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My current daily driver is Debian. I'm planning to retire my Win10 Pro completely to audio production, but I'm unwilling to ditch it completely. Even if Reaper is available for Linux, I've got a bunch of plugins which are only available for Win and MacOS, so my current setup is dual booting.

I'm toying with the idea of skipping dual booting as well, and run Windows as a Virtual Machine; either VirtualBox or KVM, w/o even internet access except when absolutely needed. I believe my system (Intel i7-6700HQ @ 2.6GHz / 64GB RAM, very lightweight OS) can handle the production tasks I have, but I'm concerned about things like audio interface latency, OS access to iLok key etc.

  • Does anyone have experience to share on this kind of setup, i.e. running a DAW on a VM?
  • What kind of things I need to take into account, especially the
    non-obvious?
  • Are there reliable Linux plugins that allow running Win VST:s / VST3:s without introducing too much latency etc.?

2 Answers 2

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I run Win & Mac VMs a lot on my Mac [Mac Pro 5,1 dual 3.46GHz Xeon 6-cores] with very few issues as regards general speed & peripheral connectivity.
It's fast enough to play GTA 4, even, at full res. However, on the occasions I've used it to try haul ancient projects kicking & screaming into the 21st century [Cubase .all files up to newer .cpr], let's just describe the experience as 'poor'.
Everything runs, for a given definition of 'run' but you couldn't use it for actual work.

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I use an iLok (original and now version 3) passed through from Ubuntu 20.04 host to a win10 guest using KVM. I pass the ilok device itself (not the usb controller, although that is generally preferable) and I've had no issues using plugins and managing licenses.

For audio I am currently using the audio device on a gfx card that I am also passing through to the win10 guest. It does't have great latency anyway, but it doesn't seem any worse on a virtual machine. I intend to eventually add an RME pcie card for min latency and I don't expect any issues. As long as your motherboard has good iommu separation, passing through pcie devices is generally the same as bare metal because it basically is bare metal at that point. There's no virtualization layer with pcie passthrough. The host is hands off and the guest just gets control the card's io addresses and writes directly to it.

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