Gentoo Studio was born out of frustration with Windows drivers for my original series Mackie Onyx mixers with Firewire cards.
No, I’m not flaming Windows or Mackie. But I was frustrated.
I had (and still have) a Mackie Onyx 1620 and a Mackie Onyx 1640, both with the Firewire option installed. I was using Cakewalk’s Sonar 8. When it worked, it worked very well. But I was having to reinstall the Mackie drivers every. Single. Time. I. Booted. Up. Only one mixer showed up, despite Mackie’s statement about being about to use two together. (I kind of remember they later let go of supporting that, which only added to my frustration. I bought a second Mackie for that specific purpose.) After booting up and reinstalling the drivers, I could see both mixers in Sonar. Work could proceed. But the extra step got on my nerves after a while.
I had already been using Gentoo for other stuff by then. So I started looking around to see if I could record and mix using Linux. While learning about that, I learned about Freebob/FFADO, and when I got around to figuring out how to use that to make Linux see my mixers, it turned out that FFADO worked so much better on these mixers than Windows. No constantly reinstalling drivers. Once it worked, it continued to work with no further fuss, and had no trouble listing both mixers as one set of 32 channels – and probably would list several mixers, not just two.
So Windows went out the window.
Well, I continued to use Windows/Sonar 8 while learning to produce music on Linux, but that transition period didn’t last very long.
After spending some time with Ubuntu Studio – a very nice distro – I started wondering if I could use my favorite distro – Gentoo. At the time, Gentoo had no official anything set up for professional audio applications. Unofficially, there was the pro-audio overlay, and it was that that got me started. Over time, I did my own research on music production and Linux, and started keeping my findings in one place. This all by itself didn’t really exist yet – a single repository of knowledge for music production on Linux. The information was definitely there and not difficult to find – it just wasn’t conveniently all in one place.
My Gentoo for audio production how-to was born.
I maintained this how-to as a single document until 2012, when I decided it was time to take the next step and make things more official. The name Gentoo Studio was a no-brainer. I began a thread on forums.gentoo.org specifically for Gentoo Studio, and Neddy Seagoon took notice and made the thread a sticky in the Multimedia section. Around the same time, I registered the gentoostudio.org domain and began exploring ways to create an installable package. For a while, I used a stage4 backup/reinstall method, and then I learned to use Gentoo Catalyst.
So here we are. As of this writing, the Catalyst releases are in open beta, but results and feedback from users has been very positive, and these days I spend a lot of time tweaking and improving Gentoo Studio. If you doubt that, I can post a photo of the dishes in my kitchen that I should have put in the dishwasher while I was working on GS…