If you’re into hard-core patching of custom live visuals and music, you now have a dedicated Linux-based OS you can run with all the tools you need — free.

Ever wish you could leave your general-purpose operating system behind and boot into a pristine, low-latency, high-performance OS built for playing visuals and sound live? That’s the idea behind pure:dyne, a Linux-based (dyne:II) operating system. The OS just hit a stable release earlier this month, after making a showing at Piksel06, a conference on open source art-making/performance tools.

pure:dyne Wiki

Many of the tools included will be familiar to more advanced CDM readers: SuperCollider, cSound, and the distro’s namesake Pd (Pure Data) are all included. This should be a particularly tasty way to run Pd. Free of the configuration issues on Mac, Windows, and conventional Linux distros, you can just boot your Intel Mac or i686 PC into an OS pre-configured for Pd use, complete with a bunch of eye candy-generating goodies (PDP, PiDiP, Gem, GridFlow, RRadical, PixelTango).

For those not familiar with Pd — the open source cousin of Max/MSP — this could be a great way to try it.

Subliminal hint to the folks at Cycling ’74: here’s yet another reason you should port Max/MSP to Linux. Imagine being able to boot your own Max/MSP/Jitter operating system — or even a dedicated OS with the player, ready for gigs and installations. Okay, that wasn’t terribly subliminal. Think on it, won’t you?

Now, I will say I don’t think this is strictly necessary, as I’ve tuned Mac and Windows machines alike so I was pretty happy with performance. But once I had, I certainly couldn’t:

  1. boot from a USB key, CD, or hard drive on any machine
  2. set up a dedicated multimedia environment with someone else doing all the configuration and testing, and me just pulling a free torrent
  3. use an entire suite of sound and visual creation tools completely free
  4. modify the source of those tools if a project demanded it

Even if you’re not a programmer and don’t need that last item, the appeal is clear, and fits a unique niche. With this running happily off a key on your Windows machine or Mac, there’s not much to lose. I won’t get to play with this for at least a couple of weeks, but will report back when I do; if any of you have worked with pure:dyne, do let us know. (Screencast video footage or screen grabs = even better.)