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  1. #1

    Making music with Linux - what's best for my laptop?


    I have just joined this forum so would like to say hey first of all! I'm from Ireland, 29. A musician and also recently, a programming student.

    I really want to install a Linux distro on my laptop and have it dual-boot with Windows 7 (which is what is already on the laptop and I'm using now). I've tried several different distros on VirtualBox and installed Ubuntu using the Wubi installer. The distro I am most drawn to is Fedora 16 with GNOME 3. I'm in love with the whole idea of free software and the open-source community and really want to avoid propriety software as much as possible, even if that means making life a little harder for myself. And I want to use the open-source software that's out there to make music.

    However, I really don't know what distro best suits my needs and hardware, and I'm having trouble figuring that out.

    My laptop's specs are:

    • Lenovo IdeaPad Z570
    • intel core i5-2410M (2.3 GHz)
    • 6 Gb RAM (DDR3)
    • 640 GB HDD
    • NVIDIA Ge-Force 520M 1GB (optimus switching)
    • Broadcomm Wireless card

    My soundcard is listed as Realtek High Definition Audio and also Intel Display Audio. I can't seem to get more info than that about it.

    What I'll be using it for:

    • I want to make music. I don't have an external interface, but I just want to noodle around with the programs for the time being; learn how to use them, etc. I have already tried out things like LMMS, Audacity, QSynth, and have managed to get QJackCtrl set up (in the wubi-Ubuntu and Linux Mint on virtualbox). However, they don't run too well - bad latency issues. I know that my hardware isn't ideal for this sort of thing but in saying that, I'm able to run FL9 with many vst plugins on Windows on my machine without too much trouble, if I don't push it too hard. So I suspect/hope, that with a bit of configuration and research, that I can get a similarly decent standard from a Linux distro.

    • Will be doing some programming, mainly in java.

    • Photo editing and creating vector drawings

    • General day-to-day stuff (web, videos, listening music, word processing)

    I guess I'm trying to find the distro that will best run music and sound creating/editing programs (and jack) on my particular machine.

    I've tried Dream Studio, and while it's pretty great and has a lot to recommend it, I'm not just going to assume that it's the best option for my machine. Also, I'm not crazy on Unity (even if I do quite like GNOME 3, which is similar in many ways).

    Anyone have any advice? Or know where I should ask?

    Thanks in advance!

  2. #2
    Maybe try Ubuntu Studio also? And if you are not keen on Unity, try these search terms: installing cinnamon ubuntu 12.10

  3. #3
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    You could try googling "linux distro chooser" and finding sites like the ones below. The first site helps select from a limited number of distros but there are other similar sites.

    zegenie Studios Linux Distribution Chooser
    Linux distro chooser - Find your Linux | Linux Chooser

    One thing you need to know about Fedora is that it has very short release cycles, short term support and you are volunteering to basically be a beta tester for Red Hat when you use Fedora as that is its purpose.

  4. $spacer_open
  5. #4
    Just Joined!
    Join Date
    Nov 2009
    If you like Fedora, you should take a look at Planet CCRMA

  6. #5
    Thank you all. @yancek: I wasn't aware about the short-term support on Fedora... Would that be a problem, if I get a stable system up and running? Could I run into security issues down the road once support for my chosen release runs out? I will definitely have a good look through those distro choosers anyway.

    @Beluga: Also I suppose I could change the desktop environment in Ubuntu - would there be stability issues around that?

    Finally, @kohog, thanks for this suggestion. Planet CCRMA looks very promising. I think, to experiment and see if I can make the necessary changes (I'm a relative Linux novice), that I'll change my virtual install of Fedora with the CCRMA packages.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by peGGi View Post
    @Beluga: Also I suppose I could change the desktop environment in Ubuntu - would there be stability issues around that?
    I haven't heard of any issues. Cinnamon is being developed for Linux Mint. Mint uses less resources/CPU in tests, check the Linux Action Show, where they review Mint 14. So you might try how Mint would fit your needs, too, with some tweaks and audio-related installs. Cinnamon is also available for Fedora. Sorry I can't post any links yet, but you can see some testing articles by searching: dedoimedo fedora cinnamon

    A new blog documenting a multimedia-producing guy's journey to Linux has a new post called "Install Multiple Desktop Environments in Ubuntu", check that also

  8. #7
    @Beluga: some great references there, thank you. Will take a good look. Thanks

  9. #8
    Linux Guru
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
    Tucson AZ
    After the End of Life of any release, there are no longer any updates available, security or otherwise.
    If you won't have any need to update software after getting it set up, that would eliminate that problem. I think a lot of people who use Fedora are upgrading or reinstalling with each new release because they like to have the newest software available which is Fedora. I'm not a Fedora user so just based on what I read about it, that seems to be what people like most about it.

  10. #9
    Hi Yancek,

    Yeah I think it's more important to me to get software that's already out there, tried and tested, up and running smoothly on my system rather than having the latest software. So I'm leaning away from fedora now, although I do like hte idea of Planet CCRMA. But I realise that mostly what I like about Fedora is Gnome 3, which I can have anywhere really.

    The replies to this thread got me thinking about other things, which I thought were better suited to starting a new thread. It's in Coffee Lounge, called " Am I missing something??!! " (I can't post URLs yet).

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