Language Selection

English French German Italian Portuguese Spanish

Should Pulseaudio Die? What do you think?

Filed under
Linux

When I was installing and testing Mandriva 2010 Cooker (new development) releases this last Fall season, I kept having persistent problems with sound. Eventually, the advice in the Mandriva Cooker forum for KDE users became: "Disable Pulseaudio, and set Xine as the preferred back end over GStreamer (in the KDE multimedia settings).

Unlike the latest 'buntu, Mandriva does supply a checkbox in their Control Center Sound configuration utility to enable/disable Pulseaudio.

Then Mandriva 2010 final came out, and Pulseaudio more or less works, (and GStreamer works fine for the KDE back end). Some users report that flash videos have no sound with Pulseaudio enabled. Certainly there's some sound lag with Pulseaudio.

Today I was listening to the latest tllts podcast (The Linux Link Tech Show). Tllts member Patrick Davila started his "rant" segment, and said:

Quote:
Pulseaudio sucks. The experiment [with Pulseaudio] has gone far too long. It's time to admit that it's a f*ing failure and every implementation sucks. The guy who runs it [Pulseaudio]--any time anybody tries to talk to him, is very negative and tells you you're an idiot. Canonical should hire Paul Davis, the developer of Jack and Ardour and Jack should become the default sound daemon."

What do you think? I tend to agree with Davila, however Linux sound is not my area of expertise. But I've certainly been plagued and frustrated over the years with Linux sound issues, and Pulseaudio seems to make things worse.

Comment viewing options

Select your preferred way to display the comments and click "Save settings" to activate your changes.

I use Sidux AMD64 with KDE

I use Sidux AMD64 with KDE 4.3 and I have a proper sound card - an M-Audio Revolution 5.1. I do not have any Pulseaudio installed. My sound works perfectly. In part this is because my sound card supports hardware mixing. KDE uses Phonon not Pulse.

Now, this week I built a second machine from old bits for the purpose of video editing. I wanted to try OpenShot so I installed Karmic Koala, as OpenShot requires Python 2.6 and so it will not run on anything Debian (yet). After installation I had no sound at all. The Pulseaudio controlled sound applet showed everything was working, but nothing emanated from the speakers. I installed Gnome Alsamixer and found that the output was not selected, a simple click of the mouse and music poured forth. To me the biggest fault here is Gnome using this new mixer applet instead of the traditional Alsa one. Ubuntu, or Gnome in general, have also removed the older Gnome Sound properties dialog with a Pulse based one. You can no longer change the default output easily. If it does not work there is now nowhere to go unless you are an experienced Linux user. I removed Pulseaudio as I had other issues with input from Aux (but that one was an ALSA issue), but in doing so lost the speaker applet. I disabled the onboard sound and put in a PCI sound card and reinstalled Pulseaudio and now it all works.

Is this the fault of Pulseaudo, Gnome or Ubuntu - or all of them. When Pulseaudio works it is a good tool, when it does not it is an utter pain. Unfortunately it seems to fail way too often for my liking. The failures are often simple and can be overcome with simple access to good Alsa based mixer. This then is the fault of Gnome and the distro builders. Bring back the old sound properties dialog and install Gnome Alsamixer by default. Give the noobs a fighting chance.

My last peeve is definitley distro based. Why is my sound constantly muted by updates? Not Sidux - the others. Why on earth would you set mute as the default? Ever?

enough ranting

It is junk.

I agree too. Pulse audio is junk just like udev, hal, dbus and polkit. Useless crap that don't work right.

Depends on the distro

I have an older Creative card that uses the snd-emu* drivers. It and PA (PulseAudio) work fine with certain distros, like Mandriva 2010 and Ubuntu 9.10. It and PA don't work well with others, like Fedora 12 and openSUSE 11.2. In those distros, system sounds come out layered in static. Flash and other audio playback can sometimes be staticky as well. Why one distro gives me no problems while another does, I have no idea.

The reaction of the PulseAudio dev is as follows: "Regarding snd-emu*: Creative doesn't like Open Source -- there are no docs available. If you buy Creative it is hence a bit your own fault."

Fair enough, except the card works fine with ALSA. Why the difference? The PulseAudio dev again: "As long as you only play MP3 music directly on the device and use the traditional sound card interrupt based wakeups the bogus timing information the sound drivers export doesn't matter. That's why you won't notice this issue without PA but it becomes very visible (or audible...) when PA is used."

Whoopee.

