Hydrogen – The GNU Drum Machine

April 10, 2009 at 9:10 pm (Audio / Video, linux apps) (, , , , , , )

We just composed some music in the previous article, and it’s time to beat some drums now. Hydrogen is a cool program —— you don’t need to know anything about music to enjoy it ! (like me). It gives you the ability to compose tracks of drum beats, like what you find in a usual song, the tracks may be repeated again and mixed with other tracks given in the timeline to produce the final track. It has a eye-catching GUI too. The version 0.9.3 which i’m using (which is also the last stable edition), uses best out of Qt 3.

Hydrogen 0.9.3 running on Qt 3.3.8 on FC9

Hydrogen 0.9.3 running on Qt 3.3.8 on FC9

According to their homepage, features of the Version 0.9.3 are;


  • Very user-friendly, modular, fast and intuitive graphical interface based on QT 3.

  • Sample-based stereo audio engine, with import of sound samples in .wav, .au and .aiff formats.

  • Support of samples in compressed FLAC file.

Sequencer and mixer

  • Pattern-based sequencer, with unlimited number of patterns and ability to chain patterns into a song.

  • Up to 64 ticks per pattern with individual level per event and variable pattern length.

  • 32 instrument tracks with volume, mute, solo, pan capabilities.

  • Multi layer support for instruments (up to 16 samples for each instrument).

  • Ability to import/export song files.

  • Unique human velocity, human time, pitch and swing functions.

  • Multiple patterns playing at once.


  • JACK, ALSA, PortAudio and OSS audio drivers.

  • ALSA MIDI and PortMidi input with assignable midi-in channel (1..16, ALL).

  • Import/export of drumkits.

  • Export song to wav file.

  • Export song to midi file.


********You can download the source from here. Typing in the command line, inside the source directory (after extracting),

./configure && make && sudo make install

should install the program, you can always see my article on “compiling from source” if necessary.

*********Without using the source, you can use already available binaries. It’s so popular that your distro will have a pre-compiled binary. Type,

apt-get hydrogen (for debian-based systems (ex: ubuntu))

yum install hydrogen (for red hat, mandriva, suse linux)

should install version 0.9.3

Dependencies: Notable dependencies are:  alsa,qt3,raptor,flac,sndfile,lrdf

Importing drum kits

.h2drumkit files importing

.h2drumkit files importing

You can download drum kits from the sourceforege page. After downloading, you start hydrogen, click view on the menu bar tab, and click on the drumkit manager, so the following dialog box appears. Click on the import tab, and browse for the .h2drumkit file you have downloaded. Click on the load tab and select and load your new drumkit.

Development version (0.9.4 beta 3)

The beta version 0.9.4 uses Qt 4.4, but i’m unable to install it as my Qt is 4.3. (+ only source is available for the fedora, and it uses scons to compile the program, which cannot differentiate my Qt4.3.4 from Qt 3.3.8 and I know nothing about editing scons files), anyway I won’t be positive about a yet beta stage edition. You can download it here.

A help on how to install is given in this page.



  1. LMMS (Linux Multimedia Studio) - a FL Studio like FOSS program « Malshan’s Linux Blog said,

    […] P.S: I’ve created the hydrogen post now. You can visit it here. […]

  2. Poch said,


    i am looking for a drum machine that could follow drum pattern in an audio file when imported to the drum machine software so i could used or hear the drum tracks.

    Do Hydrogen The GNU Drum Machine have the capabilities of what i am looking for?




  3. Making a beat - linux drum machine said,

    […] Hydrogen – The GNU Drum Machine « Malshan’s Linux Blog We just composed some music in the previous article, and it’s time to beat some drums now. Hydrogen is a cool program —— you don’t need to know anything about music to enjoy it ! (like me). It … var AdBrite_Title_Color = '32527A'; var AdBrite_Text_Color = '4C4C4C'; var AdBrite_Background_Color = 'FFFFFF'; var AdBrite_Border_Color = 'FFFFFF'; var AdBrite_URL_Color = '333333'; try{var AdBrite_Iframe=window.top!=window.self?2:1;var AdBrite_Referrer=document.referrer==''?document.location:document.referrer;AdBrite_Referrer=encodeURIComponent(AdBrite_Referrer);}catch(e){var AdBrite_Iframe='';var AdBrite_Referrer='';} document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,83,67,82,73,80,84));document.write(' src="http://ads.adbrite.com/mb/text_group.php?sid=2122893&zs=3330305f323530&ifr='+AdBrite_Iframe+'&ref='+AdBrite_Referrer+'" type="text/javascript">');document.write(String.fromCharCode(60,47,83,67,82,73,80,84,62)); Your Ad Here « instrumentals hip hop […]

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