In this article, we will look at the operating system Linux and whether it is a good choice for music production.
We will examine how it differs from other operating systems, the pros and cons, the best DAWs that run on Linux, and towards the end of the article I will talk about my opinions.
Is Linux good for music production?
Linux is a good operating system for music production. A decent number of DAWs and many free plugins are available because Linux is an open-source operating system. Linux is a very lean operating system meaning none of your hardware is being used on useless things.
Linux also allows you to have better control of your hardware, allowing you to assign the most recourses possible to create music, and this is a standout feature and why many people switch to Linux. If you are knowledgeable in computers, you can use Linux to push your hardware to its limits and get amazing results.
However, there are some clear disadvantages of using Linux. The most obvious is that none of the eight major DAWs (Listed in the next section) is supported, meaning you will have to purchase a completely new DAW or find a free alternative. In addition, almost all your Plugins will likely not work within Linux either, which may cost even more than your DAW when you add it all up.
Although there are a lot of disadvantages if you’re starting music production, Linux is a great choice. With it being an open-source operating system, almost all the new software is free, so by the time you’re reading this article, there may already be a whole new DAW or many new plugins available.
If you’ve already spent money on any of the major DAWs that Linux doesn’t support, you’d be at a loss if you switched your operating system to Linux. Like software, Linux also has trouble with certain USB devices like Audio Interfaces, so you may not be able to run your studio set up with Linux, so keep that in mind.
All in all, I’d recommend you read the rest of this article before making up your mind, as we will cover some of the DAWs supported by Linux and look in depth at the Pros and Cons.
What is Linux?
Linux is an open-source operating system, like the more well-known systems Mac OS and Windows. However, unlike its counterparts, it is completely free, which Is useful for producers who are on a budget, but if you’ve purchased a new computer or laptop, you probably already have a built-in operating system like windows or Mac OS.
Many people switch to Linux for its reliability. There are no licensing fees, a free anti-virus system, and good customer support, and you’ll never find the creators slowing down your operating system to make you upgrade.
What DAWs can and can’t run on Linux?
The eight most popular DAWs, Ableton Live, Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, FL Studio, Cubase, Studio One, Reason and GarageBand, cannot run on Linux. For some producers, this may be the end of looking into Linux as an operating system but don’t worry; there are some great alternatives for you to check out.
In no particular order, these are my top 6 choices for DAWs that run on Linux.
Ardour is like DAWs like Pro Tools and Logic Pro X.
It has all the essential features that will allow you to track, score and mix your song. It also comes with a decent selection of plugins included, and it supports most third-party plugins. Ardour also supports video timelines so that you can easily sync audio to visuals.
Ardour is subscription-based and costs as little as $1 per month, which is great for producers on a budget.
LMMS is a widely known free DAW and is one that I checked out when I started music production many years ago.
It’s a great starting point for new producers who don’t want to spend any money, but it lacks certain key features that most DAWs have, reducing its potential for creating professional tracks.
LMMS is free.
The most expensive plugin on this list, and arguably one of, if not the best. A standout feature of Bitwig studio is that it allows for both linear and modular production like Ableton Live. It comes with a decent amount of built-in effects and plugins, and it has the potential to create some amazing and professional-sounding tracks. It also has live performance capability.
Bitwig is a plugin you should keep in mind as it is only getting better and more popular. Bitwig is priced at 399 EUR.
Renoise 3 takes a different approach to modern-day production with a top-down column style interface instead of the horizontal row style you see in almost all modern DAWs. Renoise features all the bells and whistles you’d expect in a modern DAW, but the built-in effects and instruments are lacklustre.
Renoise 3 is priced at $75. Even for a seasoned producer, I’d recommend you check this plugin out just for its new approach to production and relatively low price.
Most producers have probably heard of Reaper, and for a good reason. Reaper is an affordable alternative to the higher-end DAWs, and it comes with a nice amount of effects and instruments so that you can start producing immediately. In addition, Reaper features a nice amount of customizability, which most of its counterparts lack.
Reaper starts at $60. It’s important to mention that Reaper on Linux is still in Beta.
