Producing music on Linux

To start a new section we are introducing our favorite and best Linux Distributions for producing music. Many people believe it is only possible to produce music on Windows or Mac. Well, the fact is that Linux is a very good system to build a custom workstation. If done properly you can achieve very low latency for MIDI and Audio thanks to real-time kernels and other magic incantations that you will get into if you delve into the wonderful world of Linux.

Here are some of the best Linux distributions and packages to make a music workstation or DAW on Linux.


One of the first distributions I fell in love with, apart from a great creative philosophy, it is packed with tools to make music, edit videos and graphics and even start your own streaming radio station. Highly recommended to start testing a Linux environment. This will even work on older PCs.


Puredyne is a live distribution, you don’t need to install anything. Simply boot your computer using the live USB or CD and you’re ready to start using software such as Pure Data, Supercollider, Icecast, Csound, Fluxus, Processing, Arduino and more. One tiny USB provides you with the complete puredyne GNU/Linux system including all software, and extra space to store your files. Ideal for workshops, installations, or super lightweight travelling. Puredyne is developed for artists, by artists. It’s used for live music, installation art, hardware hacking, teaching, and more.

m-Dist – live linux midi distribution

m-dist is a small, ˜140 MB, embedded Linux system tuned for MIDI and audio use. There’s no software to install; you download the ISO, burn it to CD, pop it in your computers cd drive and reboot. m-dist comes with a small set of MIDI and audio applications like a drum machine, the MuSE – MIDI sequencer and Ardour the Digital Audio Work station.


Ubuntu Studio is a free and open operating system for creative people based on the popular Ubuntu Distribution. Ubuntu Studio is the most widely used multimedia orientated GNU/Linux distribution in the world. It comes pre-installed with a selection of the most common free multimedia applications available, and is configured for best performance for the Ubuntu Studio defined workflows: Audio, Graphics, Video, Photography and Publishing.

Tango Studio

A complete Live (GNU/LINUX) distribution for musicians and professionals studios. It comes loaded with a low latency kernel and many music producing tools. Tango Studio is based on Ubuntu Lucid 10.04.4 to provide long term support. It provides a suite of the best open-source applications available for audio production.


ArtistX is a free DVD which turns a computer into a full multimedia production studio. It is based on Ubuntu GNU/Linux and contains nearly all the available free audio, 2D and 3D graphics, and video software for the GNU/Linux computing platform. It doesn’t need to be installed, and boots directly into a running system without touching hard drives. After nearly ten years of development and more than ten versions, the ArtistX 1.4 multimedia studio on a DVD is finally here. It’s an Ubuntu 12.10-based live DVD that turns a common computer into a full multimedia production studio. ArtistX 1.3 includes the 3.5.0-25 Linux kernel, GNOME 3.4 and about 2.500 free multimedia software packages, nearly everything that exists for the GNU/Linux operating system organized in the menu.

  • Free Included Audio DJ Software: Beatport SYN, Freecycle, Freewheling, Mixxx, QSampler, Smasher, Tactile 12000, TerminatorX
  • Free Audio Synth Software: amSynth, Freebirth, Horgand, Hydrogen, Ingen, Mx44, Psychosynth, Qsynth, Rakarrack, SetBfree, Sineshaper, Yoshimi
  • Free Audio MIDI Tools: Arpage, MusE, Patchage
  • Free Audio Sound Editor Software: Audacity, Kwave, Rezound, Sweep, Wavesurfer
  • Free Audio DAW and Tracker Software: Ardour, Jokosher, Lmms, Rosegarden, Traverso, Wired


AV Linux is a free custom shop modded and rodded 32bit computer Operating System designed to turn a regular old (or fairly new) PC or Intel Mac into an Audio/Graphics/Video workstation appliance. AV Linux features a complete customized Debian Linux LXDE Desktop Environment with the added bonus of a handpicked selection of pre-tested and pre-configured Audio, Graphics and Video content creation software demonstrating the excellence of Open-Source and also includes many unique Commercial Demos. Great care has been taken to represent mature and productive applications many with custom builds to enhance their reliability and best show how far Linux has come as a Content Creation platform. A veritable treasure chest of Linux and Cross-Platform favourites are pre-installed, Ardour, Audacity, Blender, Cinelerra, Handbrake, Hydrogen, Kdenlive, LinuxDSP (demos), LMMS, Mixbus (demo), MuseScore, Openshot, Renoise (demo) and VLC Media Player are just the tip of the iceberg. AV Linux is distributed as a free LiveDVD ISO image that can be downloaded, burned and run from a DVD-R(W) copied and run from a USB Key or installed to a computer’s hard drive.


Dream Studio contains all the apps you need to create stunning graphics, captivating videos, inspiring music, and professional websites. Available as a free download, Dream Studio can be run directly from DVD, installed to your hard-drive, or even installed onto a USB Flash drive, for the ultimate in portability!
It includes Ardour – a professional and free digital audio workstation designed to replace offerings such as Digidesign Pro Tools, Steinberg’s Cubase/Nuendo, Apple’s Logic, and Sonar. Ardour features unlimited tracks, unlimited undo, and routing to and from any sound source. Ardour comes with support for many different plugin formats, and Dream Studio’s version comes with close to 200 plugins/effects including pitch correction, triggers, compression, eq, reverb, and more. Dream Studio also supports VST plugins.


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