Linux or OS X? + Hardware

I think Ardour is just fantastic, and I’m in the market for a new computer.

I love OS X, but Ardour is not totally happy in 10.6

Question: what is the outlook for Ardour and OS X?

I am willing to make the switch to Linux, but I’ll really miss the easy tools like spotlight, AppleScript, Automator, etc.

Anyone have useful comments about some advantages to a Linux based system (as regards Ardour) that I might not be aware of?

Also, one can get much nicer hardware for the $$ with PC’s over apple products. That brings me to the next question:

What is the best hardware for running Ardour? Will I get significant performance increases from SSD’s? Multicore processors? GPU processing? RAM?

There’s a lot to choose from out there, and I don’t have sufficient understanding of Ardour’s guts to know what’s best, not enough, moot, …

Actually ardour2 works well with OSX 10.6…matter of fact…I am have recorded in Ardour using both OSX 10.6.5 and 10.6.6…so it does work…try it. For Ardour to work, you need to install jackpilot which can be downloaded from

Hope this helps

Rony P.

It works pretty well, but not completely as intended. Mainly, this issue

Sorry*. Remove the ‘k’ from that URL.

I’m currently recording and mixing a project to be released on NAXOS-DELOS with the linux version of ardour, linuxdsp plugins, plus a large array of decent mics, 2 PreSonus FP10s, and some KRK monitors+ 10 inch sub. As far as comp hardware, Im running my firewire into a 4 pin slot on my Dell Inspiron 1520. For low latency, you don’t need fancy SSDs or an Intel i7… I’m running a 1.6 GHz Core2Duo with 4 gb ram, on a highly customized kubuntu 10.04 platform, 32 bit. while recording (8 hours a day for 3 days), I got ZERO xruns running at 5 ms latency WHILE daisey-chaining 2 FP10s with the old firewire stack. If my hardware, comp, and Ardour-Linux is good enough for NAXOS, its probably good enough for you!


No you are completely misunderstanding that issue. The issue is between Ardour and specific AU plugins, NOT between Ardour and 10.6, or even OS X. In other words if plugins with the same behavior existed on any other version of OS X, that behavior would exist. Since AU plugins don’t exist on Linux you don’t see that behavior, as the issue doesn’t exist with LADSPA plugins or LV2 plugins.

So pretty much you aren’t getting around the issue by moving to Linux, you are just removing your ability to see it by removing your ability to run AU plugins at all.


If you can’t be bothered checking if each component of your PC will work under OSX86 but you’re still keen on OSX and can afford it then I’d just buy a Mac and make sure your audio hardware is fully supported by either ALSA or FFADO depending on its interface.

I’ve heard people claim in the past that Linux can achieve lower latencies than OSX can although I’ve never scientifically verified this myself. Linux also has the advantages of being FOSS, its more tweakable (read: can use less resources than OSX), supports more hardware (erm, kinda- not audio hardware though sadly) and isn’t under total control of Big Bad Steve and his minions.

Unless you pick a quality Linux Audio distro, you’re going to have a much easier time getting Ardour running nicely under OSX and OSX has the additional advantage of offering the ability to use some flashy AU plugins which is a much nicer solution than emulating windows to use VST’s under x86 Linux. Its also lovely having just ONE soundsystem (coreaudio) instead of having to deal with JACK, ALSA, pulseaudio and maybe more too.


OK, so 2 soundsystems (coreaudio and JACK) under OSX- but its still cleaner

An Athlon x4 core would do fine for most people. To give you an idea, I once tried to see how far I could get with my own Athlon x3 core chip. I got to 72 tracks with mult-band EQ and compressor plugins on each track and 15 soft synths before I got bored and gave up. I still wasn’t using all my cores.

If you really think you’re going to use insane amounts of FX and soft synths, build a system around an i7-2600.

Don’t bother with a graphics card you don’t need it.

Ditto SSD. Do get two or three HDDs though. I like to use one for OS, one for data (ie audio), and one as a backup/scratch disk.

