Composer, electronic musician, improviser

SuperCollider On Ubuntu

[WARNING:] This page is sad and old and out-of-date.  Please check out this new updated page with new updated instructions that are new and happy and up-to-date.  The below information should be read out of historical curiosity only.

Because getting SC3 to work on Linux seems to be a major source of sadness and unnecessary frustration (to all including myself), I’ve decided to post on going from zero to SC3 hero in a few (ha!) short and easy steps.

Installing SuperCollider from the Repositories

1) If you are on Ubuntu, enable the repositories by entering the following from your shell:

sudo apt-key adv --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys FABAEF95


sudo add-apt-repository ppa:supercollider/ppa


sudo apt-get update

2) If you run the following command and hit tab to auto-complete, you can see the packages available:

sudo apt-get install supercollider

supercollider A real time audio synthesis programming language
supercollider-common A real time audio synthesis programming language
supercollider-common-dev Common development files for SuperCollider
supercollider-dev Development files for SuperCollider
supercollider-doc Documentation for SuperCollider
supercollider-emacs SuperCollider mode for Emacs
supercollider-gedit SuperCollider mode for gedit
supercollider-plugins A real time audio synthesis server
supercollider-quarks SuperCollider User Contributions
supercollider-server A real time audio synthesis server
supercollider-server-dev Development files for SuperCollider server
supercollider-vim SuperCollider mode for Vim

You will need at least supercollider-common and supercollider-server (which install with the dummy package “supercollider”) in order to run SC3.  However, the following are really necessary to get the most out of the program:
supercollider-gedit (best interface, IMHO) supercollider-doc (you will need these, trust me) supercollider-plugins (moar soundz!) and supercollider-quarks (even moar soundz!)

Here’s what i installed:

Notice it is installing dependencies for you. That’s nice. Assuming your distro has the old jack (not Jack2) everything should install peachy. However you will notice there’s a problem with mine: the install wants to uninstall Jack2 and install the old Jack. NOT OKAY.

Here are instructions for building with Jack2. If you don’t care and are fine with the old jack, just let the installer do its thing and skip to the section below Starting the SuperCollider Editor.

Building for Jack2

1) Create a directory for the source:

mkdir supercollider

2) ‘cd’ into that dir and download the repo package source:

sudo apt-get source supercollider

if you get a dpkg-dev error after the download, you may need to install it:

sudo apt-get install dpkg-dev

Your folder should then look something like this:

3) Edit the ‘control’ file to depend on Jack2 rather than ye olde jack

cd supercollider-3.4

sudo nano debian/control

this will open the control file in the nano editor.

4) Change libjack-dev (>= 0.100) to your libjack install.  Mine is libjack-jackd2-dev which i found out by searching for libjack in my sources.  My version is 1.9.5, but i left the dependency as (>=1.9.0)

5) ‘cd’ back to the supercollider-3.4 directory and build the debian packages:

sudo dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b

Assuming you have all your dependencies met, you will have a directory full of delicious .deb files.  If, however, like me your system failed to live up to the dev standard, you will have to install the dependencies.

6) If you got errors, install whatever is listed either in your FAIL message or in the control file above.

sudo apt-get install libavahi-dev … (etc., etc.)

then try again:

sudo dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc -b

(this time mine worked!  great!)

7) Install the packages!

cd out to the root supercollider directory you made to start with:

cd ..

show the files:


install the packages:

sudo dpkg -i supercollider_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_amd64.deb supercollider-common_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_all.deb supercollider-doc_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_all.deb supercollider-gedit_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_all.deb supercollider-plugins_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_amd64.deb supercollider-quarks_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_all.deb supercollider-server_3.4-0ubuntu1~maverick1_amd64.deb

(If you get errors on the output, be sure you have at least the base supercollider (supercollider…amd64.deb or whatever your package is) the supercollider-common and the supercollider-server installed.  Then try to install the gedit, plugins, quarks, or what-have-you.)

Starting the SuperCollider Editor (Gedit)

1) I will test my install by opening gedit from the command line:


2) Then i go to edit->preferences->plugins and enable the “sced” plugin.

