Installing Reaktor (and other VSTs) in Ubuntu using dssi-vst

17/09/2014

This post was originally published several years ago on the now retired White Elephant Audio blog, so I've now uploaded it here in case some of the information may still be relevant for some users, if a little outdated.

Original post below: As promised following the first release of FL;TR, here's a step-by-step on installing Native Instruments' Reaktor on Linux (specifically Ubuntu), and subsequently installing FL;TR. If all goes smoothly this process should take around half an hour, if you have any problems let me know in the comments and I'll do my best to help.

1. Prerequisites

To install Reaktor, you'll first need to have installed: You may already have some of these installed, if not simply follow the steps directly below. If however you already have all the prerequisites, skip to step 2.

1.1 qjackctl and jackd2

If you've been making music on Linux for a while now, you probably already have qjackctl and either jackd1 or jackd2 installed. If not, they can simply be installed by searching for them in the software centre. You need to install both qjackctl and jackd2.

1.2 Wine

Wine is a compatibility layer that allows Windows programs to run smoothly on Linux. It can be installed from the software centre by searching for 'Wine Windows Program Loader'.

1.3 dssi-vst

dssi-vst is essentially a wrapper that interfaces the VST plugin standard with Linux and allows VST plugins to run standalone in Linux without an appreciable performance deficit, and again can be installed by searching dssi-vst in the software centre.

2. Install Reaktor

Before installing Reaktor, please make sure that wine is set to emulate Windows 7, as Reaktor won't install on older versions of Windows. To do this open the 'Configure Wine' application by searching for it on the dash, then go to the 'Applications' tab and at the bottom of the window select 'Windows 7' as the Windows version and click OK to save the changes.

Go to http://native-instruments.com and download the PC version of the free Reaktor 5 Player (or the full version of Reaktor 5 if you like). This will involve NI emailing you a link to the download, which will allow you to download a 90MB zip file. Open the zip in the Archive Manager (double clicking the zip should do this by default) and then double click the file that should look like 'Reaktor 5 X.X.X Setup PC.exe'.

This will begin the install wizard which will guide you through the install process. Take note of the location in which the VST plugin is going to be installed and follow the install to completion. In my case the VST was installed in:
C:\Program Files\Native Instruments\VSTPlugins 32 bit
Once the install is complete, you'll need to copy the VST that was just installed to a folder called 'vst' in your user home (/home/<username>/vst). So create the vst folder in your user home, then navigate to the location of the plugin, which you noted during the Reaktor install. This location will be within Wine's own folder which is providing a pseudo C: drive.

To find this folder go to your user home area (/home/<username>) and enable viewing hidden folders (Ctrl-H or View -> Show Hidden Files). Then find the folder named '.wine' and open the 'drive_c' folder. From here you can navigate to where the Reaktor VST plugin was installed (you still remember it, right?), and copy the file named 'Reaktor5.dll' to the vst folder you created.

3. Run It!

And we're done. All that's left is to run it. To do this start the Jackd Audio Server (by opening qjackctl from the dash and clicking the start button), then open the terminal (Ctrl-Alt-T or open it from the dash) and type:
vsthost Reaktor5
Incidentally, you can now also run most any other VST plugin in this way. Just make sure the VST .dll file is in the vst folder you created, and in the terminal type vsthost followed by the name of the .dll file.

And now Reaktor is up and running, you can add FL;TR. Download FL;TR here and open the zip file. Copy the 'FLTR.ens' file to somewhere memorable within the /home/<username>/.wine/drive_c folder that we used in step 2. Now open the 'FLTR.ens' file in Reaktor. To do this open Reaktor's file explorer (shown to the right) and navigate to where you moved it. Remember 'drive_c' appears as 'C:' in programs running under wine.

4. Connecting Reaktor to other Applications

If you're not familiar with qjackctl, this section will very briefly introduce its basic connectivity functions. Open the qjackctl window, and click the 'Connect' button. This will open a new window which shows the audio/midi connections between programs, with the audio connections found under the 'Audio' tab and the MIDI connections found under either the 'MIDI' or 'ALSA' tabs depending on the MIDI implementation. You can use this window to connect the outputs and inputs of different programs together, for example you might want to connect the MIDI output of your DAW to Reaktor's MIDI input, and then connect Reaktor's audio output to the audio input of a track in your DAW. Connections can be made by dragging between outputs and inputs, and they can be disconnected by highlighting both of the connected ports and clicking disconnect.