Real time Windows VST plugins in Linux

The most common plugin standard for audio is VST. The standard itself is not platform dependent, so it will work on any platform. However, in most cases, plugin authors will not bother to compile their plugins for any other platform than Windows (and possibly Mac OS). There are also a lot of license restrictions on the API, which means that Linux authors generally utilize other plugin standards.

I use Linux for all my work, and while Linux has a nice selection of plugins based on the LADSPA and DSSI plugin technologies, let’s face it: the selection just isn’t as big as on the Windows platform.

That’s where the nifty dssi-vst wrapper from Chris Cannam comes in. What it does is take a VST plugin, compiled for Windows, and wraps it in a Linux DSSI API, so that Linux applications can use it. It achieves this by using the Wine compatibility layer.

As I started using it I discovered that it had some shortcomings when it comes to latency, and I found it unsuitable for real time performance. However, I didn’t want to miss out on a lot of great VST plugins, so I started hacking on dssi-vst, and I came up with some patches that make it more real time robust. They should enable you to run VST plugins in Linux without experiencing any dropouts.

To get a hold of it, follow these steps:

  1. Go to:
  2. Click on the topmost revision (the code consisting of numbers and letters).
  3. Click on “Get source” in the upper right corner and download the package in your preferred format.
  4. Extract the contents in a folder and then follow the compile/install instructions inside the README file.
  5. You can test it using the standalone plugin host “vsthost”. Just type in “vsthost” and the path to a VST plugin on your command line.

That should give you access to VST plugins with real time performance!

Like I stated earlier, the original code comes from Chris Cannam’s excellent dssi-vst project. I have talked to him and he wants to get these patches into his “official” dssi-vst, but he is stressed on time, so meanwhile you will have to get it here.

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2 Responses to Real time Windows VST plugins in Linux

  1. Michael says:

    Hi there. Quick question for you. I have been trying to compile this code for 3 days now and didn’t think I could be this stupid, but I guess I am. I have loaded close to 100 libraries through apt-get install and through the software installer in Robolinux (Debian).

    Like you, I need my Windows VST instruments. The native instruments in Linux aren’t too good. I not looking to install something like Steinberg Virtual Guitar, but a simple bass or piano DLL from would make me happy.

    My goal is to find a DAW similar to Sonar and kiss Windows goodbye.

    I keep receiving this error during the make process: make: wineg++: Command not found.

    I’ve installed every Wine file known to mankind but cannot find wineg++. Research states it is a replacement for g++.

    In any event, while I still have some of my hair left, is it possible you could point mt to some sort of solution? I would be in your debt.


    • Kristian Amlie says:

      wineg++ is part of the “wine” package. At least on Ubuntu, it is called “wine1.4”, so “apt-get install wine1.4” should do the trick. Let me know if you have more problems!

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