The days of Linux being a barren plug-in desert may at last be over. And if you’re a developer, there are some other nice things happening to VST development on all platforms.

Steinberg has quietly rolled out the 3.6.7 version of their plug-in SDK for Windows, Mac, iOS, and now Linux. Actually, your plug-ins may be using their SDK even if you’re unaware – because many plug-ins that appear as “AU” use a wrapper from VST to Apple’s Audio Unit. (One is included in the SDK.)

For end users, the important things to know are, you may be getting more VST3 plug-ins (with some fancy new features), and you may at last see more native plug-ins available for Linux. That Linux support comes at just the right time, as Bitwig Studio is maturing as a DAW choice on the platform, and new hardware options like the Raspberry Pi are making embedded solutions start to appeal. (I kind of hesitate to utter these words, as I know that desktop Linux is still very, very niche, but – this doesn’t have to mean people installing Ubuntu on laptops. We’ll see where it goes.)

For developers, there’s a bunch of nice stuff here. My favorites:

cmake support

VST3 SDK on GitHub:

GPL v3 license is now alongside the proprietary license (necessary for some open projects)

How ’bout them apples? I didn’t expect to be following Steinberg on GitHub.

The open license and Linux support to me suggest that, for instance, finally seeing Pure Data work with plug-ins again could be a possibility. And we’ll see where this goes.

This is one of those that I know is worth putting on CDM, because the handful of people who care about such things and can do something with them are reading along. So let us know.


Thanks, Spencer Russell!

  • Wow, this is so cool! Got to see how it works in Ubuntu Studio or KX Studio. Linux is getting pretty mature.

  • pacyderm

    Man I can’t wait for my favorite plugs to be available in linux. Just need pro-c, valhalla room, and dune 2 and I’m all on linux.

    • Actually, this is “only” the SDK so far but good news anyway 🙂

      • Robin Gareus

        Actually not even the SDK.
        Only the plugininterfaces API is dual-licensed and available in terms of the GPLv3. The public.sdk is not.
        Still that’s very nice, as is the fact that LinuxVSTs are part of the official spec.

  • draeger

    yes! this is excellent news 🙂

  • post scriptum to understand the entity of this: Steinberg could prove as important as Netscape, when it understood Open Source and released Mozilla.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      Not really. Steinberg’s VST is a plugin API, not an application.

      • Hi Paul,

        premise: my longer comment, to which the above is a post-scriptum only, is still being moderated. That would give more context to my bold statement.

        I agree with you, they are two totally different markets, products and technologies. What I meant by comparing them, is that we are talking about a well established company like Steinberg and the standard for plugins (at least for the consumer market). This could lead the way for the other big companies in the audio/music field, possibly proving as important.

        my 2c

        • prokoudine

          I wonder how much you studied what is covered by the GPLv3 stuff. There was a brief discussion about that on #ardour. The outcome is that the new model merely allows making hosts VST3-capable, and that’s all.

          • Hi,

            I know about the 4 freedoms and the GNU and FSF history, beside Linux’s. I know GPLv3 is more binding than previous versions of the GPL, but I haven’t studied the license throughly and IANAL.

            I probably don’t understand what really means making a host VST-capable vs a different scenario too. What is the difference and what disadvantages does this have?

          • prokoudine

            Read the reply by Robin Gareus below.

  • James

    Steinberg should work with Canonical to make the DAW to end all DAW’s.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      They could just work with us (Ardour) since we already make a DAW that runs on all platforms, is open source, and is already the basis for 3 other commercial products (Mixbus, Waves Tracks Live and iZ’s Session).

      • James

        Or that ☝️. That sounds even better!

    • prokoudine

      Steinberg? The same guys who already have Cubase, Nuendo _and_ Sequel? They would make yet another DAW to end all DAWs? Oh good. And Canonical would provide their expertise in what, exactly?

      • James

        Canonical would make a Linux distribution tailored to the demands of a DAW. Think “Cubase OS” or something like that.

        • prokoudine

          Frankly, I find the trust in Canonical’s omnipotence extremely amusing 🙂 I realize this might sound kinda trollish though.

          • James

            OEM’s seem to like them (Dell, System76). But I don’t doubt that there are many other organizations that could pull off the same type of DAW working with Steinberg.

          • prokoudine

            Why do you think this would be a successful project?

  • steadistone

    For those of us, who have been using Linux since the early nineties waiting and waiting for production grade creative based applications to come to the platform, this is huge news. Hopefully, this will add to the momentum in audio on Linux that has been aiding by Bitwig’s earlier entrance and now Steinberg with their VST SDK on Linux.

  • yoma

    The VST SDK has been available on Linux for ages. That’s how JUCE allowed you to build cross-platform on Linux, Mac and Windows.
    The licensing model is new.

    • PaulDavisTheFirst

      That’s not entirely true. The old VST SDK didn’t define anything for the GUI side a plugin on Linux (well, even that’s not technically correct, but X11/Motif is so old as to be as close to “nothing” as you can get, really). So you could make plugins, but they could have no standard way of getting a GUI (“editor”) visible. To be fair, for VST2.x, this was true on OS X too, where Steinberg never caught up with Cocoa and continued to only include Ye Olde Carbon API for that platform. Cockos (Reaper) defined some non-standard extensions to allow plugins to say “hey, I have a MODERN Cocoa GUI”, but Steinberg never included them in VST2.

      JUCE worked around this by going beyond the VST SDK.

  • Shannon

    Good on Steinberg!! Can we please have the VST2.4 SDK on github as well?

    • Tekknovator

      Won’t happen. VST2 is dead horse tech. For those last hosts who are not yet compatible, VST 3 SDK can export vst 2 as well. And AU, and even AAX as well as inter app audio and standalone…

  • Max

    Who would have thought?

  • Will

    Honorable Mr. Kern, you have buried the lede. GPL! Way to go Steinberg!

  • Kristjan

    Does this mean VST-s on Android now ?

  • Kristjan

    Does this mean VST-s on Android now ?

  • Frank Lehmann

    Does that mean, we can have VST plugins on different CPU architectures? Or will it be X86/AMD64 exclusive?

  • Litvinov Max
  • Pongo

    Looking forward to seeing ASIO go GPL. Not so important on Linux, as JACK already has very low latency, but it would add consistency across platforms.