Ableton Live Suite is the DAW to go for professional Music Producers, and is irreplaceable in the Music Industry. In fact it has gotten so popular to the point where musicians would look nowhere else if their machines can run the program. Yes, that’s a tough concern, given that the Ableton Live Suite requires chunks of hardware to run smoothly to the minimum. The minimum system requirements stated by the official ableton website is actually minimum, and not the type you’d see in Video game requirements. Because with that specs, you can at best run the program and play a few beats, but to actually be able to produce some true music, requirements can run higher than you could ever think.
This applies if you’re using an operating system that actually supports Ableton Live, specifically Windows and MacOS. These supported systems themselves require such intensive hardware. So what about running Ableton on Linux? Is it even possible?
The harsh truth
Even how unfortunate it might sound, truth will be truth. Ableton does not support the Linux operating system. And for quite a few reasons. The first being the fact that if they had wanted to give support for Linux, a lot of underlying code of the software would all have to be rewritten for another operating system. Yes, for such a big company, this shouldn’t be too hard. But the problem here is that there aren’t many Linux users who’d end up using Ableton Live on their machine, which means, all the investment for porting the software to Linux would go to a definite waste for them. Not only is it the case for Ableton, but many other softwares companies don’t want to port their programs on Linux. The GNU licensing used to be a thing, but we sure are seeing paid programs appear over time in Linux, so the transition shouldn’t be too hard anyway.
Meanwhile, new users who wish to give Linux a try are being discouraged not finding the programs they need to use. This turns up into a messy cycle. Programs don’t get ported because companies cannot find users; users don’t switch to Linux because they don’t find programs. Huh.
But don’t get me wrong just yet. Linux surely does not have as many users, but the base is increasing over time. It seems to be getting some attention recently. So it’s not impossible that big softwares would soon appear on the Linux operating system.
That being said, what we need to know is that you cannot directly run Ableton inside a Linux Machine. But if you have a formidable machine, then it could be possible, at least indirectly.
Running Ableton in Linux, technically
There are two options for you to consider here. The first option is to run a virtualized Windows Environment inside your Linux Machine by using the program called VirtualBox. But beware, you’ll need a lot tougher hardware to do this than the ones mentioned in the specs list of Ableton. This is not a very viable option, in my opinion, as it probably not be suitable to use it for anything production-level.
The second option is a bit quirky. This is to use the program called WINE. Admissible to its name, the program can be considered like this:
“ By getting a sip of the Wine program, your Linux machine will be so dizzy that it’ll start running Windows applications. “
Yes, you heard it right. The philosophy isn’t the same as above, but the end product is. It is capable of running Windows Programs inside a Linux Machine, by producing a compatibility layer. However, the support for applications is limited, and not all programs would function as expected. Meanwhile, word has it that there are users who were able to get Ableton Live in their Linux machines to be running through Wine.
But don’t be too happy too fast. Getting to run ABleton in WIne is not as simple as downloading and installing it. You’ll need to install the dependencies like Microsoft Visual C++ Redistributable, DirectX9-11 and such. There are other dependendencies that go along with these, specifically for running Ableton. There is no guarantee, nevertheless, that it’ll run in your machine anyway.
Therefore, if you really wish to try out this method for installing Ableton, be ready to go through some trials and errors. There are many tutorials available online on how to use Wine. So it’s best you go through these first to make sure you’re ready.
Alternatives for Ableton in Linux
The best way you could avoid messing with your system is to rather use an alternative software to Ableton, if it is actually possible, and unless you’re not expecting to create production-ready music anytime soon. If your sole purpose is to learn, or if you’re that professional who can adapt to any kind of DAW to get the music flowing your way, you’d probably find the alternatives quite useful. There are plenty of them, of which I’ll be listing a few (Some of them are entirely free, which is a massive plus).
The first on our list is Bitwig Studio, and for good reasons. The workflow of Bitwig is the closest to Ableton Live, compared to the rest, and its users adorn it for its niceness. Other than MAX, you’d possibly find pretty much everything else you’d preferably use in Ableton Live.
Waveform is another one of those DAW programs that produce quality music without giving up on the workflows and all. It has both a Pro and a free version. However, as stated by many, Waveform is the only DAW that offers a handy amount of features in its free edition.
Despite being the last one on our list, don’t take LMMS too lightly. It is an actually capable DAW, with just a few things to keep in mind. The good thing is that it is entirely free, and will keep on staying to be free of any charge. However, the problem most people refer to is the fact that it’s a bit hard to use, and the UI is inconvenient as compared to the workflow of Ableton. That being said, LMMS is still a very good DAW program that you should consider if you’re on a budget, and don’t want all the mess of having to use WINE or VirtualBox.
There are more DAWs you can find out there, and in fact, there are many others that you may actually find to be better suited for you than Ableton. Indeed, Ableton is unbeatable, but good music should rather come from the one who’s creating, and not from what he’s using to create it, don’t you agree? Well you’re free to not, of course!