Raspberry PI 3 Linux Distribution For Audio and MIDI

Developer Geert Bevin (Moog Music, Roger Linn Design, MPE) shared this sneak preview of a new Linux distribution that he’s working on for the Raspberry Pi 3.

The Raspberry Pi 3 is a minimal computer, designed to offer quad-core processing power for about $40. Its combination of price and power makes it an interesting platform for embedded audio/MIDI projects.

Bevin says that his first steps have been to get the smallest possible Linux distribution working, with full LCD, mouse, keyboard, audio and MIDI support, and get it running a full-blown JUCE GUI application. He notes that “It boots up in just a couple of seconds with a customizable boot screen.”

While Bevin’s project will mainly be of interest to musicians with a programming background at this point, a cheap Linux system that runs JUCE apps could be very interesting as an open platform for running software synths and effects.

19 thoughts on “Raspberry PI 3 Linux Distribution For Audio and MIDI

    1. Check out forum boards on it, the PI has been put to so many uses that it hard to find one that it has not been put to

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  1. Not sure why you should go with some fork or some proprietary Linux distribution. Have been running ALSA on RPI 1 for more than 5 years. Many standard (and also very small footprint) distributions support MIDI for long. Traktion (developed by the creator of JUCE acquired by ROLI and also based on JUCE) Linux version also runs on the PI. Demo at NAMM 2017: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V2MTUpji8Uw

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  2. Interesting the Korg gadget is a JUCE app, it would be awesome if you could run it on a pi, especially since you would be able to customize the entire machine and add on whatever screen and physical interface you want to it

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  3. Interesting, but still awaiting what’s new and so special, aside from the Raspberry 3 computing power: I have a nice midi application running sysex dumps (e.g. real-time data transfers) for the Roland D50 on the single core Raspberry 1B using the standard Linux ALSA library.
    Please keep posting Geert, as said interesting and curious on new developments in this field.

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  4. Cool! It would make a great PD host. The Blokas.io audio/MIDI card would be a neat solution if you need ‘old school’ DIN MIDI i/o and audio in..
    It reminds me of Zynthian too.

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  5. anyone who wants to make music with should also look at sonic pi , the music making side of the raspberry pi

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  6. Google this. NAMM 2017: Tracktion Waveform a DAW for Raspberry Pi, MacOS and Windows
    It’s JUCE, It runs on Linux, and a PI. Why the need for another fork of a Linux distro and not just support an existing distro ? ALSA MIDI, Sound on PI zero, 1,2,3 has been working for years and many distros. Not sure what’s new.

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  7. I love the Pi. I’ve got a Linux server that’s hosting seven domains and is running database services, a private VPN service, a customized DNS server/ad blocker, and a web cam, all run on a Pi I paid $10 for, plus $7 for the case, and $7 for shipping, and OK, so the power cable is just my cell phone recharger.

    This replaced over $500 a year I was paying for hosting and the entire system draws about 200mA.

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    1. not surprising, i remember an article about a potato powered web server , only issue the interface co not be

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  8. This is nice and I love PI projects but I was hoping for more technical details around it. Based on the headline I expected an overclocked RPI with an external clock for a real time Linux kernel. I’ll have to poke around and see if anything else is out there about this.

    Also kind of confused on what a “JUCE app” is. JUCE is just a framework for creating VSTs. So is the final goal a small VST host to run Linux instruments on the PI? If so, what would limit it to only JUCE? Of course I may have missed something that would explain it.

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    1. JUCE can be used to create standalone apps as well as vst’s, so I would assume the author is thinking of JUCE apps.

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  9. This is unbelievably great news. Think it’s worth noting that Geert has a very successful history with regard to Linux distributions.

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  10. This is really interesting for me. I’ve just gotten into building audio things with Raspberry pi. Currently working on a looper soundscaper type instrument but the boot time is a bit much on all my projects. Here is the first one I built:

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  11. I’m pleasantly surprised by the interest in this effort. I mainly posted this video to keep my friends informed about what I was doing and was initially not planning to release this as a separate project.

    The reactions and the comments here and on other sites have motivated me to publish what I have as open-source, in order to help everyone get started with Raspberry PI 3 solutions for embedded audio and MIDI use. Stay tuned, I should have something to play around with for all of you very soon…

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  12. I made the work I did available as open source, you can get it here https://github.com/gbevin/erpiam

    All the heavy lifting is really done by Buildroot, but getting all the pieces assembled to have a fast and beautiful startup with a Linux kernel that is tweaked for audio and MIDI performance took me way longer than I anticipated. So I hope this will be useful for others.

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