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What use is PulseAudio?

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  • What use is PulseAudio?

    When sound suddenly broke on my system a couple of weeks ago, I discovered that PulseAudio was to blame. I could still get sound through ALSA directly. As such, I uninstalled PulseAudio so that programs would default to or auto-discover ALSA instead. I've run into no problems so far.

    This got me to wondering: What benefit is PulseAudio providing for the typical desktop? Why do we even use it?

    Perhaps someone can provide some insight into why it has been so widely adopted, especially when it seems that it's just another layer sitting on top of ALSA.

  • #2
    Pulseaudio is the same bloatware that comes from redhat: networkmanager, systemd, wayland and gnome3. They even produce malware like tracker, tracker-extract and tracker-miner-fs.


    • #3
      I've read that ALSA on its own can't deal with audio from multiple sources; for example I'm listening to a song and receive an IM. The music will need to pause momentarily so the chat client can make whatever notification DING! noise then the music can resume. Since you've already uninstalled PulseAudio you can test this theory by playing a video in your browser or VLC while playing music with RhythmBox or Audacious, etc because now that I think about it I don't remember this being an issue "back in the day" before PulseAudio


      • #4
        Originally posted by swagg_boi View Post
        I've read that ALSA on its own can't deal with audio from multiple sources
        Alsa can play from multiple sources. dmix is the device. It is active in the default Alsa config.
        [email protected]:~$ cat /usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf | grep dmix
        defaults.pcm.dmix.max_periods 0
        defaults.pcm.dmix.rate 48000
        defaults.pcm.dmix.format "unchanged"
        defaults.pcm.dmix.card defaults.pcm.card
        defaults.pcm.dmix.device defaults.pcm.device
        pcm.dmix cards.pcm.dmix
        Last edited by debianxfce; 12-07-2018, 11:03 PM.