Going live, part 2: Introducing Musix and Studio To Go

In this week's entry we'll look at two more "live" CDs of Linux systems optimized for multimedia creation and performance. I've been having a great time with these systems, and I hope that my mini-profiles inspire you to try them all. They're a great way to introduce someone to Linux, they show off the system optimized for multimedia performance and they provide a wealth of high-quality sound and music software to exploit that system. They all include the standard cornucopia of applications for the mundane tasks, word processing, text editing, graphics, networking, and so on. All that, for the cost of a download and a disc.

MUSIX 0.59

Figure 1: Musix

Marcos Guglielmetti's Musix is based upon the Knoppix distribution. The underlying system has been enhanced with the usual optimizations, but Musix is the only system I encountered that specifically offers the user a choice between a normal kernel (2.6.16) and one optimized for realtime multimedia performance (2.6.15-rt). That's a nice touch.

When you reach the Musix boot prompt, select your kernel and language preferences, press Enter, and let Musix take over. Once again hardware detection was perfect, but the system configured only my M-Audio card by default, and networking was disabled. I'll return to those issues (and their resolution) in a moment.

The IceWM window manager is the default desktop, but you can switch it to KDE if you have sufficient resources. By the way, note the row of boxes at the bottom of the screenshot in Figure 1. Each icon represents a group of applications, including a General group and others for audio/MIDI apps, Internet-related programs and utilities, tools for administrative tasks, office-oriented software, etc. Click on an icon, and the screen changes with a new background image and a new set of program icons and folders. I liked this method of organizing the system, it invited experimentation and play.

Musix does offer Fluxbox as a desktop alternative, but selecting it killed the X server. Oh well, I was quite happy with IceWM.

Okay, about my soundcards and network connection. The Musix Controls dialog (in the Admin group) includes an option for installing dual cards, but for some reason the internationalization didn't take effect. Fortunately I could figure out what the Portuguese meant, and within a few minutes my M-Audio and SBLive cards were perfectly configured and ready for use. By the way, Musix's default settings for JACK were good, but once again I lowered values to achieve very low latency. Next I used the system's netconfig utility to set up eth0 for DHCP, and voila, I had my Internet connection.

On to the tests. After setting up JACK to my specifications I clicked on the Ardour icon in the Audio applications group. Within seconds I was running Ardour 0.99.3, and all was well with it. I recorded some junk tracks, everything seemed to be in full working order, so I moved on to Rosegarden.

When I clicked on the Rosegarden icon I thought something had gone wrong. Instead of seeing the familiar Rosegarden splash I saw a list of what turned out to be scripts for launching Rosegarden pre-configured for various combinations of JACK or ALSA with DSSI synths, ZynAddSubFX, QSynth, Hydrogen, and TiMidity. I thought that was pretty cool, then I discovered that Marcos Guglielmetti had also prepared a unique demo for each script. I didn't try every configuration, but the demos for the ones I did try were musically solid and certainly ought to entice any listener into wondering how he or she could do something like that with these tools.

Musix provides a healthy selection of applications for sound and music, including some not commonly encountered even in similar systems, such as Traverso (hard-disk recorder), Tartini (realtime music analysis), and BEAST (sound synthesis and music composition).

I have no reservations about recommending Musix. It's obviously a labor of love, and I look forward to enjoying its evolution. You should try it, you might like it. And while you're trying it, be sure to check out Marcos's "Zyn-techno" demo for Rosegarden combined with the ZynAddSubFX synthesizer. It's a sweet groove, just like Musix itself.

Added 4 October 2006: A fine interview with Marcos Guglielmetti can be read at DCZX's excellent Linux Rock Star blog.

StudioToGo! 1.50

Figure 2: Studio To Go

Fervent Software's Studio To Go differs significantly from the other live systems I've reviewed here. First, it's a commercial product, complete with shrink-wrapped box, manual, and physical disc (or you can purchase a downloadable edition and burn your own disc). Second, it's built by the creators of Rosegarden, the finest audio/MIDI sequencer for Linux, hence Studio To Go is designed and optimized with a Rosegarden-centric focus. Finally, Studio To Go provides only the KDE desktop, assuming a somewhat higher level for base hardware specification (a 1.2 GHz or higher CPU is recommended).

Before addressing these differences I'll briefly discuss Studio To Go's similarities to the other live systems I've profiled. Its start-up procedures and options include selections for video resolution, kernel version, and language, along with a unique set of boot parameters favorable to laptop and notebook computers. Hardware detection breezed by, and both soundcards were configured without problems. Networking was set up as in Musix: I ran the network configurator, set eth0 for DHCP connection, and boom, I'm on-line.