PulseAudio can do all kinds of cool things, but I'd just like to have an alternative to using it. I've tried but I can't replace it with any other backend in openSUSE 11.2 and have working sound, even in KDE 3/4.

re: depends distro

Yeah, I had trouble with a creative card and opensuse 11.2 too. Sound would only come out of one of the four speakers. That didn't go over too well with me.

I haven't had too much trouble with most of others distros except that Flash sound wouldn't work in the latest Mandriva. The only solution really offered was to disable pulseaudio. That did indeed do the trick.

Distros' fault

Pay attention to what PulseAudio's dev has said many times. Ubuntu in particular, he argues, does a HUGE disservice to the reputation of PulseAudio.

re: Distros fault

Yes, Linux Excuses 101.

Whenever something sucks, blame everyone (the distro, the user, the girlscouts) but the monkey who codes it.

its every distro?

I've only read the horror stories of PA but I've no experience myself. However, its constantly repeated that it is the distros' fault in their implementations. Perhaps the developer needs to provide more-clear examples or documentation so that his product doesn't get such a bad reputation?

On the flip side, which distros are implementing this correctly according to the PA developer(s)?

PulseAudio...

I've been using Linux on and off for the past four years and since my first stab at it, everyone always suggest that I stay away from PulseAudio. Because of that, I've always stuck with Alsa. It works and it works great. I'm personally a fan of building minimal Debian systems and I've always relied Alsa for sound. Most of it is because I've heard nothing but bad stories about PulseAudio. Lots of promise but just as much letdown. Does this project really lack that much direction/ it clearly isn't moving forward if this debate is still going on four years later.

yep

Pulse audio is garbage. I actually do blame the distros a little bit. If the crap isn't tested and working on common hardware, why put it in a so called stable release.The developer can test it all he wants, can ask for testers, or keep it on his hard drive for all I care. When the major distros release new versions, something as basic as sound should work. Period. I suppose the community working together on improving what we already have working would be too much to ask.

PulseAudio

I'm going to be murdered for posting this, but I think we should all go back to OSS, with version 4 and later version 5. I'm on Arch, so I can pick and choose from the beginning what I want to use. I have tried PulseAudio, which seems to lag, ALSA works but it sounds weak, compared to sound in OSS4 and Windows 7. I dare say it sounds better in OSS4 than Windows 7. I even have a Creative card and it works better in OSS than the rest with BETA drivers. Granted I don't do any recording or anything complicated that doesn't involve listening to FLAC audio, movies and youtube, with a 5.1 surround system. Adding to this, OSS is so easy to configure, everything residing in /usr/lib/oss and while the wiki is not updated as often, it has the usual problems that I encountered listed and in the forums, there are friendly people who have helped me, up to the extent of modifying source code and recompiling OSS on Arch in order to get a USB sound card working. I know what the developer did in the past still makes some people angry or distrustful but I don't think that's going to happen again, everyone can make mistakes and I think if we show more support with development and testing, OSS can be the greatest thing for sound in Linux and all of *nix systems. Freebsd uses it, maybe a modified version but to me OSS is both user and developer friendly.

I have not tried JACK, but if that works good, I don't have any complaints. I just want to move to something that is not ALSA or Pulseaudio and more importantly, that it works as intended.

http://www.4front-tech.com/forum/index.php
http://www.4front-tech.com
http://www.opensound.com/wiki/index.php

I agree

I find PC-BSD with OSS has the best sound on my system. I should try this with Chakra. JACK sounds interesting as well.

I also agree with Anonymo

I read "State of Sound in Linux not so Sorry After All"

http://insanecoding.blogspot.com/2009/06/state-of-sound-in-linux-not-so-sorry.html

I switched Ubuntu to OSS and everything was better / cooler / easier. i.e. the sound quality was better, the user interface was nicer too. (Although there was no OSS HDMI driver at the time.)

I also have used OSS on Solaris. It was the exact same experience. I plugged in a USB DAC and viola! It just worked.

Pulse made me busy all this year

Hi. I don't know if pulse have to die, but I sure hate its guts. I work for an OEM company who sell various machines with Linux/KDE installed. Pulse failed on basically all the HW configs that I saw.

At home, here's what I have to say : Pulse is not ready. When I manage to get it to work, it hangs.

I totally agree with the guy who proposed to replace pulse with jack, maybe with a simple frontend ? Jack is the only software that I know of that actually aknowledge that a user can have more than ONE soundcard.

