Over the years I have used a few Linux distros, and have even tried migrating my entire audio workflow over to Linux. Linux offers native support for REAPER, and for me personally, it has always worked flawlessly with PipeWire.
I have heard people complain about plugin compatibility issues on Linux, and there is some truth to it. While you can easily run stock plugins, It’s not easy to find good quality, stable and properly supported non-stock VSTs. However, I have been able to run most plugins just fine with yabridge, albeit at the cost of more CPU resources.
In this tutorial, I am going to show you how you can install REAPER on Linux including the extensions, as well as importing your config file if you’re migrating from another operating system. The installation process is quite different from Windows or Mac, especially if you are using the linux command line. So let’s get right to it.
On the REAPER downloads page you can find different Linux installers. The default 64-bit installer works well for most distros and it’s what I’ll be using to demonstrate the installation process.
Between the other options you can find the 32-bit version, a dedicated installer for Arch based distros, as well as an installer for Linux installations on ARM processors such as Raspberry Pi systems.
The Windows installer works with WINE (compatibility layer that allows for Windows programs to run on Linux), but it may be tricky to set up your audio device using this version. Personally, I have never been able to get it to work for me, but if you want to give it a shot then go ahead. I will proceed with explaining how you can get REAPER to work on Linux without utilizing WINE.
I will be following the installation steps in an Ubuntu based distro called Linux Mint, the process is the same in other Ubuntu or Debian based distros as well as other distros such as Fedora.
There are two ways to initiate REAPER installation on linux, you can either do it manually via the UI front, or you may use the terminal and begin the process through the command line. However, this is really very basic prep work. Once you execute the installer you’ll be working with the installer script on the terminal. I will detail both processes below.
Start by unzipping the contents of the downloaded folder. Most distros have an integrated utility that allows you to unzip the contents of a compressed file using the file context menu (Right click).
Next, open the uncompressed folder. Here you will also find the install script install-reaper.sh and a readme file. The REAPER folder here is the portable version, which means that you can use it without going through an installation either by opening the REAPER file inside it or by running the install script and using the command R, more about this on the ‘Following The Installer Script’ section.
Some distros allow you to run the script just by double clicking it, but if that’s not the case, you can drag the installation script file to the terminal and press Enter.
NOTE: If you followed the manual installation steps, then you can skip to Following The Installer Script section. Using the Terminal is an alternative to the Manual Installation process.
If you would like to proceed with the installation in full Linux fashion, then go ahead and open the terminal and navigate to the downloads folder using the following command:
Then, use the command tar -xvf with the filename to unzip the downloaded zip file, like this:
tar -xvf reaper678_Linux_x86_64.tar.xz
Make sure you have the right version compatible with your OS, and then navigate to the extracted folder:
Finally, run the installer:
Now that the installation has started, the script will give you a few options. To pick an option, press the corresponding letter and hit Enter. You can always press Ctrl + C to cancel the installation at any time, or you can just close the terminal instead.
Here is a description of some commands/options that you will encounter during the installation process:
V opens the readme text file that contains the license agreement
R runs the portable version of REAPER without installing it. This command is intended for you to test the compatibility of the software, so I don’t recommend using it for actual audio work.
I will begin the installation process. Write the folder path where you want to install REAPER, or select one of the two predetermined locations: 1 to install globally as root, or 2 to install for your user alone. If you want to install it as root, you may have to re-run the installation script adding sudo before the command.
Replace $user with your username.
A lets you use the portable REAPER that exists inside the installer folder as your main REAPER installation by adding desktop integration.
I will input I to follow the full installation process.
Since I’m installing REAPER only for my user, I will select option 2.
Then, accept the desktop integration with the Y command. And finally use Y again to confirm the installation
Now REAPER should appear in the application menu.
REAPER allows you to import and export your configuration data, which includes custom toolbars, custom actions, keyboard shortcuts, project and track templates, your preferences, among other things. However, importing and exporting REAPER configuration data between different OS can be a little tricky, especially when it comes to Linux.
First you must have your exported config file. Open the REAPER installation with the configuration that you want to export and go to Preferences > General and click on the Export configuration… button.
Save the file and transfer it to your Linux installation. Cloud services like Google drive or Onedrive are awesome to maintain a backup of your config file.
Now it’s time to import the configuration. Go to the Preferences in your REAPER Linux installation this time, open the General tab, and click on the Import configuration… button.
Select the file, wait until the utility loads all the changes, and then click Import.
If your configuration is a bit old, some of your preferences may not get imported. Don’t worry! There is a simple workaround for this.
Go to the REAPER resource path in the Options menu and locate the two .ini files: reaper.ini and REAPER.ini
Just delete the first one (reaper.ini) and edit the filename on the REAPER.ini to be only lower-case, and presto!
The next time you open REAPER, all your configuration should be applied except for saved file or folder paths.
The ReaPack and SWS Extensions are almost mandatory when using REAPER. They massively expand your toolset and are completely free! However, it’s not common to find a guide on how to install them on Linux, so let me show you.
First, download the Linux installer for the version of each that you need. You don’t need to install both of these utilities, but it’s highly recommended.
Next, go to your REAPER resource path and close REAPER.
Now move the contents inside the installers to the resource path. SWS extensions have their content separated folders, so you only need to drag these folders into the resource path folder.
ReaPack is just a .so file, which goes into the UserPlugins folder inside the resource path.
The next time you open REAPER, they should appear on the Extensions menu on top of your main window
The update process is really not that difficult. Once an update is available, REAPER will show you a notification on launch.
This will take you to the REAPER download page. Here, select the appropriate installer for your operating system and follow the installation process just as if you were installing it for the first time.
Remember to use the same install location as you used your first time, be it 1 for root, 2 for your user only, or another location entirely.
If you’re interested in migrating from any other OS to Linux for music production, REAPER is hands down the best DAW to make that transition. PipeWire, the new Linux audio server is more reliable than ever for audio production and connections, and yabridge is awesome to load all the plug-ins you’re used to working with. The evolution of REAPER and all these technologies for the last couple years has been outstanding and have made audio production in Linux far easier and more viable than ever. If you already use Linux I hope this article helped you, and if you don’t I hope it inspired you to give it a try someday. Happy producing!