I thought it might be nice to have a thread for Linux users to discuss their preferences, tips, and goodies.

I myself presently use Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.  I'm considering moving to the newest LTS, as I enjoy Ubuntu a lot.  Though, I notice that most chipware seems to be for different or older distros such as Debian.  I'm not a software developer, just a musician;  Is it because of issues with ease of use that programmers seem to prefer these older platforms?  Or is it out of dedication to a particular system, eschewing newer things for what they're used to?

Regardless, I've had some fun playing about with Milky Tracker, and Propellerhead REASON 5 (running in WINE, along with Ableton Live being what I use more for non-chip music.), though I've not been able to get WINE to behave with the necessary software to use the 64mb cart I got from nonfinite on this computer and have to resort to using my sister's old WinXP/7 rig for transfers from it to a thumb drive.

How about you folks?  Find any problems in Linux systems related to our shared hobby?  Any workarounds, fixes, sweet little programs you may've found that you're willing to tell us all about?

the *buntus are based on Debian.  Also, I am pretty sure if something works on one distro it will work on other distros (just maybe not packaged already, or available in all repos).  What is it specifically you want that is "Debian only"?

WINE is like a band-aid fix, and rarely works for me for anything but the most basic stuff.  I somehow managed to get STO to work, but the frame rate was so low for me it was unplayable.  If you need XP or whatever you can run a VM or dual boot.

Last edited by rygD (May 21, 2014 6:56 pm)

You can use bitwig on it. And renoise. And of course LGPT.

There is a version of famitracker that works quite decent with WINE.

Once you set up the audio, it's all good.

Some things you should know about Linux:

-Most any software which is Linux compatible will run on any distribution, it just may be more or less work to get it going. You just need to figure out the dependencies and how to compile in most cases. If you're running a Debian-based distro you can find easy .DEB packages so you don't have to compile.

-Linux has some weirdness in Audio. Lots of people try to use JACK for the audio back-end, but support for JACK is very clunky and problematic. That said, OSS is even older and more junky. ALSA was the standard for a while in Debian-ish distros, but lately they have moved to Pulseaudio. This is where you'll see most of your audio compatibility issues. Some trackers assume OSS, some assume ALSA, some assume JACK, and most are so poorly maintained that you won't see Pulseaudio support. If you find ones that use OSS you may be out of luck. ALSA can be wrapped to work in Pulseaudio, and most *buntu types will do this for you seamlessly, but if not, check that out.

-If you want to run Windows stuff, avoid WINE. It's terrible. Use VirtualBox. If you're willing to put in the work for USB host emulation, I believe you can even use the crummy EMS 64 cartridge loading software.

^much better than what I said, thanks.

I didn't test DefleMask on Ubuntu 12.04. It should work just fine if you get OpenGL (sudo apt-get install freeglut3), if you are on a 64Bits distro you have to Download 32Bits libraries (sudo apt-get install ia32-libs) and maybe you will need also SDL libraries and lib32asound2-plugins. Like arfink said, different Linux distros have different needed dependencies to manually install.

Last edited by Delek (May 21, 2014 7:25 pm)

I mostly use sunvox, klystrack, and sometimes lmms.

I mostly use only my DMG for Chiptune creation, but use Linux (Mint, specifically) as my main operating system, and have tried out some Chiptune-related software, so can share my experiences.

materiaxmedica wrote:

... I've not been able to get WINE to behave with the necessary software to use the 64mb cart I got from nonfinite on this computer and have to resort to using my sister's old WinXP/7 rig for transfers from it to a thumb drive.

I use the third-party ems-flasher from lacklustre.net.  It must be installed setuid root, but works nicely.

I have also successfully used the following software:

  • Milkytracker, 0.90.85+dfsg-2.1, natively

  • LGPT, V1.1h_043, natively

  • GBDK, 2.96a, natively

  • Famitracker, v0.4.2, under WINE

  • bgb, 1.4.1, under WINE (This has some windowing / screen refresh issues, but otherwise works well.)

arfink wrote:

-Linux has some weirdness in Audio. Lots of people try to use JACK for the audio back-end, but support for JACK is very clunky and problematic. That said, OSS is even older and more junky. ALSA was the standard for a while in Debian-ish distros, but lately they have moved to Pulseaudio. This is where you'll see most of your audio compatibility issues. Some trackers assume OSS, some assume ALSA, some assume JACK, and most are so poorly maintained that you won't see Pulseaudio support. If you find ones that use OSS you may be out of luck. ALSA can be wrapped to work in Pulseaudio, and most *buntu types will do this for you seamlessly, but if not, check that out.

While the Open Sound System is no longer standard on most Linux systems, it is still maintained and still standard on BSD systems; I feel it hardly qualifies as "junky".  Nonetheless, on an ALSA-based system, programs that use OSS can be run fine with the aoss wrapper (or with padsp for Pulseaudio systems).

