With your feet on the ground: enough to say that Linux is perfect, at least for music, and let's not mention GarageBand again.

GarageBand, there is nothing like it in Linux

About two months ago, talking about my "playing" with music again, I wrote an article on Hydrogen, a drum machine that I wasn't lying about when I said that I found it interesting. Nor was he lying when he said that «Apple is above the rest when it comes to creating, editing or mixing music«, And in the case of Linux the difference is even greater. I know that I can get criticism from the most fanatical when writing this article, but, sadly, Linux users have nothing comparable to GarageBand.

This post is not about talking well about Apple, although I will also do it, but for all those Linux colleagues, even blogs, who say that Audacity or Ardor are comparable to that GarageBand that I have used for more than 10 years. Well, simply, it's going to be no. Next I am going to mention the software that they most compare with the Apple DAW, to say why they are not the same and to try to settle once and for all this that, as an amateur musician, I have never understood.

We can do it all without leaving GarageBand. With the 'alternatives', no

Let's start by talking about Audacity. It's free, has many effects, and you can even edit MIDI, but what about your loops? What about your guitar effects? Are we going to compare the MIDI editor with Apple's? I don't know whether to laugh or cry, partly because of how one sounds and how the other sounds and partly because of how simple it is in one and how complicated is the other. No, Audacity is not GarageBand.

We continue with software like Ardor and Reaper. In theory, neither of them is free, although in Linux I have not encountered any limitations. GarageBand has been free for 7-8 years when you buy a Mac / iPhone / iPad. Both allow us to record and edit and they look better than Audacity, but the same shortcomings. They can be used for simple projects, but not if we need to add and edit MIDI tracks with the best sounds.

Some of you may be thinking «LMMS. That yes, no? ». Either. LMMS is a good choice for the one who wants to mix, but to begin with, you have to look for your life to find the samples, loops and so on. On the other hand, have you found the button to record? Neither do I. So, although it has a very good design, if it does not serve to record and edit waves, which although the latter can do it, it is not at all precise, it is not comparable with GarageBand.

Of course, the software that focuses on MIDI is also not comparable to GarageBand, and here we can mention Rosegarden. Apple software is so much more.

The question: free, intuitive and all in one

No one feels it more than me. My iMac is from 2009 and I don't know if I'll ever have another one just thinking about music. I mostly use Linux now, and can't even come close to what GarageBand does. In fact, the iPad / iPhone version already has something important that the Linux software does not have: the sound library and a very easy-to-use MIDI editor with which we can edit guitars, basses, keyboards, pianos, wind sounds, strings, etc, and the sound is brutal. Special mention for the drums, that I have a very good drum machine and I don't need it because it is easier for me to use the iPad editor.

Continuing with the drums, there are the «Drummers», which are drums that will play as we indicate, all improvising. What Linux software does drummers have? And it is that with a single GarageBand we have (or to get to what it offers us, we need):

  • Ardor or Reaper. With these sequencers it can be "easy" to raise and lower the volume with a line, and tell them where to play (although I'm not sure about the latter).
  • Rosegarden or LMMS. With these programs we would edit the MIDI, but the sound has nothing to do with what Apple offers, which seems real.
  • Audacity. If we want to mix and make the recorded and MIDI sound good, maybe we need Audacity to mix everything, or export the MIDI to WAV and put it in Ardor / Reaper. Yes we may need it to add some effects to the waves.
  • Hydrogen. I like this drum machine, but the sound also leaves a lot to be desired. The good thing is that you can find kits… if you look for them.

"Change my mind"

But hey, I'm not a totalitarian guy who thinks he knows everything about everything, far from it. I can be wrong, and maybe you know a software for Linux that does come close or even beats GarageBand. So I end this article hoping that you will tell me that I am not right and why. And if I'm lucky, tell me a good alternative, which, sincerely, I would appreciate it.

How it has to be? Well, as I have explained:

  • Sequencer that allows me to record, raise and lower the volume, move the side on which it will sound, edit the waves and add effects to them.
  • Full of effects for the audio, if it can be with guitar effects (although it is true that I do not need it, but it can come in handy to correct a badly chosen sound).
  • Good MIDI editor that doesn't waste my time, so easy to edit like Hydrogen with drums, but also for other instruments. And with good sound.
  • Loops and effects to make songs in a while and that YouTube does not ask me for copyrights, or simply to have fun.
  • Make it intuitive, I repeat that I do not like wasting time.

With the above I think I would settle. Without forgetting that the learning curve is not great, Do you know something like that?


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  1.   He said

    I think the same. I am not a power user and I just have a humble home studio. I gave Ardor a chance and it's not even close to what Reaper is (Speaking of something basic like recording quality using the same bits, hz and settings). I never had the ability to use GarageBand.
    I appreciate the effort of free software for music production, but it still lacks development.

    1.    pablinux said

      Sure, that's the question. We can thank and say that a software does its job well, but comparing it with another like GarageBand, that to use it you need to spend more than € 1000 even though the software is free, is something we should not do.

