Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

What other apps and distros do you use to round out your studio?

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basementmedia
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Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by basementmedia »

Hi,

actually i am running ubuntu 20.04.
But i got problems with random crahses, Jack Audio, and so on.
Maybe related to the fact, that i didn't install ubutntu 20.04. from scrathc but updated from 18.04.
Since the update, i've got a lot of problems.

So i decided to completely start a new chapter, means all reset / delete and new installation.

So heres my question:
Should i again install ubuntu 20.04. or are there other, much better distro you suggest for music production?
I use an rme fireface 800 as audio interface, means i have to use FFADO and Jackaudio, Cadence and other kx-stuff.

Which distribution is the best for me?
Is there a special, perfectly preconfigured one for audio production?
By the way: I will use Mixbus 32C as sequencer.

Best regards
Daniel
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gennargiu
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by gennargiu »

hi you can testing avlinux (debian buster based + mx linux) :wink:

http://www.bandshed.net/2020/11/25/av-l ... n-is-here/

gennaro
Hp Elite 8200 3,1 Ghz - 16 Giga Ram Hd 2 Terabyte - studiomusic64-Ubuntu Studio 18.04-Ardour 5,12 - Mixbus 5
Asus X54c - studiomusic64- Mx Linux 19.3-Ardour 5.12- Mixbus 5-RPI3 + Raspbian Buster- Rpi4 (4giga ram)
basementmedia
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by basementmedia »

Hi,

sounds interesting, but: is it a one man show distro?
How good is maintaining / support if problems occur?

Best regards
Daniel
varpa
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by varpa »

AVL-MXE is not exactly a one-man show, its is based on MXE Linux and uses other repositories like kxstudio. Also, the maintainer has a 10 year record of updating AVLinux, though of course I can't predict the future.
Death
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by Death »

I don't use any of the music distros because there's always something I don't like about them. They all seem to be point releases for a start, like Ubuntu and you've already experienced one of the things I hate about point releases - upgrades that never work properly. Another thing is that I don't always like the choice of DEs they come with because they're usually the more minimal, basic ones.

I actually settled for Manjaro with KDE Plasma. It didn't take much tweaking to make it good for music (If you decide to use it, I can help you with that). The repositories are pretty amazing. There's so much good stuff in there and it's updated often. I use Cadence and Jack stuff. FFADO is in there. If something isn't in there then there's the AUR, though it's rare I need anything from there (Currently I use nothing from the AUR). I just had a search and couldn't find Mixbus in the main repos or the AUR so that might be an issue for you. You'd have to look into it because I'm sure there'll be a way. Maybe Harrison make an Arch compatible build.

If you want to search the main repos then I think it's this link: https://discover.manjaro.org/packages/
The AUR is here: https://aur.archlinux.org/

If in your searches you happen to find a music focused distro that's a rolling release and has got up to date kernels, drivers and packages - please let me know :)
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by JamesPeters »

I agree with Death. (There's a sentence I never thought I'd type.) :) I use XFCE though.

No offense meant to anyone maintaining a DAW-specific distro. But I have newer hardware (AMD CPU, newer mainboard, newer audio device) so I want a newer kernel that supports it properly for all the features, plus my "DAW computer" is my "everyday computer" so I want it to have the latest security updates and also lots of software available in the repos. By choosing a more common distro, I'm compromising in the distro's "immediate DAW usefulness" to a degree but I'm gaining those other things. I also suppose a kernel specifically tailored to DAW use (such as the one for AV Linux) might have advantages for an OS in which a person uses lots of different DAW software running combined through Jack, but I don't use Jack and I prefer to have all my DAW stuff contained within the application (Reaper, and plugins running within it). So I haven't had a need for anything beyond what a lowlatency or realtime kernel provides.

Manjaro is very up-to-date without being "too bleeding-edge" to the point of being unstable. If I want software, chances are 1) it's in the repo (I'm not even using AUR or Flatpak), and 2) it's current.