Audacity is a well-known free DAW, and it’s been around since 1999. However, it’s not meant to be a DAW per se; it’s more an audio editor. It does support VST effects but doesn’t support VST instruments, so creating full songs might be difficult.
Audacity is free and a great choice for quick audio editing and recording.
The Pros and Cons of Linux
- Efficiency – Linux is a very efficient operating system. It has far fewer ‘fancy’ features than its counterpart’s windows and mac, meaning you free up recourses that can be used when creating music. Linux has also been reported to have less latency than Mac and Windows, so recording could technically be a better and smoother experience with Linux.
- Open-source software – With Linux being an open-source operating system, there is a nice amount of free software for you. In addition, there are some Linux-specific plugins and other audio software that you might want to check out, and with Linux getting more and more popular, the chances of some great quality freebies are becoming more likely.
- Free – With Linux being free, you’ll never have to pay a penny for it. This can be useful for anyone with an old laptop or computer lying around, and the operating system is extremely outdated. With Linux, you could upgrade to an up-to-date operating system for free.
- Lack of Plugins – Not all plugins can run on Linux, which could be a huge issue for some producers. If you’ve already sunk a fair amount of money into many 3rd party plugins, you may not be able to use them. On the other hand, Linux is constantly evolving, so there’s a chance that one day your plugins will be compatible. iZotope plugins allegedly work with Linux, but I haven’t tested that myself, so I can’t confirm this.
- No Major DAWs supported – None of the major DAWs are compatible. Most of the top DAWs like Logic Pro X, Pro Tools, Ableton Live, FL Studio and so on will not run in Linux, and this can be an issue if you’ve purchased any or all these DAWs. These DAWs are very expensive, so you must ask yourself if it’s worth giving them up and purchasing/learning a new DAW.
- Audio interfaces may not be compatible – Your average USB and Thunderbolt-connected audio interfaces may not work with Linux. Most of these connections don’t support Linux, but there is a way you can get around this if you are good with the technical side of computers.
- Lack of USB support – Most external USB devices may not be compatible. Mouses, Keyboards, MIDI Controllers, and more might not be supported, so that’s important to keep in mind if you’re not a fan of your Laptop/Computer’s built-in keyboard and trackpad.
- Emulator – You might find yourself using a windows emulator like WINE. With all the DAWs and Plugins that don’t work on Linux, you might want to use a windows emulator, at which point you have to think it is even worth using Linux. Also, most plugins and DAWs don’t work well within emulators.
- Skill Gap – You ideally need to be skilled and knowledgeable to use Linux to its full potential. Although this may be a good thing for some, It’s apparent that many producers would prefer to spend more time working on music than setting up their operating system.
Overall, Linux is a super interesting Operating System. The free software and the growth potential is a great selling point.
However, I would advise producers who have already spent time, effort, and money on producing music on either Mac or Windows to stick with their current Operating System to save themselves the money and time buying new plugins and learning a whole new DAW.
Readings that you may like:
Best DAWs For Musicians Available (With FREE DAWs)
What’s The Most CPU Efficient DAW? – 5 DAWs Compared
How To Make Music Without Using A DAW?
Pro Tools Guide: How To Use AutoTune & Pitch Correction?
Ableton Review: Is It Worth The Money? (Cons & Pros)
Logic Pro X Review: Is It Worth It? (Cons & Pros)
How To Use Auto-tune & Pitch Correction In Cubase?
How To Fix Ableton Crackling, Crashing & Freezing? Step By Step
What Are Audio Plugins? Different Types of Plugins Explained
What Are The Best Tools To Develop VST Plugins & How Are They Made?
Cost of Developing Audio VST Plugin: Several Factors (With Table)
VST, VST, AU and AAX – What’s The Difference? Plugin Formats Explained
Complete Guide To Noise Gate – What It Is, What It Does & How To Use It?
How To Clip My Drums? Here Is How & Audio Teasers (Before/After)
Complete Guide To Limiter: How To Use It (+ Best Plugins & Analog Limiters)
Mixing With Reverb: How To Add Life To Your Mixes
Linear Phase vs Minimum Phase EQ – Full Guide
Difference Between LUFS, RMS & True Peak Loudness Meters
How And When To Use Algorithmic And Convolution Reverb In Your Mix?
