Several general questions

Hi folks, cubase/protools user and long time linux hobbyist here, would appreciate some input about these questions.

  1. Is there any advantage in performance to run ardour from “ubuntu studio” as opposed to regular ubuntu 9.04 jaunty?

  2. Has ardour ever been packaged in small bootable distro, like a live cd ? I did some extensive work in making small debian/ubuntu live distros which ran extermely fast and could be ran entirely from RAM after boot, using debian-live etc.

  3. how is the performance of vst support, is it worth it? I am mostly doing recording, not using virtual instruments.

  4. by the way - what are some kick ass virtual instruments (synth, keys, etc)

  5. what is ardour’s sampler like, or do you use a virtual instrument like battery/kontact for extensive drum kits etc.

Thank you very much !

In answer to some of your questions:

  1. AV Linux is what you need - small bootable debian based distro with ardour + a lot of audio software.

  2. Personally I wouldn’t recommend VST support, it ‘can’ work and it ‘can’ work very well but keep in mind that what you are trying to do is run software built for a completely different operaring system (Windows) so its surprising it works at all - mainly due to the outstanding WINE project. I would say its better to use native linux effects. There are some excellent LADSPA plugins - sadly these only have a ‘default’ GUI - I’ve written some plugins that have a more elaborate GUI - that are JACK clients. e.g. you use JACK to connect them into the rest of your audio setup like you would patch real outboard effects. they are here:

Hope this helps

  1. no.

  2. as linuxDSP said, ardour can support VST FX, but we do not recommend it even though we (even I, with the help of Torben Hohn) implemented it. It works for some people but if your work relies on VST FX, you should probably stay on Windows and/or consider running a Windows VST host such as Reaper with Wine. Some very large plugins work extremely well (e.g. Native Instruments Kontakt and others). There are many small plugins that will crash ardour is strange ways that can never be debugged. as linuxDSP noted, what you are attempting to by running VST plugins is to take software written for one OS and run it on another. Maybe to be non-technical computer users, this seems like it should be easy to do, please understand that it absolutely is NOT easy to do. Its a miracle that it works at all - don’t make your work depend on miracles.

  3. linux is not a rich field for "kickass virtual instruments in the sense that you are familiar with.

  4. ardour doesn’t have a sampler. you might be thinking of things like LinuxSampler (which is excellent), or Hydrogen (drum sampler).

Paul, was / has there ever been any plan to support native linux VSTs in Ardour? I appreciate the problems regarding the steinberg license and open source, but with the (Vestige?) header? I ask because I’ve ported my plugins to native VST format so they work with proprietary linux DAW software such as energyXT and Renoise. I also prototyped a GTK based native linux VST host to see if it was possible to negotiate the (many) potential pitfalls with multi-threaded programs and XLib, and it seemed to work for me (I re-wrote my VST versions to have the GUI use XLib directly…) I haven’t tested this ‘to destruction’ but so far its holding up. I just wondered what your view on this was…

i have no plans to do so, primarily because there are so few worthwile native VSTs but more importantly because i don’t want to do anything to encourage the development of more VST plugins. as for threads and VST, i’d give up hope now of this ever being coherent for VST2 - the specification says basically nothing about threading, and host & plugin behaviour is all over the place. VST3 is a little better, though not much. keep in mind though that i didn’t do LV2 support either, and if anyone ever implements DSSI, it probably won’t be me. so saying that i have no plans for it doesn’t say a lot.

Answer to

  1. Ubuntu Studio has a realtime kernel which enables you to run jack with low latency. But from what I hear that kernel is buggy (in 9.04) so it might not be usable.

  2. The kickass virtual instrument is ZynAddSubFX, a great synth program. Unfortunately it doesn’t work that great with Jack and certainly not with realtme/low latency. There is work going on to fix that and if you’re not afraid of compiling stuff yourself I can recommend you look at yoshimi (
    There is also a LV2 monosynth (, a DSSI TB-303 clone called nekobee ( , a Hammond clone AZR-3 ( and the Swiss army-knife of virtual synths; Bristol (

And I second linuxdsp’s suggestion to try AVLinux. It’s Debian based (as with Ubuntu) and it has most of the above mentioned instruments pre-installed.

Thank you guys for the answers. Of course I have more!

I see AVlinux has a low latency kernel as well. Im going to give both av linux and ubuntu studio a try at some point… for now I am just on jaunty.

I assume a low latency kernel is most handy for doing stuff like software monitoring w/plugins and for midi to react quickly. I mostly just do tracking audio and mixing and I do not use software monitoring when I am recording because I dont like any amount of latency.

I would like some recommendations:

a. good inexpensive firewire interface (under 1,000 or even under 500 US dollar) to work with ALSA .

b. good ladspa effects: compressor / eq / reverb

c. most ideal software conditions to run ardour in. is there a recommended distribution? what are the thoughts about jaunty’s ardour 2.7 package, how important is it to compile from source? newer binary packages for ubuntu anywhere?

Thanks again folks!!


To clarify AV Linux comes with a “lowlatency” Kernel, on some audio hardware this Kernel equals (or reportedly exceeds) the latencies of an -rt Kernel. Because some people prefer an -rt Kernel or have hardware that benefits from a full -rt Kernel (M-Audio 1010LT for example) AV Linux comes with a ready to install optional -rt Kernel that can be used post-install.

AV Linux 3.0 is due to be released very soon (this week I hope) and will have Ardour 2.8.3 w/LV2 support and pretty much every app mentioned in this thread in their latest respective versions as well as much much more.

See the development changelog here in the first post:

a) I haven’t tried any FW cards myself but according to[]=perfect the Edirol FA-66, for instance, should fit the bill

b) See the Plugins tab at the top of this page