To Linux or not to Linux...

First let me say that I hope this is a legal and properly placed post on this forum (I did not see any rules posted).

The more I think about it, the more I loathe the idea of having a single developer for my OS. My knowledge of Linux is fairly limited, and- although I have had my affairs with Ubuntu and a few other versions- I know that I do not come close to having unlocked the potential of Linux. I love the open-source movement, and anything online with a great community. The community may be the final push to changing my OS.

I’m posting this on the Ardour forum because I believe that this software (along with PureData) may be strong enough to satisfy my palette. I have just begun learning pd-- Does anybody on here integrate the two? I believe that if Ardour’s PureData support (maybe through Jack although I do not understand Jack yet, I am new to all of this.) is sufficient then I will be able to use it for live work and program my Novation 25 Remote SL to control it.

How to VST’s/VSTi’s work in Linux? Are they compatible similar to Windows?

I am currently running Windows 7 and Ableton Live (although I am a DAW whore, and am not huge on live performance at the moment). All help is appreciated, I’m trying to discover the Linux Audiophile community (links?)

Perhaps I should add that my gear consists of a Dell Vostro 1520, Novation Remote SL, and a Blue Snowball USB Microphone for recording vocals and guitars. I primarily use my Remote to record MIDI VST(i)'s/Automations and then I go back and fine-tune everything, I’m currently researching OSC. I understand that I’m going to need to us Jack with other apps for MIDI. I’m also a cyclically unemployed college student with absolutely no cash.
(forgive the double-post)

If VST/VSTi’s are critical to your workflow, then Linux is not a particular good choice. These plugins were written for Windows and although we have discovered ways to use them on Linux, it is and always will be a certain kind of hack. Most people seem to have the most success running a relatively simple windows VST host inside Wine (a windows “emulator”) with wineasio that permits audio connections to JACK. There are ways to run them more “directly” too, but its hard to actually recommend them, especially to someone new to Linux.

If you are involved in contemporary pop production with its emphasis on looping, time/pitch stretching/shifting, and heavy use of samples, then ardour may not be the best fit for you either. On the other hand, if you tend not to try to always “fix it in the mix” (i.e. more traditional recording techniques), and/or do multichannel/experimental composition, then ardour has some unique benefits that may help you.

check also to know what’s possible with Linux and audio

I think that I’m going to go down the rabbit hole after some intensive research on Archlinux. From what I understand, Linux will give me better latency (and likely better compatibility (excluding Automap without WINE)). I have a feeling that using Ardour, pd, Rosegarden, and Hydrogen together with JACK will give me the best of all of the spheres of my digital audio needs. This alongside Arch should allow me complete freedom and optimization, although I know that understanding and setting up Arch will take quite a bit of effort.

Thanks for all of the help so far. Linuxmusicians seems like a great forum as well.

If you’re interested in using VSTi’s I reccommend looking into dssi-vst. I use this very successfully with Native Instruments B4, Elektrik Piano, and the C-Media M-Tron. But as others have said, getting anything VST to run under Linux is a hit-and-miss affair and the only genuinely accurate thing I can say is that ‘your results may differ’.

Also be prepared to have to build things from source, as I don’t know of any distro (with the possible exception of 64Studio or Fedora/PlanetCCRMA) that includes everything you might need. Stuff like LADSPA plugins always seem to work better if you build them yourself anyway.

Finally, you’ll need some patience and perseverance to get a good stable Linux setup with low latency, but it is worth the effort. It a darn sight easier these days than it was even 3 years ago.