Been using DAWs on Win and Mac for years, but still have some research to do on Linux. Windows is becoming untenable and I’m not buying any news Macs anytime soon. So I need to make a permanent leap to Linux. And Ardour seems to be the best choice for a Linux DAW. Been checking it out on some distros with good results. But that doesn’t answer my concerns for the future. And while I enjoyed checking out a few distros, for serious work I like to set up a stable system that I can use for YEARS. So I’m curious as to:
Which distro is likely to offer the best support for Ardour in the coming years, and will be stable and well supported in itself? At the same time, I’m curious as to how likely it is that Ardour is going to be around and well maintained under the current model in five years time and beyond?
I realize this is part speculation, but I’ll take your speculation anytime before carrying on with Windows…
I’m afraid there is no single answer. Each will recommend the distro they use.
I belive the most correct answer is “the distro you know best”. We’re at the very interesting moment now when picking a distro is rather a matter of taste than real differences between them.
Each distribution uses “systemd”, unified software distribution methods as “flatpak” or “snap”, the differences became smaller than ever before. If you want a distro “for years” look for those that have been around “for years”. I’m afraid I didn’t help
AVLinux is a good option for audio and video production, is well configured, has Liquorix Realtime Kernel, many pre-configured scripts, Wine, WineAsio, you can run Windows vst-vst3 with Jadbridge tool, many preinstalled LV2, Vst and Vst3 and use as base MXLinux distro the most requested distro in Distrowatch portal.
It’s interesting that there is no single answer, while at the same the distros seem to converge. By the way, I’ve used antiX on old hardware, and even installed Ardour successfully, and it does not use systemD, does not support snap, supports 32-bit, does not use a standard DE, so there are odd ones out there still. But your oracle-like answer was helpful, stlll!
Well, that does sound like a convincing argument! Thanks!
It also comes with Ardour 7, Reaper, Cinelerra-GG, Musescore, Hydrogen with many drumkits, pre-configured Qjackctl, MX tools, MX Package Installer with Flatpacks support, I’ve tried many Audio/Video Distros, but for now I stay with AVLinux.
I would second the recommendation for AVLinux, given that the machine you install it to is basically dedicated for audio / video work: the “desktop computing” experience might be a little bit away from the norm (YMMV, of course).
I first tried ardour with manjaro, yeeks & kde. Found AVLinux MX-21 it all worked.
Thanks for your comment! I didn’t specify that explicitly, but you are right that A/V would be the top priority. But isn’t it always the case that a setup optimized for recording audio rarely is optimal for “standard use”? Just getting the browser to play nice with my external sound card has usually been something of a pain, for example, be it on Win, Mac or Linux.
Anyway, I’m fooling around with a Live USB of AVL, and it’s quite clear already that I would save a lot of time tinkering as opposed to tweaking a mainstream distro. Just having all those VST plugins ready to go…
Hello punranger and welcome!
I’ve been using Linux Mint and been having a blast. It works well with Ardour and works well with older machines. I have AVLinux installed on notebook computer and it runs good also, albeit, not as well as my desktop running Mint.
I have been using Ardour for a few years and about a year ago got Mixbus for a great price (based on Ardour). Mixbus also works awesome on Linux.
I would speculate that Ardour (and Mixbus) will be supported on Linux probably longer than their Windows and Mac counterparts. Seems like it was sorta ‘made’ for Linux. My opinion.
Plenty of VST’s and plugins out there for Linux as well. A lot more than I realized initially.
I have been using Linux for more than ten years (migration from windows) and can provide a clear advice based on my experience.
Here the advice:
- use a distro with KDE as desktop environment. If you have been using Windows, this is the easiest way. Don’t use gnome (it’s cool and elegant but I the transition is much harder)
- use a distro which supports modern hardware.
- don’t use a distro without a well working graphical distro upgrade tool
- don’t bother about “real time” - modern systems seem to be so fast this is no issue any more today
Here my recommendation: Fedora 38 with KDE desktop. Don’t be afraid to run appimages and flatpaks on that system.
- Fedora is very stable and a work horse but does a lot of updates - so a good internet connection is frequently required
- If you are doing video editing you need GPU support: this is a little bit tricky to get it running. But once it runs everything is well (also for the future)
My advice if you don’t fear the command line: Opensuse with KDE. Very stable, very good graphical system configuration tool (yast) but distro upgrades require knowledge of the command line.
What did not work: I had on a laptop a well working linux mint LTS cinnamon. But a distro upgrade totally messed up the system. I installed Fedora and everything is well.
Last advice: have first a look at live systems booting from USB, try look and feel and hardware compatilibity.
Finally: I switched my first computer to linux in 2010 (or so) and never regretted it. The feeling to get software for nearly each use case from free and safe sources (or from paid (!) and safe sources) is something a windows user probably never will experience … So I definitely recommend this path …
My well-considered advice:
Pick something that doesn’t use Pipewire by default. Very seriously.
I use AVLinux, and am very happy. I ran this on a sub-$300US laptop for a couple of years, very happily. Migrated onto a sub-$500 desktop a few months ago (with a Samsung EVO NVMe SSD… so incredible the difference), and I’m delirious, like Eddie Murphy.
I picked up the Red Hat 5 disc back in 1998, and that was that.
I use Kubuntu LTS with the KXStudio connected. I’m doing the fine-tuning for adapting it to a music studio. I prefer a mainstream system with long-time support and with an extensive user base, this way I’m never stuck when a problem arrives and almost any package and systems I need will (almost) always work all the time.
For anyone that doesn’t want to do the configuration and all that stuff manually, I always recommend AVLinux, that way, you also have a long-term studio with good support.
This is good advice and I understand the reasoning completely so I’m not arguing your point…
I would like to just clarify to readers and Audio Distro shoppers that AV Linux is now based on and cooperatively made with MX Linux which is a very strong Debian-based project with a very large presence and forum community and it is not going anywhere soon… Yes, AV Linux still has quite a bit of lone-wolf-one-guy development going on in it’s inner details but with each subsequent MX-based release much more dedicated Audio and Video stuff is finding it’s way into the main MX Repos so as time goes on AV Linux will hopefully offer both a unique ‘boutique’ experience as well as be grounded in a large active community…
Thank you for taking the time to write such a thorough reply to my question! I’m leaning heavily on going for AVL based on other comments and personal research, but you raise some interesting points I need to consider, and confirm some other thoughts that I’ve had. Thanks again!
Thanks for your comment. I’m still trying to learn more about the various audio backends for Linux audio, and how they affect music production. So I’m curious as to why you advise against a Pipewire system, if you can be bothered to expand on that.
Thanks, your last paragraph sums up my needs pretty well, so I’m definitely leaning in the direction of AVL.
Thanks for your comment. From this comment I understand that there has been recent changes in how AVL is made. I’m somewhat comfortable with running antiX on older hardware, and that is a distro which collaborates with MX. I know the MX community is strong, so that’s definitely an advantage. You also raise my main concern which is that AVL seems to be somewhat of a one man project, and that always carries some inherent risks. Tighter integration with MX seems to reduce those risks somewhat. All in all, AVL seems to be coming out pretty strong!
If you just peruse the issues on this forum that people are reporting, an out-sized number are related to people trying to get Pipewire to work (although it may not look that way from the title). It is just not ready for prime-time yet. So, unless you are a glutton for punishment, or like to roll the dice, and you want to get up and working reliably, then avoid Pipewire for now. I’m sure it may be great at some point. That day is not today.
To others, I fully appreciate the need for users to beat Pipewire into shape, but there has to be a point where one should guide a new Linux user toward the more reliable options. Always being on the bleeding edge has not won us many converts.