Any decent DAW on linux?

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

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Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby arnsa » Wed Aug 28, 2013 9:48 am


I was thinking of switching from Windows to Linux. Atm I'm using Ableton Live on Windows (used Fruity Loops some time ago), too bad it's not on Linux. I didn't want to use Wine so I started searching for a decent DAW on Linux for composing music. In my opinion, the most popular ones were Ardour and LMMS. The thing is that people say, that LMMS is just like a toy and you can't do anything serious with it. Then I looked up at Ardour - what I saw from screenshots, looked like it's a DAW created for mixing and recording. It has some MIDI stuff tho, but it's a pretty new feature for Ardour. So, any thoughts on this topic?

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby 5parkle5 » Wed Aug 28, 2013 3:25 pm

Here is a list of many Linux DAW's with some of their specifications.

My favorite DAW is Qtractor. I use it for composing electronic music with MIDI, samples, automation, etc. Other MIDI friendly software for Linux can be found here.

EDIT: With that said, if you would like to go into detail about what kind of music you make or interested in making, someone may have a more specific suggestion to offer.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby AutoStatic » Wed Aug 28, 2013 5:34 pm

arnsa wrote:The thing is that people say, that LMMS is just like a toy and you can't do anything serious with it.
Hi Arnsa, sounds a bit like FUD to me. You might want to check out Not sure what he's using now but he made a lot of tracks with LMMS.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby totalchaos » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:11 pm

arnsa wrote:Any decent DAW on linux?

Yes, we have.
arnsa wrote:....I started searching for a decent DAW on Linux for composing music. In my opinion, the most popular ones were Ardour and LMMS. The thing is that people say, that LMMS is just like a toy and you can't do anything serious with it. .

LMMS it is more like the early versions of Fruity Loops (1-2-3). Most "experts" say its lame, probably because of the lack of quality demo tunes. Yet it can be pretty usable for FL a-like style of composing.

For DAW the most common suggestions around here would be Ardour (Ardour3 has midi, A2 doesn't), Qtractor or Muse.
If you want sequencers, check out the powerful Rosegarden, although i personally prefer using the simpler, yet very useful Seq24. These exist from long time, but there are also some more recently developed alternatives, for you to try as well.

My recommendation is to not limit yourself, seeking "the one DAW to rule them all". Instead experiment with different ones. Try to find yourself in anyone of it. That way you will see that DAW X is strong in one thing, DAW Y and Z in something else and so on.
Last edited by totalchaos on Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:42 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby tramp » Wed Aug 28, 2013 7:20 pm

totalchaos wrote:My recommendation is to not limit yourself, seeking "the one DAW to rule them all".

Indeed, if you "thinking of switching from Windows to Linux", you better make yourself aware of the modular approve, which linux currently follow. There are a couple of applications which assemble nicely to a "environment to rule them all". :)

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby funkmuscle » Thu Aug 29, 2013 1:45 am

for me the major complaint about LMMS was the problem with it and Jack. If given a chance, it's quite amazing.
I'm a hard rocker/metalhead but currently making beats for a hip-hop artist and my niece is an RnB singer and writing songs for her.
Most is done with LMMS the exported to Ardour.
When I do my rock stuff, I use Seq24, Hydrogen, Guitarix, Carla, and my hardware preamp and guitar, Ardour and even LMMS.

When I'm at the studio writing with friends, I fine I get more done quicker with Linux than they do with a Mac and Logic. I even had then ask if the tracks from Hydrogen was a real drummer.

As long as you enter the Linux world with an opened mind, I other words, forget Windows or Macs exist and IMO, you'll be fine. That's how I told friends to approach Linux and those who did are still using it. Those who looked for the alternatives didn't last. Hope that helped.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby tatch » Thu Aug 29, 2013 7:55 am

If you make electronic music you'll honestly be hard-pressed to find anything as good as live on linux that's stable. The closest offerings to live that I know of are tracktion, bitwig and renoise, all of which are proprietary; and only renoise is actually stable (via wine i think), tracktion is open beta and bitwig is still in closed.

It looks like some people find success using Ardour3 with its midi stuff, zth released an album made mostly in ardour I think and he's also doing some ardour tutorials. Personally I think ardour looks pretty but I don't really like how it feels. I've used ardour2 for ~4 years recording stuff and that was fine, but the MIDI and automation stuff feels kinda clunky to me.

Qtractor is kinda nice but I don't like its interface either. You may disagree.

I've tried using LMMS at least 3 times and gave up every time. I don't know how FL Studio is supposed to feel but LMMS is just weird to me.

You could also try PyDAW which is focused around making EDM and has pattern-based sequencing but has its own plugins.

