to say switching will be worth your time. 😉 On the other hand, Linux could be a good way to take advantage of certain tools. If you want a rough approximation before committing, you could try 64 Studio's free version. If you like that, it could be worth buying Transmission 3.0 for more polished versions of those tools. And while I haven't tried dual-booting Mac OS and Transmission (only Linux and Windows), it's definitely doable, too.

    Toshiba NB205 should work great.

    And yes, Renoise is working beautifully for me, so Peter, I expect that was some oddity of Netbook Remix's config.

  • Heuy Chris, Indamixx MKII SE ships on a private label version of MSI Wind U100. So it;s the same machine HW wise.

  • dirichlet

    I'm downloading Indamixx just now. I'll do a dual boot with Ubuntu Studio 9.10 which I use since 2008.

    I'll keep you updated with news and comparisons if you want…

  • So, I've been running Reaper on a netbook with XP & performance tweaks & getting pretty good results, but when I got the netbook I teetered on the brink of making it a Linux machine. The Indamixx site shows download & DUAL BOOT instructions; might this be the time to take the plunge? Is it really a dual-boot system after install, run XP for my mail/web/etc and run Transmission for music? Hmmm…

  • jg

    I hate to rain on this parade, but I wouldn't use Ubuntu for anything. Ubuntu is the distro of regressions (ie, updates break previously-working software). The big problem is that the bulk of Ubuntu repositories are software packaged/tested by Debian developers. Canonical devs just take those Debian packages and don't have the manpower to test them with the Canonical hacks (such as Upstart) that are done to Debian Unstable (upon which each release of Ubuntu is based). For example, the M-audio MidiSport drivers work great on Debian. They don't work on Ubuntu (due to Upstart breaking those drivers). And don't even get me started on Ubuntu's Pulse Audio setup.

    If you want a Debian-based distro, use Debian Testing. (What's great about Testing is that, unlike Ubuntu, Testing is a rolling release. You always get the most uptodate software as soon as the Debian devs package/test it. Not every 6 months like Ubuntu — and broken software at that). I use Debian Testing (with LXDE) live for my gigging music rig (running custom Linux music software I developed), and it works _significantly_ better than Ubuntu Studio did on the same rig.

    A _lot_ of people start with Ubuntu because everyone says it's for newbies. (That's really all empty PR. Most Linux distros are just as easy to install/use nowadays). But then they move to a better distro as soon as they learn that others are better tested/maintained, more stable, and definitely more customizable (especially for music purposes).

  • Toshiba NB205

    So, is it possible to partition and setup a XP/indamixx dual boot without reformatting the hdd and starting from scratch? Is there an easy way to clone my current XP Live 7 install and put it back on once I reformat? Sorry if these are obvious questions.

  • @jg: 64 Studio and Transmission are NOT Ubuntu. They're really best considered a custom distribution. They do have Ubuntu package compatibility, which can be convenient.

    I am going to give Debian Testing a try, though, as I share your skepticism about vanilla Ubuntu; I've tested it and been, how to put this charitably, less than thrilled.

    But this uses a different kernel, doesn't have PulseAudio — Transmission is really an audio distro, and that's a good thing.

  • we don't even have Pulse audio on our systems

  • dirichlet

    I cannot find Renoise on the just-installed Indamixx, sometimes the mouse freeze and the trackpad doesn't work. And I believe that the EnergyXT copy was registered…

    P.S. I'm using a MSI wind…

  • It's Ubuntu base but it's not Ubuntu… It's a trick we pulled so we can get the generic base portions/foundation AND synaptic repo for maintaining / updating easiness!

  • @dirichlet: Renoise is not pre-installed on this version of the suite. But Renoise — unlike JACK and some of the stuff that's pre-configured for you — is an exceptionally easy install. Not sure what your mouse problems are; that you should direct to Indaixx.

    As for the PulseAudio complaints, I hear them — and incidentally, they're not included on Indamixx, so it's not an issue — but I will say, that situation has improved. Fedora in particular has improved the PA install. Pro audio should be able to coexist with PA. Of course, I see a lot of Fedora users who are musicians still skip over PA and just focus on JACK and ALSA, which is absolutely fine — that serves our needs.

  • jg

    64 Studio used to be Debian-based. Unfortunately, the 64 Studio developer made the bad decision to switch the distro to Ubuntu-based, because he thought that this would get him newer software. He should have instead switched to basing upon Debian Testing, rather than Debian Stable, if that's what he wanted. Then, he'd have even newer versions of software than Ubuntu, plus better stability, more testing, more platforms supported, and more customization.

    It would be great if this site were to develop a good Linux music section. I gig at at least 4 times a week, and use Linux on every gig. But if what you're going to do is mostly promote Ubuntu as being the answer to Linux music making, then you'll be doing folks a great disservice. I've already gone down the Ubuntu route, and found it to be inferior to other Linux offerings.

    The latest kernel incorporates a lot of the RT patches, and along with the latest ALSA, I've found that it works plenty fine even without the full RT-patched kernel. Of course, Ubuntu doesn't have the latest. Debian Testing is more uptodate.

  • Kyran

    I'm a pretty intensive linux user, but I've never been able to get decent latency (like below 25 ms) with jack and my x-station on my kubuntu desktop. Not even with a realtime kernel.

