I have recently invested in some used thinkpads that I intend using Linux for OS, for reasons related to cyber security.

I am wondering if anyone may recommend or explain their preferred strategy for being successful in producing music on linux. On windows, my preferred DAW is FL studio, but I also use Reaper. I play guitar and use hardware like MIDI Keyboards as well as my Line 6 Pod as a soundcard.



I will attempt a short answer covering some aspects of your inquiry, mainly to get you started. Although I cannot be extremely certain, I believe that Qtractor is what suits you best for producing music in Linux. As her developer, Rui Nuno Capela, keeps nagging us about,

Qtractor is a sequencer with DAW-like features.

Rui Nuno Capela is very helpful answering questions about using Qtractor on his personal website. To get started with Qtractor, I would suggest this series of videos by Yassin Philip. I very much like him as a songwriter (he sounds like a French John Frusciante, at least to my ears, if I had to provide an analogous case, e.g. at gunpoint), he has a coding background and produces everything using Open Source software (he uses Qtractor as his DAW(-like thingy)). His instructional videos crack me up, having an ideal combination of fun and education, if you ask me. There is also an interview of Yassin Philip in Libre Music Production, which is a great source for information on producing music using Linux. He goes over tools and parts of his workflow in this interview, so you could check it out. Anyway, you should start from somewhere and Qtractor fits your profile, I believe. There is LMMS, but she is a pure sequencer, as far as I know, i.e. no audio tracks. And there is Ardour, of course, an extremely powerful piece of software, leaning heavily on the DAW side of music production.

Reaper has been reported to work well in Linux, I believe using Wine, which is a Windows compatibility layer for Linux. But I could be wrong, Reaper may have already gone full native in Linux. You could look into it.

In the Linux Audio world, you will quickly come across LV2, which is an open standard for audio plugins. And plugin hosts, such as Carla, which can be used for combining plugins in a live scenario.

Lastly, you could try installing a Linux distribution oriented towards audio production, e.g. KXStudio, to get started. KXStudio includes everything you will need. It is Ubuntu-based.

That is my centitone. I hope for more answers, regarding specific workflows.

  • Just to update the information, as far as can be seen in Reaper's site, there's no Linux native version. – José David Apr 11 '17 at 23:01

Ardour is the 500lb gorilla of Linux DAWs (with basic Midi and video audio track creation support). An offspin is Jackd for the Realtime parts of soundcard processing. Ardour will do multitrack play/record in parallel.

Several Thinkpads (like my T61) have a Firewire 400 connector (4-pin, no power) that will, for example, connect right up to a Mackie Onyx mixer (6-pin, with the Mackie being obviously self-powered), either with the optional Firewire extension card or an Onyx i model with builtin Firewire card. Great preamps.

Their driver support has collapsed with Windows 10: as a result, they are comparatively cheap to buy these days.

They work well with Ardour/Jackd. So do the expensive-even-when-used Multiface cards from RME (with single-height Cardbus interface). Those also double as Midi interface (and SPDIF and a number of other interface options).

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