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State of Sound Development On Linux Not So Sorry After All

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the sounds-like-improvement dept.

Programming 427

An anonymous reader writes "There have been past claims by Adobe and others that development on Linux is a jungle, particularly with regards to audio. However today, the author of the popular 'The Sorry State of Sound in Linux' has posted a follow up showing Adobe's claims to be FUD, as well as being a good update on where OSS and ALSA are holding today, and why PulseAudio isn't a good idea."

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427 comments

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Main blocker (0, Troll)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396309)

modprobe

Re:Main blocker (3, Interesting)

dotgain (630123) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396421)

I don't have any problems getting the modules to load, it's the quality of the output that's lacking for me (NForce4 chipset). Popping (DC bias) as you slide the volume fader up and down, as well as throughout playback is unbearable. Not to mention the state of media players on Linux...

Re:Main blocker (3, Interesting)

WaroDaBeast (1211048) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396709)

Not to mention the state of media players on Linux...

Going a little bit off-topic first: a cousin of mine had Ubuntu on his laptop (featuring a Geforce 9300M G) and couldn't get rid of image tearing in VLC. Who would be the culprit in this case? The video drivers or the media player? I have kept wondering since then and my enquiring mind would like to know.

At any rate, could you please elaborate? What makes media players bad under Linux?

Re:Main blocker (4, Insightful)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396865)

Troll?!? What the FUCK slashdot? This is a legitimate complaint and question, not a troll. Off-topic may have been a valid mod, but troll? Seriously, fanboys, take Linus' cock out of your mouth for a few seconds and get a breath of fresh air. You guys are just as bad as the worst apple and microsoft fanboys.

Re:Main blocker (-1, Offtopic)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396945)

Yeah, I knew the flamebait mod was coming. Regardless, I stand by my prior statement.

Re:Main blocker (3, Insightful)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396997)

Whoever modded you a troll is a moron.

The problem is most likely the video drivers. Download updates from NVidia's website. The free drivers for NVidia cards will get your display working, but it won't be fast.

Re:Main blocker (2, Informative)

pablomme (1270790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397273)

My guess is compiz. Install compizconfig-settings-manager, open it, go to "General" and tick "Sync to VBlank" in the "Display Settings" tab. The newer UXA-mode Intel driver may have problems with this, but for other cards this should make everything look better.

Bottomline for the topic under discussion: you never know.

Re:Main blocker (3, Insightful)

sgbett (739519) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396821)

Troll. I lolled.

About a gazillion years of linux use lie behind that comment. I love linux to death, its the greatest thing to have happened to 'PC' since .... ever.

The irony lies in the fact that modprobe - in fact the whole, loading unloading kernal modules on the fly - is nothing short of amazing.

I can't think of anything more impressive (in context) than being able to dynamically modify the core OS behaviour through a simple set of command line tools.

The only problem that remains is that 'everyone else' doesn't ever want to even know that stuff is possible.

State Of Linux Pretty Fucking Sorry After All (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396313)

An anonymous moron writes:

"There have been past claims by CmdrTaco and others that development on Linux is a clusterfuck, particularly with regards to conformance to published specifications and actually producing a finished product rather than the typical half-finished, cobbled together with duct tape, untested piece of slag typically found on SourgeForge. However today, the author of the popular 'The Sorry State of Linux' has posted a follow up showing CmdrTaco's claims to be dead on, as well as being a good update on where OSS and AC are holding today, and why sending your boss a photo of goatse isn't a good idea."

Re:State Of Linux Pretty Fucking Sorry After All (3, Funny)

eln (21727) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396359)

I commend you for at least customizing your troll to the story. So few bother these days.

Re:State Of Linux Pretty Fucking Sorry After All (1)

Gareon (1253358) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396539)

Giving a troll any sort of encouragement makes me a bit nervous but I agree. Something akin to movies - why write good dialogue when it it so much easier to blow something up?

By saying that he proves his former point (3, Insightful)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396317)

If Pulse Audio really sucks, then Linux Audio really is in a sorry state .

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (1, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396371)

Supported Operating Systems
* Linux (any modern distribution)
* Solaris
* FreeBSD
* NetBSD
* Native Win32 (no cygwin)

Wonderful, we've just broken Windows Audio, Solaris Audio and many other Audios as well. (BTW, you probably wanted to type Linux audio, not Linux Audio).

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (4, Informative)

Larryish (1215510) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396979)

Pulseaudio rocks IMO.

I have 7 Internet-connected personal machines at the house (7 Linux boxes, 1 Wintendo), and one Linux laptop is connected to a 5.1 surround system in the office.

Every machine on the network (with the exception of the Wintendo) can play audio over the network through the 5.1 surround system via Pulseaudio, with no appreciable loss of sound quality.

