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Audio software renaissance on Linux? DAW Software
Old 5th April 2017
  #1
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Audio software renaissance on Linux?

A couple of tech news stories have caught my eye recently. I've not seen anybody else talk about it so I thought I'd drop it in here.

First off, Steinberg has open sourced their VST SDK with a new Linux "preview". The repo is up on GitHub: https://github.com/steinbergmedia/vst3sdk

Secondly, there is this article. UAD Coming to Linux ? - stevereaver.com which is a speculation piece but is based on a credible source, UAD! Apparently the company has a job posting for Platform Software Engineer with requirements including Linux, Python and Javascript Link: Universal Audio Jobs

Steinberg, UA, if you're listening please do this. Open source operating systems are the last refuge of high performance computing. I would love to boot into a Linux box and work with UAD VSTs in MixBus or Bitwig.
Old 5th April 2017
  #2
Quote:
Originally Posted by autodidactic View Post
Open source operating systems are the last refuge of high performance computing.
Mhh.. really?! Did I oversee something somewhere? The only refuges for high performance processing have traditionally been the whole protools thing, Waves Soundgrid, UAD and very few others. In no way is the current state of "consumer linux" even technically capable(!) to deliver scalable low latency audio (scalable across several CPUs/machines). This comparison is straight ridiculous, Linux is currently fighting the beginner problems mac and windows solved 20 years ago. In no way it is ready and or even promising technically.

Linux is still struggling at making homerecording possible and somehow usable (again, we had that 20 years ago on win and mac!), and you talk about high performance processing?!

The main problem with the linux world could be summed up as a big "why?". There really aren't many problems associated with Windows and Macs, they run well, and software makers find huge, stable and predictable markets. Pros generally use computers to get jobs done, spend more time with their wife and families. Not to philosophize all day long about machinery and IT ethics or a lack of driver support.
Old 5th April 2017
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
Mhh.. really?! Did I oversee something somewhere?... In no way is the current state of "consumer linux" even technically capable(!)
And yet last weekend when our neighborhood venue fired-up its Allen&Heath iLive rig, there it was: Linux running on 'old-fashioned' ext2. And isn't it interesting that the same Waves you rave about also based their Tracks-Live on Ardour which - in turn - started on Linux. And Harrison, even before it issued Mixbus and Mixbus32c, noted that "IKIS is a modular, enterprise-class software package which runs on PC-compatible computer hardware and the robust Linux operating system."

Yes, I suppose you could argue that those situations are "industrial linux" as opposed to "consumer linux." And like Windows, Linux too has barriers between "industrial" and "consumer." But why praise one while smearing the other?

best, john
Old 5th April 2017
  #4
Linux is a nice playfield for companies needing low cost, specialized OS's running on standard hardware. This is what makes the whole Linux world really strong (not just in the audio examples you mentioned, but also for web of course, specialized automotive stuff, medical tools and even defense). For many branches, Linux is the perfect transition from old school embedded DSP to modern CPUs. But this really has little to do with the demands of the consumer market. This is B2B "blackbox" business.

The problem is the B2C side of things, where no general Linux really exists, and "Linux" generally doesn't run VSTs without extra effort. Right now, we have 3-4 plugin hosts running on one specific distribution. Not "on Linux" in general. Linux is far too fragmented and uncoordinated to offer anything close to modern usability (in general). The Win emulators are by far the most popular and best maintained software offers.

We're watching the market since a while, and still have difficulties to find any reasonable motivation for covering it (not into charity you know ).

Last edited by FabienTDR; 6th April 2017 at 12:24 AM..
Old 6th April 2017
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
Mhh.. really?! Did I oversee something somewhere? The only refuges for high performance processing have traditionally been the whole protools thing, Waves Soundgrid, UAD and very few others.
Yeah really. When I'm talking about high performance computing, I'm alluding to the world's super computers that you can find at places like DARPA and the JPL and you're name dropping Pro Tools? LMAO

Even if you wanted to limit the scope of the discussion to the audio industry, many of recent live mixer consoles with AVB and DANTE support are running linux under the hood. The Korg Kronos is running Linux. Pretty much everything with a processor that doesn't have an Apple or Windows logo on it is running either Linux or BSD. Heck even Android has started gaining low latency audio apps eg. IK Multimedia Amplitube.

The aforementioned applications make it clear that Linux is totally capable of being a highly performant platform for audio and content creation in general. There is already momentum for content creation. There have been a number of professional creative software tools that have adopted Linux in the past couple of years (MixBus, Bitwig, Lightworks, Unity3D, UnrealEngine,etc.) While the majority have been in the visual content creation realm, I'm hopeful we'll see some of this momentum on the audio side of things.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
There really aren't many problems associated with Windows and Macs, they run well, and software makers find huge, stable and predictable markets.
Actually there are some rather serious problems.

