A professional DAW for Linux

Linux Specifics

Since version 6, Reaper is now available for Linux as a standalone program. As with Ardour, the Reaper installer is a script, which is run in a terminal window and guides you through the installation. In principle, this means that the developers offer compatibility with all distributions. However, depending on your system constellation, there may also be compatibility issues.

Basically, Reaper is a good companion for everyday audio work on Linux, as well as production environments, because Reaper can easily interact with Alsa, PulseAudio, and Jack. I gained Reaper experience and always achieved good results with kernels 5.4, 5.10 LTS, and 5.13. The test recordings I created amounted to 20 tracks, each five minutes in length and with up to five effects in the mix and bounce.

However, Reaper has issues with some system combinations. Specifically, Wayland and PipeWire are problematic. For example, Manjaro with Gnome 41 and Wayland doesn't allow you to drag and drop files from the file manager into the program. Fortunately, Reaper's built-in Media Explorer lets you do this (View | Media Explorer or Ctrl+Alt+X). The Media Explorer even offers some additional functions, such as preview, tempo and pitch adjustment, and time selection of samples. If you use the classic X server, the problem does not occur on the same system.

Fedora relies on the PulseAudio successor PipeWire. As well thought out as this is at the desktop level, the audio interface is currently a poor choice for professional audio. Long often recordings lead to error messages and dropouts due to buffer overflow. Also, when mixing, there are repeated problems with oversampling of some plugins or crashes without an intelligible error message. However, this is probably not a specific Reaper problem because PipeWire also causes similar trouble with Ardour and all too often takes the DAW down with it into a proverbial black hole.

Xfce and various other desktop environments and window managers use Alt as the system's modifier key (e.g., to move or resize windows). This clashes with Reaper's defaults. For Reaper, you will want to replace this key on the system with the Super key (the Windows key), which Reaper does not otherwise use. Alternatively, reroute all key combinations for actions from Alt to Super. It may be worthwhile for you to create your own audio user with an appropriately customized desktop configuration.

Reaper also has problems with high-resolution 4K displays and does not scale with the corresponding pixel density. Fonts and controls are therefore displayed at an illegibly small size if you have a 4K resolution, and scaling the display size to 200 or 300 percent compromises the overview. The system font also has an influence on Reaper's display. Reaper takes advantage of the fact that Windows and macOS do not give users any real freedom in font selection. However, Linux users have a harder time. There are not typically any difficulties out the box with KDE and Gnome. On the other hand, the display on Openbox, i3, and Xfce could do with some improvement, to say the least, if you don't have the right font settings.


Reaper is ready for use with Linux. Compared to the alternatives, Reaper offers a comprehensive, customizable, resource-saving, stable, and at the same time, inexpensive DAW with a classic concept. For a production environment, I recommend a recent installation of Manjaro or Ubuntu with kernel version 5.4 or newer and Alsa/Jack as the sound server. Depending on your typical work area and your own usage history, you may need to make some adjustments to your own preferences. And, don't forget that Reaper is not free software. If this doesn't bother you, you finally have one more choice on the professional audio market for Linux.

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