I can sit on the couch with a wireless-enabled laptop and play music from the headless file storage machine through the 5.1 surround system remotely.

We've come a long way, baby.

Pulseaudio sucks (1, Troll)

mrmeval (662166) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396397)

Pulseaudio sucks so bad I can't use it with the player of MY choice to watch movies.

Re:Pulseaudio sucks (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396873)

...and which one is that?

Totem? Xine? mplayer? VLC?

Re:Pulseaudio sucks (2, Informative)

maccallr (240314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397179)

Yes, go on, which one? Depending on your distribution, you might need to install the pulseaudio module for VLC, but that's only a few clicks.

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (1)

emj (15659) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396511)

The article is really good read it, the conclusion is that Ubuntu should hire the OSS developer, and that debian needs better OSS support. Another thing was Pulse Audio, which he say gives too much latency to be useable in games, not something I really care about but a 3 second delay is pretty extreme, I wonder if that is true.

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (1)

Rynor (1277690) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397055)

Can't say I have ever had problems with latency using pulseaudio and ET:QW or Raine, so based on my experiences, no.

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397113)

No problems with latency, audio has saved me plenty of times of not getting raped from behind.

Re:By saying that he proves his former point (4, Insightful)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397117)

If Pulse Audio really sucks, then Linux Audio really is in a sorry state

No, because you do not have to use Pulseaudio.

He says pulse sucks for games . Although he is exaggerating the latencies, I can believe it.

It is so, so for video (you can get occasional lack of sync)

It does audio very nicely - mixing works fine, you can play different streams to different cards (yes, I do that), you can play streams on remote servers, you can combine all local sound cards into a single virtual device etc.

So the problem is not that we do not have good solutions. It is that we have different solutions with different strengths and it is not clear which should be the default. He thinks pulse should not be the default. I like pulse although I would like the latency and reliabliity issues dealt with.

Article must be a hoax. Linux is a lot more free. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396387)

Sound development on Linux has a lot more easy interface than an undocumented kernel and driver system. End-users have had the greatest choice of sound systems as being either 4Front Open Sound System, Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, or perhaps a specific driver provided in-house from the vendor. ALSA has given Linux-based operating systems a greater edge over of ther *nix flavors if not even just Microsoft's selection. Even the *BSD's, specifically freeBSD, have been aiming their binary compatibility towards Linux thus proving it is leading the development tree rooted in commercial Unix.

Give me the Blue Pill. I don't want to hear anymore about SkyOS or MorphOS...

it's all relative (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396415)

When I no longer have to reboot into OS X to do real multimedia production work, then I'll agree that alsa has arrived. But this self-congratulation party is way premature. Linux has nothing that can even begin to rival GarageBand, what to speak of Logic Pro or Pro Tools. I surely wish it were otherwise. In fact, I just got done spending hours fooling with the Pro Audio overlay for Gentoo, and couldn't even get Hydrogen to play nice with or without jackd. Yes, my soundcard is listed as "supported".

Re:it's all relative (5, Interesting)

delta419 (1227406) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396481)

I can't speak for Logic Pro, but there is a (VERY good) alternative to Pro Tools; Ardour. The ubuntustudio packages had everything I needed to jump right into a professional DAW. I've been using it for high-quality recording/editing for almost a year now, no problems.

Re:it's all relative (4, Informative)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396617)

I tried Ubuntu studio on several different machines, and had no luck at all. If you try Pro Tools on the Mac, I'm sure you'll see what I'm talking about. The quality of sound is 100%, and using multiple sound sources not only works, it *just* works. That was not my experience with Ubuntu studio (nor Gentoo, Debian, dyne:bolic, arch, crux). I found them really wretched to work with, if you can even get them to work. Multiple sound sources via jackd? No way, it just doesn't work. Also, the sound quality matters a lot to me, and with alsa it's terrible. I've been trying to do what I do in Linux since 2003. It still isn't ready. I truly hope it will be one day soon...

10 Years From Now You'll Be Writing The Same Thing (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396753)

Except the sound project names will be different.

The way they fail to match commercial OS sound systems will be somewhat different in detail but equally abysmal.

There will be the same "Works for me!(tm)" posts.

The only hope for Linux to get a commercial quality sound system is if one or more major commercial companies with competent grownups take on the task and have people sitting at desks 40 hours a week doing real work.

The open source "competing teams of bearded GNU freaks taking their sweet time working on competing projects because "choice is good(tm)" in their spare time between bong hits and World of Warcraft raids" isn't something anyone should be waiting around to start finally delivering commercial quality software engineering solutions.

Re:10 Years From Now You'll Be Writing The Same Th (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396891)

...not so much "work for me" but "who cares?".

