Forums > MaxMSP

Max on Linux

June 29, 2012 | 6:10 pm

I know it gets brought up every once in a while, but I thought I’d post again to see what the interest was out there for getting Max working in Linux.

I jump between Mac, Winows, and Linux (Ubunutu) fairly regularly as no single OS can do everything I need under one roof. I teach at a university in physics and recording arts where I use Max, Wavelab, Nuendo, and Live extensively for demonstrations and PowerPoint/Keynote for presenting. I also run a recording/mastering/post studio where I again use Nuendo & Wavelab. But I also run an acoustic R&D company where I use Solidworks, QCAD, and a few other drawing/modeling tools. And lastly I head up an interdisciplinary research collective that mostly uses Max, but also vvvv, Processing, TouchDesigner, Quartz Composer, etc.

But I’m finding that I prefer Linux above Windows and Mac more and more for the sheer speed, customization, and adaptability even though it’s by far the least supported for applications which really bums me out. While I’m a big supporter of open source I’m also happy to pay for good commercial software like Max. i just wish Max, and a few others, would run on Linux.

Max is one of the biggest hangups for me to not spend almost all of my time in Linux. PD is a great program, no doubt, but I rely on a lot of the awesome and amazing externals out there and the great Max community (along with a number of other reasons). Even getting Max to run under Wine would be OK, though native support would be much more preferable. But the iLok stuff only works on Mac/Win, even though I use the software key/internet activation.

So I’m interested if there’s any other folks out there in the same boat as myself. I know Linux support is a low priority for most commercial companies that are trying squash bugs and be innovative, but I feel like Ubuntu and other flavors are on the rise and have some very cool potential in the multimedia realm (but that could also be just because I’ve been getting more into it personally). If there’s enough of us requesting maybe we could see a Linux release in the future! Anyone else interested in seeing this happen?


June 29, 2012 | 7:32 pm

If Max could run on Linux, I would immediately abandon Apple. Ubuntu indeed is very robust as I use it since its beginning for my spare-time activities. Also, many third party objects in Max are shared by their authors with an "Open Source" spirit. After all, Max has been ported to Windows pretty late after having been developed on Macintosh. Despite Linux has a much more limited market than Windows would it be too difficult to make Max available for Linux ? I vote for it !


June 29, 2012 | 9:16 pm

Not too sure I’d be looking at Linux that seriously myself when it comes to multimedia. The common hardware support is pretty stable, but the moment you enter the realm of specifics then it becomes a different issue.

Still; you can always look into Pure Data I suppose. Its not Max but it shares the same roots and runs natively under Linux.

June 29, 2012 | 9:28 pm


As said elsewhere, Max is pretty much the only thing keeping me attached to OSX…

June 30, 2012 | 12:44 pm

+1 for what it’s worth.

I’d echo all of the comments that long for Max on Linux, although I fear it’s probably just a dream that’ll never come true.

June 30, 2012 | 4:30 pm

Same here, may be someday a port to Linux would be possible with a lot of request from users …

June 30, 2012 | 4:44 pm

there are so many personal and selfish reasons why i want Max on Linux i will not bore the list with them, other than to say that Max is the only reason i too stay on OSX. Max-Linux and i would never have to go through all the Apple and Microsoft bullshit again in my life. just before Max6 i was seriously contemplating ditching Max so i could move on. then i got re-addicted (damn them!).

sadly, like dickmedd, i think it is a pipe dream. in fact we are more likely to see some sort of reactionary and pointless high-ish-level iOS / WinRT crap before a proper Linux port.

i do actually believe that it is completely (and commercially) misguided and also conceptually wrong of cycling74 not to port to Linux.

if they could have, they surely would have loved to have had Windows right from 1997 rather than having to wait for the port until they could find the time / resources to do it. likewise, in 10 years or so they will be kicking themselves that they did not port to linux, as by then both OSX and Windows will have become virtually impossible OS’s to sustain a serious relatively low level environment for audio video gl data mangling on. (i feel i will be stuck on 10.6.8 and 7 sp1 forever as i cannot bring myself to upgrade to the current unbelievable unusercentric nightmare offerings. sadly, kde and gnome have gone almost the same way).

also, to not port to linux is to ignore what the type of software they produce is. linux is crying out for max and vica versa. gen itself is a technology philosophically rooted in that environment, especially seeing as how it derives from luaav. (this is hugely contentious statement of course. alas brevity).

there are so many open source technologies underpinning max these days, from bullet to clang, and they already implement a genuinely cross platform interface in juce, that it would surely be less work and license hassle porting to linux than the original windows port was. and i really believe that in the future artists and possibly creative coder types will be using linux or linux-like systems almost exclusively. however i guess what they are most concerned with is support on linux, to be fair.

also, if anyone else suggests that Pd is an "alternative" to Max i will scream. people who say that have never used both softwares deeply.

also, Max-Linux would force cycling to use a different system than interlok etc for copy protection, which surely every sane human being on the planet categorically despises!

