This is just a short post to inform you that Ardour 3 is approaching alpha stage. While it might still take a while before it is actually released, this is exciting news for recording enthusiasts. Ardour 3 is a major step forward for this DAW, with MIDI support possibly being the most anticipated feature. The list of new features and improvements is long, and I suggest you take a look at their own website. From the main feature list you can click down to a more detailed description (which is why I don't duplicate that list here).
While this is not strictly related to Linux Music Production, I want to mention the release of Sintel here because after all it is Linux Media Production and that is close enough. I downloaded the film right after it became available online, and I have to say I absolutely love it! This is a great showcase of what is possible with open source media creation software (and € 400.000,- ...). Ton Roosendaal and his team have done a sublime job with this film... I suggest you go do that now ;)
Linux Journal has a nice article about the current state of Ardour that is well worth a read. In it, Dave Phillips describes a number of projects that are tied in to Ardour to provide enhanced functionality and the ability to tailor Ardour to specific needs. The focus of the article is mainly on the development branch (Ardour 3) that is not yet available through regular channels yet, but it very clearly shows that professional Linux music production is moving forward fast.
There is one thing I should mention though: in the article Dave says that the current official release of Ardour (2.8.11) is not available in most distributions. While this is generally true, there are cutting edge releases that do have the latest Ardour available. I use Arch Linux and thus have the latest stable version installed. Although being on the cutting edge has its disadvantages (occasionally things break), developments in Linux music production are happening fast enough to warrant it. More information about my motivation is available here.
I realised I have not written on this site about Ubuntu Studio, even though I used it myself for quite a while. And for creative professionals, it is a great Linux music production distribution with lots of Audio, Video and Graphics applications installed by default. The main advantage I got from it, is that it enabled me to get my ADAT card working. Something other distributions could not do by default. This means there is some great hardware detection in Ubuntu Studio. And although the title of this article might suggest otherwise, it is a thriving distribution. So what's with the help then? Here is what they are looking for:
Although it has been quite a while since I posted on this blog, that doesn't mean I have abandoned Linux Music Production. Far from it: I experimented quite a bit with various distributions and applications but was severely pressed for time to write about it because of many other things going on in my life. However, as a result of my experimentation, I decided to rebuild my project studio entirely around Linux. To begin with, there is a new computer to serve as the hub of my Linux project studio. In this post I will describe the setup process I went through to get it up and running. So let's get started....:
I have used LilyPond for a few projects now while learning it's syntax and semantics and I have to say that I really like it. This article is therefore a review of LilyPond from a practical perspective. I must admit that I'm a bit of a geek when it comes to computers, so tinkering with source code is right up my alley. Because I am still learning how to use LilyPond, most of the projects I did were fairly simple, but I am very satisfied with the results so far.
I recently discovered a fairly new project that has an interesting take on Linux music production: the Open Octave Project. The goal of Open Octave is to provide an environment for audio and MIDI production specifically for orchestral music and film scoring. What is different about this project - compared to other Linux audio / MIDI solutions - is that the developers don't build a new application from scratch. Instead, the team chose to combine and adapt existing projects into an unified framework. This actually works two ways: in using existing applications, the team doesn't have to reinvent the wheel and can use existing quality tools, and by contributing their efforts back to the original projects, these benefit as well. So what's in store with the Open Octave Project? Let's delve a little deeper:
After working with the Ubuntu Long Term Service release for a while I have decided that this approach is not working for me. While Ubuntu is a great Linux distribution, there are two major issues that made me change my strategy. My main problem was with the versions of the applications that are supplied through the repositories. On Ubuntu, these are never cutting edge. Usually their focus is on stability. The versions for the L.T.S. releases are generally even older. From the perspective of the average user, this makes perfect sense. Most users want a stable system instead of being on the cutting edge. As a matter of fact that was one of my primary criteria at first as well. But using Linux for music production turned out to be a different beast: many music applications are still in heavy development. So you need to install the latest version to keep up with bug fixes and new features. And there is more. Find this out 'after the break'
In an earlier post I wrote that I selected Denemo to try out music notation on Linux. I played around with it a bit (admittedly not overly long), but I found it lacking for my needs. Not that I dislike the software, it is just not far enough along to be of everyday use. A lot of the features I need are not yet implemented and some are still buggy. I think the Denemo project shows great promise, but it will take some time before I could see myself using it on a daily basis. So for now I am looking for a new notation solution. Care to follow me along?...
If you want to use Linux for music production, you'll obviously have to know some important things about Linux as well. One of the most helpful things to keep in mind when using Linux is that there are almost always choices how to go about things. And this includes installing software. I realised that in my article about selecting Linux music production software I didn't mention how to actually install the software. And here you have lots of choices as well. As always, with choices come responsibilities, and the main responsibility here is understanding what's happening. Different distributions use different tools for this process, so I will use the Ubuntu tools as an example (but even in Ubuntu there are more ways than described here). Let's get started:
Today, in a message on the Ardour site, Paul Davis announced that within a few weeks (he mentions 2) Ardour will have native open source support for VST plug-ins. Getting VST plug-in support was a technical and involved process up until now, but with the new version you can host the VST plug-ins right in Ardour. This is very good news that can significantly enlarge the Ardour user base, which in turn will help the development of Ardour. Getting all this goodness requires a bit of patience until the new release is out, but I don't mind...
In Selecting Linux music production software I outlined several ways in which you can contribute to the software you use, and thus help Linux for music forward. But I forgot about one way that was brought to my attention a few days ago. Let me provide you with some background first: most open source initiatives are projects done by dedicated people with a passion for their project and who work on the projects whenever time permits. Quite a few projects are backed by universities and corporations, providing talents, resources and often money. Why do I bring this up? Read on to find out:
I discovered a handy guide for Ubuntu: the "Ubuntu pocket guide & reference". It's a nice little book (170 pages in pdf format), written by Keir Thomas who wrote several Ubuntu and Linux books. For musicians contemplating the transition to Linux for music it could be a very valuable download (especially since it is free!). Read on for a little review of this book:
One of the important steps in setting up a system for music production is selecting the software. This is of course no different when using Linux for music. And since almost all of the software for Linux is open source, there are some huge advantages, but they do come at a small cost. But if you know what you are looking for this is no big deal. So here are a number of things to take into account while selecting your software for Linux music production:
The installation of Ubuntu (a while ago) went flawless, or so it seemed at first. But when I wanted to do some recording test, I found out that things didn't go so well after all. As I stated before, my recording needs are fairly modest. Most of the time a stereo in- and output will do just fine. But occasionally I need to record a few extra tracks simultaneously. That's why I bought a Fostex VC-8 AD/DA converter (quite a while ago..) that I connected to my sound card using an optical ADAT cable. The sound card is not really state of the art either, being an OEM RME card bundled by Steinberg with Cubase (ST24/96). Nothing particularly fancy, but it delivers professional results, with the optical ADAT connections. So I was hoping I could use this set up when using Linux for music production. But it seems like I'm out of luck with this one, even though I haven't given up completely yet...: