Thinking of ditching MacOS, which Distro would you recommend for a newbie to run Roon?

So for a long time now I’ve been tempted to ditch MacOS, or at least not use it as much as I used to. My hardware options are a bit limited because I only have my Macbook Pro with Retina Display from late 2013 and I’m in no financial position to buy new hardware (it’s a long story but the short version is that I’m in too much debt to buy more stuff).

The intention is to let it run as a core, possibly with Roon server, and I have a raspberry pi as my bridge, and I have a DAC I can plug into the Macbook if I so wish.

I listen to a lot of DSD files (I’ve digitised my Vinyl record collection as DSD128), so being able to play DSD would be nice. I’ve been a bit confused over whether it can be done natively with my hardware or only as DoP (my RHA DACAMP L1 only runs DSD natively with Windows, it seems, if I’m not missing anything). It’s not the end of the world if I can only get DoP, but I remember the DAC sounding a lot better on Windows than MacOS, dunno if that’s because of the native DSD capability or something else relating to drivers.

My Linux experience is… not much, but I’m not a total beginner. I used Ubuntu for a few months on a Netbook when I had foolishly broken my old Mac by spilling coffee on it. Should I just go with Ubuntu again or are there better alternatives? I know ROCK is a thing but it’s really only meant to be used as a core and nothing else and I still wanna, like, browse the web, chat on Discord and watch videos on it.

I hope my questions aren’t stupid here, I’m kinda new to this stuff. Any help is appreciated!

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I’ve used many distros over the years, but not on the desktop for a long time. I use Ubuntu Server 16.04 and it’s rock solid. My recommendation is Ubuntu because it’s polished, stable and there is a lot of information and support available. Start with 17.04 or 16.04 LTS as newer versions may not have ironed out problems.

As if I don’t have better things to do with my free time, but can Roon Core be run in VirtualBox w/ Ubuntu 16.04 on OSX?

I use vortexbox OS myself. Rock solid and its a minimal distro for audio server use so no bloat. You also get the benefits of auto cd ripping built in to.

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What’s the rationale for not keep running MacOS and run Roon Core there?

Anyway, if I were to use Linux for desktop, I would also go with Ubuntu as previously suggested.

Yes, you can.
Bur why? :slight_smile:

Thanks for the insightful replies, everyone.

I started out with trying Ubuntu, and it works well enough with Roon. Maybe keeping MacOS as a core would be smarter but I can’t really use both OSes at the same time on this thing unless I resort to Virtualbox and I prefer Dual Boot options.

I might check some other distros, though, I’m still a bit indecisive. Is Audiophile Linux any good? That one sounds somewhat appealing but the installation instructions looked a bit too complicated for a mere mortal like myself. :S

Are any of these distros better than others when it comes to playing DSD?

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I’ve done various Linux distros on Mac hardware (always as a headless server) and one thing that I learned is that the regular distros don’t have a very good concept of some of the idiosyncrasies of the Mac hardware. This is most problematic with fan control as on some machines the fans will run full speed and on others they won’t run at all. Do a search for macfanctld or mbpfan. I’m honestly not sure which is the better choice these days.

Also take a look at the Ubuntu “mactel” stuff as there used to be development of some mac-specific kernel modules that made things work better.

It’s been a long time since I’ve done this and I couldn’t find the page that I used as a reference for setting all of this up.

To be honest I just use Parallels now as the performance is very good and it’s a lot easier to keep on top of things as kernel updates are released.

+1 on what Simon said. Been using Vortexbox for several years. Rip 'n Roon on the same system!


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