Building Ardour 2.X with VST support

This section applies only to people building Ardour 2.X and only for Linux/x86 platforms. This combination can be used to run VST plugins built for Windows on x86 processors (you might know them as "32 bit Intel processors"). At this time, you cannot run VST plugins in Ardour on OS X or Linux x86_64 platforms. Note that if you use your x86_64 system in 32 bit mode, that counts as x86, and things will work as expected. Ardour does not support so-called "Linux native VST plugins" at this time.

Version 2.8 or newer is required

There are really no extra steps for VST support. Just do the following:

  1. make sure you have the Wine "development" package installed (typically called "wine-devel")
  2. run scons VST=1 (you many want other scons options too, but VST=1 is the key for this particular goal)

Additional Information

After a successful build, run scons install.

Running it

The command name for this version of Ardour is ardourvst, not ardour2 which is the non-VST supporting version. In all other ways, it should behave identically.

Where to install VST plugins

Ardour looks for VST plugins in the location(s) indicated by your environment variable VST_PLUGINS. If that is not set, it will use VST_PATH. If neither are set it will look in /usr/local/lib/vst and /usr/lib/vst (on x86_64 and OS X, some additional directories will be searched, following conventions on thos platforms).

You should also use the wine-config program to ensure that the Z: drive under Wine points to the root ('/') of your filesystem. This is critical if you install plugins somewhere outside of your home directory, and is recommended.

It crashes!

You may find that ardourvst crashes when started up if you have VST plugins already installed. This is sometimes caused by issues doing an initial assessment of each plugin. Try running it several times, and it may miraculously stop having issues. We suspect this is because of various plugins inadvertently interfering with each other during the initial "identify and index plugins" step. If in doubt, you can check the vst plugin directory whether new .fst files appear on each restart.

If ardourvst continues to crash, you should move the entire contents of your VST plugins directory to a new location and then add the plugins back one by one. Various plugins will not only not run on Linux, but they will crash Ardour (and in a few cases, lock up your entire system). We are working on a blacklisting scheme to prevent such plugins from having this effect more than once.

If ardourvst crashes with no VST plugins installed, you have different issues, probably with the version, build or configuration of Wine. There is little advice to offer in such cases, alas.

The GUI/editor for the plugin doesn't appear!

When you go to edit the plugin parameters, you may see just a blank gray window, or two windows (one gray, one with the plugin editor in it), or one window looking the way you would expect. This behaviour is controlled by Wine's "managed windows" settings, and unfortunately there is no single correct value for this. Which setting you want depends on the window manager you are using, so if you see this gray window/no window issue, run wine-config. Go to the "Graphics" tab and change the curent setting of "Allow the window manager to create managed windows". Then restart Ardour and try again. This appears to fix the issue for almost everyone.