As for setting it up for DAW use, there may not be much you have to do. Here's info that I'd posted on the Reaper forum about it:
In Windows there are "power settings" to adjust and/or choose from a profile in the control panel, which should be done for DAW use. Linux generally doesn't have these things (although some distros have more control-panel-like things). A couple of the things you'd be doing by choosing the "high performance" power profile in Windows should also be done in Linux.

-For USB audio devices, you should check your "USB autosuspend" setting and probably just disable it entirely.

-For your "CPU frequency governor", you want that set to "performance" so that the CPU speed doesn't throttle down to a lower speed.

-For PCIe audio devices, you may also need to check your "PCIe ASPM" setting and change it to "performance".

I'm currently using Manjaro, so I can do all this using TLP (in particular I use the front-end TLP-UI which I had to add from the repo). You may have to change settings in some files, or use some other utilities, in other distros. You'll probably have to search for that information.

Other than those settings, I do the following:

-Install a lowlatency or realtime kernel, then reboot and choose that kernel from the GRUB menu. Along with this, depending on the distro, I may have to add a module for the Nvidia GPU that I'm using so that it's compatible with the realtime or lowlatency kernel. I install the proprietary Nvidia GPU driver (so that it performs better than Nouveau), and it's compatible with the "generic" kernel, but it seems to need a realtime "RT module" installed to work with lowlatency/realtime kernels. Ubuntu-based distros generally handle this for you when you install a lowlatency kernel from the repo, but Debian-based and Arch-based ones don't seem to (so don't be surprised if you boot to a GUI-less DAW after switching to the lowlatency or realtime kernel, if you have an Nvidia GPU using the proprietary Nvidia driver and forget to add the "RT module" for it). I use the lowlatency or realtime kernels in the official repos, not a separate one (such as Liquorix, which seemed to increase my CPU usage and also lag behind official kernels in terms of its version number). Manjaro has a "realtime" kernel in the repo, and Ubuntu-based distros have a "lowlatency" kernel in the repo. They're both good.

(update: using Manjaro's default generic kernel seems to perform as well as any lowlatency or realtime kernel for my tests at low latency while pushing the CPU to its limits. So I don't need a realtime kernel in Manjaro.)

That's pretty much it. I don't have to do any of the other tweaks mentioned on any sites/forums to have Reaper running at low latency and high CPU (lots of plugins). It's solid. If you run external synths (not plugins) and want to connect things with Jack, you might have to change some more settings and check out other tweaks recommended on some Linux audio sites/forums. But for Reaper in general using plugins "inside Reaper" itself (and using ALSA for audio), you probably don't have to do anything else.

That USB autosuspend thing had caught me off guard. I have a 2i2 and it only seemed to work properly on one of my USB ports, otherwise giving me issues (lots of xruns, the DAW not responding after a few seconds, media players that stop working if you seek from one time to another). I think that one particular USB port was better at resuming from auto-suspend due to being the "DAC up" USB port (a port which has a separate power supply that you can adjust). I'd assumed that it was some USB port priority thing in Linux (and I didn't care to mess around with USB port priority settings in Linux) so I ignored it until when I installed Manjaro, because then even that "DAC up" port gave me problems with the 2i2. After changing that autosuspend setting, the 2i2 works properly (and is stable for DAW use) on any USB port.

One more odd thing I noticed in Manjaro: fstrim.timer wasn't set to automatically run. I'm used to seeing that in distros already enabled, but this time it wasn't. It was very easy to enable (and it persists through shutdown/restart) but that did surprise me a bit.
Last edited by JamesPeters on Sun Feb 14, 2021 7:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
Death
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by Death »

@JamesPeters How 'Realtime' is the Manjaro RT kernel? What sort of latency difference do you get? There's different levels with these type of kernels and the lower latency they are, the bigger the performance hit. The standard Manjaro kernel gives me the same latency as what the low latency kernel on Linux Mint used to give me. It was actually a bit slower than Mint's low latency kernel when I first started using it but they updated it a year or two ago. Then again, maybe that was just a standard change to the Linux kernel in general, I'm not sure. Anyway, I don't use the RT kernel incase the performance hit is bad. I have a good computer but I like to keep the power free for games :)
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by bluzee »

