Replace PulseAudio with OSS v4?

Daniel Chen seven.steps at
Sat Jun 20 22:06:55 UTC 2009

On Sat, Jun 20, 2009 at 9:53 AM, Davyd McColl<davydm at> wrote:
> I've had an SB Live for ages. One of the most redeeming features of this
> card is hardware mixing. Meaning that I didn't care about OSS lockups or
> ALSA's dmix.

Too bad that hardware multiopen support comes at a price: all streams
are forcibly resampled, reducing audio fidelity. But I digress...

> I tried using PA's mixing and multiple output to use USB headphones and the
> onboard Realtek HDA audio. Worked for a while but often left PA locked up. I
> would have to kill and restart. My nett conclusion is that PA doesn't do
> well with multiple soundcards, despite the advertisements.

That symptom is a combination of outdated ALSA (-kernel, -lib,
-plugins) and PulseAudio. I've outlined[0] release schedule
misalignments that exacerbate this symptom.

> So now I use the onboard sound exclusively. PA behaves (mostly) for me, but
> the sound is a little latent -- and I'm not a person who creates music or
> anything like that. I can deal with the minor latency because it doesn't
> really affect me. Someone who mixes digital music on the other hand (and I
> have a friend who does) can't use PA.

PA is not the use case for people mixing digital music. The Linux
audio community is finally coming to a consensus that desktop audio is
the realm of PulseAudio, and professional audio is the realm of Jack
Audio Connection Kit. Interaction between the two is being improved.

> I would welcome (and I'm sure other
> users would agree) any subsystem which:
> 1) Worked (all the time, without random lockup)

Difficult to accomplish when the hardware is faulty, which is far more
common on older Creative cards than one might think

> 2) Wasn't latent

Different use cases here, see PulseAudio vice JACK

> 3) Wasn't a mission to set up
> 4) Just handled mixing
> 5) Could handle multiple soundcards easily

Being improved for both the desktop and for professional audio

> OSSv4, from the
> posted article, looks like it handles the average user's requirements quite
> well. I guess it's up to whether it's worth patching into the Linux kernel
> for *buntu distros or if the kernel devs want to include it.

Well, if you consider the average user not to care about her/his
integrated laptop audio or USB headset, sure...

> dmix to work -- oddly enough, some distros actually have tools to make it
> work for you. I haven't seen something like that on *buntu

Pre-Karmic shipped asoundconf(1). We've stripped it from alsa-utils,
because it was becoming increasingly bearish to maintain, and because
the magic alsa-lib runes necessary are really PulseAudio's realm.

> It would indeed be a great step forward to have sound work under Linux in
> the same manner that windows users are accustomed to: it just does

A noble objective. Now who's with me?



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