I did a preliminary test-run of turning Lubuntu into a DAW.
So far, on my laptop, it ALMOST works. Lubuntu seems to be missing some types of ALSA config modules and I don't know how to install them. Because of this, audio playback on my USB monitors is buggy (it sounds staticky). However, I was shocked and impressed how the built-in soundcard sounds perfect, and the MIDI responsiveness is measurably better than on my Windows OS. This was tested using REAPER via Wine (with the WASAPI settings again, and PulseAudio, not JACK).
So the good news is that if you have a built-in Intel soundcard, you can install Wine into Lubuntu, do some of the standard DAW tweaks, and REAPER will run with your Windows VST(i)'s unless they are too fussy or have registration issues. Most freewares run fine though, and Vember Surge installs and runs. FL Studio 10's and 12's VSTi's also run in REAPER via Wine just fine.
This is a good sign. I don't yet have Ubuntu Studio in my posession, but since it has more audio drivers and libraries, it should be more stable and compatible. Lubuntu is supposed to be minimal, and the sound is fine as is for internet browsing and VLC movie watching and stuff like that. Just install PepperFlash so that FireFox doesn't complain about no flash being used.
Assuming the Ubuntu Studio install goes OK, I will create a new tutorial on how to do it for anybody else who needs to know how to do this stuff.
Also, I recently discovered how to check for IRQ hardware conflicts so I can mention how to approach fixing those too (change BIOS settings, for example).
OK, so I quit using Lubuntu because it's missing some needed ALSA/PulseAudio stuff and switched to Xubuntu. This works out well, because Ubuntu Studio and Xubuntu are very much similar.
I still composed some music successfully on Lubuntu, but I'd like to be able to use my Alesis M1Active 320 USB interface/monitors in Reaper instead of the built-in audio via headphones. The monitors work on the other programs though, which is odd. After checking some error logs, I noticed that Lubuntu's ALSA is missing some stuff.
After installing a completely fresh Xubuntu 64-bit, I successfully installed the KXstudio repos and lmms-vst, JACK, qtractor, p7zip and related 7zip stuff, rosegarden, ardour, mediainfo, synaptic, gdebi, bleachbit, audacity, ffmpeg, qasmixer, gimp, gparted, grub2, skanlite, and pepperflash stuff (for Flash support).
It didn't take very long to do on a decent internet connection (at a local coffee shop early in the morning).
I already had downloads of OpenShot and AVIdeMux so those are installed too.
I also installed the Ubuntu Studio control panel, just in case.
Most importantly, I downloaded and installed the low-latency kernel.
All I have to do now is download a few nice extras like MKVtoolNix from their website, and I'll have the basics of a leaner Ubuntu Studio. I don't use most of the other Ubuntu Studio stuff; for me it's almost bloat.
I will instead install a very recent Wine and run Reaper on that.
Before I do that, I will do all the DAW optimizations I can find, including those recommended by AVLINUX.
I confirmed that these things already work, so this will be a really nice system without the 500+ fonts that Ubuntu Studio would have installed and other stuff like that.
Then gradually, I'll install some nice other Linux stuff like Pithos (Pandora without ads), and more audio stuff like SoundFonts.
As my first post on this forum I'd like to describe my experiences with music making on Linux. I mainly use Ubuntu variants, and as far as DAWs go, I tried the following 4:
My favorite so far is Renoise, as it comes packed with a great selection of built in effects and samples. Also, the sampler is amazing, which means I usually don't need to use VSTs. Needless to say, as far as VSTs on Linux go, you have a lot less options. This is mainly the reason I stick with Windows if I feel like making music that requires any kind of VST, either instruments or effects or both.
LMMS left a bad taste in my mouth. It's probably the least usable DAW and I wouldn't recommend it. You can run FL Studio on Wine and have a much better experience, see below.
Ardour is a little better, but to be honest, I haven't tried it enough to give an accurate opinion. It appears to have a steep learning curve, but feel free to prove me wrong.
Bitwig is really cool, but you can tell it's new since lots of things I remember from Ableton are missing. The built in instruments are lacking, although the effects are pretty innovative (e.g. the "put any effect in the delay line" feature). If I couldn't use Renoise for some reason, I'd use this.
I also use FL Studio with Wine, which actually works surprisingly well. There are only a few graphical glitches, and for some reason it refuses to load some samples, but other than that it works pretty much like on Windows. It's kind of a miracle that it works at all.
Additionally, you can use VSTs that were originally made for Windows, although they tend to be crashy and out of sync. So, for this reason, I prefer to use FL Studio on Windows.
What I miss most on Windows is some kind of program like JACK, where you can just route any program to any other program and it all just works, with small latency.
LMMS is very cool and professional DAW, just not everyone can appreciate complicated UI.
Well, everything worked out except for Windows VST's in Qtractor. It almost works except that Carla (used to put 32-bit windows VST(i)'s into Linux programs) doesn't install correctly on a 64-bit OS. Yet another reason to stick with a 32-bit PAE (physical address extension) Linux.
Anyhow, the system is Xubuntu, but at this point I've done all the tweaks and installed almost as much as Ubuntu Studio comes with. However I was a bit pickier and left out a lot of stuff that I just don't need. It was a very successful venture.
Next, I'm going to try setting up a Manjaro Linux DAW, which is NOT Debian/Ubuntu-based, but is Arch Linux based. Yet Manjaro has some good graphical interfaces, so it's not all text commands.
Arch probably has the best documentation of all Linuxes, and is strongly supported and since it's a moderately-paced rolling-release, it should be very much up to date, yet still filtering out buggy softwares. Also, it's repos require signatures for validity, so it's a little bit more secure than some other systems (except for the AUR, I think).
I am eager to try this out.
The downside is that if you can't keep logging into the internet for system updates, eventually a Manjaro system will break if you wait too long and try to update it. The only way around that is to just do a fresh snapshot install every 3 months or so. They say that a person can wait about 2-3 between updates, probably max.
Since I don't have 24/7/365 internet access, this is not ideal for me. However, if I can get the most up to date system possible, it still might be worth it in the long run.
On Ubuntu systems, you have to wait months or years for updates that don't even always come. And the Ubuntu and Mint ethos is to provide a somewhat bloated system and NOT let the users choose what they want. They have even explicitly told their users this when questioned. They are just not all about a minimalistic lean system, even Xubuntu suffers from this issue. Lubuntu doesn't, yet Lubuntu lacks some very basic needed features such as the ability to easily create and edit *.desktop shortcuts or panel shortcuts for WINE programs.