Tweaking for games and tweaking for audio may have different needs. Dunno, not a a gamer. There is however, no need to restrict yourself to just one kernel. You can have a kernel patched for audio and other patched for games or even ones patched for performance on specific games. Each is just a reboot away.
Death
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by Death »

bluzee wrote: Sat Feb 13, 2021 9:59 pm Tweaking for games and tweaking for audio may have different needs. Dunno, not a a gamer. There is however, no need to restrict yourself to just one kernel. You can have a kernel patched for audio and other patched for games or even ones patched for performance on specific games. Each is just a reboot away.
Way too much hassle. Might as well dual boot Windows in my case. I want one kernel to rule them all - no reboots for different activities. Anyway, this is not about me so I'll leave it there :lol:
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by merlyn »

Death wrote: The standard Manjaro kernel gives me the same latency as what the low latency kernel on Linux Mint used to give me.
On Arch and so I would assume on Manjaro too the standard kernel is a low latency kernel.

There are three kinds of kernel : (1)generic or stock, (2)low latency and (3)real time. If I do :

Code: Select all

$ uname -a
Linux SiriusC 5.9.1-rt20-1-rt #1 SMP PREEMPT_RT Thu, 29 Oct 2020 11:56:25 +0000 x86_64 GNU/Linu
I get PREEMPT_RT -- that is a realtime kernel. Low latency says PREEMPT and a stock kernel says something else, maybe nothing in that field. I think if you try uname -a yourself you'll find you've got a low latency kernel.
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Death
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by Death »

merlyn wrote: Sat Feb 13, 2021 11:41 pm There are three kinds of kernel : (1)generic or stock, (2)low latency and (3)real time. If I do :

Code: Select all

$ uname -a
Linux SiriusC 5.9.1-rt20-1-rt #1 SMP PREEMPT_RT Thu, 29 Oct 2020 11:56:25 +0000 x86_64 GNU/Linu
I get PREEMPT_RT -- that is a realtime kernel. Low latency says PREEMPT and a stock kernel says something else, maybe nothing in that field. I think if you try uname -a yourself you'll find you've got a low latency kernel.
You are correct. So there we go, Manjaro uses the low latency kernel by default :) So that must mean the RT kernel is the proper realtime one which is not what I'd imagine most people would want to use for everyday situations. But maybe it's good if your machine is powerful enough and purely for making music on.
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by merlyn »

Death wrote:But maybe it's good if your machine is powerful enough and purely for making music on.
I haven't found it makes a huge amount of difference most of the time. I only notice the difference at high DSP loads when the RT kernel allows a bit more to be squeezed out of the hardware without xruns. Also my hardware is pretty old so processing power doesn't seem to be a factor :)
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Death
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by Death »

merlyn wrote: Sun Feb 14, 2021 12:03 am I haven't found it makes a huge amount of difference most of the time. I only notice the difference at high DSP loads when the RT kernel allows a bit more to be squeezed out of the hardware without xruns. Also my hardware is pretty old so processing power doesn't seem to be a factor :)
Interesting. That's not the impression I had about the RT kernel. I suppose it's worth considering then.
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by merlyn »

The RT kernel has possibly got a bad name because of problems with Nvidia drivers. I have an AMD graphics card so there is no issue. Also in the old days an RT kernel had to be compiled from source and the gains may not have been worth the effort so the general advice was to stick to a low latency kernel.

An RT kernel certainly isn't essential and if your system is working well there probably isn't a huge amount to be gained.
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Re: Which Linux Distro should i choose for Music production 2021

Post by bluzee »

So that must mean the RT kernel is the proper realtime one which is not what I'd imagine most people would want to use for everyday situations. But maybe it's good if your machine is powerful enough and purely for making music on.
I use a custom compiled RT kernel for all applications. I have to custom compile so my DVB spectrum analyser will work so I just apply the RT patch at the same time. Like yourself I don't reboot or generally ever turn my computer off. I don't understand why you think using an RT kernel harms performance. I have never noticed such nor do I recall anyone else ever mentioning a loss in performance.

There is no need to pick any particular distro for music production. Any can be set up relatively easily.
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