This is really more of a rant on my side, but I'd be happy to hear that others are having a better time with this than me.
I've been an avid Linux user for close to 20 years at this point, but from time to time I always get that music production itch. But every time I attempt to go down this path, I'm always left debugging/forum reading for hours instead of being able to get down to it.
Based on my buy/subscription history to different software/services the last time I went down this road was in 2015 (last active Ardour subscription), and in the time since then a few things have improved (at least while using Fedora as my main distribution).
Jack, just seems to work nowadays out of the box. While some DAW's (like Bitwig Studio) seem to start jack on their own (which I don't recall being the case before), I could even (miraculously) get audio output from both jack and PulseAudio at the same time.
In my opinion, software like Cadence/Catia provides a better experience for audio routing than QJackCtl (I never quite figured out how to use the qjackctl patchbay). And I'm happy to see that finally Cadence exists as an installable package in the Fedora repositories. No more searching around the internet for the archive, manual unpacking and configuration.
Greater variety of DAW's that support Linux. Even if in order to install Bitwig Studio I had to go through hoops to convert the .deb to a .rpm, a simple three step tutorial was all I needed.
My experience of the last two days.
While I've been happy to get the chance to play around with a few different DAW's, the "commercial" options seem to favour jack (low latency, what have you). My problem is that I have a pair of bluetooth headphones nowadays, and those can only be handled by PulseAudio. After spending a couple of hours trying to figure out if there is a way to to route jack output to PulseAudio (module-jack-source/module-jack-sink), that got me nowhere. Icing on the cake, are the elitist responses for similar user questions boiled down to "don't use Bluetooth headphones as they add extra latency". Thanks for the non answer 🙂
Luckily, Ardour supports PulseAudio nowadays (don't remember if that was always the case, or it was only ALSA/jack before). Unfortunately, as a fan of Renoise sampler/effects editor, I wanted to use the Redux VST with Ardour, however there seems to be an oustanding bug from 2015 where keyboard input is captured by Ardour instead of allowing it to go through the VST.
Based on the last few posts I've seen, options might include switching out my window manager, or switching over to Reaper, which had the same issue, but was fixed this summer. I'm now considering doing the later, as it seems to support PulseAudio, but I'm just gonna have to relearn things I've already learned in Ardour before. Probably by that time I'm familiar with the shortcuts/UI I'll be fed up, and put any idea I might have on hold for another 5 years.
Let's hope Pipewire is going to really make everything more seamless in the future 🙂