Are there any good Linux alternatives to Garageband?

The most important features would be:

  • Good audio recording, with audio filters
  • Good MIDI editing abilities
  • and a good selection of instrument synthesisers, that can be 'played' on a virtual keyboard

Ideally it would be lovely to find all these features in one package but I'm definitely not against using multiple programs.

3 Answers 3


I know it's a bit too late, but for future users, Ardour seems to be the best option, there's a free and paid version and it is available in Ubuntu's repo, you can install it via

sudo apt install ardour



Audacity (installable in the Software Center) is probably the closest to what you want. It provides most of the functionality you've enumerated, with the exception of MIDI editing.

For MIDI editing I'd suggest Aria Maestosa, though it's not currently packaged for Ubuntu so you'll probably have to download and build the source.


Makes me sad to say, but I've really tried a lot of different options to replace Garageband on Linux. I just have not found any good options thus far.

Why is Garageband good for me, a musician who plays instruments, and likes to create his own melodies, rhythm, percussion, strings, and other tracks?

It's dead simple to get started. I plug in my 88 Key USB Midi keyboard (detected automagically), create a new project, add a track, pick a sound (instrument) from a pre-installed list included with Garageband, and start playing / recording. Need another Track, add a track, pick a sound, start playing / recording. Need to switch back, just click the track and done.

Thus far on Linux my experience has not been so smooth. I tried LMMS (which is okay, but getting sounds is not simple or straight-forward. Recording, still haven't figured out how to record a track. Want to hear the sound on track 2, oh wait, you have to go tell the midi connection that you no longer want track 1, and now want track 2. Rosegarden...nice, but first I had to spend weeks trying to understand JackCTL, then find a synth to connect it to, then figure out why my midi keyboard wasn't detected, then once I could play a sound, forget about switching tracks...OMG!

And thus far, pretty much everything I've tried has had some level of similar complication. Ardour, QTractor, Reaper, Waveform Free from Tracktion, and on, and on.

I love open source software, but it has got to be easier for the average bear. I just want to connect up, sit down, and start playing / recording. I just want to switch tracks, and the system knows...ohhhh you want to record strings now...not brass...ok. If anyone has something that will work with anywhere near the ease of Garageband, but on Linux, please let me know about it.

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