Also, I feel that it may not be the case that various trackers (and other audio programs) are poorly maintained, but rather that the developers feel it is not worth supporting (or not a good decision to support) Pulseaudio.  Since it became standard on Ubuntu-based systems, Pulseaudio has caused problems for many users who want to do more than listen to music, including myself.  I have since switched to a straight ALSA system, which solved these issues for me.  Although most people would not recommend removing Pulseaudio unless it causes problems, I would suggest considering a straight ALSA system in general.

materiaxmedica wrote:

I myself presently use Ubuntu 12.04 Precise Pangolin.  I'm considering moving to the newest LTS, as I enjoy Ubuntu a lot.  Though, I notice that most chipware seems to be for different or older distros such as Debian.  I'm not a software developer, just a musician;  Is it because of issues with ease of use that programmers seem to prefer these older platforms?  Or is it out of dedication to a particular system, eschewing newer things for what they're used to?

If the software is distributed as a downloadable '.deb' file, you should be able to install it on Ubuntu, as other posters have said. Just download the file and use the dpkg command. https://help.ubuntu.com/10.04/serverguide/dpkg.html . You could also compile it from source, but that can be a bit complex for a new linux user.

I have always used the lacklustre ems-flasher program and never had any problems. I was a bit paranoid that it would mess up my saves at first because the ems carts can be a bit dodgy sometimes, but its a wonderful little piece of software. Can't recommend it enough.

I mostly just use my laptop for testing things and prefer to compose on hardware, but SunVox and Klystrack are really nice. Deflemask is cool because it basically does everything! I also sometimes use FUSE for zx spectrum/soundtracker, and have Goattracker installed but tbh i've never actually seen anyone use that apart from oldschool demo wizards. There's also VICE for commodore64 stuff if that's how you wanna roll.

Oh and AdlibTracker2 has just had a stable linux SDL port release, which now runs perfectly on my crap linux laptop! It used to stutter badly in DosBox.

DefleMask uses SDL for sound output. I think that there's a command for SDL under Linux to switch between ALSA, JACK, PULSEAUDIO, etc.

EDIT: yup, it is an envvar:
SDL_AUDIODRIVER
Selects the audio driver for SDL to use. Possible values, in the order they are tried if this variable is not set:

dsp,alsa,pulse,audio,disk (all; output to file)

http://www.libsdl.org/release/SDL-1.2.1 … vvars.html

Last edited by Delek (May 22, 2014 12:19 pm)

pulseaudio on linux require a cpu monster, it eat nearly 20% of cpu time on some old laptop.
Alsa and jack are the right way to have some performance on a linux box.
Pulse is also written by the devil himself.

materiaxmedica wrote:

though I've not been able to get WINE to behave with the necessary software to use the 64mb cart I got from nonfinite on this computer and have to resort to using my sister's old WinXP/7 rig for transfers from it to a thumb drive.

Though I use a mac and use Linux rarely, I know your frustration with the 64mb cart since it doesn't work on mac nor linux. The best way, in my option, for running the software is to install VirtualBox or some other virtual machine software and torrent a iso of WinXP (although I don't like encouraging pirating).

https://www.virtualbox.org/

Last edited by slugs (May 22, 2014 11:05 pm)

Hmm, I thought I read somwhere that milkytracker and something else can run in a framebuffer without X. Forget where I read that though...

i wrote a lot of music on schism tracker on fedora/ubuntu & did some albums on a raspberry pi too
schism tracker is the best!!

however now i use windows

I was really pleasantly surprised by linux lately. Since years now I've only been using a mac to do most of what I need a computer for, but I have an older backup laptop (a Dell XPS m1330) with Win7 and Ubuntu installed on. Just out of curiosity I installed Ubuntu Studio on it and tried some software.

I got my firewire audio interface working in no time (installed the FFDAO stuff from synaptic, that was it), which totally surprised me since everybody always told me it would never work. It probably helped that the Presonus Firebox is class compliant.
Everything in Ubuntu Studio is already set up for audio work. Just launch Jack and you're up and running.
Btw. Jack runs totally fine! The only problem was that for MIDI there's still a big mess between ALSA and JACK-compatible MIDI, and if you run JACK with the firewire mode, you can't access the ALSA MIDI stuff...

The biggest weakness of linux audio is probably the available software. Though Renoise totally kicks ass and works like a charm on my laptop, didn't try Bitwig, but that probably beats the shit out of any other software package, the FLOSS audio offerings are a bit on the week side.
Oh, don't forget about Tracktion, which is free on Linux and seems really nice... though I didn't get MIDI to work, for whatever reasons.

I produce entirely in various Linux distros at this point and there is quite a bit of great software.

My all time favorite is Sunvox, which should work on any linux based os. It's incredibly powerful, combining traditional tracker sampling methods and internal synthesis.

Milkytracker is in the Ubuntu repos and runs fine (although the midi input support can be a little weird)

Schism tracker is also in the repos, although I haven't spent much time with it.

LMMS has a number of chip plugins and could be used, provided you don't mind the stigma that comes with it

OpenMPT runs flawlessly in wine, including windows VST plugin hosting

Famitracker also runs flawlessly in Wine

Ardour is excellent for recording from external sources (kinda useless for MIDI composition though)

Hydrogen is absolutely  amazing for drum stuff, although I'm not sure if anyone's attempted chip style drums in it

I've never even tried to run it, but there's a linux version of Adlib Tracker

of course, there's always DOSBox, which enables you to run all the originals: Fastracker II, Impulse Tracker, Scream Tracker etc.

So yeah, definitely a lot of options for linux production, and it only continues to grow.

Last edited by Anforium (May 27, 2014 8:59 pm)