3) Now under the ‘tools’ menu there should be a ‘SuperCollider Mode’ button.  PRESS IT!!!


So you should now have a working install of SuperCollider, albeit without the convenience of a GUI server window or the possibility of GUI anything…


Installing SwingOSC

Before installing SwingOSC (the GUI library for SC3) check that you have java installed, as it is required for Swing to work.

Typing ‘java -version’ or just ‘java’ and hitting TAB will let you know if you have it installed.  My system sadly does not.

Lore holds that sun-java6-dev is in the “universe” repo, but “universe” and “multiverse” aren’t there anymore, and i’m not sure which of the four extra repos it is in, so I just tick them all.  (Lazy, I know…)

1) Open Synaptic Package Manager

sudo synaptic

2) Go to Settings->repositories->Other Software and tick off the boxes in there.

Once back at the main window, hit “reload”

3) Type sun-java in the quick search window to show the sun-java6 packages.  I can’t remember which exactly I need, so I’ll install them all.

(back in terminal having closed synaptic [otherwise apt will fail])

Accept the proprietary license required of the Java install.  (oh proprietary software.)

SwingOSC is no longer included with supercollider, so you have to download it from Sourceforge.  (Thanks to Bruno TR for the heads-up.)

4) First, if you don’t have a SwingOSC folder at /usr/share/SuperCollider/ go ahead and make one.

sudo mkdir /usr/share/SuperCollider/SwingOSC;

5) Download SwingOSC from this link:  http://sourceforge.net/projects/swingosc/

6) Unzip the folder where you want, resulting in a SwingOSC folder. (I will refer to this as */SwingOSC/ from hereon out, the asterisk indicating your unique folder location.)

7) Cd into */SwingOSC/build/ and copy the SwingOSC.jar file to /usr/share/SuperCollider/SwingOSC

sudo cp */SwingOSC/build/SwingOSC.jar /usr/share/SuperCollider/SwingOSC

(you can put this anywhere as long as you point to it in your .sclang.sc startup file.  more on this below)

8) Copy the SwingOSC help folder to /usr/share/SuperCollider/Help

sudo cp -r */SwingOSC/SuperCollider/Help/SwingOSC/ /usr/share/SuperCollider/Help

9) Copy the SCClassLibrary files to /usr/share/SuperCollider/Extensions

sudo cp -r */SwingOSC/SuperCollider/SCClassLibrary/SwingOSC /usr/share/SuperCollider/Extensions/

SwingOSC is installed now, but to get it to start automatically and give me (and you) the GUI server I (you) so want and deserve, we must create a supercollider startup file.  This is really easy, though, so don’t give up now!

Creating a Startup File

1) Cd to your home directory and create a file called


( you can type thisProcess.platform.startupFiles; in supercollider and evaluate it to find the path to your startup file.  On Ubuntu, it’s ~/.sclang.sc)

2) I enter the following text into mine, you can customize yours as you see fit!

SwingOSC.program = "/usr/share/SuperCollider/SwingOSC/SwingOSC.jar"; g=SwingOSC.default; g.boot; SwingOSC.default.waitForBoot({s.makeGui}); 

 3) Save the file

That’s it!

Now fire up gedit and see if it worked…



Many thanks to the sc3 mailing list, and specifically to those who work tirelessly on the linux port.  The only reason I know anything about SC3 is because of this list.  To name a few, but certainly not all:

Dan Stowell
Julian Rohrhuber-3
Josh Parmenter
Tim Blechmann
Miguel Negrao

And so, from a completely SC3 devoid machine to a fully-functional install with GUI support and Sced IDE all in … just under 2 hours.  I was making this post at the same time, however.  This should have taken you 15 minutes ;)

Thanks for reading.  If you have questions, comments, or an easier way to do any of the above, please comment.


I updated the post to reflect some changes made to the package content (you have to manually download SwingOSC now, etc.) and tested the post out by installing SC3 and Swing on a virtualized Linux Mint install. Everything went peachy with the SC3 and Swing installs and the help system “just works.”

The total install time was about 9 minutes without configuring Jack. Mint already had Java-6 installed too, so that saved a step. Here’s a little pic for motivation. ;)


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