July 3, 2012 | 4:07 pm


July 3, 2012 | 4:49 pm

+1 when I think that I switched to windows after 10 years under linux just for Max…

July 7, 2012 | 12:44 pm

+ 1 here too.
What I would like to know is what exactly would be involved in creating max for linux ? What programing language how difficult would it be to do the translation etc etc ?
Seeing as there seems to be a lot of support for the idea and the whole point of linux is that its open source and if cycling74 dont have the reources – what are the chances of cycling74 turning the job over to a large group of enthusiastic volunteers ? (zero I suspect but maybe….)

July 7, 2012 | 2:18 pm

I don’t think this thread is about open-sourcing Max but about porting it to a platform that is becoming increasingly more important to people who want to do serious work with computers. There is a number of commercial software for Linux and I don’t know any rule that would prohibit that.

July 7, 2012 | 9:17 pm

While I too would love to have the option of editing Max on a modern linux distro like Ubuntu, my main interest is in _running_ patches on low cost streamlined machines for instillations and clustered environments. Mac minis are terribly expensive and over powered compared to some of the little machines you can run Ubuntu on. Taken further, ARM support would be just as desirable for me (raspberry pi anyone?)

July 8, 2012 | 1:15 am

+1 =)

July 8, 2012 | 12:17 pm

I guess the show stopper is the Pace copy protection. We have to put pressure on pace to at least support an iLok. But I’d prefer the software/driver version. The Max runtime seems to work in wine (long ago I tested it, don’t know if that is still true…)
That could be a solution for installations, nobody would put a fully authorized Max on such a machine…;-)
As far as I remember, cycling said, back when they made the port to windows, it would be much easier to do a linux port.
In the end OS X and Linux share the same Unix OS philosophy…

July 8, 2012 | 3:47 pm

So this is then a technical challenge for Pace. And for each challenge there is a response – noone should know better than Pace. =)
Max wouldn’t be the first copy-protected app for Linux and it won’t be the last. The further the iOSification of OSX will advance the louder the calls will get. And C74 isn’t the almost-deaf, academic one-man company anymore it used to be.

July 11, 2012 | 11:40 am

This was the answer from Pace. I just asked per e-mail.

Maybe if more people ask for it, its becomes more likely?

Am 09.07.12 19:25, schrieb PACE Anti-Piracy Technical Support:
> Linux support has been considered but is not available at this time.
> No date or timeframe has been set as to when or if such support will be
> made available. If it does, we will be sure to announce it on our
> website so check back there for any future announcements.
> Best Regards,
> Sergio Flores

July 11, 2012 | 12:20 pm

It also looks like a wine port is out based on previous testing from others…

July 11, 2012 | 2:55 pm

Oh dear god, please —- don’t push iLok on anyone.

Interestingly (and timely), last night I was doing some work with some world-class touring musicians and we were discussing the keyboard setup that one of them will be using in an upcoming tour in California. He mentioned he was using PPG softsynth to which I said I was surprised he would use that because of iLok.

His comment: he got a special build of the plugin with iLok disabled and a serial number activation instead. He pointed out that most developers of these products don’t actually use them in professional situations (e.g. gigs in front of thousands of fans) and have no clue about the consequences of such things breaking.

It may be fine for a permanent situation and/or where the consequences of failure are not serious (e.g, a presentation at a college, or an installation in a recording studio) but for anyone who has to use it in a live situation, particularly when in front of paying customers (fans, or if you’re a session musician, clients in a recording situation), it’s just a no-no.

July 11, 2012 | 2:56 pm

@protocol The rating of "Garbage" does not fill one with hope!

July 11, 2012 | 7:33 pm

@ dhjdhjdhj Exactly why I said the option of using wine was "out" meaning "not likely" :) Could have been a bit more clear. Just reporting back my research.

July 11, 2012 | 10:46 pm

Interesting that a few users have expressed a desire to get away from OS X. I’m partly in the same boat, I’m not really digging the direction that Apple are going in desktop-wise at the moment.

I’m sure this will compound the feeling for some users:

July 17, 2012 | 8:25 am

Sorry to perpetuate this thread (well, I’m not really sorry) but I thought I’d draw attention to the fact that Valve are now developing their gaming digital delivery service, Steam, for Linux:

I know Valve probably have a fair bit more money in the coffers than Cycling ’74, and that Steam has a larger number of users than Max, but I still feel it’s a sign of the times (they are a changin’).

