Ardour 3 is the most powerful Free Software music software currently available. Although Fedora isn’t a GNU/Linux distribution that’s designed for audio professionals, with a little work it can be configured to process sound with low-latency (without millisecond delays or artefacts like pops and crackles), and get easy access to repositories with many recent pro-audio apps.
We’ll compile Ardour from its source code in this tutorial, because this will get us the very latest version (with features and bug fixes missing from older copies), and because Ardour recently switched to a payment-oriented package distribution model which promotes source compilation as the installation method for people who aren’t Ardour donors.
We’ll also set up the CCRMA package repositories, which contain many audio apps not found in the default Fedora repos, and most importantly will supply us with a real time kernel (which Ardour, and low-latency operation in general, requires). The CCRMA repos are provided by the Stanford Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics.
These instructions are designed to work with Fedora 18 and Ardour 3.1.1, though I expect they will work as well with later versions of both. If not, let me know and I’ll try and tweak the guide.
- Install package dependencies required by Ardour:
yum install git jack-audio-connection-kit-devel libsndfile-devel liblo-devel aubio-devel cppunit-devel cwiid-devel liblrdf-devel libsamplerate-devel lv2-devel serd-devel sord-devel sratom-devel lilv-devel flac-devel gtkmm-2.4-devel gtkmm24-devel libgnomecanvas-devel libgnomecanvasmm26-devel suil-devel libcurl libcurl-devel uuid uuid-devel libuuid libuuid-devel lib fftw3 fftw3-devel liboggz liboggz-devel
- Setup the CCRMA repositories (more detailed info in the Fedora manual):
su -c 'rpm -Uvh http://ccrma.stanford.edu/planetccrma/mirror/fedora/linux/\
- Update existing packages and refresh what’s available:
- Install real-time (low-latency) kernel and drivers from CCRMA:
yum install planetccrma-core
- Reboot your machine to use your new real-time kernel.
- Download Ardour via Git and compile it by following the simple official instructions (see “Building Ardour 3.x”). I recommend not installing Ardour unless you really need to (installing is the final step in the official instructions that simply creates links within Fedora’s menus etc. and isn’t required for compiling / running / using Ardour).
- Start the jack sound server by running qjackctl (either from system menu or CLI), and click on “start”.
- Run your newly compiled Ardour (execute this from within the directory you compiled Ardour in):
Those are all the necessary steps and you should now have a fully functional copy of Ardour! I recommend installing some additional LV2 plugins however to extend the built-in MIDI instruments that are available within Ardour.
- (Optional) Install additional synthesisers for Ardour:
sudo yum install lv2-triceratops lv2-synthv1 lv2-calf-plugins lv2-calf-plugins lv2-mdaEPiano
Those synths should appear automatically as available MIDI instruments when you restart Ardour.
I hope that running Ardour in the way I’ve described will whet your appetite to dive more deeply into audio production on GNU/Linux. If so, I recommend using a dedicated GNU/Linux distribution for audio work, because it’ll provide you with many more tools and features, and save you having to manually configure them all yourself. For now KXStudio is my clear favourite.
Good luck, and let me know how you get on in the comments