      To understand what GarageBand is, you have to use it. When you see that you edit the waves super easy, that the sounds sound much better, when you see that he plays the drums by himself and everything he offers, then it goes out of your head that it can be compared.

      It also comes to mind to compare the Tux Guitar with the Guitar Pro. Yes, I use Tux Guitar, but the Guitar Pro is much more complete, and the sounds are something else. And we are talking about creating music: if the sounds do not seem real, we do little.

      A greeting.

  2.   rotten apple said

    Apple is a Santa M in everything, in Linux there is much better software and by far in addition, it is even overtaking Apple in graphic design, which was the undisputed queen, a lot of people have switched from Apple to Linux for graphic design issues, architecture, delineation, production lines, etc. Another thing is that you are a fan of Apple and come here counting a lot of milongas, that's quite another thing.

    1.    CS-80 said

      Tell me which software is better for audio on Linux. I wait for you to tell me just one. And I'm going to make it even easier for you. Let's not talk about GarageBand. Let's put the version that Steinberg Cubase gives away with some instruments

  3.   Diego German Gonzalez said

    It's something I've been saying for years. the great Linux void is the intermediate user. The one who needs extra features, but can't pay a developer to program them.
    Luckily, the cloud and Chromebooks are going to make operating systems irrelevant.
    And by the way. In Linux there is nothing that comes close to Abby Finereader

  4.   elchampi said

    You don't seem very into "real" DAWs as you want something to replace GarageBand and add, to make matters worse, "Apple is above the rest when it comes to music software." There you have swung in a bad way. Apple DOES NOT HAVE ANY DAW that is minimally professional, those are others that you do not seem to know or that exist: Cubase, Reaper, Ableton, Pro Tools, Bitwig and some that I forget. Needless to say, I just mentioned what is at the top and it goes without saying that none of them are from Apple.

    1.    pablinux said

      But have you noticed that I mention that it is free? I do know those programs, but they are paid and they are not so intuitive. I make it easy for you: I am not very high or have knowledge and I still make music fast and free with GarageBand. Therefore, you are agreeing with me.

      Logic Pro is from Apple, and here they put it on the same level as Pro Tools: https://guitarspace.org/tips/logic-pro-vs-pro-tools/
      Here, who beats Ableton: https://www.musicgateway.com/blog/how-to/ableton-vs-logic-pro-x

      On the other hand, if what Apple offers is so poor, why do so many sound professionals use Apple devices? Dj's, for example, whenever I see one who takes a computer, it's a MacBook. Those who do not use it usually comment this:

      https://answers.microsoft.com/es-es/windows/forum/windows_10-hardware/problema-con-la-latencia-en-programas-musicales/f58b41cb-869b-4e11-a121-ff316bc47473

      https://www.hispasonic.com/foros/problema-latencia-windows-10-cortes-sonido-chasquidos/546653

      With Apple it also happens, but less. Hence that comment. But yes, I have to give you part of the reason: it is not only because of the music software. It is for everything.

      And, in case you have not heard, that separate comment, that I see it correct because of the combo, what the article is about is to deny that there is anything for Linux that comes close to it, as I have read in many media about Linux. There are many articles that say that Audacity or Ardor are alternatives to GarageBand, and they simply are not. Those who have a Mac have free software that is used in most cases and I think it is installed by default. In short, it is not an apology for Apple, but rather an "attack" on those who say that what is in Linux is comparable. And also a call, or two: someone to recommend something worthwhile for Linux or that the developers improve what they have, but I think it is impossible because of the money. Everything you mention worthwhile is very expensive. The cheapest is Apple, but to be able to use it you need a computer whose cheapest model is above € 1000. I mention this because those programs are developed by people who charge a lot of money, not the community, and that is the main problem.

      A greeting.

    2.    CS-80 said

      Sure. Logic Pro is so unprofessional that it is used by countless recording studios, GarageBand being a shortened version of Logic for FREE. Cubase, Reaper, Ableton are not free (there are trimmed versions that are quite meh) nor are they so intuitive for the non-professional user nor do they exist in Linux except Reaper. And of course, none of them come anywhere near plugins like the ones that GrageBand already brings by default.

  5.   System Operator said

    Your article is fine, but you should change that title. "With your feet on the ground: enough to say that Linux is perfect."

    Your operating system has nothing to do with whether or not you can do the things you do with specific Apple software. If the problem were bad sound drivers, latency in the I / O well, I still buy it.

    1.    pablinux said

      There are also problems in that regard. When one software uses one audio server and another uses another, sometimes they don't even sound at the same time. That was the reason why I switched to Mac, and to make Rosegarden sound you have to install extra packages, both in Manjaro and in Kubuntu. "Out of the box" doesn't even sound. That problem belongs to Linux, its philosophy of free development and that everyone develops as, by and for what they want. In Windows and macOS I have never seen "a dumb program" like in Linux.