    I'd love to switch my music production over too, but I can't get the performance I need out of it. And I don't want to have to reboot to get into my music production bit, otherwise I can just as well reboot into windows.

    I'm still going to give this a try though.

  • @Kyran: sounds like an audio interface issue. What's the audio interface, the x-station? I didn't even think that was supported. I've had good luck with NI boxes.

  • Dave Smith-Hayes

    To dive back to the first comments made, I found NBR was just garbage all together. I found that vanilla Ubuntu ran much, much better than NBR. But I'm using an EeePC 4G 700, and nothing really works too well on it.

  • Yeah, I've heard audio complaints about Netbook Remix before. Honestly, there's no real reason why you can't just run un-remixed Linux on netbooks. The big advantage of Transmission is that it switches off the extra UI stuff, goes to single-window mode, and does a few things you probably wouldn't do yourself — like the Atom-optimized LinuxDSP stuff. But I'm disappointed with Ubuntu's own attempts to make a "netbook" version. At least Transmission on an MSI Wind runs beautifully.

  • jg

    Don't use Kbuntu/Ubuntu/*buntu, and derivative distros if you're into music production. It totally defeats the purpose of switching from Windows if you want better performance. Why? Because the 'buntus are the Linux version of Windows.

    Take Pulse Audio. It isn't just an app API. It's also a daemon. What's a daemon? That's pretty much the Linux version of a Windows service. Do you know what happens to the performance of your Windows system the more services you run, and the more software you install? Well, the same thing happens with Linux daemons, and the heaps of pre-installed software on Ubuntu. Ubuntu is loaded up with services because Canonical has set it up to try to mimic Windows' all-things-to-all-people (and you got no choice) environment. In order to get back your performance, you have to do so many manual (often from a command line) tweaks, that you're better off instead choosing a distro like Debian Testing, whose installer gives you much more choice as to what to install or not. And heaven help you if you choose to customize Ubuntu, because when you start turning off those services Canonical heaps on its distro, things really start to break. If not immediately, then on a future update.

    For example, Pulse Audio has an ALSA emulation layer (and JACK too). It intercepts a program's use of ALSA, so now your music app isn't going directly to the low level audio API, but instead a (frankly, buggy) high level emulation layer. Yeah, the net result is that apps using ALSA and JACK seem to coexist fine with Pulse Audio (in the same way that Windows apps using the waveXXX API coexist with DirectX apps, because the wave API is now an emulation layer that essentially goes through DirectX's kernel streaming). But there goes the latency you thought you were getting.

    Yes, there are musical things Linux can do faster than Windows. But not if Linux is setup as inappropriately for music purposes as Ubuntu is. I use Linux on my gigs. But not Ubuntu. And I learned why the hard way.

  • @jg: Ubuntu has its flaws, but I'm not sure you have your facts quite straight. Most audio programs don't route through Pulse Audio; they work directly through ALSA and/or JACK. Also, just as on Windows, ironically, not every daemon is going to cause a performance hit or even be active.

    Anyway, we've gotten way off-topic. Part of the point of Transmission is to specifically tweak the distro for the things you might need and turn off everything else.

    I know people who are using Ubuntu for low-latency performance, along with other distros. Now, how much work they had to do to get there, that's another question — and worth asking, I agree.

  • apoclypse

    @IG: OSX has more services running at any given time than Ubuntu. All it takes is one line in a file to disable PulseAudio. Its a layer that does intercept audio signals because its goal is to present you with every audio stream on your system as a mixable element, just like Windows Vista/7. Its not always successful which is why people complain so much about it. Both OSX and Windows Vista/7 use services or daemons to do this.

    If you want more control over your Ubuntu install get the server version. You can install as plain an install of Ubuntu as you feel the need to.

  • jg

    I repeat: Pulse Audio has an ALSA emulation layer. (ALSA _is_ the low level API that _all_ other audio APIs route through. Well, except for OSS). The audio app doesn't even realize that it's going through Pulse Audio. The app thinks it's going through ALSA… but it isn't if Pulse Audio is running. You have to actually disable Pulse Audio to allow the app to use ALSA directly. Because of the complaints by musicians that PA was ruining their music software performance, Lennart added a new feature to the more recent Pulse Audio to try and get it to not do this to every app. But like with most PA features, it's just more bugs heaped on top of Linux audio.

    All Linux daemons are "active" until they actually terminate. I know. I've written a Linux daemon (for some specialized hardware). I assume by "inactive", you mean that the app is inside some "blocking" API call. PA is not inactive anytime it's running and there is audio happening. It's definitely something that a musician should concern himself with, especially if his main goal of switching from Windows is so he can get away from the all-things-to-all-people service/software-heavy environment typical of systems such as Windows… and the 'buntus. Remember that PA is _not_ intended for serious music use. It's a novelty audio mixer which its author refers to as "ear candy". It's meant for incidental audio use such as your browser's audio, or a video's audio playback — not serious, low-latency music use. In fact, it interferes with the latter.

    I don't know specifically what "Transmission" does to "cure" the Ubuntu failures. But I doubt it replaces such troublesome entities as Upstart (or the Ubuntu kernel couldn't even boot). See my previous complaints about Ubuntu software breakage. If Transmission employs a non-official utility that makes major changes to Ubuntu, that can be very dangerous, because Canonical tends to do a lot of screwing around with core components, without adequate testing. (Ubuntu is the distro to choose if you love regressions.) You'd be rolling the dice every time you install/update software from Canonical's repositories. Just look at the Automatix utility:

    And that one just installed codecs, and did some less invasive performance tweaks. It resulted in heaps of trouble when users tried to update their 'buntu systems.

