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Thread: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

  1. #1
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    Question Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    I've got a question and I can't really find the awnser in the forums or the PULSE Audio pages.

    Why did Ubuntu switch to Pulse?

    When I did an upgrade, the sound by the PULSE drivers was messed up, so I put everything in the soundpreferences back to ALSA.

    After following this guide I think I've ironed everything out, although I know have an extra process that has to get started when my session starts.

    So why did Ubuntu go over to Pulse, is it faster or lighter or does it offer better hardware support?

    One explanation I found said that Pulse made multiple audio streams possible, but I never had any problem with ALSA on that account.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    Well ALSA should have only let one application use the sound card at once, whereas PulseAudio (seeing as it's a sound server) will allow multiple apps access to the sound card, and you can even stream audio to the sound server over LAN. Basically that's the reason why (from what I gather).

  3. #3
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    Quote Originally Posted by lswest View Post
    Well ALSA should have only let one application use the sound card at once, whereas PulseAudio (seeing as it's a sound server) will allow multiple apps access to the sound card, and you can even stream audio to the sound server over LAN. Basically that's the reason why (from what I gather).
    Strange, I never had any issues playing mp3's while watching flash-sites (example)

    So when I put all the sound preferences on ALSA in Hardy, is HArdy still using Pulse via ALSA, or does it disregard Pulse?
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  4. #4
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    That can't be the reason - I frequently play flash games with music while listening to music in Quod Libet and I don't have Pulse installed, just ALSA.
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  5. #5
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    I honestly have no idea why it was included in Hardy. For the vast majority of users it offers no new interesting functionality the way it's configured in Hardy and, as is evidenced by the number of threads related to Pulse Audio on these forums, it has caused more problems than it has solved (which, as far as I can tell, is approximately 0).
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  6. #6
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    Quote Originally Posted by Maupertus View Post
    I've got a question and I can't really find the awnser in the forums or the PULSE Audio pages.

    Why did Ubuntu switch to Pulse?

    When I did an upgrade, the sound by the PULSE drivers was messed up, so I put everything in the soundpreferences back to ALSA.

    After following this guide I think I've ironed everything out, although I know have an extra process that has to get started when my session starts.

    So why did Ubuntu go over to Pulse, is it faster or lighter or does it offer better hardware support?

    One explanation I found said that Pulse made multiple audio streams possible, but I never had any problem with ALSA on that account.
    I prefer ALSA as it lets my surround sound speakers function (except VLC). Pulse also has some issues with Flash.

    Go with ALSA.
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  7. #7
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    The weird thing is that pulseaudio sits on top of alsa instead of replacing it, adding another layer of complications and increasing latency to add a few minor functions and it kicks all the alsa functionality out in doing so.

    I can understand pulseaudio adding network functionality to sound but really, does it have to take over the entire sound scheme just so a few people can taunt others in on line gaming?

    The primary reason for including pulseaudio in 8.04 was to give the pulseaudio developers an easier update path. The same reason we got such a piece of crap firefox beta.

    This has gone too far. A LTS release should not include buggy apps just to give the Developers and easier time. It goes completely against the Ubuntu philosophy that everything should "just work".

    The Ubuntu Team have lost their focus.

  8. #8
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    Quote Originally Posted by lswest View Post
    Well ALSA should have only let one application use the sound card at once, whereas PulseAudio (seeing as it's a sound server) will allow multiple apps access to the sound card
    OSS only lets one application use the sound card at once. ALSA lets multiple applications. I think the only benefit of PulseAudio is the network functionality and independent volume controls for each app? It's not very clear.

    Quote Originally Posted by markbuntu View Post
    This has gone too far. A LTS release should not include buggy apps just to give the Developers and easier time. It goes completely against the Ubuntu philosophy that everything should "just work".

    The Ubuntu Team have lost their focus.
    Agreed. Intrepid continued the pattern, with almost half of users having "serious problems", according to polls on here. Is there another distro that tries to achieve what Ubuntu used to? Maybe Linux Mint?
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  9. #9
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    Wow, I forgot I wrote that. Anyway, I discovered that the problem is not with pulseaudio but with an entirely bogus implementation in Ubuntu which has continued with Intrepid.

    After I decided to just knuckle down and get pulseaudio working, which I did and along the way managed to accumulate a ton of scattered information about sound in general which is concolidated in my guides.

    The 10,000 page guide to sound in Hardy

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=843012

    The Multiple Sound card guide:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=922860

    The quick start guide to Intrepid:

    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=997506

    I find pulseaudio to be an excellent replacement for the alsa hodgepodge. It does many things quite well and if you have more than one sound card/device it is an abolute must. No more fooling around with asoundconf.

    For the life of me I just do not understand why the Pulse Audio Volume Control is left out of the standard install and why the default in Sound is automatic which does nothing but automatically create conflicts. 90% of peoples sound problems can be solved with 10 more packages and a few changes in the Sound defaults.

    At least Mandriva includes the pulseaudio volume control.

  10. #10
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    Re: Pulse Audio vs. ALSA

    I seem to loose sound randomly which only a reboot fixes.
    Running Ibex.
    Irritating to find out you have no sound when you start a video.
    Does one of your links describe this 10 package fix?

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