More in Tux Machines

Devices with Linux: Sm@rtDock, BalenaOS/Raspberry Pi 4 and More

  • Sm@rtDock 15 Touch is a 15″ 2-in-1 Laptop Dock for Samsung DeX Devices and Smartphones with a USB-C Port

    We’ve already covered several laptop docks for smartphones such as NexDock 2. AFAICR, all those modes would come with a full laptop body with non-touch display and keyboard.

  • BalenaOS may be the First Fully Functional 64-bit OS for Raspberry Pi 4

    BalenaOS 64-Bit OS Balena just announced the release of a 64-bit OS for the Raspberry Pi 4, that latest release of the iconic SBC.

  • Compact Kaby Lake embedded PC supports Linux

    Axiomtek’s fanless, rugged “eBOX100-51R-FL” embedded PC runs Linux or Win 10 on a 7th Gen U-series CPU and offers a pair each of GbE, USB 3.0, USB 2.0, and serial ports plus a DP++ port and M.2 slots for WiFi and SATA. Axiomtek announced a compact (142 x 87 x 58mm) embedded computer equipped with a power-efficient Intel 7th Gen “Kaby Lake U-series processor. Axiomtek calls the rugged eBOX100-51R-FL “the smallest embedded system with Intel Core ULT processor onboard.” Indeed, we have yet to see a smaller U-series based embedded PC. The system joins the larger Kaby Lake-U based Axiomtek ICO500-518.

  • Intel launches fanless, Apollo Lake based NUC mini-PC and SBC

    Intel has posted specs for a previously tipped “NUC 8 Rugged” mini-PC and 3.5-inch baseboard. The fanless NUC runs Linux or Windows on an Apollo Lake Celeron with soldered 4GB RAM and 64GB eMMC, M.2 for NVMe, and dual HDMI ports. Most of Intel’s NUC (Next Unit of Computing) mini-PCs are fan-cooled models with Intel Core processors, such as last year’s 8th Gen “Coffee Lake” based Bean Canyon NUCs. Now, several vendors have opened pre-orders for as low as $248 for a fanless, 150 x 108 x 32mm Intel NUC 8 Rugged model aimed at embedded applications.

I got 99 problems but a switch() ain't one: Java SE 13 lands with various tweaks as per Oracle's less-is-more strategy

Oracle on Monday announced the release of Java SE 13 (JDK 13), saying it shows the tech titan's continued commitment to make innovation happen faster by sticking to a predictable six-month release cycle. No evidence was provided to demonstrate that enterprise innovation is actually accelerating as a consequence of biannual platform revisions. Oracle at least deserves credit for its commitment to consistency. Word of JDK 13 arrived on Monday as Oracle's co-located OpenWorld and Code One conferences got underway in San Francisco. The Code One keynote, preceded as in previous years with a disclaimer that investors shouldn't rely on anything said at the show, opened with an overview of quantum computing by Jessica Pointing, a doctoral student in quantum computing at Stanford University. Read more

Programming Leftovers

  • To meet up or not to meetup

    I didn’t regret going to the meetup – quite the contrary – and I’ve since been to several, but it’s dreadful how low the turnout typically is. I’ve verified my numbers with some of the organizers of prior meetups: [...]

  • A look at development environments with specific tooling for Apache Camel Language

    A growing set of editors and IDEs provides specific tooling for development of applications based on Apache Camel. Historically, there was only Eclipse Fuse Tooling, which was based on the Eclipse Desktop IDE. Then, an IntelliJ plugin was created. Both of these tools are tightly coupled to the specific IDE APIs. Consequently, they have the drawback of not easily sharing the development effort.

  • mozregression update: python 3 edition

    For those who are still wondering, yup, I am still maintaining mozregression, though increasingly reluctantly. Given how important this project is to the development of Firefox (getting a regression window using mozregression is standard operating procedure whenever a new bug is reported in Firefox), it feels like this project is pretty vital, so I continue out of some sense of obligation — but really, someone more interested in Mozilla’a build, automation and testing systems would be better suited to this task: over the past few years, my interests/focus have shifted away from this area to building up Mozilla’s data storage and visualization platform. This post will describe some of the things that have happened in the last year and where I see the project going. My hope is to attract some new blood to add some needed features to the project and maybe take on some of the maintainership duties.