I am not an Audio professional. If someone whines about Qsynth taking
up 100% the CPU on Jaunty, I really can't relate to them. You might
as well whine at me about Gimp not being any good for making Matte
Paintings or somesuch.

Re:10 Years From Now You'll Be Writing The Same Th (4, Funny)

SanityInAnarchy (655584) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397231)

At least get your zealotry straight.

The "bearded GNU freaks" wouldn't dare touch World of Warcraft. It's proprietary! It certainly isn't "Free as in Freedom"!

Re:it's all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396759)

Do you have any good reason for saying ALSA sounds bad?

As far as I can see, if you send the same bits to the soundcard, you get the same sound.
I tested ALSA+JACK and found it to be bit accurate recording from SPDIF I/O. The converters on my card sound the same too as under Windows.

Re:it's all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396951)

Are you trolling?

Pro Tools only works with Digidesign hardware. You can't use multiple sound sources at all. Ie, plug in a USB mic and you can't use it in PT.

Also, what does 'the quality of sound is 100%' mean? I'd bet a dollar that you just had the mixer in Linux turned down.....

Re:it's all relative (2, Interesting)

Danzigism (881294) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396907)

I HIGHLY agree with this. I thought audio production was at a complete standstill in the days of Rosegarden since it crashed for no reason on any machine I installed it on. It was a great concept, but it simply didn't work. When I installed Ardour I couldn't believe how great and functional it was. The ubuntustudio package is indeed a super easy way to get yourself up and running. Not to mention there is a pretty big following in #ardour on Freenode. Always someone there willing to lend a hand. Beats spending tons of Pro Tools, Adobe Audition, Sonar, or anything else out there. I believe there's a Mac version too.

Re:it's all relative (-1, Offtopic)

ciderVisor (1318765) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397265)

There's nothing in the Linux world that even comes close to Ableton Live or Propellerheads Reason.

Bundled utilities for uploading MIDI files to home keyboards, digital pianos, or for editing synth patches over MIDI ? Forget it. Hell, good luck with trying to find the software for OSX while you're at it. Go to Sound On Sound Magazine and search on 'Linux' [soundonsound.com] . 9 results, none later than 2005. Real penetration into the pro audio world, guys !

Seriously, just pay the MS or Apple tax, buy licensed software that 'just works' and use it to be creative.

Re:it's all relative (4, Informative)

CyDharttha (939997) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397147)

I'm with you. I've been using Ardour [ardour.org] and Hydrogen [hydrogen-music.org] for years. Also use Rosegarden [rosegardenmusic.com] for keyboard synth. My keyboard is a M-Audio 49-key USB interface, just plug it in and go. I've set up a few audio production systems for friends as well. Shane Bertrand [myspace.com] has been recording and mixing his own music on one for 5 years now. A 10 input M-Audio Delta 1010LT [m-audio.com] sound card, Ardour, and Hydrogen are his main tools. They recorded and produced both CWO [myspace.com] albums on this setup. They used 5 mics to record the drummer; Shane's modest system had no problems handling it all, even at more than 40 tracks in a song. He had a Sempron 2500+ and 512MB RAM w/ Kubuntu, just upgraded to a X2 3800, 2GB RAM a few months ago.

Re:it's all relative (1)

dunng808 (448849) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397247)

I am a long-time fan of Audacity. To be honest I record with a Sony PCM-D50 and use Audacity to edit the imported WAV files. True, the Mac OS X version is prettier than the FreeBSD version (the one I use most), but they work equally well.

Re:it's all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396679)

Did you even bother to read the first paragraph of the article?

Re:it's all relative (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396749)

And what, pray tell, in the first paragraph of TFA invalidates the GP's personal experience ? It's retards like you that actually hold back FOSS development. This isn't about your fucking ego, it's about functionality in the real world.

Re:it's all relative (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396717)

All FUD. The fact you are using Gentoo and having problems is probably half your problem. The tools you choose to use are NOT the fault of GNU/Linux- they are your own. Apple and Microsoft by your own evaluation would be just as bad or maybe even worse!

Re:it's all relative (4, Insightful)

clang_jangle (975789) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396939)

All FUD. The fact you are using Gentoo and having problems is probably half your problem. The tools you choose to use are NOT the fault of GNU/Linux- they are your own. Apple and Microsoft by your own evaluation would be just as bad or maybe even worse!

You know, when i read moronic bullshit like that I sometimes wonder for a moment why don't I just stick with OS X. Why should I spend endless hours every other month or so trying to get a satisfactory result out of various Linux distros, anyway? Then I remember, I love Linux in spite of assholes like you. And I hope one day to be able to say with pride, "I recorded, mixed, and mastered this project all in Linux, using nothing but FOSS!". And when that day arrives, it will be in spite of, not because of, idiots like you. Burying your head in the sand may make you feel better in the short term, but it doesn't get the work done.

