Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Updates on the latest plans for Linux audio functionality from the first developers' conference in Germany.

First thanks must go to Frank Neumann, Matthias Nagorni and Götz Dipper. They managed a large and diverse group of developers arriving from various points at various times, ensuring everyone's comfort and well-being. For a first-time effort organizing a conference of this size, they all deserve the highest praise and thanks. The directorate and staff at ZKM also must receive great gratitude for their hospitality and financial assistance. The Zentrum is an awesome place to hold such a conference, and I recommend it to anyone visiting Karlsruhe. Thanks also to Jörn Nettingsmeier for managing the live internet feed and for helping in so many other ways.

Finally, vast thanks to the developers themselves who have done so much and given so freely. They are true heroes, persevering to create a unique phenomenon: powerful software freely available to musicians and sound people the world over, running on the world's most free and powerful operating system. What an amazing group, what remarkable accomplishments!


Pictures and MP3s from the conference are available on-line.

More information about ZKM may be found at

Information regarding the Linux Audio Developers group is at

More general information about Linux sound and music software can be found at

Dave Phillips is a musician, teacher and writer living in Findlay, Ohio. He has been an active member of the Linux audio community since his first contact with Linux in 1995. He is the author of The Linux Book of Music & Sound.


Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.


Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Anonymous's picture

thats all good n a bag of beans. Now write a VST wrapper for the plugins and drivers... maybee then linux will be actually useful instead of lost in its own little crappy audio world like it is now.... Hell figure out a way to load windoze VST plugs via wine or sumptin.. Until then no one that produces will give a rats ass.

captchas suck. this implementation sucks more than most.

nonymous's picture

I had some valid points for both sides of the argument, but now that I am so irritated by the @*$&^#! captcha, I am just going to rant about that.

It took me like 10 tries to get the first one right. Now I have to enter another one to actually post?

An indication of whether it's case-sensitive would probably have eliminated the first 3-4 fails. Then I just got unreadable ones. Yes I can read, but the display is excessively ambiguous at 1600x1200 on my 21" CRT.

A dhtml function to just regenerate the image would be slightly less annoying than having to resubmit the whole page.

I have wasted valuable time which would have been better spent helping create/improve software for the benefit of all humanity, and I daresay that is a higher negative cost than suffering the theoretical spam it is intended to prevent. (Yes, I could have cut those losses by just bailing out immediately, but I believe crusading for usability is every software designer's duty.)

Please improve on this situation!

> Now write a VST wrapper

Anonymous's picture

> Now write a VST wrapper for the plugins and drivers...
> maybee then linux will be actually useful instead of lost
> in its own little crappy audio world like it is now

For those unable to parse this, let me translate it for you. It actually means:

"I am a thoroughly brainwashed Microsoftie unable to do anything without my decorative little WinXP desktop in the background, and so totally tied to my VST plugins that I can't even make a cup of coffee because my kettle has no VST interface. So, because you Linux lot cannot accomodate my myopic view of the world, you are all obviously irrelevant and unprofessional. Oh, and Leenucks sux and XP r0x0rs!!"

There, that should be a bit clearer.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Anonymous's picture

Possibly windows-vst-plugins (and macintosh-plugins on PPC-linux) can be embedded to a linux-host-application natively. AFAIK, over 90% of all plugins are not linked against any operating system library. They came with own widgetsets and all using api functions come from the host application.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe (author res

Anonymous's picture

Not that I want a rat's ass, but FYI Kjetil Matheussen's VSTserver provides VST support for LADSPA plugins and Pd. It's very cool, I've experimented with up to a dozen or more VST plugins activated in a Pd patch. Btw, Kjetil did indeed utilize some WINE capabilities to achieve his software.

Also, Paul Davis recently experimented with JACK + VST. If all goes well I think we might expect VST support from JACK. More cool...

Regarding drivers: ALSA has evolved into a splendid audio system, it's doubtful we'd get much of a technical "win" by attempting ASIO support (if that's what you're talking about).

