Linux: the next recording frontier?

photo by Pilax

photo by Pilax

The blog In The Jungle just posted a compelling argument for the Linux operating system and its use as the basis for a home recording studio. The argument goes: Mac OSX is user-friendly, Windows PCs are supposedly “stable,” but Linux offers a whole array of advantages over the two:

  • Fully-functional free recording software and tools
  • Linux is bootable from a CD, and does not need to be installed onto a hard drive
  • Pre-built music systems that tweak your computers settings automatically for optimal recording conditions
  • Linux runs well on old hardware, eliminating the need to buy a new computer
  • Linux is 100% free

However, I’m not convinced. The problem here is the fact that music creation and recording, while undoubtedly a technical endeavor, is also a creative one. And the creative process demands the least amount of resistance and obstacles. Any barrier to the actual act of creating something is often enough to prevent creation altogether. Discouragement, frustration, or boredom drain inspiration.

This was the deciding factor when choosing my new computer, after my 7-year old Dell desktop was becoming barely usable.

  • I considered a Windows PC, but was not motivated by the Vista feedback circulating, nor the idea of continuing to deal with Windows bloat-ware and anti-virus programs.
  • I considered a Mac, but the biggest obstacle here was the cost. Apple products are expensive.
  • I considered a Linux system. I like supporting open-source development, and the cost of a Linux machine was very attractive. It’s also very stable and lean. But I decided against it because the time it would take me to learn a new operating system and customize it would be counter-productive and a waste of my time.

I decided to go with a MacBook, even though it was much more expensive than the other two options. Though it is a new OS, it is an OS designed to make “learning” how to use it irrelevant. There is no barrier to executing tasks and creating. It worked right out of the box without any additional installations or software. I was on the internet in minutes, and recorded a video a few minutes later. It’s as if there was no operating system.

The cost benefit of this is huge, but only if you value your time over actual dollars. I do. The time I would have spent dealing with Linux (even as user-friendly the interace is these days), comparing software, browsing the ubuntu forums for installation questions and help, and simply dealing with the interface… all of that time is worth more to me than dollar bills in my wallet. I completed more actual work on the Mac in a fraction of the time it would have taken me to even get to the work on another machine. I may have actually saved money if you measured it in units of time.

When attempting to create, remember that any obstacle (mental or otherwise) preventing you from creating something at that moment needs to be eliminated or ignored. There should be no interface to deal with, simply actions and results.

Linux, while appearing to have tangible benefits for recording music, likely poses too many obstacles to the average musician that would make it an inefficient and time-consuming choice.

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