Re:it's all relative (1)

philicorda (544449) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397183)

"And I hope one day to be able to say with pride, "I recorded, mixed, and mastered this project all in Linux, using nothing but FOSS!"."

Some people already can.

I think it depends on what you want to do. For projects where it's straight forward recording, like live music, then Ardour on Linux is fine. Particularly if you still use a mixing desk/outboard fx. The sound quality is only limited by your A/D converters.

For composing in the computer, with soft synths and samples etc, Cubase and Ableton rule. Until Ardour gets midi there is no competition. Seq24 on Linux is still a lot of fun though. :)

but that can't be! surely with a community of devs (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396469)

Linux has no reason for such a core feature to be so lacking, let alone for a feature to get *worse* in time.

Sorry - It's still pretty "sorry"... (2, Interesting)

sdsucks (1161899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396487)

Really, it is.

It can be a pain in the ass to get working still, and is buggy.

I'm sure it works well for some, but many others still have problems.

Re:Sorry - It's still pretty "sorry"... (1)

sdsucks (1161899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396513)

.. and don't even get me started on some of my high end HTPC cards, thats just talking about my laptop onboard audio.

Linux is still a big fat fail here.

Re:Sorry - It's still pretty "sorry"... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397239)

What's a 'high end HTPC card'?

Don't tell me, a Creative audio card with shitty drivers?

Re:Sorry - It's still pretty "sorry"... (0, Flamebait)

sdsucks (1161899) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396705)

Aww flamebait? Thats the best you could do? Must be a pulse audio developer. Fact is, it sucks.

PulseAudio... (5, Insightful)

Ponga (934481) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396495)

In theory pulseaudio is great. In practice, it sucks. Nevermind, it sucks in theory too :(

Re:PulseAudio... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396745)

I remember getting my ass chewed off on the Ubuntu forums for daring to suggest Pulseaudio was less than perfect when Ubuntu switched to it. Pulseaudio was going to solve everything and if I didn't get that I was an idiot who shouldn't have a computer. Still waiting for it to work properly let alone solve all these problems it was going to solve.

Re:PulseAudio... (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397081)

switched from debian lenny to fedora and the biggest PITA was defenitly pulseaudio, and thats coming from somebody who cant use yum/rpm or selinux for shit.

What are we trying to achieve? (5, Interesting)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396555)

Yes, Linux audio sucks. If nothing else, we have three common and incompatible APIs to perform a single tasks, and none of them are definitively better than the others. So, my question: what exactly is it that we're trying to achieve? What's the end goal of creating newer APIs instead of perfecting the old ones, such as moving from OSS to ALSA to whatever they roll out this month?

For comparison, FreeBSD uses multi-channel OSS. You can have a whole passel of processes writing to /dev/dsp simultaneously, because whenever a process attempts to open it, the OS spawns off a new copy. It Just Works. I'm a little amazed that my FreeBSD server's sound handling is so much better than my Linux desktop's and requires approximate zero client configuration. So again, what was Linux hoping to achieve by dropping old "obsolete" OSS in favor of increasingly complex solutions?

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (4, Insightful)

caffeinemessiah (918089) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396817)

So again, what was Linux hoping to achieve by dropping old "obsolete" OSS in favor of increasingly complex solutions?

As far as Ubuntu is concerned, its the same inane neophyte behavior that "obsoleted" Xmms and BMPx in Jaunty in favor of the iTunes wannabe Amarok, which I find much less stable and cumbersome to use. There was absolutely nothing wrong with Xmms as a Winamp-style media player that was quick, efficient and could handle Internet radio and almost all the popular DRM-free formats, yet it was automatically removed with other "obsolete" software. Yes, I can compile it again from source, but it just seems a bit obnoxious. BMPx was another simple media player that was quite nice, albeit with the occassional bug, and it too has been "obsoleted".

For all the evangelism of the Ubuntu community, why are we being driven towards solutions that mimic the proprietary soup-du-jour (iTunes in this case)?

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (1)

jedidiah (1196) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396949)

This stupid FUD magnified by outsiders that fixate on it takes hold an even
eventually gets parroted by actual Ubuntu users. Ultimately, real users
fixate on the FUD to the exclusion of real problem analysis.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (3, Informative)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396985)

yeah it had nothing to do with BMPx no longer being maintained! as for xmms i suspect that gtk1.x is no longer being maintained. Canonical can't be arsed to maintain a few old winamp style players when there are many other well maintained ones about :O

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (1)

the_womble (580291) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397143)

Yes, I can compile it again from source

Or you could just ada third party repo that has it.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (3, Informative)

Hatta (162192) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397255)

There was absolutely nothing wrong with Xmms as a Winamp-style media player that was quick, efficient and could handle Internet radio and almost all the popular DRM-free formats, yet it was automatically removed with other "obsolete" software. Yes, I can compile it again from source, but it just seems a bit obnoxious.

