The Book of Linux Music & Sound

by Dave Phillips

with CD-ROM published by No Starch Press, SF, CA

USA price $39.95

Dave Phillips has operated the Linux Sound and MIDI applications website since 1996 when he started with a list of some 40 applications. Now the list includes over 500 and grows week by week. Who better then, to give us a survey of some apps and how to use them?

The book introduces readers to the topic by first, a general overview of Linux audio, some background on digital audio and MIDI, and then some general advice about getting your Linux system to make sounds.

This includes some recommendations for minimum, medium, and advanced systems which will start an argument amongst gearheads immediately ... which would happen no matter what was recommended! For mics though it's hard not to recommend Shure SM57/58's for general purpose work (my recommendation, not Dave's).

Next there is some coverage of the sound driver situation. This is probably one of the most confusing areas for newcomers and this chapter should help them a lot. The alternatives are outlined here together with URLs and a small troubleshooting section together with pointers to places to get further help.

Following this there are chapters on different categories of sound software: mixing, editing, trackers, MIDI, mp3, hard disk recording, synthesis, notation, network audio, digital DJ, games, and OS emulators.

In each chapter one or more applications is profiled (most are supplied on the CD). The reader is taken through operation of the apps and given useful pointers along the way. It's a good way to be introduced to music apps in Linux as you're mostly saved the downloads and you're saved the hassle of finding what compiles and what works.

Quibbles? A small one - the listing of this website is not quite right on page 380 and our tech articles don't get a mention. We have quite a few!

All in all this book is a good approach to the subject and will keep a lot of people happily occupied for quite a few hours I'd say. It's ideal for newcomers to Linux as well as experienced Linux users who haven't got around to having a good look at what's been happening recently on the music making front.

read our interview with Dave Phillips


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