I first tried the open source DJ software Mixxx in the early 2000s. At a time when most DJs were still spinning vinyl and the CDJ-1000 was the new hotness, I was an accidental PC pioneer. For a tech-savvy seventeen year old working a summer job for seven dollars an hour, the choice between records, expensive and at their nadir, and Napster, free and at peak popularity, was a no-brainer. MP3s of 0-day hits were the fuel for the party, my brand-new cable broadband was the pipeline, and a relatively obscure Australian product called OtsJuke DJ was the engine.
Back then, I was a die-hard FreeBSD and Linux fanboy, but OtsJuke DJ only ran on Windows. When news of an open source, cross-platform DJ software project hit my ears, I downloaded and compiled it straight away. Unfortunately, these were the days of finnicky and unreliable Linux audio, and Mixxx itself was in its infancy. I kept a Windows computer around for my serious DJ work.
In the years after my final paid gig, I played around with Mixxx from time to time, contributed a handful of small bug fixes and features, and even submitted a (rejected) Google Summer of Code proposal to the project. Each time I revisited, it looked a little more mature.
Now, in 2023, I’m coming up on two years back in the DJ booth (for fun, this time). I’ve been running a wildly successful disco night every Saturday since last August. And every single set I’ve played has been 100% open source: Mixxx on Ubuntu Linux. It’s been rock solid, flexible, and beats the commercial apps I see some of my other jocks using (VirtualDJ, Rekordbox, Traktor, Serato) on features and controller support. Every time I’ve had an itch to hack in some modification, I’ve found a way to configure it without touching a line of code.
On Versus, Mixxx holds fourth place in the DJ software category, with 84 points. Only Serato and two editions of Traktor are ahead, and that mainly comes down to their somewhat larger buffet of effects and audio processing tricks. Meanwhile, Mixxx is king in controller compatibility, and has a great implementation of every important feature. This isn’t an also-ran, it’s a legitimate contender for the world’s best DJ software.
Great work, Mixxx team. I wish I could show twenty-year-old me what open source software’s triumph looks like.