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.
[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 Audio.org consortium. You’ll find goodies like (finally) a project to bring FireWire audio interface support to Linux.