== dp

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe (author res

Anonymous's picture

Jack supports ASIO under Linux, just start it with the -a option. It's just a way of defining the data size sent to the PCI card, not a way of getting low latency etc. Some cards support this transfer mode, some don't.

All these things, ASIO, VST, Direct Monitoring, Rewire etc etc are just brand names. They don't guarantee good performance or sound, just a particular standard and way of achieving a goal.
We would have VST native in Ardour now if the header files were re-distributable, the technical side is not hard. (Emulating windows gui is another matter...)

You can do the same things under Linux, but they are called JACK, ALSA, LADSPA etc etc.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe (author res

Anonymous's picture

you're no producer, just a kid who uses pirated copies of windows audio software he found on kazzaa and dreams of being the next drum&bass "star"... get off the crystal, stop snorting ketamine, take a bath and maybe we'll take you seriously.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Anonymous's picture

Open your eyes and get informed. Most studios don't tell you which

operating system they use. Upon close inspection, you may find

out some interesting facts. Or the, maybe not. You see what you want to see.

Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Anonymous's picture

I just wish and hope that the ALSA drivers will start working better than the OSS ones soon. I have tried them with three different sound boards, and had to revert to the OSS drivers on the grounds that they seem to behave better.

It's not MP3 just because its compressed audio

Anonymous's picture

> Pictures and MP3s from the conference are available on-line.

Anyone else upset that about MP3 being the Kleenex of audio? Those are ogg/vorbis, not MP3.

Re: It's not MP3 just because its compressed audio (author respo

Anonymous's picture

Another oops. My bad, sorry about that.

== dp

Oops, I forgot to mention SuSE

Anonymous's picture

I should have mentioned that thanks also go to SuSE for their support. The general Linux community owes SuSE big thanks for directly supporting the ALSA project, it's the kind of project that benefits everyone.

== dp


Anonymous's picture

Hey Dave.
great summary. That'll show my M$-loving friends how far we are and what is to expect.

Maybe Linuxjournal should always append a picture like
that one of yours to show what shiny happy people we are.

All I long for now is a Linux-Audio-User-and-Docu-hacking-Convention.
Thanks to Lukas, Francois, Julien and Joern for the little jamming you/we did! Had a great time!

Cheers, tobias.

Re: yep.

Anonymous's picture


Re: Linux Audio Development: A Report from Karlsruhe

Anonymous's picture

Wonderful summary, Dave, that captures especially well the nice spirit and friendly vibe surrounding the LAD conference. Maybe next year, I have enough Pd patches ready to host a whole dance night ;)



Frank Barknecht

White Paper
Linux Management with Red Hat Satellite: Measuring Business Impact and ROI

Linux has become a key foundation for supporting today's rapidly growing IT environments. Linux is being used to deploy business applications and databases, trading on its reputation as a low-cost operating environment. For many IT organizations, Linux is a mainstay for deploying Web servers and has evolved from handling basic file, print, and utility workloads to running mission-critical applications and databases, physically, virtually, and in the cloud. As Linux grows in importance in terms of value to the business, managing Linux environments to high standards of service quality — availability, security, and performance — becomes an essential requirement for business success.

Learn More

Sponsored by Red Hat

White Paper
Private PaaS for the Agile Enterprise

If you already use virtualized infrastructure, you are well on your way to leveraging the power of the cloud. Virtualization offers the promise of limitless resources, but how do you manage that scalability when your DevOps team doesn’t scale? In today’s hypercompetitive markets, fast results can make a difference between leading the pack vs. obsolescence. Organizations need more benefits from cloud computing than just raw resources. They need agility, flexibility, convenience, ROI, and control.

Stackato private Platform-as-a-Service technology from ActiveState extends your private cloud infrastructure by creating a private PaaS to provide on-demand availability, flexibility, control, and ultimately, faster time-to-market for your enterprise.

Learn More

Sponsored by ActiveState