[arch-general] PulseAudio in [testing]

Yaro Kasear yaro at marupa.net
Sun Nov 28 17:08:04 CET 2010

On Sun, 2010-11-28 at 12:11 +0200, Χρήστος Κώτσαρης wrote:
> I believe this was the right choice. Pulseaudio should be in extra and all 
> applications build with pulse support.

Except for the fact that Pulse Audio is an incredible REGRESSION in
Linux sound and causes far more problems than it solves. Do a google
search on it sometime, you'd be surprised what a huge headache Pulse
Audio actually is.

> Regarding phonon, i believe KDE intends to drop it at some point, not sure 
> were i read that. I remember reading something about KDE 5 not including 
> phonon, but it may be FUD. Anyone more informed on the issue?

KDE has no intention of dropping Phonon. Largely because they just
implemented it as new in KDE 4. And they wouldn't drop it in favor of
something as low quality and unstable as Pulse Audio. GNOME might, but
their developers are idiots.

> In any case, Linux/GNU needs pulseaudio. Pulseaudio should be the api to 
> target for all apps. The kind of functionality it provides it is needed if 
> modern distros are to compete with Windows 7. Windows 7 now provide the 
> functionality to switch sound cards on the fly without restaring the app 
> playing sound. This is possible only with Pulseaudio as far as i can tell in 
> the Linux world. And this is just one example.

Linux has no need for Pulse. ALSA works perfectly fine. Pulse is a
regression in Linux sound. If you think PA will catch Linux up to
Windows 7 (It should be noted Linux is way ahead of Windows 7 in all the
ways that actually count.), you're going to get a painful bite of
reality when countless Windows 7 users correctly point ou ttheir sound
Just Works where Linux USED TO before Pulse Audio came around and broke
absolutely everything. Besides, both KDE and GNOME already provide
user-friendly audio utilities that are easier to handle with Pulse Audio
and, here's the killer feature, don't break sound AT ALL.

> Imagine if you have a headset with included sound card, for example a 5.1 
> headset. Without Pulseaudio, it is a chore to switch sound to it, with 
> Pulseaudio it is easy and userfriendly. Windows 7 now can do it too. Imagine 
> if a user tries to do it in Linux without pulse, he will be frustrated. Of 
> course, Arch users should be knowledgable enough to switch sound cards in 
> ALSA, but it still is a chore. And it is not the point.

Actually, ALSA has a pretty simple and easy means to switch to USB audio
devices. The Arch wiki even says so. Pulse might provide an easy way to
switch to it, but it's completely outweighed by the fact that there's a
70% chance Pulse Audio will break most (If not all.) your sound.

> The point is, Linux needs a sound daemon to provide modern user friendliness. 
> So it is a matter of time for GNOME and KDE to support it natively. KDE tried 
> it with phonon, but it seems phonon is more problematic than pulseaudio, with 
> less features. At least for me, when phonon sits on top of ALSA, i get all 
> sorts of messages informing me that some interface should be disabled, it is 
> annoying. Plus when i change a sound card, the app needs restarting.

Phonon is far less problematic than PA. HAving actually used both
extensively. Largely because Phonon doesn't hijack ALL sound on the
system it runs on like Pulse Audio, so that even if Phonon breaks (Has
yet to happen with me.) you can STILL use SOME sound, whereas in the
inevitable eventuality Pulse Audio breaks, ALL your sound goes with it,
even if you manage to kill it, because it took it on itself to take all
your sound over, which no other sound daemon does, and for damn good

> So yes, in time pulseaudio should become the default linux api for Linux/GNU, 
> if not already. If there are bugs, they could be solved if all those geniuses 
> bitching about it and use ALSA could be bothered to help a little.

First off, Pulse Audio is not a sound API like ALSA or OSS, it's a
Daemon, and a very crappy one at that. In fact, it's a crappy sound
daemon that breaks sound that it and its developers somehow convinced
themselves was a legit sound API akin to ALSA and OSS.

Second off, no, it should NOT become a universal default for Linux
because its a horrendous regression running on top of ALSA. Even the
Linux kernel developers themselves have said so, even the ALSA developer
suggested rewriting ALSA would be a far better alternative to Pulse

Finally, the problems introduced in Pulse audio are NOT the fault of
ALSA, drivers, OR distributions no matter how much PA's upstream loves
to clamor for it to be true. The sad cold fact is Pulse Audio is buggy,
unstable, unnecessary, slow, bloated, and causes WAY more problems than
it solves.

In fact, there's no problems actually PRESENT in ALSA Pulse is actually
solving. Before Pulse came along, ALSA was doing very well.

If you were to ask the opinion of myself and my colleagues, I'd
recommend abandoning to idiotic sound daemon idea altogether and instead
use or create an audio abstraction library akin to libao. That would
allow user-friendly interfaces to sound without resorting to crappy
daemons like Pulse Audio.

Plus it'd be easier on resources and allow cross-platform audio
development to be a lot easier. Two things even the "magical" Pulse
Audio will never deliver.

If you don't like how ALSA handles things, switch to OSS, instead of
adding ANOTHER high-latency abstraction on top of it that solves nothing
and breaks everything.

Once again, I say PA is far from the kind of quality I'd expect from a
package in [extra], and I'm surprised the Arch devs are even considering
it, especially in light of the fact that there's far more stable and
useful packages in [community] getting passed up.

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