configure ubuntu for music creation

This tutorial works on every version of Ubuntu begining from the version 10, with some little details.

Music production on linux is very powerfull, but as many things on linux, it needs some efforts to make it work properly.

With the last versions of ubuntu, the hardware is almost everytime recognized, so you won’t have much problem with that. As well as for the hardware consumption.

I think the best is to install the sound server, and some applications. the rest is a matter of creativity.

Here i explain technically what is needed to begin.

Install JACK

First refer to this article :

JACK is the realtime daemon for managing sound streams inside the OS

so install it :

apt-get install jackd

Install the graphical interface for jack qjackctl

apt-get install qjackctl

This interface helps launching/stopping jack daemon, and connecting sound programs.

The default sound server in ubuntu is called pulseaudio (running over ALSA drivers), so we need to make it work with jack :

apt-get install pulseaudio-module-jack

and restart pulseaudio :

pulseaudio -k

If you don’t do that, the program using the default sound server won’t be able to track their sound streams to the hardware.

(this help thread can help you configure pulse audio to work perfectly with jack :

Last detail, you must give to audio streams the right to do realtime.

open the file :

sudo nano /etc/security/limits.conf

Then add those lines :

@audio  -  rtprio   99
@audio  -  nice        -10
@audio  -  memlock  250000

Note : On ubuntu 12.04 : sudo gpasswd -a nom_utilisateur audio to give us the right to make realtime

Install ARDOUR

ardourArdour is a sound creative station, like ableton live, Cubase, … but it is free.

You can route streams from other programs to ardour using jack, record, and add effects to the sound.

sudo apt-get install ardour

then lauch it : ardour5

on Ubuntu 12, launch “ardour4”

keep all default answers at the first run wizard, then choose JACK instead of ALSA, ignore the warning, then open a new work session

try that ardour works using a click and listen that the sound is going out (click on the metronom then click on play button)

refer to the official doc for more information on how to use it :

Or this : (config ardour +jack using qjackctl)

Here is the ardour community portal :

other insteresting programs


Install renoise

renoiseI love renoise cause it is a track player, like protracker, milkytracker, programs that used to be great in the old times.

It has ofcourse many features like adding realtime sound effects, sound editing…

go to the download page :

download and extract renoise tar.gz

launch the install script :

sudo ./

Connect to jack and use renoise with ardour

Problem : renoise uses alsa-midi when ardour uses jack-midi.

So, you must first install a2jmidid

apt-get install a2jmidid

then run a2jmidid

Now, you can find a2j device in jack connection kit.

Launch Ardour and renoise, automatically connected to jackd

(read this post

In renoise : prefs, audio : device type = jack, midi : in device and out device = renoise midi in/out Sync

and enable “jack transport sync”

In ardour midi prefs, tick “send midi clock”

In the jack connection kit, connect Ardour “Clock” to a2j, I mean MTC to Renoise MIDI In.

synchronize your tempos (fx 100bpm in ardour and 100bpm in renoise)

try that it works clicking on play, and see the tracks in ardour and renoise being synchronized.

compose and enjoy

Other links :

Problems with renoise and jack :

for a long time amiga & demos lover and musician.
Beta tester for icaros for some years now (since icaros 1.5), i do it as much as i can.
i'm a computer scientist, managing the computer infrastructure in a big company (won't tell the name there).


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