State of Jack as a full pulsaudio replacement

stephen ankrum themartyrstephen at
Sat May 5 02:43:40 UTC 2012

please take my email themartyrstephen at off your list

On Fri, May 4, 2012 at 4:30 PM, Luke Kuhn <lukekuhn at> wrote:

>  All these bugs and "no sound output" complaints with Pulseaudio bring
> back the idea of finding a way to make Jack replace Pulseaudio altogether.
> Removing pulseaudio is not always enough, in many but not all cases a
> replacement is needed. I remember the old days of Dapper and applications
> grabbing the sound card and having to reboot just to get audacity to
> connect to alsa, and as late as Hardy using sound cards that would only
> connect to one program at a time. This while all those Windows clunkers
> made that one program a sound server that seemed to work fine. We have  a
> good sound server too, jack, and a good front end for it, qjackctl, which I
> discovered in ubuntustudio hardy.
>  My big desktops do fine with straight ALSA for my video editing(kdenlive)
> , audio editing(audacity) and general uses. Their onboard sound cards
> include mixer functions enough to play sound from multiple sources with
> alsa by itself. This is apparently a hardware support capability.  My intel
> Atom netbook, containing a copy of the same OS, is another story entirely.
> No output from any mono soundtrack in alsa, as the soundcard does not
> support a mono output at all. On the other hand, pulseaudio is just too
> heavy for it, killing sync in video playback, even for 360p h264 video.
> I ended up using jack as a pulseaudio replacement in that netbook.
> Anything other than flash or audacity, I fire up jack from qjackctl.
> Using no sound server, only Flash, Xine, kdenlive and audacity can connect
> to alsa directly on that sound card. With jack, all the video players and
> audacious work fine, Mplayer and Audacious needing to be told in
> preferences to use jack.   Using either jack for sound or straight
> alsa(xine only) with a stereo soundtrack, that same netbook will only fall
> 1 or 2 seconds behind the sound and sometimes keep up entirely on a 720p HD
> video at 25 fps in H264 codec. A full 30fps still defeats it. This shows
> that Jack is much lighter and more efficient code than pulseaudio. In fact,
> it shows that Jack is imposing very little load on the CPU compared to no
> sound server at all. I learned about Pulsaudio's resource use playing with
> old Pentium 3's, when Lucid could not play video files that Jaunty played
> just fine. Removing pulseaudio restored the playback sync.
> Thanks to whoever put on onto using Volti to control volume with alsa
> direct or via jack! That takes care of the "no volume control applet
> without pulseaudio" issue and works in most DE's. You need the
> classic-systray extension to put it where you can see it in gnome-shell,
> comes up fine in both Icewm(traditional system tray) and in Unity if you
> add it to the whitelist for systray applets.
> Audacity works fine with Jack running, the only showstoppers for running
> jack full-time by itself are kdenlive (no Jack support yet!) and that old
> binary blob nasty, Adobe Flash. I am using 64 bit flash direct from Adobe,
> I do  know if the "pulseaudio-extrasound" package aimed at making
> Pulseaudio work would work with jack instead. With adobe deciding to throw
> Firefox under the bus and push proprietary browsers, I have a feeling
> open-source replacements for flash are about to hit the big time anyway.
> Three ways of making Flash work with Jack  via alsa, gstreamer, or
> pulseaudio,  plus a library for direct Jack support for Flash was being
> described at
> This page dates back to 2012. All these methods are said to create some
> added latency in audio from Flash, opposite the audio ahead of video effect
> that a too-heavy CPU load or slow graphics will create. Have yet to test
> them, I control jack from qjackctl on the netbook-and rarely use Flash to
> actually watch videos, as I download and keep anything worth watching
> anyway due to limited bandwidth and a preference for local copies of
> everything.
> None of that matters on a big, high-powered A/V worstation, though a
> direct jack/no pulseaudio solution might help with other kinds of latency
> issues. What does matter is getting sound to work on a sound editing system
> without forcing users to learn a lot of new programming that might send
> them to another distro.
> Having to start qjackctl or configure an application in its preferences to
> use Jack is one thing, having to root around on Google for what text file
> to exit, commands to run, etc is quite another.
> With Precise now out, this question can again be considered for future
> reference. Thankfully, in Linux distros nobody has to wait, if Pulseaudio
> doesn't work for a user it can be removed and Ubuntu has been careful to
> keep too much from depending on it.
> Maybe a debian package that conflicts with pulseaudio, depends on jack and
> qjackctl, pulls in one of the solutions for flash and anto-configures other
> applications to use Jack by default would make this something an end user
> could actually work with?  That would be something that could be used as an
> advanced option at install or a recommended fix for situations where
> Pulseaudio acts up.
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