Thank you seablade, et al. This really helps guys.

@mcgruff: so SSD’s don’t improve performance? I thought the faster read/write capabilities would be good for recording/playback, but I’m really just speculating based on limited understanding, not hands-on exp…

And Core Audio, this is desirable over other systems in PC’s? I don’t really understand what is unique about Core Audio either.

Thanks again for the info people.

I run Ardour under Linux (Suse 11.2 and Fedora 14 CCRMA currently, many others before).

Once some initial problems are solved, everything works to my liking. And I never encountered problems, that could not be solved within a few houres – whenever it looked like longer, a switch to a different distro did the trick :wink: Beginning last year, even most general use distros are able to run Jack and jack-applications like Ardour out of the box. There are overlays like CCRMA and audio-flavours like KXStudio or AVLinux that can run audio-stuff full force whithout any tweaking by the users hand.

Regarding Linux as a desktop-system for general use:

I run it on an Intel/Asus-based PC and on a Lenovo Thinkpad T60 both systems work completely as expected and they do so out of the box. This includes peripherals like printers/scanners et al. I bought my audio-interfaces after testing them in the shop with a laptop running Linux and they serve OK also.

There is a MacOSX-machine in our houshold so I think basically I can make a comparison based on some experience. The Linux-desktop is better. I use XFCE and KDE4 on the T60 and KDE4 on the PC. While KDE comes with even more eye-candy than OSX I consider both more convenient, reliable and configurable than OSX.
At least I can work twice as fast on them as the Mac-users I know on their machines, especially if it comes to multitasking like having a web-browser, a graphics-app, an e-mail-client, a text-editor, some terminals and a modular audio-session with Ardour plus Guitarix plus Hydrogen plus Seq24 plus Specimen etc all at the same time.
I do not run VST on my systems. The experiments I made in that field did not satisfied my wishes for stability and performance. There are a lot of new, very promising an allready seriously usable native plugins for Linux (LV2 and LADSPA). Have a look at CALF and LinuxDSP.

MacOSX still has its qualities. I do not know of a tool like Automator for Linux(whoever does know one, point me to it :slight_smile: ) and the semantic search engines for Linux are not at the same level as the system offered by OSX.

Still you have far more control about what is happening to your data and what your computer actually is computing.

In a word: get a decent live-system like AVLinux or Pure:Dyne and try it. If you accept, that it is different, it can do anything for you :wink:

@zettberlin: thanks for all that. I poked around custom pc sites and you can get better hardware for nearly half the price of a mac. I guess I’ve been paying more than I realized for OS X!


SSD’s aren’t necessary but I have found them to be extremely valuable in 2 particular areas…

  1. Noise - SSD’s make none…
  2. Heat (in extension noise again) the heat of the system is reduced fans can run slower and hence at a quieter level

You are best advised to still have a larger hard drive to save your projects… (external is good as you can turn it off when recording)

ALSA / FFADO versus CoreAudio… no real issue except hardware compatibility (I have an older g4 macbook that I play with occasionally) . On a dedicated audio system you don’t need to really worry about portaudio or other audio frameworks.

I’m working on a 2 year old Phenom II x3 720 (overclocked to 3.4 GHZ) with 4GB of Ram which was a budget system at the time… Although I have a reasonable amount of outboard gear (effects, dynamics, e.t.c.) I do tend to use a few plugins and run at low latency (p=64, n=3 at 48khz… and and I don’t have any issues with CPU

So a decent mid level system even with SSD will give you enough power and some spare cash for say a good pre-amp, mic or some other toy (hardware analog synth !!!) which may have a more significant impact to your sound than a high powered Mac…

I do recommend getting a cheap video card still as opposed to using onboard… purely for dedicated RAM for video … this might be an outdated opinion though these days…

All that being said… Mac’s are nice to work with and you may want to consider the time cost in learning a new user interface… (although Lion looks like almost a whole new UI anyway)…