      A greeting.

  6.   Juan said

    As I read in a previous comment. Nobody thinks of the downstream user.
    As you say, Reaper or Ardor put them as an alternative, but it is an alternative perhaps to pro tools, cubase and others. In which you have to use plug-ins and aim for something more professional.

    I've been with ubuntu studio for months, testing the programs it brings little by little, and none of them convinces me.

    But finally, your article is a starting point. And hopefully developers read us! hahaha greetings.

    1.    pablinux said

      The problem is no longer developers, but money. I say it in another comment, that the software that is worth it is paid, or the GarageBand that is free if you buy a computer from them. So, be it Apple or any developer, they make a lot of money, so they can develop better and faster.

      For example, here they have mentioned Bitwig, which is also for Linux, but is worth almost € 400 and in the trial version, which says that it only has blocked saving the project or exporting it, it does not even show the buttons to record. So here we would have one or more problems: is it not supported the same for Linux? Well, it is not an option. Is it the package type problem? It is a Linux problem. Do you have to learn how to make those buttons appear? It doesn't seem serious to me. That I have achieved it, installing it with another package (AUR), but the MIDI does not sound. LMMS does, but LMMS does not allow you to edit waves.

      In Linux there does not seem to be anything that does everything and well, and that is the reason why I wrote this article, because I have read many comparisons with GarageBand and I think that nobody who mentions it has tried it, because comparing it with Audacity or MuSe, is that I find it incredible. It seems that they believe that GarageBand is a program for mixing audio files and it is not.

      Hopefully what you say will happen and, for example, LMMS adds the option to record and edit waves, or Ardor improves its MIDI editor. If in the end, it seems that I do not ask so much.

      A greeting.

  7.   July said

    I can give you the reason in almost everything, but you have a very big mistake ... and mainly, and that is that this is not a linux problem ... because I am asking you now almost the same question ... tell me a free windows software and comparable to Garage Band ... I'm telling you ... none. So what you put here as a linux problem, it is not linux, but as they have pointed out before is a problem of Apple policies, which makes software with great features free, to give quality musical support to amateur users, but of course … Locked to your operating system. And finally, a note to those who speak without knowing ... and we know that you do not know, because if you have ever used garage band, you cannot say the nonsense you say ... no matter how hard it is to believe it, there is nothing like it and you cannot have it ... if there is not in windows ... how is it going to exist in linux? It has a lot of things that cannot be done with other programs or at least with that ease and quality, I only use it for drums ... but it is that in half an hour I do the drums of a demo, and if I plug in the guitar it sounds good and if I choose a Japanese instrument that I didn't even know existed, it generates a melodic line about my song in real time… once again if you haven't used it, don't say anything… you look ridiculous and it shows that you haven't used it. In short, there is nothing like garage band neither in linux nor in windows, nor possibly ever will be, but in any case it cannot be said that it is free when it is necessary to buy a proprietary platform to run it.

    1.    pablinux said

      Hi Julio. I focused the article on Linux and to deny the comparisons of others. Windows did not mention it, beyond saying that "in Linux the difference is even greater." It is true that in Windows almost everything good is paid, but there is also more variety. Regarding the price, I also mention that GarageBand has been free for years when buying an Apple device, but you cannot use it otherwise. You don't pay an extra like a few years ago. No longer.

      For the rest, I am happy to read people who have tried it.

      A greeting.

  8.   dwmaquero said

    Aside from there not being a decent DAW on GNU/Linux (Rosegarden has a GUI like from the last century) Jackd + Pulse fight like cat and dog, and even if you use Jackd alone, when you suspend the computer the jackdbus daemon doesn't suspend itself alone, which means that when you restore it, you have to die to kill jackdbus and close all applications that were using it
    Let's go, a disaster, better Garageband that is much more complete and is free (it comes standard with all Apple equipment) also I already tried to spend 2 years with GNU/Linux and I could not do anything for the aforementioned (and I have tried countless of solutions and alternatives)

  9.   dwmaquero said

    In addition, it should be mentioned that today, Jackd and pulse do not work well together or separately, since when you suspend the team and return to recover the session, Jackdbus does not fall asleep with the rest of the demons, so you run out of audio until Don't kill him by force.
    For the rest, I agree with everything you say, Rosegarden has an interface like from the last century, with a score viewer that is PENA, in addition to not being integrated into the program but running separately, then LMMS lacks a good score viewer. scores integrated into the program and so on, GNU/Linux for everything except music composition, video editing (although I have to admit that OpenShot has made huge strides) for that better MacOS and Garageband + iMovie

  10.   Rolando Ramos-Torres said

    Yes you can. I'm a musician and I can make music on Linux. I use Reaper, which is low cost software, I think $60. I use the LSP and CALF plugins. I also use plugins from Ausio Assault. All software for Linux. As an artist, to say that you can only use Mac is to close. Can you do the same thing that Logic does? who knows. Maybe not. Can you record and mix music? Yes you can.