Linux on the desktop

I’m using an MAudio firewire and it doesn’t show much in Alsamixer other than some spdif related switches. I had to use ffadomixer to get at the mixer settings.

I started my coding adventure very little time ago, and while my Yosemite works well, i have been thinking to install a Linux distro for some time.
I went ahead and swapped my optic drive for a second drive and will go ahead and install a Linux distribution there, so i can have both. Would like to know which one you recommend, it’d be basically for my experiments with Jack, coding study and Linux-Audio related stuff

Lots of thoughts on the subject here. I’m fond of Debian based distros personally, but you’ll see that there adherents of several others as well.


Thanks Jason! saw ir recommended that thread when i was writing the post, but checked right after :neutral_face: so i guess this one can get lost forever like tears in rain

I tried Ubuntu for a bit, before switching permanently to Arch (on my Macbook Pro 8,2). Ubuntu was certainly a good first step in getting familiar with linux, and appreciated that it comes fully set up for use. Arch is the other end of the spectrum, if you haven’t installed something it just isn’t there, but I have had heaps of fun customising. And also it is fast. The same macbook running OS X was really slowing down, and the switch made me realise that the problem was entirely software-side.

As far as audio coding (which was the same reason I made the switch) the only slightly painful aspect is configuring sound, especially with different audio cards. I’ve gotten to a place where everything is routed properly and I just have to not touch anything, but I know that to begin with the interactions between ALSA, JACK and/or Pulse were doing my head in. I think there is another thread here somewhere (titled Linux Audio?) which was very helpful.

Have fun!

Yeah, I think this might be the thread that @pxxlhxslxn is referring to:

The search feature on this forum really works quite well, I recommend it!

As a relative Linux newbie myself, I would second the recommendation to start with Ubuntu. It couldn’t be any easier to start using it right away. I’ve also spent some time using lubuntu and now I use trisquel. I’ve had equally fine performance with all of them. I’m going to try parabola next (a free software foundation supported version of arch), but as stated above, it is not a good place to start.

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The title of that thread is lol. Finally, someone (SOLVED) the decades long problem of finding a good linux audio distro!

Debian is cool because you can cross compile packages for ARM7 real quick. Arch is cool because it’s got excellent documentation.

Linux distros, like many ornate complex things are not ready-to-wear.

Almost all distro’s can do decent audio one way or the other. I guess the most important question is if you are new to Linux? If so pick a distro which doesn’t drown you in to many options. There will already be enough to learn.
Any Debian or Ubuntu (based) distro should be fine, especially when combined with KX Studio packages.

In case you already are more experienced and like to be in control I’d say pick either Arch or Gentoo (based) as a distro.

I just finished a rebuild of my laptop as I finally became frustrated with CentOS’s various incompatibilities that prevented it from loading binary Nvidia drivers, as well an increasing number of custom-built software packages (whole environments, really) on the system.

Although it took time to learn how to get the internal screen routed to the Nvidia GPU, it was well-worth the switch to Gentoo.

The Power of Source

What Gentoo recognizes is that open source software has an advantage in the source code itself. Largely, it is configurable. Relying on a binary build leaves you to the build-time decisions of the person building it.

An example: to build VLC with RTSP support, you need to build a handful of packages differently from the build-in binaries, as well as all of their dependencies wherever those dependencies require a feature not available in the current binary. All it takes is struggling to build one of those packages to consume an extra hour or two to get the job done. In fact, I never succeeded in the task.

Once I had gentoo installed, it was an absolute breeze to accomplish this task: euse -E live && emerge vlc. It didn’t even take a long time, thanks to a globally-set -j8 flag to make actually being able to tap out my processor.

Now, I can’t distribute the software that I build for this system, because it’s built with all of the assumptions of my system in mind, including -march=haswell. But damn does everything just work the way I expect it to. I woke to a fresh kernel available, and had it built and booted to X in 10 minutes.

I can make major changes to system expectations and rebuild the entire system to support new features with a single command, reliably.

Now that I want to try pulseaudio, I can just euse -E pulseaudio && emerge [some options] @world.


Welcome to Gentoo! :slight_smile:
Hope you’ll have a pleasant stay :slight_smile:

There are many things you can configure and it’s actually pretty easy to store this config so you’ll get the exact same config if you reinstall or use it on different machines. I share it between my desktop and laptop (even with binary packages).
If you’re interested, see

I mentioned it before, but we have some packages that aren’t in the main tree available @

And if you’re missing a package in general is super useful to search through all registered overlays.


Oh, I’m not new to Gentoo. I have been using it for over a decade. For some reason I thought that this laptop would be well-served by a “stable” distro in CentOS. What a mistake!

Ah, even better then :slight_smile: it’s been working fine on my laptop (macbook pro 2015) for the past ± year or so.
Are there any packages that you feel are missing?

Not that I’m aware of. Do you craft ebuilds?

Sidenote: I booted up a 2012 livedvd in QEMU so I could build (again!) the avr32 gnu toolchain from source.

I’ll note that Gentoo also makes running software binaries easier.

I downloaded something from my Humble library and was able to get it running easily and quickly despite needing some old libraries because it was trivial to install the right versions of things.

emerge libpng:1.2

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OK, perfect :slight_smile:
I’m not so lucky as I’m still missing things myself :wink: But yeah, I do help maintain the ebuilds in the audio-overlay and some fixes to the ebuilds in the main tree.

Yeah, it’s one of the few distro’s that allows you to install specific version and even allow multiple different versions at the same time. Pretty nice indeed :slight_smile:

Is there a way to search available versions by release date in Gentoo? I have to find contemporaneous packages to build a fork of gcc-4.4.7

Hey i have the same setup and i think the answer is Cadence and kxstudios
Alsa supports the Firewire i think via the FFADO/Bebob backends

Sorry, missed this message. I assume/hope you’ve figured it out by now :wink:
The easiest way is to check the tree/package history, if it’s older than 2015 you’ll have to make do with the changelog. I don’t know of a way to get this info otherwise.

Little victories.

I think I’ve managed to get a parallel jack2dbus / pulseaudio setup working. The builtin motherboard output is used by pulseaudio, and my USB sound card is used by jack2dbus.

But… by using

load-module module-jackdbus-detect channels=2 connect=false

in my, I can route audio from Pulse to Jack (and vice-versa), but not by default (connect=false), which makes it easy to send audio from an individual app to whatever…


Not sure if I should post this in a separate topic, but this might of interest to some