You want Audacious [audacious-...player.org] .

Let Me Speak For Slashdot And Open Source World (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396819)

"Yes, Linux audio sucks."

No it doesn't - it works for me. You're an idiot and/or a Microsoft astroturfer.

"If nothing else, we have three common and incompatible APIs to perform a single tasks,"

Choice is good. More choice is better. Duh. Don't you read Slashdot?

"and none of them are definitively better than the others."

Wrong. Sound system A > B and C. Sound system B > A and C. and Sound system C > A and B. A survey of the comments in this story will clearly back that up.

"For comparison, FreeBSD..."

Ok now you've done it. A GNU Strike Team is heading to your location right now.

Re:Let Me Speak For Slashdot And Open Source World (2, Informative)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397157)

No it doesn't - it works for me.

I use an obscure distro called "Ubuntu" that halfway switched to PulseAudio during the latest release, breaking half the audio on my system until I uninstalled it. PA might be a great thing but the current state of it, right now, today, on the most common Linux systems, ain't so hot.

You're an idiot and/or a Microsoft astroturfer.

Cute, kid. Run along.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (4, Insightful)

dozer (30790) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396863)

"So again, what was Linux hoping to achieve by dropping old "obsolete" OSS in favor of increasingly complex solutions?"

Linux deprecated OSS2, which everyone agrees sucks hard. It was a no-brainer.

OSS3 is significantly better but it was only recently open sourced. Frankly, if the OSS devs hadn't spent most of the last decade with their heads firmly wedged, audio on Linux would probably be in a much better state. Ah well.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397087)

Mod parent up. ALSA was simply necessary. The main problems with ALSA is the obscure API and configuration system. There are also issues with how some default behaviors and such. And inconsistent driver behavior.

So, it's not perfect. But I'd much prefer for it to be fixed rather than to move back to OSS. On the desktop we can afford competing toolkits and such. But when it comes to the hardware interfacing stuff, the result of competing APIs might result in no drivers for any audio hardware at all.

So, go ALSA!

Define 'We' (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396955)

Do you mean GNU nuts as part of 'we' who only care about spreading GNU licensed software and the extinction of all other open source licensed software packages?

Do you mean BSD type developers who just want to write high quality software for other people to use?

Do you mean people who want Linux to be an exact Windows clone with the same APIs?

Do you mean people who want Linux to be an exact OS X clone with the same APIs?

Do you mean people who still think Linux shouldn't be for the masses and silly stuff like sound is unimportant?

Do you mean people who just plain suck at computer engineering and coding?

Every single one of those groups considers themselves part of the Linux 'we' - and each and every one of them is furiously flaming the other groups in comments in this story.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (1)

RiotingPacifist (1228016) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397065)

while agree that PulseAudio is not ready for the primetime:
1) the three APIs are not that incompatible as they always include legacy modes for old apps.
2) I never figured out how to stop audio playing if a 2nd user logged in with alsa, but it happened by default with PA.

IMH(umble)O it would have been better for PA's features to be implemented as scripts around ALSA, but those doing the work thought differently and as im too stupid and/or lazy to do it myself, I have to live with a slightly broken PA until its finished!

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (1)

Joe Snipe (224958) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397129)

You can have a whole passel of processes writing to /dev/dsp simultaneously, because whenever a process attempts to open it, the OS spawns off a new copy

Good god, I want that.

Re:What are we trying to achieve? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397259)

Well, if you're not an astro-turfer throw in a cheap shit drive and try out FreeBSD. I think it's better than Linux, but see what you think, and then decide. Just for kicks though be aware, although snd_hda sounds fabulous on my machine, I get sound out of every app that is supposed to spit out sound; except firefox3 (.0.11). FreeBSD *is* some kind of curve, but I don't give a damn.

He makes one excellent and crucial point (4, Interesting)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396575)

And that is that ALSA's way of handling mixing is completely moronic.

As an user, I care about hearing sound first of all. Sound quality (no pops or crackles) comes second, latency comes third.

There should always be sound mixing, with no ifs, buts, exceptions, or configuration required. It should be there by default for anything that tries to play sound, whether through ALSA or the OSS backwards compatibility.

The result of this nonsense is that crap like pulseaudio continues to exist, which is CPU hungry, often skips, fails to work with some programs and crashes frequently (what the hell is up with that?).

Is there any document out there which explains why /dev/dsp doesn't get mixing with ALSA? And why nobody tried to patch that yet?