July 17, 2012 | 3:43 pm

Interesting news! Definitely a sign if a mainstream, big industry developer moves to Linux…

(and actually that would solve my other issue of needing a Windows partition pretty much only for gaming ;)

December 21, 2012 | 8:57 pm

please excuse my reviving of a post here.
but i have been recently, actually more thinking for years, but now acting on moving to linux.
the change is coming from apple being completely illogical with prices on their units, the constant drilling of needing to upgrade and also this kind of draconian way that they work. i hate most ‘apple’ people. these are the ones that just buy into all the rubbish at a drop of a hat and buy an expensive computer to just check emails. its pointless in my view. plus as well they dont talk anymore, just ‘twaat’
i know they may cost what they are worth [i dont think 100% because i think some of the things they use are cheap, such as the CD drive and no3 usb ports on 15"] but it just gets stupid when a new computer is needed. and lately i have been getting to that point, after 5-6 years of hard use on mine.

i did install ubuntu on an abandoned dell inspiron 3100. only has 512ram at the moment [will be getting 2gb after christmax], but is something to really look at now, even in the interest for cycling ’74 and ableton. saying those 2, because i use them ALL THE TIME.
but im genuinely impressed by ubuntu 12.10 and everything it has to offer [even with crap insides in the computer], and it possibly is not making me shift, because of this max on os x and pc alone. same with ableton.

i really would like to see max move onto linux. i really think there is a market, or whatever you want to call it. but think it can help a great deal. i do know that there is the fact that things have to be started again for a new platform. i may be wrong, but i dont know.

BUT, you may go, well what if we cant move to linux?
then, go for hackintosh. been doing some searches of late, preparing for next year and also a new computer. this just seems to be the way to go really, if you dont want to shift.
the main bad-boys i have seen are mainly from HP & Lenovo, cant remember off the top of my head. but these can be hackintoshed. this would save you in the reams of £1500/$2000, yes thats the choice i do think.
can still use os x [which is what i want it for, dont care about the 'look' of a machine, as long as it works. plus as well, have a big enough hard drive and have linux on as well.

anyhow, just saw this post because of my recent need to upgrade and look for a new os to work with.
also please excuse my minor rant, it gets silly sometimes ;)

leed [lewis edwards]

December 22, 2012 | 10:07 am

"plus as well they dont talk anymore, just ‘twaat’"

hehehehe, tweeting like a bunch of twats, nice :)

+1 for linux(max isn’t the only reason for me using osx, but linux is a smooth and user-encouraging system. it seems to encourage people to get smarter about their use of computers than microsoft and apple with their legal-but-still-rather-monopolistically-dependence-creating practices).
there was mentioned in an article, when Max5 was introduced that the changes made there were conducive to at least starting to consider a linux version of max. what pid said about cycling kicking themselves 10 years from now is more likely to be untrue. but seems like it will take awhile anyways. i’m hopeful and trusting. all of us who use computers in a development way, could probably use more practice in patience anyways ;)

December 25, 2012 | 1:45 pm

"When we got home, head full of ideas about encouraging people to port Max to the Raspberry Pi":
… quotation from


December 25, 2012 | 6:52 pm

Heh ! maybe we should continue feed that thread throughout months and years, and in a matter of months or years C74 will begin considering the question ;D

December 26, 2012 | 7:28 am

+1 Max has kept me on my mac for far too long.

December 26, 2012 | 12:20 pm

+10 Would love to finally switch to linux, too!!!!!

December 26, 2012 | 1:40 pm

This is probably the biggest reason why Linux has not been successful in penetrating the larger user base. The majority of users (probably 99% at least) don’t actually care about their computer or OS or getting to know it better. They simply want to get their work/job done, whether it’s writing a letter, doing their email, writing or performing their music, etc.

For the most part, OS X does the best job as an OS that just stays out of the way and let’s you get things done. In my opinion, that’s the real reason Apple has been so successful. The higher initial cost is a small price to pay to avoid spending time (which is a far higher cost for most users) dealing with the computer as opposed to getting on with your work.

but linux is a smooth and user-encouraging system. it seems to encourage people to get smarter about their use of computer

January 4, 2013 | 1:11 pm

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February 6, 2015 | 3:04 am

EDIT: sorry my reply was for this topic:

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February 24, 2015 | 8:38 pm

As a former professional audio developer, i can say that Linux video and audio performance is a couple of degrees above windows and Mac performance, the latter two of which end up being quite similar. For developing complex drawing interfaces like grid editors, anything with real-time interface updates (levels, complex & exciting freq spectrums, etc), Xorg is unmatched. The performance of alsa (Linux audio 8 years ago, not sure what they use now) over core audio and DirectSound is also no contest.

The reality for us was that the Linux market was almost worth nothing in reality. And this was for a well known product from a well known studio. It is a smaller user base AND linux users don’t spend money like the users of commercial OS’s (that should be obvious even by the wording of this sentence), so it just isn’t worth it. Audio software is so difficult to develop that as far as I am aware these problems are more stressful to deal with than in other fields. But man, if we wanted to build the fastest and most technilogically advanced systems out there with the lowest latency it would have to be Linux.

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