VCV Rack 2

There are few open source projects that not only broaden the possibilities for their users but also kickstart an entire software ecosystem. Blender is one of those projects, as is Krita, but so too is the amazing VCV Rack (now often abbreviated to Rack). VCV Rack is a virtual modular synthesizer where different modules can be connected to one another to create an infinite variety of sounds, effects, drums, noises, note sequences, controller responses, and physical devices. What was most remarkable about this project was that it spawned a huge library of first- and third-party modules that could be added to your virtual racks, many of them modeled on real hardware that might cost hundreds or thousands of dollars but instead given away for free in their virtual form. There was a real synergy between certain hardware vendors, such as Mutable Instruments, who purposefully built open source hardware and firmware, and the developers who created modules based on their hardware to publish either exact copies of the originals or modules that were inspired by their functionality.

This plug-in system enabled anyone to create their own modules, and lots of people did. With VCV Rack, any of these modules can be dragged into your virtual rack and wired up with virtual cables, all hanging together in virtual gravity with the sound piped to your headphones. Their prevalence was enough to spawn a separate third-party ecosystem, with some module creators charging for their own creations and others requiring complex licenses to cover their mixture of code. All of this became tied to an associated VCV online account and store framework which provided access to these modules and managed those you could purchase. All this success also brought a little drama. When it was clear the original project was working towards accounts to enable paid-for modules and eventually a Pro version, which has finally appeared with the release of VCV Rack 2, forks were made for Apple's macOS and iOS and plug-in versions that worked with digital audio workstations, all created and maintained by independent developers, though most have now fallen by the wayside. These developments created some friction both in the community and with some open source module developers, but the bottom line was that thanks to its popularity, any new version would always be open source (GPLv3) and contain a staggering number of updates. And this is exactly what's happened with the release of version 2, albeit alongside the commercial Pro version that can now also work as a plug-in.

A new graphics engine in version 2 still needs the help of a GPU, but there's now a "dark room mode" to help all those middle-aged synth tinkerers work through the night. You can also more easily save, edit, and share your module selection, albeit through the account system, and it's now simpler to find the module you're looking for with the new module browser. All of this is still open source and available for free with the standalone version. The high quality of this update is likely only possible because the commercial side of the project fuels its open source development, and that has to be a good thing. There are now more than 2,000 modules to choose from, with more than 170 from official module manufacturers, and 30+ integrated into the default. Version 2 has just been released to hopefully build on this success and take it even further. If other people don't like these improvements, or the modules, or the direction the project is going, they can obviously still do whatever the GPLv3 allows them to do with the code, but there's been no doubt that this success has hugely helped fuel the ambitious VCV Rack 2.

Project Website

VCV Rack 2 allows you to create a virtual modular synthesizer of any size without incurring any cost.
Unlike real Eurorack modulars, VCV Rack can also be polyphonic – playing more than one note at a time from the same unit.

Setup script


This is an exciting time for Linux gamers because so much is happening to make gaming on Linux better. This is of course mostly thanks to Valve, which has been lavishing attention on Linux, Wine, and its Proton compatibility layer in preparation for the release of its Steam Deck handheld gaming PC. But there are plenty of other developments too, and Gamebuntu is one of them. It's the brainchild of Rudra Saraswat, a developer based in India who's also responsible for the Ubuntu Unity Remix distribution and, at the time of writing, is still only 12 years old! Gamebuntu is a comprehensive Bash script with a graphical front end that aggregates the installation of everything and anything related to gaming. It's designed for people new to Linux who might install something like Ubuntu but not know, or want to know, what else should be added to create the perfect gaming system.

The graphical front end starts by showing an Install button in the sidebar in the top left of the window. Clicking this will open a terminal that automatically installs a huge pile of gaming-related software. This can take some time because the list of what's installed is huge and continually growing. It includes things such as the XanMod Kernel for better gaming performance, a Mesa PPA to access the latest graphics drivers, OBS with PulseAudio effects, and NoiseTorch for game streaming with microphone noise reduction. For gaming, Gamebuntu adds Steam, Lutris, and Heroic Games Launcher to access your games, and Wine for playing Windows titles. When the script completes, the front end becomes a launcher to access all the user-facing parts of everything that has been installed. This may require some extra setup, such as logging in for the Epic Games Store or YouTube Studio access, but it quickly becomes an excellent way to access all your gaming-related content and is a strong reminder of just how much high-quality gaming-related software there is available for Linux, with hopefully much more to come.

Project Website

The list of software installed automatically by Gamebuntu is changing all the time, with recent updates adding Twitch, Kodi, and VLC.

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