Sunday, November 28, 2010

Using LMMS and VeSTige to Run Windows VSTs on Linux

In the August 2010 issue of "Recording" ( Darrell Burgan writes that he can now run almost all of his Windows production software in Linux using Wine. He hold this (rather than the availability of really great Linux audio software like Ardour and LMMS) as evidence that Linux is a viable audio production platform. When I first read the article I scoffed a little. In August I was having so much fun learning Ardour on Linux that I barely thought about Windows and Mac software I couldn't currently use.

Going into this fall I started thinking about preparing a new set for live performance. Since I have yet to find suitable Linux performance software that meant firing up Ableton Live on my netbook. This in turn lead to installing Wine and Ableton Live on my Linux Mint production system. Two 19" monitors wins over one 10" monitor when it comes to production, no contest.

Live via Wine worked, but only just. Some audio configuration settings didn't get saved correctly. One of them caused a persistent buzz in my left monitor until I corrected it--every time I launched Live. Interface elements including plug-in windows and Session View clip status did not refresh correctly. It also crashed a lot.

This experience did not raise Wine's stature much in my estimation. I know other people have had great success with it but at this point I really wasn't interested in persisting. I didn't uninstall Wine but I did uninstall Live and a proprietary synth I had installed but couldn't use. The synth probably would have run using Wine but it's license manager consistently failed with a DLL error I failed to fix. This served as a huge reminder of the resources burned up by licensing and DRM for proprietary software.

And now, the good news.

VeSTige is a tool that relies on Wine to allow Linux applications to use VST (and VSTi) plug-ins written for Windows. Some Linux audio and music apps can use VeSTige if configured to do so and some employ it by default. I decided to give it a try.

The copy of LMMS (Linux Multimedia Studio) I have installed on my production system was already configured to use VeSTige. As of today (Nov. 28, 2010) the Linux Mint repositories have LMMS VST support in a different package than the main app so I must have selected it at some point. Anyway, VeSTige shows up as an instrument. You assign it to a track and then browse to the VST (in either DLL or EXE form) you wish to use. From there on out LMMS treats your Windows VST very much like one of its built-in instruments.

Ya, and it works.

In the screen shot above you can see the standard LMMS instrument window (VeSTige is the instrument) and the Angelina synth's larger custom GUI window behind it, both in front of LMMS's default editor and mixer windows. Just to be clear, Angelina is a product of Big Tick Audio and is only available as a Windows VST. I had never used it before today and I coaxed some lovely sounds out of it...on Linux!

The VSTs themselves don't need to be in a specific location, or even together, for that matter. So long as you know where they are (and there are no permissions problems or additional dependencies, like the aforementioned license manager) all you have to do is point VeSTige to them and go. I created a folder in my home directory for them named "VST" sense taxing my memory.

I don't know enough about Wine or VeSTige to say why VSTs would work nearly trouble-free on my system while I had nothing but trouble with Ableton Live, but there it is. The Wine website ( lists several versions of Live that people have successfully (except for exporting audio) run in various versions of Wine. Obviously, your mileage may vary. I'm just stoked that I now have more synth and effect options on Linux.

Thank you Wine, VeSTige and LMMS!


Gustavo Koshikumo said...

Hi! Please, see if you can help me.

The reason i'm writing you is because i recently changed my computer OS from Ubuntu to Debian 2.30.2, and sadly, my Sytnh 1 working on LMMS with Vestige is not working anymore.

I get the following message when I try to open the synth1.dll:

The VST-plugin /home/revolver/Downloads/Synth1/Synth1 VST.dll could not be loaded for some reason.
If it runs with other VST-software under Linux, please contact an LMMS-developer!

Do you know the solution to this problem?

Thank you very much!

DJ Dual Core said...

Short answer, "No." I've gone back to spending almost all of my time in Ardour and haven't touched LMMS or a VST in some time. Sorry!

What I would suggest is checking LMMS documentation and forums, You could also try one of the Linux audio or music related mailing lists.