Difference Between Active EQ, Passive EQ and Dynamic EQ
Headphones & Studio Monitors:
Do headphones get worse with age?
Monitors vs Studio Headphones For Mixing & Mastering
Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins
Are Noise-Canceling Headphones Good For Music Production?
Can Headphones Break in Cold Weather?
Why do headphones & cables get sticky?
Can Wearing Headphones Cause Hair Loss?
How Do I know If My Studio Monitor Is Blown?
Side Effects Of Sleeping With Your Headphones On
Do You Need Music Amplifier For Studio Monitors or Studio Headphones?
Do Headphones or Earphones Damage Your Brain?
Can Headphones or Earphones cause Deafness or Toothache?
FarField, MidField & NearField Monitors – Their Uses, Pros & Cons
MIDI & Synths:
Should I Buy A MIDI Keyboard Or Synth? (Are Synths Worth It Anymore?)
Why Is Audio Gear So Expensive? (Especially Synths)
Top 12 Synth Brands – Analog, Digital & Modular Synth Manufacturers
11 Tips How To Choose MIDI Keyboard
Should I Buy MIDI Controller Or Keyboard? Cons, Pros & Tips
Can I Put Nylon Strings on a Steel-string Guitar?
Do Electric Guitars Sound Good Unplugged?
Buying Your First Guitar: 2 Things To Know
Are Tube Amps Worth It? (Tube vs Solid-State Amps)
How Often Does A Guitar Need a Setup?
Can I Play Classical Guitar On A Steel-String Guitar?
How often guitar necks need reset?
Can You Play Two Guitars Through One Amp?
Can a 6 String Bass Be Tuned Like A Guitar?
Can I leave My Guitar Tuned Down a Step? Yes, But Is It Safe?
Should I Learn 4, 5 Or 6 String Bass Guitar & Why?
How To Know If your Guitar Amp Is Broken?
How To Fix Distorted Bass Guitar Sound?
Do Fender Guitars Appreciate In Value?
Should You Put Stickers On A Bass Guitar?
How Acoustic And Electric Guitars Are Made?
Is Electric Guitar Too Loud for an Apartment?
Does a Preamp Improve Sound Quality?
If I Learn Acoustic Guitar Can I Play Electric Guitar?
How Many Hours A Day Should You Practice Bass Guitar?
Do I need an AMP/DAC To Run Bookshelf Speakers?
How to Record Electric Guitar Into Logic Pro X?
Do headphones get worse with age?
Top 12 NearField Studio Monitors On Any Budget
Top 10 Midfield Studio Monitors For Home Recording
Best Biggest Studio Monitors (FarField Monitors)
Top 10 Guitar Pickups for Low Tunings
Top 10 Analog Compressors For Mixing & Mastering (On Any Budget)
Top 12 USB Audio Interfaces Under 150$, 200$, 300$ 400$ (Any Budget)
Top 12 Hardware Equalizers (Analog EQs For Mixing & Mastering)
Top 6 Analog Hardware Limiters
Top 6 Solid State Bass Amps (On Any Budget)
Top 6 Ribbon Mics On Any Budget (For Vocals, Drums & Guitars)
Top 6 Cheap Dynamic Mics For Vocals Under 50$, 100$, 200$ & 300$
Top 6 Chorus Guitar Pedals (On Any Budget)
6 Best 61-Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)
9 Best 49-Key MIDI Keyboards Under 100$ & 200$
Top 5 Best 25 Key MIDI Keyboards (On Any Budget)
Top 12 Acoustic Drums (Best Kits/Sets On Any Budget)
Top 10 EDM Plugins (And 10 Best FREE Plugins For EDM)
Top 10 Plugins For TRAP Beats (And 5 Best FREE Trap Plugins)
20 Best Plugins For Rock Musicians (+ 6 FREE Plugins)
Top 14 Trance Plugins (Uplifting, Tech, Progressive, Vocal, Dream, Hard)
Top 10 GOA & PsyTrance Plugins (Best Psychedelic Trance Tools)
Top 7 Plugins For Dubstep (With 10 Best FREE Effects & Synths)