    I recommend that folks instead choose a distro that officially offers more customization, such as Debian Testing, and make your customizations via the official means (such as using Synaptic to install a RT kernel on Debian-based distros). You'll have a whole lot less hurt in the long run.

    I'm all for more info about using Linux for music use. But let's not ruin it for musicians by not giving them some very pertinent info about things that may be of major concern. Just because you _can_ do a certain thing with Linux, doesn't mean it's the right/best way to do it, even if it's advertised as being easy for a musician to do. As a linux using musician, I learned that the hard way. You know that ability of Linux to do certain things several different ways? — It's a potentially deadly, double-edged sword.

  • jg

    No, no, no! Don't advise musicians to start with Ubuntu server. There's no GUI. When it finishes installing, you're staring at a command prompt window. You then have to manually install lots of components (such as your entire desktop) by typing text commands at the prompt. (And if you do something like install a desktop "meta package", you get all the Ubuntu extra crap automatically. Oh, and did you know that you _must_ install one of those desktop meta packages, or Ubuntu's update tool won't work? That's another thing I hate about Ubuntu. Its repositories are filled with meta-packages that haul in boatloads of useless crap. Just try and uninstall the "Bug Buddy" utility, a utility to report bugs to Canonical, and Ubuntu will uninstall your entire desktop meta package! Yikes! Oh yeah, and bug-buddy runs a daemon. Great, huh?)

    If you want to build up your Linux system from an initial command prompt, and make it a lean killer system, you want Arch Linux — _not_ Ubuntu server. (And the Arch wiki has a fantastic tutorial to guide you through the process — some of the best tutorials I've ever seen are on the arch wiki. Good luck with getting Ubuntu server there).

    But you don't want Arch Linux either if you're a total newbie to Linux. You instead want to download and burn the first DVD of Debian Testing (you don't need all the remaining DVDs of the set). Install that. And then use synaptic to install other software. I won't fool you. There's a lot more details to it than just saying the above. And it would be great if this site decided to cover Linux music use in that detail. (And I'd be willing to contribute). But if someone hands you a copy of Ubuntu Studio and tells you that this is going to make your life as a musician much better than using Windows or MacOS, run like hell in the opposite direction.

  • Oh, jeez, let's not start a distro war.

    Transmission is not Ubuntu, not in any of the respects that folks are describing here. Yes, there are risks taking advantage of adding the Canonical repositories, though not every package is going to make your computer explode. The goal of 64 Studio has been to get as much as possible tested. I actually talked to them about adding some stuff that was missing (like SuperCollider). They've got hard-working people there, and it's not the jungle that vanilla Ubuntu, or worse, things like that odd netbook remix.

    That said, claiming that you can't use Ubuntu (not Tranmission) because of its flaws is a little over the top; we've seen people doing it. It wouldn't be my first choice.

    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Fedora. It's a great distribution, and it has exceptional support in the form of Planet-CCRMA. When I last asked him, it was the distribution Paul Davis was running. Red Hat are doing a *lot* of the work on the Linux kernel, for one, regardless of the distribution you're using.

    Fedora has had hit-or-miss versions, to be true, but F12 looks really friendly; I'm testing it now.

    I don't mean to be cranky, I just don't want the conversation to devolve. You have my word that CDM is not going to be going out advocating vanilla Ubuntu, because I've been burned by the thing, too. 😉 But I've tested Transmission enough to be impressed, and I agree with all you commenters here — let's get solid, actionable, usable, musical advice out there that's based on facts, not hype. I'm game, for sure.

  • empolo

    I run Renoise on Fedora 12 along with the Planet CCRMA packages which provide a real-time kernel, LADSPA plugins, JACK, pd, supercollider, etc. Under F12, PA runs alongside JACK. The way I understand it, when JACK is invoked, PA "pauses" and hands control over to JACK and then resumes when JACK is stopped. No need to seek out PA and kill the process or uninstall it – it just works. If you are running or considering running Fedora for your audio applications, Planet CCRMA is the way to go IMHO.

  • jg

    If someone likes the 'buntus, so be it. Personally, I think that they're buggy/unstable, tend to subvert standards with poorly-documented and incomplete software (such as replacing SysV with Upstart), use way too many Debian packages without testing them (such as breaking the MidiSport packages, among many other regressions), have an enduser base that gives some of the worst advice/solutions I've ever read (if you want a real, working answer to a Linux problem, you want to talk to a Debian, Gentoo, or Arch user), and in general are vastly overrated/overhyped. As an ex-Ubuntu user/musician, and user of several other distros (ie, I've also tried and rejected Ubuntu Studio and 64 Studio), I think it can be of some real value to give my opinion to other potential Linux-using musicians. And I'm giving specific criticisms with specific examples. I learned the hard way. Not everyone else has to.

    Unless Transmission has ripped out Upstart, tested all of those Debian packages in the Ubuntu repository for regressions, employs a customization procedure that itself won't cause regressions to the Ubuntu update process (like Automatix did), and has its own enduser base that is a lot more knowledgeable than Ubuntu's base, then I have to say I wouldn't recommend it for musicians.