Studio To Go's general-purpose software map includes the expected (and up-to-date) office and networking applications, and its sound and music applications base reflects the state of contemporary Linux audio. All the major players are here, including the newly-minted Rosegarden 1.4 (a downloadable version is available for users of Studio To Go 1.0 and 1.5) and the latest versions of Ardour and Hydrogen. LADSPA and DSSI processors and synthesizers are supported, of course, but Studio To Go also provides explicit support for VST/VSTi plugins. The distribution even includes some free-as-in-libre VST plugins for your immediate enjoyment. Cool.

So, back to those differences. The simple question is, "Is it worth purchasing ?", and my simple answer is, "Absolutely."

The more complicated answer devolves upon what I'll call polish. Each system I've reviewed here is a sophisticated creation, well-crafted and a pleasure to explore. Studio To Go is likewise, but with an extra measure of attention in matters of presentation and documentation. For example, when the demo starts the user can choose to run an animated demonstration of Rosegarden's music notation capabilities. The demonstration ends with the music still playing, and you can decide to stop playback or let it continue while you continue to explore the system. It's a nice touch, maybe non-essential, but it shows that the developers have thought about making the user's experience pleasurable and productive.

The KDE 3.3 desktop is certainly one reason Studio To Go looks so good. I haven't spent time with KDE for a long while, and I must say that I was impressed with how it's evolved. It even performed decently on my under-powered machine, with no noticeable performance hit while running audio applications. At this time KDE is Studio To Go's only choice for desktop/window manager, but the developers may add a single lighter-weight alternative. Studio To Go exploits KDE nicely, and switching to another desktop or window manager will involve engineering a whole new set of integrations.

I consider the system's focus on Rosegarden to be double-plus good. Rosegarden 1.4 is a major release that provides even more capability to the distribution, including support for more recent versions of LilyPond and even tighter interapplication syncronization via JACK and MIDI. Placing Rosegarden at the center of an audio-optimized Linux distribution just seems like a very sensible thing to do, especially when the same people design both projects.

Performance was excellent. Connections were easily made, recording in Rosegarden and Ardour was simple and direct, and no xruns were reported during my recording and playback tests. Every program I tried worked, and lots of example files are provided for checking out the variety of included sound and music applications.

I would definitely recommend Studio To Go for a newbie's introduction to Linux and its audio/MIDI software, but experienced users should also enjoy Studio To Go's many virtues. The Fervent Software team includes some of the most talented and experienced members of the Linux audio development world, and they are devoted to improving their products. Studio To Go 2.0 is on the horizon, and Rosegarden 1.4 is available now. See the Web page for details, download the demo, get the party started.


Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.


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efatoni's picture

thank's information, can i try it?


Horma's picture

Hi, this info still available at this time? I need help for this. Please tell me..


Nice Sharing

MediaQu's picture

Very interesting information. But I still faithfully use the Ubuntu Studio

This is my first time i visit

udik's picture

This is my first time i visit here. I found so many entertaining stuff in your blog, especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! Keep up the good work.


music 0.59 is very good OS

sinau's picture

music 0.59 is very good OS for Music Studio
http://ondecity.com http://mojokertolinuxer.com


www.streetshadows.co.uk's picture

Thanks for sharing. Very interesting post

If perhaps one happen to be

professional photographer's picture

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hello i had a pleasure to

Anonymous's picture

hello i had a pleasure to read your blog.you give some useful ideas that not everybody can do it ,thanks..keep good work like this!

email extractor


DownSafely's picture

I think either of these environments would be ready-to-go if they included Linuxsampler and qsampler.

VST Plugin

Hidup Sehat's picture

I have Guitar Rig VST plugins, can it run in this software? what sound card recommendations which can minimize the latency?

Thanks :)


rieand's picture

I use that Software, very usefull for me

"Worth PUR-chasing?"

Anonymous's picture

And my simple question is - hwat's the advantage then, compar'd \w my totally complet'ly & absolutely free Windah Ex-Pee....

System stability and low

Anonymous's picture

System stability and low latency


Anonymous's picture

I think either of these environments would be ready-to-go if they included Linuxsampler and qsampler.

Wrong language

Philip Jones's picture

Musix 0.59, which is indeed cool and worthy of a download and a disk, isn't in Portuguese, but Spanish. The guy's from Argentina; while it does have a short border with Brazil (where they DO speak Portuguese), its language preference is decidedly Spanish.