Just sayin'

Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
The problem is the B2C side of things, where no general Linux really exists...
Actually Ubuntu is generally considered the consumer platform to target when commercial software vendors target Linux.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
... and "Linux" generally doesn't run VSTs without extra effort. Right now, we have 3-4 plugin hosts running on one specific distribution. Not "on Linux" in general. Linux is far too fragmented and uncoordinated to offer anything close to modern usability (in general). The Win emulators are by far the most popular and best maintained software offers.
Care to share the details of your setup? One of the interesting things with Linux is that, unlike other Unix variants where the OS is both the kernel and system libraries, the Linux kernel is considered to be the operating system period. So as long as the kernel is there along with the libraries the package depends on, your software should run flawlessly.
Old 6th April 2017
  #6
To each his own. Point is, I don't see many incentives for B2C software developers to spend much effort into this field. Again, it's great for building blackboxes covering classic embedded system scenarios. But this has little to do with user adoption and maintenance effort required to keep audio engineers and musicians happy.

Building software isn't exactly easy or cheap, so companies have to keep the ROI in mind. Or at least fee some sign of growth, some potential.

"Care to share the details of your setup?" is kind of you, but this is exactly what I mean. This is the central blocking aspect. The target audience for audio software is not the typical Linux console rider, these guys don't want to even have to think about libraries, versions and whatever. In fact, most would fail to even find and download the right linux package for their use.
Old 6th April 2017
  #7
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idk about last refuge of high performance computing. and citing those 'serious problems' is a really weird way to twist things

but ya linux is popular in embedded systems/single purpose machines etc because its tiny, customizable, and you have an incredible amount of low level access. being (usually) free helps too . In academics its incredibly popular because its unix based, its open source, theres a crazy number of useful tools, the ease in which you can write your own tools, the ease in which you can make high performance clusters, the ease of virtualization, and because many of your colleagues will also be using linux. none of which are particularly relevant in the studio environment

ubuntu has done a great job of obfuscating a lot of the headaches that come from running linux for people who dont want to be sysadmins (mostly shielding them from dependency hell), but it still takes quite the effort to get it up and suitable for professional audio. particularly because pulseaudio and drivers are a nightmare. not to mention the fact that not many studio dwellers particularly want to learn how to lurk forums to find a github link to the source code they have to build themselves to attempt to fix their mouse that stopped working after rolling back a version to try to fix something else ( )

those audio distros (AVLinux and KXStudio (are there others?) do a p good job at assisting there by simply routing everything through JACK etc but its going to take a while for it to be a totally viable option, without compromising and i dont think a move towards linux would really benefit the majority of the studio audio world.

i cant see tons of converts coming in droves, esp not soon and until its demonstrated as worth it I doubt every company will take it up

itd be nice though, i run arch and ubuntu on my personal machines

Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
To each his own. Point is, I don't see many incentives for B2C software developers to spend much effort into this field. Again, it's great for building blackboxes covering classic embedded system scenarios. But this has little to do with user adoption and maintenance effort required to keep audio engineers and musicians happy.

Building software isn't exactly easy or cheap, so companies have to keep the ROI in mind. Or at least fee some sign of growth, some potential.

"Care to share the details of your setup?" is kind of you, but this is exactly what I mean. This is the central blocking aspect. The target audience for audio software is not the typical Linux console rider, these guys don't want to even have to think about libraries, versions and whatever. In fact, most would fail to even find and download the right linux package for their use.
Old 6th April 2017
  #8
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I doubt we'll see an explosion in Linux use. For that you'll need a killerapp/unique selling point. Something that makes you have to have Linux.

On the other hand i think it will slowly grow to you one day noticing "Hey i haven't used Windows/OSX in a long time. I can actually do everything i want on this platform". Something like that.
Old 6th April 2017
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
"Care to share the details of your setup?" is kind of you, but this is exactly what I mean. This is the central blocking aspect. The target audience for audio software is not the typical Linux console rider, these guys don't want to even have to think about libraries, versions and whatever. In fact, most would fail to even find and download the right linux package for their use.
It wouldn't be up to the end user to think about libraries and dependencies, at least not any more than it would on Windows or OSX. Things are actually quite far along in a lot of respects. When a hardware or software vendor chooses to support Linux as a platform, they will add their expertise and collaborate with other industry players when it suits them to make the defaults better.