Top 20 Synthwave Plugins (+ 11 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 15 Plugins For Techno, House, Electro, Tech House, UK Garage
Top 6 Plugins For Latin Music (And 4 FREE Tools)
Top 12 Plugins For Hip-Hop (+ Best Kontakt Libraries)
Top 7 Plugins For Game & Film Scoring (+ 6 Best Kontakt Libraries)
Top 10 R&B And Pop Music Plugins & KONTAKT Libraries
30 Best Free Plugins For DnB, EDM, IDM & Experimental Music
Top 12 Free EQ Plugins For Precise Mixing & Mastering
Top 9 Mid/Side EQ Plugins For Mixing & Mastering (+ 2 Free Tools)
Top 7 Graphic EQ Plugins (With 3 Best Free EQs)
Top 7 EQ Plugins For Mastering In | And Best FREE Mastering EQs
Top 6 Passive EQ Plugins (Klevgrand, SPL, UAD, Waves, IK Multimedia)
Top 11 Plugins For Making Metal (Best Guitars, Drums & Effects)
Top 5 Audio Metering Plugins (LUFS, RMS, LRA, True Peak)
Top 6 Spectrum Analyzer Plugins – Spectral Analysis Tools
Top 6 Oscilloscope Plugins To See The Waveforms
Top 5 Key Detection Plugins & Software (+ Best FREE App)
20 Best Kontakt Libraries For All Categories (Synths, Drums, Vocals)
Top 7 Drum Libraries For KONTAKT (And 4 Freebies)
Top 7 Trap Music Kontakt Libraries (And Best Lo-Fi Kontakt Library)
Top 7 Metal & Rock Kontakt Libraries (Best Guitars & Drums)
Top 10 Guitar Libraries For Kontakt (Acoustic, Electric, Bass & Freebies)
Top 7 Trailer Scoring Plugins & Kontakt Libraries
20 Best Free KONTAKT Libraries For Various Instruments
Top 9 Piano Kontakt Sample Libraries (And 5 Best Free Pianos)
Top 10 Percussion KONTAKT Libraries (And 3 Freebies)
Top 7 Kontakt Libraries For Horror & Thriller Scoring (No VSTs)
Audio Restoration, Calibration & Utility:
Top 6 Noise Reduction Plugins (And 3 Best Free Tools)
6 Best Audio Restoration Plugins & Software
Top 7 Phase Alignment Plugins To Fix Your Bass & Drums
Top 10 Room Calibration & Headphones/Speakers Correction Plugins
Top 6 Vocoder Plugins (Effects & Synths + FREE Vocoder)
11 Best Rhodes VST Plugins (AND 5 Free Rhodes Plugins)
Top 12 Randomizer Plugins Including FREE Plugins
Top 6 Kick Drum Plugins (Best Kick Designer Tools)
Top 12 Woodwind Plugins (And KONTAKT Libraries)
Top 10 Double Bass Plugins (Best Upright Basses)
Top 5 Strings VST Plugins (AND 4 Best Free Instruments)
Top 6 Sampler Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Classical Guitar Plugins & Kontakt Libraries (And FREE Guitars)
Top 12 Sub Plugins (Best 808 & Bass Tools For Massive Low End)
Top 10 Plugins On PluginBoutique (And 7 Best Free Plugins)
Top 11 Plugins On Plugin Alliance
Top 7 Acoustic Guitar Plugins (And 4 Best Kontakt Libraries)
9 Best Bass Guitar Plugins (And 2 Best Freebies)
Top 6 Electric Guitar Plugins (Best PAID & FREE Picks)
Top 10 Arpeggiator VST Plugins (Best Synths, MIDI Effects & Tools)
Top 10 Modular Synth Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Choir Plugins & Sample Libraries (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
11 Best Percussion & Drum VST Plugins (And FREE Plugins)
Top 8 Piano Plugins (Best Sounding Pianos & 5 FREE Piano Plugins)
Top 6 Organ Plugins Ever Made (And 3 Best Free Organs)
Top 14 VST Plugins For Beginners (And 9 FREE Plugins)
Top 9 Drum Machine Plugins (And Groovebox Plugins)
4 Best Banjo Plugins (Best Banjo Instruments)
The 5 Best Ukulele Plugins & Kontakt Libraries
Top 13 Synth Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Synths Plugins)
