Sound Server vs. Other Solutions?

Jerry Haltom wasabi at
Wed Dec 15 19:16:11 CST 2004

The need for a sound server will always be present as two conditions
hold true:

1) All supported hardware is not multichannel.
2) Multiple software wants to play sounds at the same time.
3) Alsa doesn't do in-kernel mixing.

As of right now, all those conditions exist. Because of this, a sound
server is necessary.

Most Gnome applications are programed to use the sound server in order
to mix their audio. While this sound server is running it is using the 1
audio channel mentioned above. When other non-ESD software comes along
and decides not to use the provided sound server, and breaks because of
it... what can we do? Reprogram that software? Tell the user to disable
the sound server? Yeah, those are pretty much the options.

One obvious solution would be for ESD to shut itself off when it's not
being used. This solution ignores the fact that audio needs to play when
commanded to, and the startup time will introduce a delay in the audio.

On a brighter note, a replacement for ESD is being considered:
polypaudio. It is ESD compatible. It probably won't solve your problems

What do you suggest be done about this?

The real solution is to introduce a common audio API that uses a server
when and only when it is required. This API is most likely GStreamer. If
somebody would go and fix all these "unsupported" applications to use
GStreamer, the world would be a much happier place. ;)

On Wed, 2004-12-15 at 19:51 -0500, thully at wrote:
> I realize that Ubuntu uses the GNOME sound server to allow multiple programs
> to use the sound device at once.  However, this does have problems with many
> programs not in the main distribution.  Yes, I realize these are unsupported,
> but
> many people use them and want to be able to use them.  Is it possible for an
> alternate solution, which doesn't interfere with third party programs as much,
> to be used in Hoary?  I know of dmixer and some other similar things that allow
> multiple sounds, why not use something like this which is compatible with more
> applications?
Jerry Haltom <wasabi at>

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