Look at the gaming industry. Once Valve decided to get on board with Linux, within a year or two the following happened.
  • AMD came out with Vulkan support to improve the underlying frameworks and APIs.
  • Game Engines like Unity3D and UnrealEngine who are the biggest engines out there are also on board.
  • There are thousands of AAA titles on the market now.

For Games, the tipping point was Valve getting fully behind the platform. Linux already has a couple of good hosts available to start with. For Audio, I believe the missing link is plugin vendors adopting it. Steinberg introducing linux support for vst3 is the first step towards that. I could probably live quite happily with Mixbus and Bitwig if I had something like Native Instruments Komplete available.

Also don't write off DAW users as luddites that can't handle OS configuration. Take a look at the landscape for a moment and you will notice that a trend has been to add a user scripting layer to DAWs allowing users to add their own features. Reaper has JS, Ableton has Max For Live, and Logic has the Scripter plugin. Reaper's JS has many users using it and max for live has really taken off. I believe that if Logic gets it's environment overhauled, Scripter will take off too.
Old 6th April 2017
  #10
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the C.L.A.'s Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
...and "Linux" generally doesn't run VSTs without extra effort.
That statement is plain wrong! There is absolutely no extra effort needed to run VSTs that have been compiled for Linux.

You are probably confusing this with running VSTs that have been compiled for a foreign platform (likely windows). Try running Windows VSTs on a Mac or Mac VSTs on Windows... Not sure if this is possible at all.
Old 6th April 2017
  #11
Quote:
Originally Posted by the C.L.A. View Post
That statement is plain wrong! There is absolutely no extra effort needed to run VSTs that have been compiled for Linux.
Absolutely no extra effort? Ok. So you can easily process audio in realtime with a VST and output it to a modern audio interface, making cool music on all these, without extra effort?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._distributions

Hell no you cannot. Not even close! Don't try to missunderstand me. You can maybe with one plugin host, one certain audio interface, all until the next Kernel update. In 2017, nobody likes working as a sysadmin.



http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/real_time_info

"The simplest way to obtain lower latency than usual, is to use an optimized linux audio distribution (see below). These generally utilize real-time patched kernels, with additional system optimisations, such as priority settings, etc. "

Did I read "real time patched kernels"? Here's how such an easy patch looks like when you find it, and hope it works:
http://forums.debian.net/viewtopic.p...er=asc&start=0


Last edited by FabienTDR; 6th April 2017 at 03:05 PM..
Old 6th April 2017
  #12
BTW, Valve's motivation is about cheaply building blackboxes, as mentioned above (because of the decline of the desktop market, they have to think in terms of consoles and prepare for it).

It is not Linux as a market. If they could do the same cheaper with DSP chips and find enough "cheap" programmers to create and port software to them, they certainly would!
Old 6th April 2017
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
Absolutely no extra effort? So you can easily process audio in realtime with a VST and output it to a modern audio interface, making cool music on all these without extra effort?

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_o..._distributions

Hell no you cannot. Not even close. Don't try to missunderstand me.
I think it's more a property of the host than the distribution to run a VST. So if the host runs fine on a given distribution, it should be only a matter of installing a native Linux VST and go! Really no more effort than that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by FabienTDR View Post
BTW:

http://wiki.linuxaudio.org/wiki/real_time_info

"The simplest way to obtain lower latency than usual, is to use an optimized linux audio distribution (see below). These generally utilize real-time patched kernels, with additional system optimisations, such as priority settings, etc. "

Did I read "real time patched kernels"? Here's how such an easy patch looks like when you find it, and hope it works:
Debian User Forums • View topic - Realtime kernel build quickie + bootsplash (or not)

No need to faceplam. If you want to go the easy route (especially if you don't have much Linux experience), you use a specialized, pre-configured distribution. If you are experienced, you could tweak most of the common distributions to get low latency as well.

But maybe you don't require such low latencies and just go with your preferred distribution with none or only minor (performance) tweaks and without a realtime patched kernel (nowadays a lot of the realtime stuff is already in the stock kernels anyway).

For example I'm currently using Debian Stretch with stock kernel and only some essential tweaks. As I'm usualy not using any soft synths and also tend to monitor via hardware, I have no problem running at 1024 samples buffer size - even though I could go quite a bit lower. Better save than sorry, though.

FYI: As for audio interfaces I'm using a RME HDSP 9652 on the desktop and a "lowly" Tascam US 2x2 for my mobile needs on the laptop.

The "Cool Music" is entirely up to you, though.