If you're willing to flounder around relentlessly with all the different FOSS modular stuff (which i do. It can be discouraging and nonproductive) you should first figure out what the hell everyone means when they talk about modular audio workflows and then figure out what 'components' you want to use. For me it's sorta like

-session manager (non-session-manager or claudia/ladish)
-instruments (tal noisemaker, hydrogen)
-midi and/or audio sequencer (non-seq/seq24, hydrogen for drums, non-timeline for recorded audio)
-plugin host (carla)

and then the 3 most important plugins:
>compressor (calf compressor)
>eq (calf eq/eq10q if it works)
>reverb (tal reverb ii/calf reverb/there are many reverbs in linux)

plus one that's important for dancey music:
>sidechain - u can't just use a compressor like you do in live (sc3) (this one tends to f*** up most DAWs since it has 3i/2o (carla is fine tho), zth has a tutorial in these forums on how to do it in ardour)

you should keep in mind that many of the apps in the linux audio world are being actively developed and as such are still rather feature-incomplete. Check out the linux audio wiki too, it may answer questions you have.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby GMaq » Fri Aug 30, 2013 4:55 pm

Just for clarification Renoise is cross-platform and has a native Linux version that supports LADSPA, DSSI and LinuxVST Plugins.

Regardless of DAWs (My personal fave is Ardour+Hydrogen) I highly recommend linuxDSP Plugins, they are commercial but reasonably priced and you will be hard pressed to find better pro-grade DSP code anywhere regardless of platform.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby bmarkham » Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:13 pm

I'll give you my two cents.

I have two hard drives in my computer -- one running windows 7 and the other running KXstudio(linux). I switch which one I boot from in the BIOS. I also have a Network Attached Storage that backs up to the cloud that mounts on both operating systems.

I use LMMS extensively and it it can, in fact, make decent music. Most of the music you'll find on my music website was done using LMMS. LMMS works on both windows and linux, though I think it is more stable on linux. (You can listen to examples on

I also use Ardour 2 and 3 a lot on Linux, as well as Audacity. Between these three programs along with some great linux tools like Jammin and Guitarix along with AmSynth, TAL Noisemaker, PhaseX etc. you can take entire tracks from conception through mastering. And that doesn't even get into the million and one other excellent programs out there such as Rosegarden, Qtractor, etc. Every piece of music on that site was mastered in Ardour on Linux, even for the couple of songs that were done in Live.

Once you get used to it, the JACK subsystem on Linux for routing midi and audio is the most wonderful thing ever. I produced tons of audio for years on Linux before ever doing any audio work on Windows, and compared to JACK-based systems I find Windows to be constrained and half brain-dead by comparison. Also, though there IS a learning curve, the sheer depth and breadth of the tools available on Linux is breathtaking. The biggest trouble is settling on a few to learn and learn well. Some people need constraints to be creative -- and Linux audio comes with few. If wide-open vistas work for you, Linux is the ultimate creative environment. The only downside on Linux is the lack of solid support for the most up to date hardware. But it is still pretty good.

Which brings me to Windows.

The biggest benefit of Windows is it is an 800 lb gorilla. If some hardware company makes an audio interface, it WILL work with Windows or they WILL go out of business overnight. So support for essentially all hardware, even the most bleeding edge, is practically guaranteed. The second biggest benefit is the availability of certain software -- particularly stuff like Ableton Live.

I love Ableton Live, and I love Reaper. Though Reaper works fine under Wine (a windows emulator) on Linux, I think it works better natively on Windows.

For electronic music particularly, the work flow of Ableton Live simply cannot be beaten IMO. It's amazing. There is hardly anything in Live 9 that isn't superb. Add a couple of soft-synths like Sylenth or others, and it is an absolute creativity powerhouse. Love it. If you are used to the workflow of Live, IMHO you will find nothing else comparable on any operating system.

I alluded earlier to my particular solution -- about 80% of my work is done on Linux and 20% on Windows. I use that shared network drive to synchronize files betweeen them. That way, I have the best of both worlds. Still, when push comes to shove, my default is to go to Linux when I have a musical project because the overall end-to-end workflow is better. Audacity is a fantastic wave editor. Ardour does great especially when combined with Jack's powerful routing capabilities. LMMS can't do EVERYTHING -- but you can edit waves outboard, etc. and make darned decent music.

I'd recommend installing a second hard drive in your computer, and loading it up with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and KXStudio, then dual booting from BIOS and experimenting. I use both. I'll be 100% Linux just as soon as Ableton makes a native Linux version. Reaper too. lol Until then, its 80/20 for me.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby wolftune » Mon Sep 09, 2013 4:35 am

Wine (a windows emulator)

um, not to be nit-picky but from the About stuff: "Wine (originally an acronym for "Wine Is Not an Emulator") is a compatibility layer capable of running Windows applications…"
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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby danboid » Mon Sep 09, 2013 7:07 pm


There is no need to switch OS's via the BIOS if you want to dual boot Win 7 with Linux. Multi-booting KX and Windows using GRUB is covered in the installation chapter of the KX Manual.
Are you new to Linux Audio? This manual explains how to install KXStudio, set up and use JACK, mimimize latency, lists the best Linux AV apps and much more all in a concise and easy to understand format.

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby artek » Mon Sep 30, 2013 5:50 pm

I would recommend mixbus a ardour clone
for me it's much easier/faster than ardour or reaper

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby 71GA » Mon Jun 08, 2015 10:24 am

It is 2015 now and Bitwig is the best you can get for Linux. It also supports artists which want to produce electronics music while recording guitar, piano... is not hard at all. It allso has a drum machine plugin...

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Re: Any decent DAW on linux?

Postby ToFue » Thu Sep 10, 2015 2:19 am

that URI returns:
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Is that link meant as some tongue-in-cheek satire, or is it a dead link? o.O

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