    Good luck to these guys trying to take a distro base that isn't put together for the intended purpose, and trying to hack it into shape (while still relying entirely upon that distro and its repos). But I think musicians would benefit a lot more if these guys instead joined up as offical devs packaging any needed audio apps for some (very customizable) distro's official repos, or offered tutorials about setting up the distro for music use. I know it isn't easy. (And it's harder to make money off of it). But it serves musicians better, and someone needs to say that.

    As for Fedora, yes Redhat is really closely tied to kernel dev (much moreso than Canonical). And like Ubuntu, it's fine for people who just want a pretty installer to setup an all-things-to-all-people service/software-heavy environment for surfing the web, sending email, writing an office doc, etc. But like Ubuntu, it's not a music distro, and takes a lot of hacking to get even close to that. Not only do you have to add software, you also have to rip a lot of stuff out of it (such as PA), and then fix up the broken parts as a result of doing that. (Note that Fedora has also taken to using the very not-ready-for-primetime Upstart). From my experience, it's better to start with a "leaner" base distro which offers a lot more customization during the install. And you want a distro that works well with upstream devs (ie, not Ubuntu), so you encounter the least problems with that "esoteric music stuff". I've tried OpenSuse, Fedora, Ubuntu (and its cousins), Mint, Arch, Debian, and many others. Arch is great for customization, but can be tricky to setup. The best bang for the buck, for a musician, I think is Debian Testing. It even beats all of the "boutique" music distros. The (incredibly plentiful) software in the repository works. It's really simple to install what you need with Synaptic, such as a RT kernel. There's really good, knowledgeable help. The emphasis is on testing and quality control, rather than on wallpapers/themes and incomplete novelty stuff like Pulse Audio. It's totally free. And as one of the oldest surviving distros, it's not even controlled by some business entity that decides it's not making enough money and needs to pull the plug on its distro. (Note: Canonical, the maker of Ubuntu, still ain't making a profit after all these years).

  • dirichlet

    I've tried a little Transmission and there are some little thing that could be unpleasant for a Linux user:

    First of all the notebook remix interface is the worst ever. I prefer the standard Gnome, I feel free to customize it, the notebook remix is a sort of jail.

    Then the documentation provided with Transmission OS consist in a long mail with a lot of refs to PDFs, archives and so on. Unfortunately these PDFs are fragmented, repeated and a little confused. Should be better a unique, long doc with all explanations, not a quickstart guide, first guide, a presentation letter, a little faq, an introduction to the OS, and all the other guides/docs.

    The latency seems good with Renoise and energy, but I've not tried them intensively. Unfortunately they're not registered and both must be downloaded from links provided (as most other software) in the confused welcome email.

    The Ubuntu control center is very incomplete and most programs are missing and cannot be installed from apt-get (there's only the 64studio repos in /etc/apt/sources.list).

    At the first the MSI Wind touchpad didn't work but after a reinstall all seems ok.

    The "Logout" button permits only to logout but the autologin immediately return the user to the desktop so if I want to shut down the PC I must press ESC very quickly, block the autologin procedure and choose shut down from the GDM login screen.

    Another very very bad thing is that the user is not a choice on installation: it uses a "trinity" user with password trinity, with no password on sudo commands. Oh, and the SSH daemon is running, so anyone can login in a Transmission OS and do whatever he wants…

    I'm not satisfied…

  • RayFlower

    Nice to see Gnu/Linux getting some attention here, but i don't really see myself switching back to liinux anytime, at least not for music, and its not like there is a whole lot of commercial pro plugins available "yet" anyway.

    If you are new i guess its not a bad idea to use pre built releases but i personally have had the best experience with gentoo when it comes to customizability and stability throughout longer time(same install 2005-2009), without getting the dependency hell apt and rpm is just too well known for.

    Also its pretty handy to know how to compile your own kernel for maximum optimization and all the bells and whistles you need for "audio" performance, if you chose debian server or whatever other lite distribution that is just optimized for normal use you would most likely like to compile your own kernel anyway.

    (its not hard as long as you RTFM)

    One thing though, commercial linuxes are usually just a scam, with the exception of the trust worthy long running distributions where the only advantage you get is customer support.

    But again, its nice to have something that works nice out of the box, but don't count on it to not break during updates once in a while.

  • @jg: Ubuntu provides a far smoother, CONSISTENT UI than any other edition of Linux. I'm no newb, but the one thing I absolutely abhor about Linux-based windowing systems is that running apps – heck, even configuration panels – can look wildly different than others.

    Ubuntu, and Canonical, have done a fantastic job of making a distro that Just Works. Fine, you're obviously a geek with too much time on your hands, and you prefer the bleeding edge. But people like you fail to understand the REST OF US just want to Get Stuff Done and don't care about being on the "bleeing edge". Those of us that want to make music want an out-of-the-box experience that Just Works. However "old" the software is.

  • I'm very happy with my ubuntu. I also administer some fedora machines at work. They're different but equally great imo.

    My x-station should work. It's a class compliant usb audio interface. But maybe I should try jack with another audio interface just to make sure. I'd really love this to work 🙂

  • I have tried both Ubuntu Studio and 64 Studio but couldn't get a desent latency with Jack + a lot of stability issues with Jack on both distro's (RT kernel installed + tweaks for RT performance). I use an onboard sound chip and can get decent latency on Windows with the Asio 4 all driver. I wonder if Transmission will give me good latency.