Edit: Uh wait... I've forgotten: Debian Stretch even ships a realtime patched kernel as well - I just don't currently use it.

Last edited by the C.L.A.; 6th April 2017 at 03:56 PM..
Old 6th April 2017
  #14
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Yeah that Linux Audio wiki was referencing Ubuntu 14.04 and kernel version 3.10. Ubuntu is about to release 17.04 and the kernel is at version 4.10. I have a feeling there is a lot of outdated information being referenced here.

Quote:
BTW, Valve's motivation is about cheaply building blackboxes, as mentioned above (because of the decline of the desktop market, they have to think in terms of consoles and prepare for it).
This is what I was getting at with my original "last refuge" comment. The majority of the remaining desktop users are office workers or at the very least have modest computer needs that are met by the ultrabooks of the world.

Content creators are one of a few niche groups out there that truly want and need highly configurable and modular computers. Apple isn't going to give you any of that. That leaves Microsoft, but they're getting more and more consumer oriented as well. Both in their hardware offerings and their OS. As a content creator you have a highly specialized use case that requires highly specialized hardware. Why wouldn't you want a highly configurable OS?

The only reason anybody should be sticking to Windows at this point is the commercial software titles, but even those are starting to trickle over to Linux land.

In the end, there is no technical reason to not adopt Linux as a platform. As Apple and MS increasingly ignore you, the business case for adopting Linux is only going to get stronger.
Old 6th April 2017
  #15
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a renaissance??? Supercollider has been around since 96. I used it yesterday I feel like it has been going strong.
Old 6th April 2017
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by elgee View Post
a renaissance??? Supercollider has been around since 96. I used it yesterday I feel like it has been going strong.
Nice! I haven't tried Supercollider though I've always thought it looked pretty interesting. I'm a puredata fan myself.
Old 6th April 2017
  #17
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I doubt the recording engineer who lives down the road from me would take any "Linux audio renaissance" very seriously. He records commercials for local businesses and records and masters albums for symphony orchestras. He's a busy guy. Stuff just has to work, so he runs his studio on Windows OS. I've never heard Dave say, "Gee, I'd really like to reconfigure everything for Linux." He's been in the recording business for more than 50 years, so he's learned to value his time.

Linux fans are ever-hopeful, I'll give them that much. I've been listening to the "Maybe Someday" song for at least 15 years.
Old 7th April 2017
  #18
Tui
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I guess the question is, how much more BS by Apple or MSFT are people prepared to put up with, before they'll consider alternatives. Granted, as of right now, sheeplism is rather popular.
Old 13th April 2017
  #19
Tui
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If it wasn't for audio, I'd be using Linux already. There seem to be few, if any, downsides:

Windows as a service? Now, there’s an argument for Linux | Computerworld
Old 13th April 2017
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tui View Post
If it wasn't for audio, I'd be using Linux already.[/url]
There's a brave statement. You're truly an inspiration to us "sheeple".
Old 13th April 2017
  #21
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The way Linux people promote Linux:
Some tech writer: "Linux can run servers!"
Linux fans: fap-fap-fap-fap....
General public: "Huh?"

Alternate scenario (admittedly, a humongous long-shot):
Disney Studios: "The soundtracks to the next half-dozen 'Frozen' sequels will be produced entirely on Linux software."
General public: "Wow!"

Linux people don't realize how incredibly boring their approach to promoting their favorite OS is. And I mean BO-RING. They have no idea what captures the public's imagination.
Old 13th April 2017
  #22
Tui
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
There's a brave statement. You're truly an inspiration to us "sheeple".
Hey, all advice is entirely free, too.
Old 13th April 2017
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Poinzy View Post
Alternate scenario (admittedly, a humongous long-shot):
Disney Studios: "The soundtracks to the next half-dozen 'Frozen' sequels will be produced entirely on Linux software."
General public: "Wow!"
When Hollywood Studios talk about Linux infrastructure being used for CGI rendering (i.e. Pixar's Renderman for all their own, Disney's and some Star Trek films; ILM with Star Wars, Digital Domain with Titanic, DreamWorks' Shrek, WetaDigital's Lord of the Rings), film editing and authoring, the general public doesn't care. The general public simply wants to view a entertaining film for two hours.
Old 15th April 2017
  #24
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Also, I'd like to think the people on this forum would be at least slightly more tech savvy than the general public. This is a demographic that needs realtime low latency processing which requires the fast machines. You can't appreciate those machines without getting at least a little nerdy.
Old 15th April 2017
  #25
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yeah, linux is super easy, just sudo this and that. and be called newbie on forums. who wouldnt like that?
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