How To Install New Software On Ubuntu

Making Music With Open Source Software

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A New Music Tutorial at lyndondaniels.com: How to Setup an Open Source Digital Audio Workstation

How to
                                setup and Open Source Digital Audio

Part 1: Making Music With Open Source Software
I'll be documenting what I learn about working with audio on Linux as I learn about it.
I'll mainly be referring to creating audio with Ubuntu (or Ubuntu-studio) and the many applications that are available for these systems.
At the simplest level I will begin with the operating system, Ubuntu-Studio.

Ubuntu Studio
Ubuntu Studio

Ubuntu-Studio has "realtime-kernel support" enabled by default and standard Ubuntu does not. This allows me, when working with audio, highly responsive processing power that is as close to zero latency as possible. What this means is,
it possible for me to plug a guitar or keyboard or other musical instrument into my computer and have my computer process it's signal in realtime so when I jam, I can play in time with the correct bpm and hear what I'm playing at the same time.
Realtime Kernel support is important for making music. However during Ubuntu 9.04 and 9.10 their realtime kernel support did not function quite as well as in the past, and although I had to make my music with the standard Ubuntu kernel (non-realtime kernel) the results were still acceptable. That is to say that I did not notice any latency issues. Bearing this in mind it is recommended that when making music, and when possible, you should use an operating system with realtime kernel support, however not having this support might not hinder your music production as was the case when I was using Ubuntu 9.04. In other words, you might be told that you should not bother trying to make music unless you have realtime kernel support, however I feel, this is a conclusion you should make for yourself after experimenting with your chosen software.

When you install Ubuntu Studio, a whole new suite of Audio and Video Production software gets installed at the same time.
There are a bunch of useful music creation applications in this package, which I have been able to avoid building from source or hunting down on the Internet as they are automatically installed when Ubuntu Studio is installed. This has been a major time saver by keeping things simple.
Amongst the applications I'll be discussing, are some that are installed with Ubuntu Studio some that are not. I've listed the applications' respective websites from which installation files can be downloaded if the package is not available through your package manager (please see this section if you are unfamiliar with installing new software on Ubuntu).


A midi sequencer

A realtime sound effector

A realtime soundFX synthesizer

An Advanced Drum Machine

An Audio Connection Kit GUI

An effects rack for JACK

A realtime audio effector for guitar

A Digital Audio Workstation

JACK (Jack Audio Connection Kit)

JACK is an important audio tool for making music on Linux, in terms of being able to visualize where you are sending a signal to or getting that signal from. It's main purpose is to link audio and midi signals between various sound processing software and hardware tools.
All the Software that I will be discussing here will be software that works in conjunction with JACK (this just keeps things simple and easier to manage). I will explain how the software I use connects to JACK and how to modify these connections.
Another very useful feature of JACK is that it allows you to connect all applications written to use it's capabilities to a single time line and sync each applications bpm. What this means Is that when you use multiple applications to make a track (as is the recommended work flow for making music on Linux) and you click "play" on (for example) your midi sequencer you do not need to quickly try to switch to your drum machine or DAW to click their respective "play" buttons. JACK will unify all of their transport controls so that they all play in time with each other, scrub to the appropriate locations and still allow you to use marker locations set by each individual application.

I generally start JACK up before any other audio tools. This is mainy because JACK is able to detect other audio software written to take advantage of it's capabilities and make the appropriate connections between those applications, the system output and other music software. All these default connections can also be modified by clicking on the "Connect" button.