    @jg: maybe I'll try Debian Testing. Is that easy to install (with RT kernel and tweaks)? Are all the programs that are in the Ubuntu Studio distro also available in the Debian Testing distro? And what's the difference between Debian Testing and Debian Stable? Is Testing… euh… stable enough?

  • dirichlet

    @Benny: The package stability is a particular concept for a Debian developer: get a look

    for rt kernel installation:

  • @Kyran: it *should* work. But sometimes the actual class-compliant implementation on the hardware has issues. I had forgotten Novation did class compliance on the X-Station before dropping it on a lot of their subsequent hardware (like the ReMOTE). And I even had one. 😉

    @Benny: what audio interface?

    I've gotten Fedora up and running here, which turns out to be the easiest way I've found to support proprietary video drivers and the rt kernel at the same time. If anyone's interested, I can post instructions.

    @Casimir's Blake: I have to disagree. Most of the consistency in the UI in Ubuntu comes from GNOME. I'm looking at Fedora right now and, aside from a few minor details, you'd be hard-pressed to tell the two apart, unless you're thinking of some specific instance.

    @jg: Fedora works perfectly well as an "audio" distro; it's no less an audio distro than Debian is. Debian is a fantastic distro with a really robust approach to stability, and that has occasionally made Fedora a bit flaky. But the Planet CCRMA people have gotten Fedora working really well for sound.

    @RayFlower: you don't necessarily have to compile your own kernel. In fact, one reason I found myself doing it in Ubuntu was because the kernel development on Ubuntu, particularly on the rt branch but even on vanilla, is so screwed up. The 64 Studio kernel works just fine, and the rt kernel maintained by CCRMA for Fedora does, as well.

  • This is an interesting post. I have been looking into building a custom linux distro for my music students covering a few simple things like Ardour, some notation software (Muscore comes to mind, with lilypond as a alt), Open Office, and, most important I think, a file for each class they take with me containing the materials they will need (pdf books and assignments, audio files, Pd files, etc). My goal is to hand students a flashdrive at the beginning of their time here with everything they will need, trying to save them money, grief, and having to find a way to bring in their work since they each have different software and cpu’s.

    The problem I have is simple customization, and it looks a Fedora build with Planet CCRMA may be the way to go. I like the Indamixx idea (and may run it myself) and requiring students to purchase that versus a book seems like an interesting concept.

    What do you all think of the idea? Any pointers would be great.

  • @tohm: To me, Fedora is the strongest option for what you're describing. Not only that, but they've done a lot of the work that you're describing as far as the tools you might use for learning.

    Also, Fedora right now I believe has uncommonly strong support for booting from USB on the Mac.

    @dirichlet: FWIW, I agree with all of your criticisms (well, minus the trackpad issue, which I haven't seen personally, but am also referring to the developers). I had articulated some of these issues, but I'm forwarding this thread, too. I think the business model they've got is an interesting one, and I do think it could work — they need feedback exactly like this in order to improve.

  • dirichlet

    @peter: I'm in touch with their creative director that has been quite useful for me to resolve some of the problems (most of times repeating: "read the email" (the confusing one)).

    I agree with the business model and I'm very happy if someone begins to think to Linux as a serious Windows/Apple alternative in the digital music scenario, but if I use 64Studio I'm prepared to fix all by me errors and tweak all necessary software. If I pay a price for a product (and is a mid-level price) I want to be sure that also the documentation and the support are good, especially on a Open Source business.

    However I'm installing on side a Debian with jack, RT kernel and so on. A comparison would be useful for all…

  • jg

    Debian Testing is essentially the next Debian Stable… as soon as all the remaining known critical bugs are worked out of it. Once that happens, this version of Debian Testing becomes the current version of Debian Stable. From then on, nothing changes about Debian Stable, except for any needed security updates (until the next iteration of this cycle). Debian Stable remains with those versions of its software programs. (And there can be a long time between Stable's releases. Debian devs don't like to release buggy stuff. Other distros aren't so concerned about that, which you'll realize if you google on what distros get the most complaints about releases. Sometimes the Linux's "for humans" aren't so nice to humans). Meanwhile, Debian Testing now moves on to include even newer updates of those software programs as the Debian devs/packagers add them.

    The great thing about Debian Testing is that it's a "rolling release" (unlike Debian Stable, and unlike the 'buntus, or Fedora). This means, at any time, you can open a command prompt window, and type:

    apt-get update

    And _all_ your software is updated to whatever newer versions have been added to the Debian Testing repos. These are the versions that Debian devs/packagers have tested with Debian Testing to determine the software works with, _at the very least_, no more bugs than the previous versions. (But usually, the new versions contain bug fixes and new features).

    If you think that Ubuntu is "stable", then you'll have absolutely no qualms about the stability of Debian Testing. After all, Ubuntu is based upon Debian Unstable, which is the _less stable_ version of Debian Testing.

