Gentoo Studio is a source-based Linux audio production system based on Gentoo Linux, for people who want a Linux audio system optimized for their specific computer hardware.

Gentoo Studio consists of three install choices: minimal, basic and complete. A minimal install provides an audio-ready base system with no desktop environment and only basic JACK control software. A basic install provides no desktop environment, but includes basic software to start recording and editing audio and MIDI. A complete install contains Xfce4, a variety of audio and MIDI software, and an array of plugins.

Use cases:

  • You want a basic audio-ready system with nothing installed because you want to set things up in a very specific way. Minimal is for you.
  • You want to choose a desktop environment other than Xfce4 but otherwise want a basic audio-ready system with basic audio and MIDI software installed. You will choose your own sets of plugins. Basic is for you.
  • You want to install a full-fledged audio-ready system complete with an Xfce4 desktop environment. Complete is for you.

There is a sticky in the Multimedia section of forums.gentoo.org. (FGO.) Please post there if you need help or have any questions.

Before beginning an install, please make sure you are using a machine that does not contain any data you wish to keep, and that meets the following criteria:

  • 64-bit architecture. 32-bit installs are not supported by Gentoo Studio.
  • No less than the equivalent of an Intel Core2 for light work, and at least the equivalent of a Core i5 or Phenom 2 for serious work. More is better.
  • Hard disks with a rotation speed of at least 7200 RPM, or SSD drives. Either way, the more, the better. Audio recording and production eats up a lot of space fast. Having at least a 1 TB drive is good, but definitely no less than 500 GB with the ability to offload onto removable media.
  • No less than 2 GB RAM for light work, no less than 8 GB for serious work. 16 GB or more is recommended, especially if you plan to do multi-track recording or mixing with lots of tracks and plug-ins.
  • Any of this could be for a desktop or laptop. None of it has to be new. Please post to the forum thread if you’d like advice about specific hardware.

Things not supported by Gentoo Studio:

32-bit installs You need to address more RAM than 32-bits can handle.
Gnome Monolithic desktops are resource hogs.
JACK1 Does not support multi-processor machines.
KDE Monolithic desktops are resource hogs.
Pulseaudio Gentoo Studio’s audio system centers around ALSA and JACK. Use Pulseaudio at your own risk.
Screensavers Screensavers interrupt sessions and consume resources. If you need to leave your session unattended for a while, manually turn off the video monitor if you are concerned about it.
Streaming servers/radio stations Running a server of any kind is beyond the scope of Gentoo Studio.
Systemd  Gentoo Studio uses OpenRC.
Uninstalling software Please select the flavor best suited to your goals. Uninstall provided software at your own risk.
Virtual machines Running a digital audio workstation in a VM is not a good idea.


I’d like to thank NeddySeagoon, for his general encouragement of my endeavors in trying to show everyone how well audio production on a Gentoo machine can work, all the people who hang out in #gentoo, #gentoo-chat, #gentoo-dev, and #gentoo-releng, and everyone who has ever informed me that my guide has helped them. That means a lot to me.

I also want to thank the good people inhabiting FGO (forums.gentoo.org). I can’t tell you how many times I asked for – and received – help there.

Fine Print

Gentoo Studio is not an official project of the Gentoo Foundation, of which I am a member. This site is maintained by me, Damien Moody, a.k.a. Audiodef. The Gentoo Foundation bears no responsibility for the content of this site. The Gentoo logo and Gentoo name are used according to the licensing guidelines set forth by the Gentoo Foundation. The name “Gentoo” and the “g” logo are currently trademarks of the Gentoo Foundation, Inc.The “g” logo in the background is a variant of the “Ripples Gentoo” logo found at http://www.gentoo.org/proj/en/desktop/artwork/artwork.xml. This logo was modified under the CC-BY-SA license under which the Ripples Gentoo logo was published.