Re:He makes one excellent and crucial point (4, Informative)

cras (91254) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396957)

Is there any document out there which explains why /dev/dsp doesn't get mixing with ALSA? And why nobody tried to patch that yet?

Yeah, TFA explains it.. Here's it in short: /dev/dsp goes to kernelspace, while ALSA does mixing in userspace. I've no idea how difficult it would be to make ALSA do sound mixing in kernelspace.

Re:He makes one excellent and crucial point (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397155)

they make it in userspace because of floating point, I think. No FP is allowed in the kernel. So alsa does it in userspace.

Just get a card that does not suck (like an audigy 2) and mixing is a non-issue.

Re:He makes one excellent and crucial point (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397145)

There should always be sound mixing, with no ifs, buts, exceptions, or configuration required. It should be there by default for anything that tries to play sound...

No, there really shouldn't. Mixing can incur some pretty serious latency unless all applications use the same buffer size and data format. Basically, real time/low latency audio apps will need exclusive access.

Re:He makes one excellent and crucial point (1)

vadim_t (324782) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397271)

No, there really shouldn't. Mixing can incur some pretty serious latency unless all applications use the same buffer size and data format. Basically, real time/low latency audio apps will need exclusive access.

No, it really should. Because most people right now are using a sound card that doesn't mix in hardware. So when the sound system for some stupid reason refuses to mix, what happens is that users don't get sound because some other program is using the device already.

Again, that it works comes first. Latency is secondary.

You 7ai7 it.. (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396581)

Pulse Audio: the best gift the Linux world gave M$ (5, Insightful)

Zombie Ryushu (803103) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396585)

Pulse Audio is a bloody disaster. It breaks just about every audio application I have, and even when its not running, it creates over runs and under runs in other ALSA and SDL audio applications (like ZSNES). ALSA, and SDL audio was the perfect sound abstraction system. Pulse Audio screws EVERYTHING up. I have to makle my own patched RPMs to get rid of Pulse Audio hooks in applications. Its bad. Its really bad.

Audio applications should use ALSA but not lock the card. Games should use SDL. Everyone else should follow suit.

If an application is locking a card its the drivers fault. Fix the driver, fix the over runs, and ditch Pulse Audio!

KISS (3, Insightful)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396791)

I hate PA. It's a complex mess and half the time it just doesn't want to work right. There is no way your average user could deal with it. Most of the time I have trouble with it not allowing multiple users to have audio at the same time seemingly due to some twisted sense of how security should work. ALSA is better than PA but still doesn't work a lot of the time.

It sounds like OSS is getting it's act together and just needs someone to hire the lead developer(s) and port all cards missing OSS support over. That sounds like a worthy goal for those selling distros or soundcards. If it works well and is easy for developers then it'll work well for end users. That is what matters. Sound has been my #1 embarrassment when pushing Linux. It has never worked well and it's time we get it fixed.

Re:KISS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397021)

It's quite easy, the first thing I do after installing Linux (Ubuntu in my case) is:

apt-get purge pulseaudio

and then audio works fine. I can watch flash movies, talk on Skype, and even listen to mp3s all at once.

Re:Pulse Audio: the best gift the Linux world gave (4, Informative)

Ed Avis (5917) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397029)

The developer of PulseAudio explains some of the rationale in this interview [blogspot.com] .

Re:Pulse Audio: the best gift the Linux world gave (1)

somenickname (1270442) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397095)

When I've installed Ubuntu on other peoples the machines the first thing I do is remove PulseAudio. It offers no benefit for the average user and is the source of many headaches. Imagine being a new user and, when when discovering you can't do anything sound related, have to dive into a nasty tome of a HOWTO like this: http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=789578 [ubuntuforums.org] . You'd be looking for your Windows install disk before you even started scrolling down.

ALSA was a mistake (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396607)

ALSA was a big mistake, from the same mold as the Netscape "Let's throw everything away and start again!" that Jamie Zawinski complained about all those years ago. For some reason the ALSA developers decided that OSS sucked but rather than fix the few issues that existed, they threw it all away and created this huge monster called ALSA. There are some nice ideas in there, such as generic PCM buffer management, but there is no reason those features could not have been added to the existing OSS implementation. OSSv4 proves that it was possible. Instead Linux has plumped for a system that is too complex, poorly supported, poorly documented and disliked by developers. If instead the effort had been applied to fixing OSS, sound on Linux would now be further ahead than it is now. Now that OSSv4 is fully GPL I'd love to see it back in the mainline tree, at least to give users better choice, but sadly I suspect there are some major egos and political posturing that will stop that happening.

Re:ALSA was a mistake (1)

sweetnavelorange (1192975) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396975)

ALSA was a big mistake, from the same mold as the Netscape "Let's throw everything away and start again!" that Jamie Zawinski complained about all those years ago

I agree with your sentiment, but this is a tricky example - Netscape's 'mistake' gave us Firefox after all.

