Tui wrote:OK. For the average muso, Linux still seems too limited, unless perhaps all you want to do is record audio. For composing and mixing ITB, there just isn't enough software available.
For the average, maybe I will agree.
But does that mean you can't use it for either of those? Not really. I was using Linux for paid work a decade ago, and things were MUCH more limiting back then in comparison.
I do find some limiting factors in Linux don't get me wrong. I have both a Macbook Pro running OS X, and my primary workstation running Linux. When I switched back to Linux about 2 years ago for my primary workstation, I had invested literally thousands in plugins, some of which have no equivalent yet in Linux (Audio Restoration etc.). However I find myself wishing for my Linux workstation for my work these days more than my laptop for whatever that means.
Note that my workflow is primarily mixing and editing. I know several composers that use Linux, but I know several that have given it more than a fair shot and with good reason gone back to other systems. In fact one of the projects I am involved with in my spare time that I am not paid for, the composer is going to be using Logic on OS X obviously, as it works for his workflow much better than the Linux options right now.
The two major areas that have hit me as shortcomings on Linux personally(And there are certainly others, these are just the two big ones I run across in my work) are the limited selection of virtual instruments, and audio restoration tools. That isn't to say there aren't good instruments available for Linux, but if you are looking to compose a full orchestral score, the quality of what is there just isn't there yet. Similar for audio restoration, there are tools available, but what is there just doesn't compare to closed source solutions on other platforms.
Now in both of these cases they can be addressed in methods other than running a different OS, but that will take much more money as well. A hardware sampler/keyboard/Receptor, etc. for samples/instruments. Or realtime restoration hardware such as the CEDAR options for audio restoration. The latter only fills one possible workflow for audio forensics/restoration out of many, but it just happens to be the one I use most often;)
I wonder, how many audio interfaces come with Linux drivers?
Next to Zero. All drivers were written by people other than the manufacturers on Linux and are generally part of FFADO(Firewire devices) or ALSA(Everything else) for most people on Linux. The selection of manufacturers is limited as well. That being said the interfaces I own personally and can use on Linux include a Focusrite Saffire, RME HDSP, Mackie Onyx-i. Along with this I have intentions to pick up a Sound Devices USBPre or MixPreD, not sure which yet. Other interfaces i own or have used on a regular basis that work with Linux, I just haven't personally used them on Linux, include the entire Echo Audiofire line along with a variety of interface from M-Audio(Always check these before purchasing for Linux), Roland(Same), and a few others I am probably forgetting about. I have not tested my Apogee Duet on Linux, it is not supported but there is a chance it may work through FFADO from some of what I read, but have never seen a confirmed report that it does in fact work.
So the end result, there is a far more limited selection of interfaces for Linux, and in fact this is part of why I switched to OS X for my primary workstation about 6-8 years ago from Linux, at the time FFADO didn't exist and I needed a more portable solution as I was travelling a lot and working across the US(And my primary workstation died:). This is certainly a hinderance. For example in no interface with built in DSP (Verb, etc.) does the DSP work, so that means no UA, SSL Duende, etc. But there is certainly enough selection that you can certainly do professional work, you will have to be far more careful however, and may have to put in more time setting it up on the computer.
In the near future, perhaps more developers will see Linux as a viable and, importantly, desirable alternative. Personally, I'd be all for it.
Every year it seems like someone says is the 'year of the linux desktop'. Really this concept itself is BS. But I will say in the past decade Linux has improved tremendously as a general purpose computer, and as an audio workstation is quite capable itself right now for certain workflows/people, but not for everyone. There is more interest in development on Linux from commercial vendors these days however, between Harrison Mixbus(Yes I know Tui, not this conversation) to Bitwig(In development) to Renoise, LinuxDSP/OvertoneDSP, and a few others. Along with this, one larger plugin developer has been working with a prominent Linux developer to bring support for at least one of their solutions to Linux. When I say larger here, I do mean it for the record, but it likely won't be in the way many people expect so don't get any hopes up at this point. Will work great for me, but won't be for everyone.
So while it will never be 'the year of the Linux desktop', that doesn't mean that more people might be interested in it, and more developers as well. Probably the largest hurdle to overcome is the fact that distributions can be so different, which is both a blessing and a curse of Linux.