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Native VST plug-in support

This last week-end has seen a major rewrite of the plug-in infrastructure (qtractor, opening the way for more plug-in types, other than just LADSPA. So, effective today on CVS HEAD, you get native Linux VST support on Qtractor. Audio effects only however. This marks the way for the next working season, which is about having MIDI synth/instrument plug-ins, or DSSI and VSTi support for short.

However, building for VST support is not that easy. At least it does not work out of the box. First off, due to its licensing issues, you'll have to go through the nuisance and download yourself the VST SDK from the Steinberg Media Technologies GmbH site, specifically digging through the 3rd Party Developers section. It doesn't matter much whether you pick the VST 2.3 or VST 2.4 version, but you need to pick one and just one only. Do not ask for the recently announced VST 3.0. It won't work and I won't care :)

Once you have downloaded the VST SDK zip-archive, for which you'll have to accept their license and supply some personal data, you'll have to unpack the pertinent header files, which are found under the respective folder. Just copy those couple of files to somewhere on your system:

  • VST SDK 2.3: vstsdk2.3/source/common/
  • VST SDK 2.4: vstsdk2.4/pluginterfaces/vst2.x/
  • If you choose to copy those files into some standard include directory (eg. /usr/local/include) all will be handled automagically by the ./configure build step. Otherwise you'll need do supply the path yourself, as in ./configure --with-vst=/path/to/vstsdk2.x/include .

    Next step, once properly built you'll need to grab some native VST plug-ins and tell where those might be found. Currently, you'll need to set the VST_PATH environment variable with the paths where the plug-ins will reside and can be picked up by Qtractor.

    In case you don't know where to get them, some ready made Linux VST plug-ins can be found while browsing in here:

    Ah, almost forgot this one: as an added bonus, you can now drag-and-drop plug-in instances over the mixer strip chains. You can move, drag and drop inside the same strip and over to and from any other. Neat eh?

    rncbc aka Rui Nuno Capela


Thanks for post!

I am glad to hear that they will start supporting VST plugins, it will very helpful. Thanks for the update.

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Not all guitars are equal but sometimes they are overpriced. When I play electric I like a Fender or Gibson but for acoustic I play a martin or collins. I think it depends on where you look but I believe everyone should have the right to play an axe no matter what their budget.

Will this work with Cubase?

rncbc's picture

No. Although VST plugins have been originally introduced by Steinberg's Cubase, the so-called native VST plugin support refers to plugins which source code is publicly available and ported to Linux, Qtractor's target platform.


I too have tried the VST support and it is not that easy...built in is a real prob...I think the LMMS project features a Windows VST host. Good work.

When I play electric I like a Fender or Gibson but for acoustic I play a martin or collins, every one should have the right as far as I am concerned !


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