dssi-vst is an adapter that allows users of Linux audio software to take VST and VSTi audio effects and instrument plugins compiled for Windows, and load them into native LADSPA or DSSI plugin hosts. Plugins run at full speed for most audio processing, although their user interfaces are slower because of the Windows emulation.
dssi-vst can also be used to run 32-bit Windows VST plugins in a 64-bit Linux host.
dssi-vst requires Wine libraries for Windows compatibility, and is therefore best obtained directly from a Linux distribution repository that can provide all of the required libraries at the time of installation. Installing dssi-vst without a distribution package can be quite tricky to do.
dssi-vst is free, open source software written by Chris Cannam. It is distributed under the GNU General Public License, with a special exception to permit redistributing it in binary form when built with the non-free Steinberg VST SDK. (The default build does not use the non-free SDK, and so is completely GPL.) No proprietary license is available.
dssi-vst is a useful tool to have, but it has some major limitations that prevent it from being a general solution to the problem of using Windows VST effects on Linux. Some of these limitations are intrinsic incompatibilities between VST and DSSI, while others are simply things not yet implemented. They include:
- Transport information is not passed to the VST plugin. This means that plugins cannot synchronise automatically with the tempo or metre in the host.
- VST "chunks" are not supported. This means that many plugins are unable to save and restore presets and other data.
- Graphical elements in the plugin GUI that are intended to respond to audio input may be inactive.
- Plugins that have complex hardware-specific installation procedures, such as those using USB dongles, usually will not work. Many plugin installers will not run under Wine, even if the plugins themselves would.