Linux on the desktop


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.


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.


big love for gentoo … (and drop and give you twenty+ char)


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


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


I’ve outgrown my self-imposed limitations of only recording live mixes into a stereo cassette recorder now that I’ve been using a guitar and piano with synths. It’s time for…digital multi-track!

I’m committed to Ardour for recording and editing. I’m not too up on pro audio interface hardware. Looking for something that has a USB connector, 6 or more analog inputs, two mic/instrument preamps and obviously, jack support.

A friend recommended the Zoom R16. Anything else?

Also, I’m thinking of a used MacMini for the computer part. There’s also the Intel NUC. Would a laptop with a touch screen be an alternative?


I had been looking into similar stuff myself some time ago and I hadn’t found much praise for the R16 online. Most people complain about the converters and preamps. Might be worth having a deeper look.
What some people recommended was the Cymatic Audio LR-16 (discontinued, but should be possible to find second hand)
Or you might look into a K-Mix since you’re going to have a computer attached anyway.



I’m borrowing a Zoom R16 so I’ll check out the converters and preamps. The Cymatic thing seems cool but they literally removed the record feature in the same product design. I wonder if that’s because the discontinued version had trouble recording?

The K-Mix looks great. The product download page only provides macOS and Windows links, but I assume it’ll work fine as a USB class compliant interface.

update: Confirmed Zoom R16 is compatible with some Linux kernels. Not really compatible with macOS 10.13.6, despite providing a macOS driver download.


I am pretty happy with my Cymatic Audio Utrack 24 :slight_smile: Got the adat card for it as well. It is not a perfect device but it does the job well!