Upgrading synth engines and OS

My Zynthian kit is on its way. My RPi4x8G is waiting patiently…

Meanwhile I’ve been looking through the info here, and I understand that they synth engines are installed be default, but haven’t come up with an answer to “How do I upgrade to the latest version of FluidSynth?” I see that there are built-in ways of upgrading Zynthian, but what about the synth engines? I’m quite capable of installing FluidSynth on a normal RPi and have done it many times - do I just do the same? Will I break anything? Are there any special paths, etc?

Also, I see warnings about not doing a “normal” Debian update/upgrade to keep the OS up-to-date. Does this apply?


It does peculiar damage that takes a while to trace . . .

Zynthian uses some patched or specific versions of engines for various reasons, e.g. to provide functionality, bug fixes, compatibility. This means that some core libraries must remain at fixed versions. Currently the apt configuration in Zynthian is not configured to apply these constraints and hence an OS update may break various modules in various ways.

There are a couple of things we are doing to resolve this:

  • Apply configuration to lock dependency version
  • Use bespoke deb packages for all modules

This is a background task that is progressing slowly. Until complete, please do not apply an OS update. Only use Zynthian update mechanism.

OK, so, if I understand you correctly, the Zynthian system is designed to keep a) itself, b) the OS, and c) the synth engines up-to-date with controlled upgrades. Therefore I should just use the packaged upgrade process and not do anything outside that. The updates may not be the “latest and greatest” but they will have been tested with Zynthian.

Is that right?


Yep - that is pretty much it. Zynthian does not consider itself a computer or network device that is part of an insecure network and hence does not ensure all security patches are applied in a timely manner. Of course many of us do connect them to our networks and may be concerned about the risk of attack. One of the benefits of the work I describe above is that we should be able to identify and apply security patches more promptly but just like any other OS, upstream changes must be tested before applying in case they have undesirable impact on the operation of the device.