tom moody

linux musings

Dell makes high-end laptops that run Ubuntu -- who knew? It's the only "major" hardware supplier that does, according to Linux Magazine. On the niche side, Think Penguin offers PCs and laptops configured for various Linux distros (as they're called). Highly recommended if you are looking to buck the system, that is, step outside the Apple/Microsoft/Google thought control paradigm. (The ambitious can also remake W10 in a more honest image -- see funfare's instructions). Unfortunately Ubuntu has an obnoxious "unity desktop" that's more user friendly than it needs to be; worse, Ubuntu is managed by a for-profit company, Canonical, that lost some credibility by partnering with Amazon on some customer enhancement whatever (apparently you can now opt out of this). Other distros, such as Mint, avoid the unity and the canon.

In the world of audio-for-Linux, a schism is brewing because some commercial DAW developers are suddenly making workstations that run on Linux, using its super-flexible JACK protocol. Tracktion and Bitwig both offer these, in addition to Apple and MS versions. The problem is plugins. Linux users have developed a range of interesting products using the LV2 standard, regarded by many as superior to the VST protocol developed by Steinberg (of Cubase fame), that serves as the audio industry standard, for better or worse. Neither Tracktion nor Bitwig load LV2 plugins, only VSTs. There are various bridges that no one seems ecstatic about. To take advantage of LV2, you must use Linux-centric DAWs such as Ardour or Qtractor. Unfortunately the Linux DAWs are clunky and crude compared to the commercial ones -- I've had ongoing issues with Ardour's MIDI tracks in Loop mode, and crashing from various plugins. Either Tracktion/Bitwig need to embrace the house standard (not going to happen, it appears) or Ardour needs to get a whole lot tighter (might happen, given time and competition).

- tom moody

March 8th, 2017 at 9:31 am

Posted in linux diary