    Contrast this to Ubuntu's "update". What you get is security updates, but not the newest Debian software. You get that only at 6 month intervals. And Ubuntu is based upon Debian Unstable, which are the versions that still contain more bugs than the older versions (which is one reason why Ubuntu is so unstable. The other reason is that Canonical does some hacks to Debian Unstable, such as replacing SysV with Upstart, but doesn't have the manpower to then go and test all those packages they grab from Debian and see if they still work with those hacks. That's why, for example, I could install the Midisport drivers from a vanilla install of Ubuntu using Synaptic and discover "Upstart broke this package". And obviously no Ubuntu dev even checked it because all they'd have to do is just install it and attempt to use the software _once_ to see that this package, which works in Debian, doesn't work _AT ALL_ in Ubuntu).

    As far as the UI goes, Canonical doesn't make that. The Gnome devs do. Debian Testing with Gnome looks and functions the same as Ubuntu, except for a different wallpaper (and Canonical adds some piddly crap like their "Add/Remove Programs" thing. Yeah, just what you need. A different version of Synaptic that omits _most_ of the software available for Linux, and is no easier to install software with). People who think that Canonical makes the Ubuntu UI have been vastly misled. (Canonical likes to trumpet that they make Linux "fit for human beings" when it is actually outside devs who do all the heavy lifting. The very same devs' work appears in almost all other distros. Canonical is notorious for not giving credit to the people who really do the work. And apparently, Ubuntu endusers actually think that the Gnome desktop is somehow exclusive to Ubuntu — as if, when you install Gnome on Debian, for example, you aren't going to see your two panels, with menus items like Administration and Preferences with all the same GUI utilities, Synaptic GUI to install new software, newly installed software automatically appearing under an appropriate menu item, etc. Always verify anything an Ubuntu user tells you with the user of another distro, to determine accuracy).

    There's a lot, lot more that can be said about Linux (and for Linux music use). And unfortunately, some of the stuff said is not so detailed and accurate, even coming from certain Linux users. Yes, there _is_ a Linux hype machine. You have to be really careful about the info you get. If you want really accurate and detailed answers, you definitely want to talk to Gentoo, Arch, and Debian users. But most of all, you want to hear specific reasoning and examples, and avoid the general hype/PR (especially around one particular Linux distro which is notorious for that).

    I learned all this stuff the hard way. Hopefully, this thread on CDM will help people to avoid that, if they want to try Linux.

  • empolo

    "But like Ubuntu, it’s not a music distro, and takes a lot of hacking to get even close to that. Not only do you have to add software, you also have to rip a lot of stuff out of it (such as PA), and then fix up the broken parts as a result of doing that"

    I'm sorry but that is utter BS. It takes nothing more than a fresh F12 install and the addition of the Planet CCRMA repositories. Like I said before, with F12, you don't have to remove anything – a lot of attention has been given to PA/JACK/ALSA interoperability and with each subsequent release, the situation has improved.

    Not trying to start or continue any distro wars but I work with Fedora daily. Maybe your experience is/was different but some of the generalizations that you are making are false.

  • For what it’s worth the real time kernel on kubuntu karmic gives me absolutely no problems with the closed ATI video driver.

    Honestly I don’t think this is an or/or discussion. If people don’t agree with cannonicals way of doing things they have other options like fedora, debian or even suse. The latest ubuntu (at least in kde land) is a very solid release. It’s the first one in 4 years where I didn’t have to fix some minor niggle. Even the rt kernel is great (which wasn’t always the case).
    Likewise the latest fedora also rocks the house.
    One will always have an advantage over the other, but the flag constantly changes possession and the competition really works in pushing the “industry” forward (not in the least because they can use each others improvements). Fedora focusses on the kernel and hardware support, ubuntu focusses on usability (sometimes over stability), but the improvements of one will make it into the other eventually. You can use the one which best suits your ideas and usecases, but that’s the beauty of the entire open source thing isn’t it?

  • @Kyran: Amen.

    Also, for those not accustomed to Linux, it’d be easy to assume mistakenly from this thread that these are radically different operating systems. These details are all really important, which is why people are so impassioned, but the heart and soul of the OS, UI, and key free apps for us music folks (like Pd, SuperCollider, JACK, and Ardour) are all shared and in turn built on common tools and shared work. Even when you get far afield from standard desktop distributions to something like Google’s Android phone OS, you’ll find I think a surprising amount is familiar under the hood. It’s one of the great achievements of modern tech that GNU, Linux, and the like have been built on shared, common work. It’s ironic to me that people will diss either the big players (like IBM) or the individual hobbyists, too, when both have been on equal footing when it comes to solving problems.

    I don’t want to sound overly Polyanna-ish. On the contrary, I think in the midst of people railing about OS choice (not just here, but generally) and philosophical babble a lot of people don’t understand (again, on all sides of the issue), it’s easy to miss what the actual tech is and does.

  • Chris

    I came in here to get the heads up on a deal, because I’m curious, but all it’s done has reinforce my doubts.

    Way to sell Linux to me, people.

  • @Chris:
    Remember, if you got an impassioned group of Mac or Windows users, you’d see similar sniping / complaints. An OS is a complex thing.

    We’ll have a better look at how you might actually use Linux and how to make it painless… after NAMM.

  • empolo

    Hey Chris —

    I don’t think anyone is trying to sell anyone else on Linux. You really have to try it for youself. We could tell you that it’s the greatest thing since side-chaining but the only way to know for youself is to give it a run.

