Everything the computer production community wants in an OS is in Linux.
This may be a familiar story:
My Magic Mouse died recently so I went to the Apple store to buy a replacement. The “Magic Mouse 2” clicked and dragged but the scrolling gesture was gone. I searched for a while on the internet cursing how often I am troubleshooting my apple products when I finally found that the Magic Mouse 2 is only compatible OS 10.11+.
I am stuck in 10.9.5 due to stability reasons even though I am up to date on my Pro Tools HD subscription and running 12.7 and mainly wanted the mouse for the scrolling.
I drove back to the Apple store and got my refund but it felt like the last straw of last straws. I had been an apple “fanboi” since I was a little kid and am now unlikely to buy a new Apple product in the future because I loved one aspect most of all about apple that is now gone: stability and reliability.
In addition the products’ value has shot way down. My best friend wanted to replace her 9 year old macbook pro and beyond the newer chipset and SSD drives (she doesn’t need an SSD drive) the specs were nearly identical for a very expensive macbook. She’d have to go nearly to $2000 to get an upgrade in power that she doesn’t need. In fact she doesn’t need anything new from a computer, she wants it to “just work” so that she can write word documents and watch netflix. Apple has $175 billion in assets and still charges the very most people will pay for the gee-wiz-bang features like retina display.
I’ll stop railing on apple even though I haven’t listed the worst of my experiences over the past few years like my iphone 6 turning into a brick for 4 months because of an update and it taking apple getting sued for them to issue a fix. I also won’t go into how an older laptop with el capitan on it can’t play itunes music within a half an hour of trying with only the OS installed and all hardware checking out fine or how they soldier their ram in now. I’ll go into the future.
The future of audio is Linux.
In the audio world there are often two groups of products — the multifunction and the Class A single-function high-end. Both OS X and Windows are multifunction. Linux is easily configurable as class A.
Linux possess the ability to be the perfect balance of dumb recorder that you hit play and computer with advanced editing capabilities.
Linux hasn’t taken off in the mainstream because it doesn’t have the flash of OS X or Windows and is slightly more complicated to operate as a result but for people like us in the media production industry who are already used to complexity it is a walk in the park.
Unlike the 2 big operating systems linux has a fully separate back end and desktop environments. You pick and run different and multiple desktop environments (graphical user interfaces or GUI’s) for your Linux/unix OS. All are ugly compared to the new hotness from Microsoft and Apple but they are very, very stable and fast in comparison. This would be a major advantage to pro tools.
Since Linux is compartmentalized in this way on all levels you can also run very old software on new devices. The chipset, formatting etc is separated from the functionality. This opens up recall significantly because you can launch that old version on your new machine.
If I were Avid I would be full speed ahead to make a version of pro tools that was essentially a desktop environment that could also be launched in a desktop environment that already exists like KDE or Gnome. Since there is nothing stopping you from running Linux on a nice retina display all of the fine pro tools features are preserved without the bloat and bugginess of a for-pay operating system.
The great thing about open source projects is that anyone can submit code. While Avid and other proprietary DAWs don’t work this way it paves the path for them to operate on very stable environments because anyone with the know-how can fix a problem.
Which means I could get that Magic Mouse 2 running if I really wanted.
Linux can be installed as an incredibly light OS fitting on the tiniest of devices through the largest university, government or corporately run supercomputers and computer network servers. It is an OS designed to work, not to bring in profit. This means it could be used in other audio devices too so that developers can stop paying license fees and and more importantly struggle less with compatibility across systems and applications. You could more easily control your channel strip from your DAW.
I’ve been watching linux for a couple decades now and I see a perfect match with the audio world. I hope to inspire some people to look into this more. You don’t need to pay microsoft licensing fees or deal with apple’s compatibility issues.