Re:ALSA was a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397007)

Yes, but I'd refer you back to Jamie Zawinski on why the ends did not justify the means: we would have arrived at Gecko if the existing codebase has not been chucked away, and possibly we'd have got there quicker.

Re:ALSA was a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397069)

OSS sucked because it was payware. If you bought a new soundcard, you had to pay to expect it to work properly. If you wanted all the features to work on your card, you had to pay to get them all. If you wanted mixer support, you had to pay for it. Oh, yeah, sure, you could hack up the kernel OSS as much as you liked. Big deal. The payware version was already done and you knew your changes would get wiped out once they decided they made enough money from the commercial ones to "give back" to linux.

ALSA's goal was to give you everything the payware version of OSS gave you, but for capital-F Free the moment the features were publicly available. It did that well.

OSS went into obscurity for linux after ALSA kicked their collective asses. I'm willing to bet 4front would offer it all for free, now, considering what they got by not doing that.

Re:ALSA was a mistake (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397219)

OSS sucked because it was payware.

Eh? There was always an OSSv2/v3 implementation in the kernel up until ALSA replaced it. The kernel implementation was totally separate from the 4front implementation. If you didn't want or need the extra stuff 4front gave you, you didn't have to use it.

ALSA's goal was to give you everything the payware version of OSS gave you

They couldn't simply have improved the in-kernel OSS instead because...?

Audio sounds better on Windows (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396629)

The audio quality is disappointing on Linux. I don't know if it's the decoding or the playback, but audio sounds much better on Windows.

Still have problems (1)

bogaboga (793279) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396653)

Until developers can write apps and be sure that they will behave as he expects when it comes to sound across the vast majority of distros, I am afraid that we in the Linux world will still be playing catch up when it comes to multimedia. Sadly, the article did not show that things are improving in any way!

So much for the so called "freedom of choice"...but what's wrong with choosing a technology and throwing all development efforts behind it?

Those who crave the freedom to do whatever they want can still do precisely that since Linux and most software that makes a distro is open source.

The mere fact that there are folks that "spread FUD" is indicative of a degree of problems when it comes to Linux and sound.

Re:Still have problems (1)

MikeFM (12491) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396921)

Choice is good. We should always have competition. But it's the kernel maintainers and distro maintainers to package those choices into something end users and developers can work with. It's ridiculous that sound doesn't work well in Linux at this point in time. There should be a single stable API and everything else should be easily plugged in and out as needed with a known good implementation also provided as the default. Don't allow programs to break sound for each other and make sure everyone can input and output. The specifics can change over time so long as those points are maintained behind a stable API.

I can choose Coke, Pepsi, Sprite, or Dr. Pepper and count on them all coming in containers that work to the same specifications. It'd be ridiculous if each choice forced us to figure out a new way to access and consume the product or if you couldn't use the same cup, straw, and ice with any of them.

Linux sound may seem complex but... (-1, Troll)

billsf (34378) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396671)

Any MSWindows sound is an "audiophile torture device". In a bar after a business meeting, we were constantly telling the bartender to "Turn it down". It is almost certain he recognized us as being part of the music business and simply wanted us to hear his music. MS Windows -- No thanks.

ALSA isn't that bad and I thought OSS was open-source, at least it is to me. To emulate ALSA just requires a few symlinks in /dev. In BSD if, say, pulse fails, no problem: There is another system to take over. I take my music very seriously and own a pair of Genelec 1030's as my "PC sound system" to prove it. A EUR 5,-- C-Media USB sound chip in a circuit of my own design blows away any commercial sound card. Gamers may like "Realtek" but they are simply good at what they are designed to do: Make noises!

Linux sound is OK, but I stick to BSD because it offers the best "multimedia" performance available today. Of course I use a hand-compiled MPlayer for the video stuff. Doesn't everybody use libmad.so for mpeg sound? Madplayer is a simple demo for the library and nothing beats it for mp3. Today FLAC is the smart choice and you can encode with virtually just the libs. I like flac123, but pulse sure doesn't. ;) I've ported flac123 to Linux and it works fine.

BillSF
           

Re:Linux sound may seem complex but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28396981)

Great post. Can you please help me get my PreSonus FireBox working under freebsd?

Thanks.

The fundamental problem (5, Insightful)

parlancex (1322105) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396703)

The real problem here was created when developers started trying to solve the mixing issue by writing software libraries instead of a specification.

