Run Max Msp On Arch Linux

Published on 2022-02-04 by Kenneth Flak

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I left Max behind some years ago, because I find SuperCollider to be superior in so many ways: It's open source, it's free, it's community developed, it's easy to scale, it sounds great, it's not locked in to a particular operating system, and so on and so forth.

However, there are those moments when it is good to be able to check out the occasional Max patch, either from other people, or to see what I did myself 10 years ago. Until now, I thought the only option was to dust off my old MacBook. Turns out there is another option: run the Windows version of Max on Linux directly via the Wine compatibility layer instead!

On the Linux side of things you need to install wine first:

sudo pacman -S wine wine-mono
sudo paru -S winecfg wineasio 

Replace paru with your AUR helper of choice.

After you have done this, run winecfg, and go to the Graphics tab. Make sure that Emulate a virtual desktop is checked. I put the resolution of the virtual desktop to 1920x1080, to match my screen. If you don't do this, you will not be able to work with Max, as each time you type a single letter into an object box Max will believe that you selected the first item on the completion menu and hit enter, rendering Max essentially useless.

Before shuffling over to Cycling74's website, you will need to make it believe your browser is running on a Windows computer. On Firefox you can accomplish this by installing the User-Agent Switcher and Manager addon. Once installed, you can click on the little icon added to the toolbar, and select a Windows user agent. Proceed to download the Max installer from the Cycling74 downloads site, and unzip it.

cd into whichever directory you have unzipped the Max installer into and run wine Max8111_x64_210408_17de540.msi or whatever the exact name is of the installer. Click through the installer, and, if you are lucky, that should be it! The installer will put all the relevant .desktop files, so it should be a simple manner of running max in your app launcher of choice.

Authorizing Max on my machine turned out to be a bit cumbersome. This may be because I am using an exotic wm instead of a shiny desktop like Gnome or Plasma. However, the workaround was not too horrific: Fire up winecfg and uncheck the Emulate a virtual desktop option for the time being. Launch Max. Go to Help -> User Accounts and Licenses. Type in your username in the correct field. I was not able to see anything being typed, so I had to take it on trust. Same thing with the password: I had to copy it from a terminal window in Linux, right-click on the password field (Ctrl-V didn't work for some reason), and paste it the mousy way. Click authorize and hope you typed everything correctly. Don't forget to switch virtual desktop back on afterwards, though!