I just picked up a $280 Asus netbook and installed Ubuntu on it. ReBirth seemed a perfect addition; its compact-sized UI, lightweight processing and memory requirements, and simple functions are the ideal companion to a netbook. And, thanks to Propellerhead, it also happens to be free.

If you stick with Windows, just download and go. On Linux, though, you have to give the installer some help to see the install disc. (Why install Linux? I’m finding Ubuntu is just fine for battery life, and I wanted to take advantage of the OS’ optimizations for netbooks and its flexibility for the work I do, audio and otherwise. Windows 7 Starter, by contrast, I found slow and painfully hobbled.) You’ll need WINE, a Windows compatibility tool, in order to run this Windows app in Linux without virtualization.

Here’s what to do, adapted from a forum discussion on the topic.

First, mount the disc. I’m assuming you’ve downloaded to a folder called “Downloads” in your home directory:

mkdir /files/media/rebirth
sudo mount -o loop ~/Downloads/rebirth*.iso /files/media/rebirth
wine /files/media/rebirth/"Install ReBirth RB-338.EXE"

The trick is, while ReBirth is free, it does check to see if you have the CD the first time you load it. Even though the disc is mounted, it’s not mounted in a way programs in WINE can see it. The fix: make a shortcut to WINE’s virtual “E:” drive:

cd ~/.wine/dosdevices
ln -s /files/media/rebirth e:
ln -s ~/Downloads/rebirth*.iso e::

That’s it. Now you can go enjoy some soft synth history. 13 years after its introduction and five years after it reached the end of its life, ReBirth is still a lot of fun. I hope we see software get longevity like this more often. (I plan to work out some other tweaks for my setup here, so I may add to this guide later; stay tuned.)

ReBirth Museum, with community, resources, and more
ReBirth port for iPhone, plus Q&A on that version

Anyone else running ReBirth on WINE? Other tips for netbooks running Windows or Linux? Shout out.