The Linux Setup – James Nelson, Musician

I continue to be impressed by people who can create music using Linux, which is why I was happy to have James here. He’s doing a lot using Ubuntu, probably aided by the fact that he doesn’t record much, and doesn’t need to worry about kernel latency. It’s an interesting setup for an interesting genre.

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  1. Who are you, and what do you do?

    My name is James Nelson, and I am a computer musician who you might know as Retro Banana. I make a genre called “synphony,” my own creation that has classical styles, electronic instruments, and a prominent drum beat.

  2. What distribution do you run on your main desktop/laptop?

    I use Ubuntu 12.10 64-bit on my laptop.

  3. What software do you depend upon with this distribution?

    I mostly rely on Qtractor — it’s my all-in-one program that can do everything from sequencing MIDI to bouncing down my synthesizer tracks to audio. Because I record very little, I use softsynths like ZynAddSubFX, and, my personal favorite, amSynth.

  4. What kind of hardware do you run it on?

    I use an Acer 5735 with an Intel Core 2 Duo, and a 64GB SSD.

  5. What is your ideal Linux setup?

    My ideal Linux setup is Microsoft’s Surface running Ubuntu. Unity would use a tiling window manager instead of compositing.

  6. Will you share a screenshot of your desktop?

    I make good use of both workspaces and screen space. I keep Qtractor on one, and Qjackctl and softsynths on the others.

James Nelson's desktop running Qtractor

James Nelson's desktop running Qjackctl

Interview conducted February 14, 2013


The Linux Setup is a feature where I interview people about their Linux setups. The concept is borrowed, if not outright stolen, from this site. If you’d like to participate, drop me a line.

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