    Don’t let the back and forth get to you – we’re all passionate about Linux and that ultimately will lead to a differences in opinion. But what stands true is the community around the Open Source model and that is ultimately what counts. Music production has come a looong way on the Linux platform.

  • I stand corrected re: Ubuntu / Gnome. But still I have yet to encounter another distro – whether using GNOME or not – that has been as consistent as Ubuntu. There's a huge amount of forum posts for it, a large fan base, which also helps make it a little easier to learn.

    Chris has proved the point: he sees a load of geeks arguing about UIs, compiling, kernels and all sorts of technical bollocks that he – quite rightly – probably doesn't want to care about. I build and service PCs for a living, and I've quickly realised one of the oft-made mistakes poor technicians make, is not realising when to shut up about jargon. People don't care, they just want to Do Stuff. And for those that want to do that on Linux, Ubuntu is currently one of the easiest – and in my experience also reliable – options.

  • jg


    Linux may or may not be your cup of tea. In fact, if someone "sells" you Linux by making you think it's something entirely different than, or better for your needs, then what you'll ultimately conclude for yourself, then you're gonna hate it. Never talk to a salesman if you want the real dope on whether something is what you want/need. Instead, talk to the experienced enduser who will give you plenty of details about the "product" (including aspects that may be counterproductive for your needs. You _want_ to know that stuff too).

    I'm not a Linux "salesman". I'm also not a Linux advocate. I'm just a Linux-using musician and developer. Some Linux users are "salesmen". They'll sell you snake oil just as fast as any other salesman. Beware them.

    When I get some free time, I'm going to see if I can put together a "So, you're a musician and you're wondering about this Linux thing?" type of tutorial and submit it to Peter. (Of course, the tutorial will not tell you everything you need to know. But it will be a start). If you know so little about Linux, that you don't even know whether you want to try it, then you need an article like that. You don't need an announcement about a deal on a Linux commercial product, and such an announcement should _not_ be used to determine whether Linux is something you may want to try, or not. If you're a smart consumer, a sales pitch should pique your interest, but do nothing more until such time as you seek out more info from unbiased sources. A salesman should never be able to sell you something. Rather, only you should be able to buy something. There's a big difference.

  • this again?
    whats with all the advertisement-and-no-content posts peter?

    Indamixx is trying to sell linux :p

  • Chris

    Sorry, I should have made my point more clear, I was a bit short with it; I didn't mean to tar anyone with any brushes here. Everyone is entitled to their views, the thing is, having to wade through the distro debate to get to the valuable info every time I try and get into Linux brings me down.

    It's not so much the arguing – I myself have joined in a few mac/pc debates – it's the point Casimir's Blake made very eloquently for me; There's a certain level of geekery I'm prepared to dive in to, and at the moment linux has slightly too much of it.

    When I was young, I loved spending time fighting my windows installation trying to get the early incarnations of cakewalk pro audio to work, and indeed I quite enjoyed the time I spent doing it. I learned many useful skills as a result, but I'm too busy these days to induldge in command line trickery, and one of the most valuable things I did learn is that time is my most precious possession.

  • For everyday use any of the distro's mentioned here will most likely work out of the box without any trickery whatsoever.

    Getting good low latency performance will require some more messing around (as it does on windows for the non initiated), which is one of the reasons you can buy indamix.

  • beatniks3

    I like these linux articles as well, i'll still have to try transmission but i wanted to add an additional voice to the fedora/planet CCRMA distro. it's great, easy to install, and works flawlessly with RT kernal.

  • my 2 cents…I got a mac triple boot…using EFI…since one year now…no worries.

    Ubuntu feels like Vista on Linux (or MacOSX…same shit this days)…for sure…

    Really keen to dump the rotten apple ASAP…but this Idamixx is just a gimmick for the lazy ones, I expect many tutorials from G. Bravetti on it in the next future….def not buying it.

    JG…it sound that you are the one to read here…pls post your tutorial asap…I am really interested to read that than this salesman stuff.

    well fu##ing said :

    A salesman should never be able to sell you something. Rather, only you should be able to buy something. There's a big difference.

  • Why not promote PureDyne from

    It is also performance tuned distro packed with free software.

    InDamixx may be better, but selling free software does not look like a good idea for me.

  • Pingback: Indamixx/Transmission OS 3.0 « Linux Create()

  • I'm all for IndaMixx and other Audio-focused distros doing the work to set things up for just-wanna-play style Musicians who nevertheless want nice, new tools.

    I just wish the hardware were better.

    My personal Linux-audio DAW is a big, fat, nicely tweaked and tuned and configured Ubuntu Studio machine with Firewire Audio (Presonus) and it works very well, although I do admit it took a fair bit of work on my part to get it stable and slick.

    The effort, though, is worth it .. not much goes on with my machine that I don't know all about, and thats a good credential for competence when the creative juices get flowing, too ..

  • Here's an honest/independent true story for you.

    I'm 22, live in Liverpool (UK) and have been doing all sorts of music making + production + composition + performance ever since time began (that is, since i was 12).

    been using linux for the last 3 or 4 years or so, dabbling mainly with ubuntu, fedora + pclinux (+ more). On this netbook (Acer Aspire One, atom 1.6 cpu, 160gb HDD, 2gb ram) i put Ubuntu on it, realtime kernel, and various music apps from Ubuntu Studio – needless to say performance choked. was ok for using pre-recorded audio and (very) little DSP, but otherwise couldnt do much at all with it.

