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Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 6:41 pm
by jdessi
Hi,
I would like to use an old Toshiba with just one gigabyte of RAM to make some music. What distribution do you recommend?

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:13 pm
by Michael Willis
Try something lightweight like Xubuntu or the XFCE edition of Mint.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:20 pm
by sysrqer
I can't imagine you will be able to do much with 1gb but I suppose it depends what you are using it for. You could try something with a minimal DE/window manager like manjaro openbox edition (if that still exists), or crunchbang (which I'm sure doesn't exist but there might be a fork) that might help a bit but I think you will run in to trouble whatever you choose. If you are using it as a minimal midi sequencer it might be ok but otherwise can you not just buy some more ram? It's pretty cheap these days.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 7:24 pm
by jdessi
Thank you so much. I was thinking to give a try to Puppy Studio.
Do you know? What do you think about it?

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Mon Aug 05, 2019 8:13 pm
by CrocoDuck
jdessi wrote:Thank you so much. I was thinking to give a try to Puppy Studio.
Do you know? What do you think about it?
Open Source development of Puppy Studio ceased in 2011. As far as I am aware, Puppy Studio is now Studio 13.37, a commercial distro. Announcements of new Studio 13.37 versions are often made in the Marketplace section of this forum, see here for example.

I tried Puppy Studio back in the day (2010-ish). It was pretty good, but you are better to stick with more up to date stuff, if you want to use Open Source. If your OS is light enough, you can run up to date audio toys. As for Studio 13.37, I never tried it.

With your amount of RAM I would go for OpenBox as window manager.
sysrqer wrote:crunchbang (which I'm sure doesn't exist but there might be a fork)
BunsenLabs.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 8:23 am
by Basslint
jdessi wrote:Hi,
I would like to use an old Toshiba with just one gigabyte of RAM to make some music. What distribution do you recommend?
How skilled are you with GNU/Linux? If you have intermediate skills, I recommend Debian with LxQt.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:28 am
by Linuxmusician01
That funny. I recently picked up my old Asus eeePC 901 again. Thought that it's small form factor might make quick multi-track recording easy. It has one 32 bit processor (Intel Atrom) at 1.6 GHz. And only 1 GB of RAM. And 11 GB of disk space (I added a cheap external 32 GB SD card). Still works perfectly with Debian 10 Buster (newest Debian at time of writing). I use Mate with Compiz/Emerald. And it looks better than my "big" desktop PC running Mint w/ Cinnamon!

Only thing that's slow is not the GUI but internet browsers. I use the Falkon i'net browser now and thats much faster. So it is possible.

For recording music I use Qtracktor (as for now the standard version from the Debian repo's, not yet KXStudio) and a class compliant U-Phoria audio interface from Behringer. Dunno how latency is though. I haven't used this PC for playing a VST synth via a Midi keyboard etc.

Good luck! :)

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 11:37 am
by tavasti
I would expect any distro work, but things to check:
- Don't run any unneeded services
- Skip all 'desktop environment', and instead run plain old X session with light window manager
- Do not run any browser or any other programs which aren't really needed when you are recoding audio

Sure easiest thing may be to start from some 'light' distro, but trimming down stuff running is possible with any distro.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 2:54 pm
by English Guy
Try the version of Raspbian (the raspberry Pi OS) that has been released for normal Pcs. This is Debian designed to be very light and has full access to Debian repos.

EDIT: https://www.raspberrypi.org/downloads/r ... i-desktop/

According to one article the minimum requirement for RAM is 512MB!

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Tue Aug 06, 2019 3:01 pm
by merlyn
If it only has 1GB of RAM it's probably 32 bit hardware. That cuts your options down but there are still 32 bit versions of distros available e.g. AV Linux :

http://www.bandshed.net/avlinux/

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 11:55 am
by Linuxmusician01
merlyn wrote:If it only has 1GB of RAM it's probably 32 bit hardware. That cuts your options down but there are still 32 bit versions of distros available e.g. AV Linux :

http://www.bandshed.net/avlinux/
Considering 32 bit support from the AV Linux distribution. Quote from their hom page:
AV Linux 2019.4.10 has been released. This release [...] will mark the last release based on Debian Stretch and sadly it will also be the last release of the 32bit version.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:36 pm
by Gps
I wonder if you can't find a few memory banks, to have 2 gig at least or 4 gig.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 12:45 pm
by Linuxmusician01
Gps wrote:I wonder if you can't find a few memory banks, to have 2 gig at least or 4 gig.
I don't think that's really needed. And if he upgrades the memory in this machine then the CPU will be the bottleneck.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Wed Aug 07, 2019 6:10 pm
by Fmajor7add9
sysrqer wrote:...try something with a minimal DE/window manager like manjaro openbox edition (if that still exists), or crunchbang (which I'm sure doesn't exist but there might be a fork)
this Debian spin with Openbox just came up in another feed here, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jpAfVOz6P4Q

CrunchBang was forked to https://www.bunsenlabs.org

and https://slax.org is also using it as base, around 120MB RAM at idle, all apps can be loaded or unloaded in modules at boot or on the fly

- I haven't tried any of them (yet)
sysrqer wrote:If you are using it as a minimal midi sequencer it might be ok but otherwise can you not just buy some more ram? It's pretty cheap these days.
Depending on the load balance between live and edited audio and software instruments maybe consider syncing with external hardware for audio and/or DSP processing. Then keep all of the session handling and editing in the laptop and add whatever fx or instruments it can handle.

Some of the classic Boss, Zoom, Tascam multitrackers may be usable and there are loads of keyboards and modules (Roland JV-1010 etc.) to choose from.

If that's not an option look into how flexible the various DAWs utilize CPU and RAM. Features similar to Tracktions 'freeze' (https://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/tracktion-5) could be crucial to do anything beyond 2-3 tracks.

Re: Linux Distro to make music with an old PC

Posted: Thu Aug 08, 2019 8:13 am
by jdessi
Basslint wrote: How skilled are you with GNU/Linux? If you have intermediate skills, I recommend Debian with LxQt.
Unfortunately, I'm a beginner...