[arch-general] Opinions on pulseaudio [WAS: PulseAudio in [testing]]

Ng Oon-Ee ngoonee at gmail.com
Mon Nov 29 00:28:45 CET 2010

On Sun, 2010-11-28 at 10:38 -0600, Yaro Kasear wrote: 
> On Mon, 2010-11-29 at 00:27 +0800, Ng Oon-Ee wrote:
> GNOME 3 isn't even released yet. There's no CURRENT dependency in Arch,
> in [extra], for Pulse Audio.

Others have explained this to you already. 
> Fine, Then I'll list all of its problems right here:
> - It's unstable.
> - It's got far too many unresolved bugs the upstream developers defer
> INCORRECTLY elsewhere simply because they can't be bothered to fix their
> software.

Where you've mentioned specific bugs below I'll answer. Otherwise this
is just FUD generalization. And pulseaudio is not unstable just because
an implementation in ANOTHER distro YEARS ago caused some problems.

> - It wastes a lot of RAM.
> - It wastes a lot of CPU.
> - It causes noticeable audio latency.

RAM and CPU usage never appear on top 5 on my system. Its at 2% of CPU
and 0.3% of RAM (4 GB) here on top. And synchronization of movie audio
is perfect here (even when outputting at the same time to multiple sound
cards, including a BT headset, try that with alsa)

> - It DOES NOT release sound to other daemons as your erroneously claim.
> It will not turn itself off for JACK just as it won't turn itself off
> for ESD or Phonon.

nedko (jack2) and the Pulseaudio devs specifically worked on such
support. Just because you are ignorant of it does not make it not exist.
As correctly pointed out though, jack2 is a separate implementation of
jack from jack1, jack1 does not support notifying pulseaudio about its
'claim' on the soundcard. There's 2 players here, not just one.

> - It actually doesn't support ALSA that well, it's ALSA module is stuck
> at 70% completion, with a lot of critical ALSA support stuck on that
> missing 30%. Again, further upstream blame gets laid on ALSA or drivers
> where it doesn't belong.

The ONLY major ALSA 'feature' which is not supported is memmap. Direct
access to the sound-card's memory. Pulseaudio's devs are of the opinion
that this cannot and should not be emulated, and that apps which use it
are broken in design. I've not come across any latest-version-apps where
this is still a problem, do you know of any?

> - It's not really necessary for any actual Linux audio needs, where
> things like ESD and Phonon had already fixed the problems Pulse Audio
> has no use for.

Necessity is a weird thing that seems to you to imply "what I need".
Sorry, you're not Linux Audio. Even a cursory glance through this thread
should indicate to you that there ARE people who need it for something
or other. Not 'just' networked audio as you imply. Routing between
multiple sound cards, good and automatic BT headset support, per-volume
app control. Yep, ESD and phonon have all that.

> - Even the Pulse Audio devs at one point admitted it breaks Linux audio.

Context, please. Quotation if possible. The only similar statement I
remember is Lennart saying (more than a year ago) that it would break
audio apps which rely on alsa hacks (most apps AT THE TIME). Which would
mean that these apps need fixing.

If you think 'oh, what works before must be great code', I'm sure you'd
be one of the first to protest (for example) Wayland on the grounds that
X11 works just fine.

> - A great deal of Linux applications have problems working with it, far
> more than any other daemon to date. Upstream, rather than making Pulse
> Audio abstract itself like ESD or Phonon does, seems to want app
> developers to write their code SPECIFICALLY for Pulse Audio, which is
> NOT how its done.

See above. You do not understand what is being done, nor have you made
an attempt to. Pick up the latest Ubuntu liveCD, run it on almost any
system you want. Sound will 'just work (tm)'. And they get all those
nice features which they can CHOOSE to use or not. Your complaining is 2
years too late, because linux apps NOW support pulseaudio just fine.
mplayer, vlc, mpd, wine, sdl, gstreamer et. al. The only sort of apps
which still don't have good PA support are audio editing apps which are
more meant for use with Jack (ardour and audacity for example).

> - An incredible array of utterly useless features (Like networking sound
> in a day and age where all PCs have sound systems they can use
> themselves. Never count on networking where an actual local system will
> do.) that Pulse Audio fans never use bt love to brag about so they can
> distract from Pulse Audio's obvious problems, just like you are doing
> right now.

Yes, you don't use a feature so its utterly useless. Good point! And its
not like that's the ONLY feature available to pulseaudio.

> - Much, much more, but you get my point.
> Maybe wait until GNOME 3 actually gets released before put something
> unstable and useless in [extra] needlessly.

Obviously you have not been keeping track of how Arch handles this. If
something is coming, the devs make a collective decision to incorporate
it as soon as possible without breaking things. See python3. Pulseaudio
has already been delayed much longer than anything else, partially
because of FUD from folks like yourself. The other reason as I
understand is that JGC is simply too overworked with his thousands of
packages to bother prior to this to figure out how to integrate
pulseaudio PROPERLY. Which he has now done, and in a way such that
without his announcement email you would not have noticed it at all.
Since you're basing complaints on past problems and not any CURRENT
problem with your Arch system.

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