Author's reply

Dave Phillips's picture

Hi Philip,

Actually, I know the difference between Portuguese and Spanish. I referred only to the soundcard setup dialog in the musixcontrol panel. When the system is run in englishrt mode that dialog is in Portuguese.
"Som" (Po) = "son" (Sp) and "sair" (Po) = "salir" (Sp).




Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.

Similis sum folio de quo ludunt venti.


Philip Jones's picture

I beg your pardon; I didn't see that dialog. The mistake I accused you of is so common that I guess I'm hypersensitive when someone guesses wrong about which language they're looking at. When I learned Portuguese as a Peace Corps volunteer in Brazil, we considered Spanish to be badly spoken Portuguese.


Pett's picture

Some pages can't fit in to a 800x600 screen. I have to scroll left and right to read all the text.

""we considered Spanish to

Anonymous's picture

""we considered Spanish to be badly spoken Portuguese.""

I have spent some time in Curitiba, and haven't met anyone with manners bad enough to insult another person's language.

I live in Curitiba, Brasil

havaianas's picture

I live in Curitiba, Brasil and portugese is certainly not a badly spoken spanish. Not to mention that in diferent parts of the world it sounds different. (IE: portugal, brasil north, central, south)

We considered ..

Allan's picture

If you haven't met anyone with manners bad enough to insult anothers's language, you've never been to the UK. As Churchill once said and I paraphrase, Great Britian and the US share many things in common, but language is not one of them."


Anonymous's picture

Yes, english and spanish being the "well" spoken language"!

wow its to be good

sinau's picture

wow its to be good application so we can make small music studio recording

Mas respeto con lo que dices ...

Tuxmensv's picture

Primero, en Brasil no se habla portugués, se habla brasileño, idiomas similares pero completamente distintos, si no sabes la diferencia, entonces te recomiendo que no critiques los idiomas.

Tanto el español, castellano, gallego, catalán, portugués y brasileño, provienen de un origen común que se remonta mucho más atras del tiempo de la invasión europea a américa. Todos esos idiomas tienen sus características particulares y considero una barrabasada tu barrunta opinión sobre el idioma que hablamos la mayoría de personas que habitamos américa. Además, la variedad del español es mucho mayor que el portugués y el brasileño, hay un español como países hablantes existen en américa, de tal forma que yo podría vituperarte sin que percataras de ello, sin utilizar palabras vejatorias, a menos que tuvieras un traductor simultáneo o hayas viajado a cada país a los que hago alusión.

Podrás haber aprendido "Brasileño" en tu excursion como chafarote pitero, pero necesitarías toda una vida para poder entender alguno de nuestros españoles, ya no se diga si te adiciono el castellano.

Te confundiste/You're confused

ryokeken's picture

Me parece que te confundiste, nadie esta insultando ningun idioma. Ni en el articulo ni en los comentarios.
I think you're confused, nobody is dissing any language.Not in the review, not in the posts.

Mais cuidado com o que dizes erradamente

Praxis's picture

No Brasil fala-se de facto Português, e não "brasileiro" (ou "brasileño").

Se não sabes sobre outras línguas que não a tua e semelhantes, recomendo-te que não tentes corrigir os outros de forma arrogante.

Obrigado Praxis! Você está

Edson's picture

Obrigado Praxis! Você está certo, no Brasil falamos o Português, evidentemente com algumas diferenças devido a mistura de culturas. A resposta do "hermano" retrata o modo de como relacionam-se com seus vizinhos, principalmente o Brasil. Arrogância é elogio.

Wat een onzin allemaal

Anoniem's picture

Wat een onzin allemaal. Laten we ophouden om elkaars taal af te zeiken en gewoon respect voor eenieders taal hebben.
Verder gaat het hier over Linux en Musix!

More Live Madness

T.J.'s picture

You can play LiveCDs directly off the web with some free software from moka5. There is a big list of LiveCDs that you can run without even burning a CD at http://www.moka5.com/livecd. I'm not sure they all run perfectly because the platform uses VMWare, but there are LivePCs that are completely configured at http://www.moka5.com/livepc. I've been using the Open Office 2 Go LivePC to bring my docs to and from work. It'd be awesome if all the distro maintainers produced a LivePC version so that I could automatically get the newest version when the RSS feed for the virtual machine updates.

Of course, then you're not

Anonymous's picture

Of course, then you're not really seeing what the LiveCD can do; just what your OS and vmware AND the LiveCD can manage together. The experience -- especially for time-and-performance-critical things like audio -- is probably quite different.