    Instead of reverting xp (which some people say is ok for music on a netbook) i bought the download of Indamixx.

    I don't use the Ubutnu repo (except for when i installed open office + GIMP) because Indamixx comes with what i wanted aside from the music stuff – firefox, skype, wine (which all work without fuss).

    Audio performance on the netbook is brilliant now – Korg NanoKey for triggering VST's (that synth in EnergyXT is worth the $49 in it's own right) and a tiny usb interface (2in/2out UGM96) for audio.

    Overall a great portable system with a solid OS that works without any configuration needed.

    Also, good OS support too from Trinity Audio, though the forum (national beats association) is a bit empty at the mo.

    Hope my 2 cents helps

  • After reading this post I was tempted to give Indamixx a try myself. I've been using Linux for over 7 years now but never actually tried to move my audio work to the platform because no matter what distribution I used there's always a catch (be it outdated version of the programs, or bleeding edge incompatibility ;-)). After Gentoo I've been using Arch Linux for the past two years and it's not a comfortable route if you decide to run a realtime kernel which also supports my Asus Eee 1000H and all it's quirks ;-). So Indamixx sounded about right.

    However, some of the comments here drove me away from the idea of trying Indamixx – that – and the fact that I was still waiting for the new puredyne release. And tada: it was released just two days ago and I gave it a shot.

    I can wholeheartedly recommend it so far. Everything works out of the box (except some Fn keys my Asus is fully working including hybernate etc. .oO). The distribution comes with all you need for audio work, however, you won't find everything Indamixx provides there as well.

    I've also installed the latest Renoise release which works fine (some of the demo songs wont play because the machine itself is just too weak – but hey it's a netbook). I didn't try EnergyXT though. (side note: PureDyne itself is based on Ubuntu and Debian Live).

    So I agree with @ReverbRick – it would be nice to read more about PureDyne here every now and then. I think this distribution is really at least as impressive and easy to use as Indamixx.

    Also, it's a Live Distribution – it's dead easy to try. Just burn the iso and boot into the system.

  • la_tristesse

    Hello folks,

    I recently purchased a digital download of indamixx and would love to install it to my dellmini9, since this netbook havent got a cd drive I'm forced to install the os over USB-Stick. Im something familiar with this procedure but this time I need a hint. I try to clone the iso-image via unetbootin ( but I didn't work properly because I dont know on which linux distribution indamixx exactly is build on (e.g. ubuntu 9.04 live). Did someone manage to make usb-bootable device out of the iso from indamixx 3.0?

    Cheers Tristan

  • jasonic


    It's easy to use unetbootin. The first option to select a named-known distro from drop-down menu is just that – an option which links the app to download directly an iso install image.

    But if you' ve already downloaed one, then just slect the other option and point directly to your file. No need to specify further. The .iso you have downloaded and Unetbootin should take care of the rest.

    Unetbootin is very useful, but another great tool to check out is LiLiUSB [LinuxLiveUSB]

    It is similar, but makes it easier to setup persistence if you run on a USB 🙂

    With a portable Virtualbox feature as well

    Great post and lots of useful info in some of these comments. Hard won musical/artist reports and experience of distros is so valuable. Easy to be overwhlened bygeek evangelaism on purely linux sites. More on this topic please.

    I've been very taken with CRUNCHBANG LINUX.

    sweet fast elegant little distro..
    Has anyone really put it through its paces musically?

    Thanks Jason

  • koko

    I've been trying to setup a live synth rig based on Linux, but I've found it hard.  First, my audio interface isn't supported by Linux (Phonic 302 USB), which I might sell and get a different one.  But then something I would wanna get to replace it, like the Novation Xio Synth, isn't listed in ALSA project as supported either (although it's class compliant, which is supposed to work in Linux without drivers even).  I'm also foreign to the linux audio software, though I'm not scared of learning it.  Then there's the question of which distro (I've found PureDyne to be a good option).  I haven't been getting much mileage, though I'm going to try on.  Any help?

  • It's great to read something that's both enyjoalbe and provides pragmatisdc solutions.

  • Claude

    I tried the indamixx “solution” and got my laptop killed by a bad kernel that was in the download. Don’t trust  indamixx. It looks good and I wanted it to work so bad ( so I could get away from windows ) but after several e-mail correspondences with Ron (owner of indamixx) and 2 downloads that I paid for ( He offered a 3rd for free but I declined ) I am left with about 600.00 in losses ( dead laptop and unusable software ). I am still working on recovering my laptop. This was crippling to me as I am a poor working stiff. If you got money to waste go for it ( there may be some set ups that it will work on but I am finding more and more bad experiences on the web from others with even worse issues )

  • Claude

    I tried the indamixx “solution” and got my laptop killed by a bad kernel that was in the download. Don’t trust  indamixx. It looks good and I wanted it to work so bad ( so I could get away from windows ) but after several e-mail correspondences with Ron (owner of indamixx) and 2 downloads that I paid for ( He offered a 3rd for free but I declined ) I am left with about 600.00 in losses ( dead laptop and unusable software ). I am still working on recovering my laptop. This was crippling to me as I am a poor working stiff. If you got money to waste go for it ( there may be some set ups that it will work on but I am finding more and more bad experiences on the web from others with even worse issues )