  • @Autowire MicroProfile into Spring with Quarkus

    Eclipse MicroProfile and Spring Boot are often thought of as separate and distinct APIs when developing Java microservices. Developers default to their mental muscle memory by leveraging the APIs that they use on a daily basis. Learning new frameworks and runtimes can be a significant time investment. This article aims to ease the introduction to some popular MicroProfile APIs for Spring developers by enabling them to utilize the Spring APIs they already know while benefiting from significant new capabilities offered by Quarkus. More specifically, this article covers the scope and details of the Spring APIs supported by Quarkus so Spring developers have a grasp of the foundation they can build on with MicroProfile APIs. The article then covers MicroProfile APIs that Spring developers will find helpful in the development of microservices. Only a subset of MicroProfile is covered.

  • Microsoft Makes Their C++ Standard Library Open-Source (STL)

    Microsoft has begun their next open-source expedition by open-sourcing an important piece of MSVC / Visual Studio... STL, their C++ standard library. In a surprising move, this week announced their C++ Standard Library used by their MSVC tool-chain and Visual Studio is now open-source. Microsoft's C++ Standard Library is available under an Apache 2.0 license and with the LLVM exception regarding linking, so all is well on that front.

  • Top programming languages of 2019 [Ed: Too reliant on biased Microsoft data such as GitHub]

    The most popular languages according to the world’s largest organization for engineering and applied science. It can be hard to gauge which programming language to learn — should you go for the most widely used language, the language developers enjoy using, or maybe the highest paid language? There’s no one right answer, but luckily there are no shortage of top programming languages lists ranking languages according to different criteria. The latest is the The Top Programming Languages 2019 list from IEEE Spectrum, the magazine for the world’s largest professional organization devoted to engineering and the applied sciences.

Standards/Consortia: Wi-Fi, E-mail and Hindi

  • Wi-Fi Certified 6 Program Available for Products based on Broadcom, Cypress, Intel, Marvell, and Qualcomm 802.11ax Chips

    Last year the WiFi alliance introduces a new naming scheme for WiFi using numbers instead of IEEE standards so that WiFI 4 is 802.11n, WiFi 5 is 802.11ac, and WiFi 6 is the latest 802.11ax standard...

  • The Wi-Fi 6 Launches Officially for the Next Generation of Wi-Fi

    Wi-Fi Alliance announced today the availability of the Wi-Fi CERTIFIED 6 certification program for vendors to provide customers with the latest and greatest Wi-Fi experience. Unveiled last year in October, Wi-Fi 6 (also known as 802.11ax) launches officially today with up to 37 percent faster speeds than the previous Wi-Fi generation (802.11ac), increased bandwidth for greater performance with low latency, higher data rates for greater network capacity, as well as MU-MIMO (Multi-User Multiple Input Multiple Output) support for greater download performance on more devices at once.

  • Setting up a mail server with OpenSMTPD, Dovecot and Rspamd

    I’ll say it again:

    I don’t think that either one of the Big Mailer Corps are are evil or bad, I use some of their services on a daily basis, and most of the people operating them are genuinely seeking the greater good… however they have grown too big and there needs to be a balance in power because who knows how they’ll evolve in the next ten years, who knows how the politics of their home country will evolve in the next ten years, and recent news doesn’t paint them as heading in the right direction.

    I’ll conclude by recommanding that you see this excellent presentation by Bert Hubert (@PowerDNS_Bert) from PowerDNS, about how a similar problem is starting to happen with DNS and the privacy and tracking concerns that arise from this. Many, many, many key points are also valid for mail services.

  • #StopHindilmposition: Indian tweeps respond to Amit Shah's 'Hindi as national language' comment

    But, Twitter India doesn't agree. Why? India does not have a national language. Part XVII of the Indian Constitution designates Hindi as the 'official language' of the Union. And, English is used in official purposes such as parliamentary proceedings, judiciary, communications between the Central Government and a State Government. States within India have the liberty and powers to specify their own official language(s) through legislation. In addition to the official languages, the constitution recognises 22 regional languages, which includes Hindi but not English, as scheduled languages. The number of native Hindi speakers is about 25% of the total Indian population;

    The number of native Hindi speakers is only about 25 per cent of the total Indian population and 43 per cent of India’s population use Hindi as their first language. In some states, especially in the southern regions, Hindi is not used at all.

  • Hindi spoken most, can unite country: Amit Shah

    According to the Official Languages Act, 1963, Hindi and English are the official languages for the Union government and Parliament.

    A total of 22 languages of the country are recognised under the Eight Schedule of the Constitution.