Setting Up a Linux-Based Recording Studio (a Preface)

It seems to me that the process of setting up a Linux-based studio is going to unfold like a novel, putting me, the main character, in situations where I am out of my comfort zone and I will learn and grow in the process of working it all out.  So I am going to set these journal entries up in chapters. Today’s entry is a Preface of sorts because I want to talk about the history behind the decision to use Linux.

In the beginning… I married a computer nerd. Of his 12 (I think it is 12 but it could be more) computers, all run Linux except two, and really, one of those is partitioned so it can run Windows OR Linux (Ubuntu, I think) so really that makes it 1.5 that run something other than Linux. I can see the draw. Open Source software is free and if you are a computer wiz like him, you can have input on the software yourself because it is this big happy community of computer nerds who welcome input and improvement. Super duper.

I entered into the marriage clutching my Mac. I recorded 3 albums using that laptop, and though it had become an old man, it was familiar and safe and trust-worthy…until it died. I am not saying it didn’t have its problems. It was an old computer and for some reason, during the year it was made, Steve Jobs felt USB and Firewire were the only way to input information. I could not plug anything in that used a 1/4″ plug.  I got around that problem by buying a mixer with a USB port and went along on my merry way.  But everything sounded a bit muffled.  How could my very expensive condenser mic sound so… flat and lifeless?  I know now…. poor analog to digital conversion.  My tech-savvy husband help me figure that one out.

So the Mac is dead and that mixer is out for future recordings.  Time to start over.

I wanted a new and improved Mac. Perhaps a desktop with which I could use all these cool new analog to digital converter toys I have discovered.  Then the “Steve Jobs only gives you what he thinks you should have” speech came up again.  That aside, my husband had an even bigger message that I could not ignore: I should be able to make great recordings with my condenser mic and a brand new converter for my keyboards and bass guitar using FREE software. Free. It is hard to pass up the opportunity to try something that might work just fine for free.

And that brings us to today.  I am really trying not to be dubious.  I am trying to be positive, but when we cannot even get 64 Studio or Ubuntu Studio to load onto this machine smoothly, I am very wary of what is to come.  I think back on my Mac as if I am daydreaming about an old boyfriend – forgetting all the faults and limitations he had. Only remembering that he was perfect and easy and reliable.  Yeah, so I had to buy a book called “Garage Band: the book that should have come in the box” (or something like that) to figure out the nuances of the software that, as the title implies, should have come with the Mac.  But I forget and forgive all that now.  Familiar is good.  New is scary.

Let’s see if I can just get through this first step of system install…

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4 Comments on “Setting Up a Linux-Based Recording Studio (a Preface)”

  1. […] It seems to me that the process of setting up a Linux-based studio is going to unfold like a novel, putting me, the main character, in situations where I am out of my comfort zone and I will learn and grow in the process of working it all out.  So I am going to set these journal entires up in chapters. Today's entry is a Preface of sorts because I want to talk about the history behind the decision to use Linux. In the beginning… I married a com … Read More […]

  2. […] blog posts, when my Mac died, my husband persuaded me to have the new set-up be Linux-based. (see “Setting Up a Linux-Based recording Studio (a Preface)” for the reasons why I […]

  3. Ryan says:

    I know this is a rather old post, but I’m intrigued! I commend you for your patience with tackling this challenge, and wish you the best. I found your blog with the following query: “ardour hardware studio workstation”, as I am interested in building a new box for my home studio, which is centered around Ardour2-VST, JACK, Hydrogen, Rakkarack, Qtractor, Jamin.

    I would love to start a dialog with either you and/or your husband regarding your project, as I have similar goals, and about 2 years experience with Linux Audio Software. Also, I live just outside of DC. Feel free to check out my blogz & further contact me!

    Link to work I’ve recorded edited: overhauser.blogspot.com
    Link to my foray into Linux (now out of date): synergenerator.blogspot.com

    Your musical goals are a bit more ‘career oriented’ than mine though, so I do think you will (reluctantly) need to dig in to other software, and if a MAC/ProTools is out of your budget, I have heard great things about Reaper and Reason, both of which let you download free to try (and use indefinitely with occasional guilt-pop-ups that Ardour also uses).

    -Ryan

    • MandalaSongs says:

      Ryan, Thanks so much for your interest! I hope you were able to read through my more recent posts. I think you might get a lot from my most recent post called “I Present to You: The Ardour 2.8.12 ‘Box’.” I was not able to find one place that held all the stats I was looking for, so I made one.

      Though I do need to know ProTools inside and out for school, I am going to try to stick with Ardour at home. This quarter I have to pass a timed proficiency exam in ProTools, so I am trying to keep away from Ardour for about 5 more weeks just to keep the two DAWs completely separate in my mind.

      I would love to keep a dialogue going though, as I am sure we will both run into little snags along the way.


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