Setup a Digital Audio Workstation in Ubuntu

Overview

There are popular computer platforms and software packages for working with digital audio out there, Apple computers, Logic Studio and Garage Band in particular come to mind, but have you considered using Linux to import, create, mix and make music? If you haven’t, consider that music is being created today with open source, freely distributed software, on an open source platform. In the tutorials below I install a number of free digital audio applications in Ubuntu Linux. The tutorials were created under the guidance of my good friend Ray Oltion, who gave a great lecture and demonstration to my class on the basics of getting started working with digital audio in Linux.

If you are serious about using Linux as a digital audio, graphics or video workstation you may want to download a distribution of Linux that has a real-time kernel. Ubuntu Studio caters this type of user with lots of software applications pre-installed and a real-time kernel. Visit the website here: http://ubuntustudio.org/

Resources

The programs that we will be installing in Ubuntu are:

  • Jack and Jack Tools sound connection kit
  • Muse MIDI sequencer
  • Ardour music arranger
  • Audacity sound editor and the Lame mp3 encoder
  • VLC media player

You can install all of these applications from the Ubuntu terminal with the following command:
sudo apt-get install jackd jack-tools muse ardour audacity lame vlc

Note: When you are installing you will be prompted to choose realtime or not. You can experiment and select yes, but if you do not have a real time kernel you may have to turn this setting off in Jack later (see video).

To follow along with the tutorial you will need a midi file and some sound fonts that you can download from the following websites:

Download midi files here: http://free.mididb.com/ , http://www.free-midi.org/
Download sound fonts here: http://www.hammersound.net/ , http://www.soundfonts.it/?a=soundfonts
Ray has some midi files and sound fonts that you can download from his website: http://trueeclectic.com
Tutorial Videos

In this video, we install audio applications that we will be using

In this video, we get Jack running and open a midi file in Muse

In this part, we output sound to Ardour and save a sound file

Using Audacity we export the sound file as an mp3

Author: Dan

Dan teaches computer networking and security classes at Central Oregon Community College.

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