Top 13 Sequencer Plugins (Synth, MIDI & Step Sequencers)
The 10 Best Multi-Effect Plugins (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
Top 12 Plugin Bundles For Musicians (Synths, Mixing & Mastering)
Processing & Sound Design:
8 Best Lo-Fi Plugins (PAID & FREE)
Top 11 Plugins For Mixing Vocals (For Home Studio)
Top 12 Saturation Plugins (Best Mixing & Mastering Tools)
Top 6 Pitch Shifter Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Pitch Shifters)
Top 6 Chorus VST Plugins For Musicians (And 3 FREE Plugins)
Top 6 Limiter Plugins For Precise Mastering & Mixing
The 8 Best Filter Plugins For Precise Cuts & Boosts (+ 5 Free Filters)
6 Best Autotune Plugins To Improve & Enhance Your Vocals
Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 7 Enhancer Plugins (For Bass, Drums, Vocals & Harmonics)
Top 6 Flanger Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Flanger Emulators)
Top 7 Phaser Plugins (And 3 Best FREE Phasers)
Top 10 Plugins For Mixing Drums (And 3 Best Free Plugins)
Top 7 Bitcrusher Plugins (And 4 Best FREE Bitcrushers + 3 Bonuses)
Top 6 Plugins For Voice-Over & Dialogue Cleaning (Post Production)
Top 10 Stereo Imaging Plugins (Best Old & Modern Picks)
Top 5 Multiband Limiter Plugins
Top 7 De-Esser Plugins For Better Vocals (And 4 FREE Plugins)
Top 7 Clipper Plugins (Best Limiter Alternatives)
Top 6 Chord Generator Plugins That Inspire Melodies (+ FREE Tools)
7 Best Exciter Plugins For Mixing & Mastering
Top 7 Channel Strip Plugins (And 2 Best Free Plugins)
Top 11 Distortion Plugins (And 4 Top Free Plugins)
Top 5 Comb Filter & Resonator Plugins | Melda, Kilohearts, Tritik
The 7 Best Vibrato VST Plugins | Audec, Audiority, Melda
The 7 Best Tremolo Plugins | Eventide, Melda, SoundToys, Kuassa…
The 7 Best Harmonizer Plugins | Eventide, Melda, Aegean Music
7 Best Sidechain Plugins (VST, AU, AAX) | Xfer, Cableguys..
Top 10 Noise Gate Plugins (And 6 FREE Free Gate Tools)
The 6 Best Ring Modulator VST Plugins | KiloHearts, Melda
7 Best Autopan VST Plugins | CableGuys, Melda, Waves, Soundtoys
The 6 Best Frequency Shifter VST Plugins
Top 11 Granulizer Plugins For Future Sound Design
29 Best Sound Design VST Plugins
Top 11 Free Compressor Plugins (VCA, Vari-Mu, FET, Digital)
Top 7 Multiband Compressor Plugins (And 4 FREE Plugins)
Top 5 Diode-Bridge Compressor Plugins
Top 6 Mastering Chain Plugins: Complete VST Solutions
The 7 Best VCA Compressor Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 11 Mastering Compressor Plugins (And 2 FREE Plugins)
Top 10 Opto Compressor Plugins For Transparent Sound
The 7 Best Vari-Mu Compressor Plugins (And 2 Best FREE Tools)
Reverb & Delay Plugins:
Top 12 Reverb Plugins (And 5 FREE Reverb Plugins)
The 6 Best Spring Reverb VST Plugins | AudioThing, GSi, u-he, Eventide
Top 12 Delay Plugins For Music Production In (VST, AU, AAX)
Top 10 FREE Delay Plugins (VST, AU, AAX)
The 10 Best Convolution Reverb Plugins
Amps & Preamps:
Top 10 Guitar Amp Plugins (And 5 Best FREE Simulators)
Top 10 Bass Amp Plugins (And 5 Best Free Simulators)
Top 9 Preamp Plugins (For Vocals, Guitars & More!) + Free Preamps
I’m a Music Producer and Sound Engineer from the UK. I have been working with music my whole life and I’m currently studying Music Production and Sound Engineering at university.