Instead of attempting to write a one size fits all sound library that would interface directly with the sound hardware and provide the direct interface for applications who wish to play sound, what they should have been done was drafting a specification for an API that contains only the most basic audio features (creation of primary / secondary audio buffers, enumerating supported device buffer formats, etc.). The driver provides the implementation for the specification. If the device driver indicates the device is capable of hardware mixing, it should use hardware mixing internally, if it doesn't, it uses software mixing internally, if supports the use of hardware buffers for secondary buffers it can do so, but this all will take place within within the driver specific implementation of the standard specification. This should have been paired with a robust generic open source driver that (hopefully) supported as many generic audio devices as possible. Using the interface exposed by the spec directly might seem a little low level, but additional software libraries could be built on top of that interface for use by applications. The important advantage if they had gone down THIS road is that the single conduit, the arbiter of all things audio in the system would've been the device driver for the sound hardware, which would reside neatly in the kernel.

Re:The fundamental problem (-1, Offtopic)

willderW (1580893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396913)

Seit einigen Jahren wird das GeschÃft mit dem illegalen Welpenhandel unaufhÃrlich grÃsser, und damit steigt natürlich auch das Tierleid. Der Grund warum das GeschÃft so gut lÃuft, ist vor allem mangelnde AufklÃrung, unwissende HundekÃufer, und Menschen die aus Mitleid kaufen. Welches Leid sie damit unterstützen wissen beim Kauf aber die wenigsten. Viele wollen Geld sparen und glauben einen Rassehund für sehr wenig Geld kaufen zu kÃnnen. Andere sind schlicht nicht informiert wie ein seriÃser Züchter aussieht oder welchen Preis ein Rassehund normalerweise hat. Angeboten werden hauptsÃchlich kleine Modehunde wie Chihuahuas oder FranzÃsische Bulldoggen aber auch Retriever und so ziemlich jede andere Rasse. Die meisten kommen aus LÃndern in Osteuropa und haben schon sehr lange Fahrten in winzigen Boxen hinter sich, viele Hunde sind so geschwÃcht das sie schon die Fahrt nicht überstehen. Angeboten werden sie neben dem Internet auch auf WochenmÃrkten oder direkt aus dem Auto heraus auf AutobahnrastplÃtzen. Die Welpen sind oft schwer krank, viele von ihnen erreichen trotz tierÃrztlicher Versorgung nicht mal das 1. Lebensjahr. Sie sind weder geimpft noch in irgendeiner Weise gesundheitlich untersucht worden. Die Elterntiere werden einfach wild und ohne Verstand miteinander verpaart und nicht auf Krankheiten untersucht. Ungeimpfte Welpen die nach Deutschland oder Ã-sterreich gebracht werden schleppen immer hÃufiger gefÃhrliche Krankheiten wie Parvovirose ein. Die Welpen wachsen unter sehr reizarmen und schlechten Bedingungen auf, eine gute Sozialisation ist so nicht mÃglich. So lange es Menschen gibt die dort einen Welpen kaufen, sei es auch aus Mitleid, so lange werden diese HÃndler ihre Hunde anbieten. Neben den HÃndlern und Vermehrern gibt es aber auch noch Betrüger vor denen man sich in acht nehmen sollte. Auch wenn der Betrug in den meisten FÃllen mehr als offensichtlich ist, fallen immer noch tÃglich genügend Leute auf diese Masche hinein. Vor allem in Online TiermÃrkten bieten dubiose HÃndler aus Kamerun billige Welpen an, die direkt bis vor die Haustür geliefert werden sollen. SpÃtestens jetzt sollten die Alarmglocken lÃuten! Denn schon allein der Transport dieser Welpen per Schiff und Flugzeug würde den Kaufpreis WEIT übersteigen. Der Welpe soll nach Deutschland transportiert werden, Abholung am Flughafen manchmal wird auch angeboten den Welpen bis vor die Tür zu bringen. Das Geld für den Welpen muss man im Voraus bezahlen, das Geld ist natürlich weg und einen Welpen gibt es auch nicht. Was macht einen guten Züchter aus? Ein seriÃser Züchter: - züchtet nur eine Rasse, allerhÃchstens zwei - hat nur wenige Zuchttiere (1-2 Hündinnen) - kann Sie ausreichend über die Eigenschaften und Besonderheiten âzseinerâoe Rasse informieren und steht ihnen auch nach dem Kauf mit Rat und Tat zur Seite http://www.zoopet.de/ [zoopet.de] - versucht nicht Ihnen einen Welpen âzaufzuschwatzenâoe - erkundigt sich nach dem zukünftigen LebensumstÃnden des Welpen (Platz, Zeit usw.) - die Hündin wirft hÃchstens 1 mal im Jahr, es wird ihr genug Zeit gelassen sich zu erholen - die Zuchthündin wurde nicht vor der zweiten LÃufigkeit gedeckt und ist nicht Ãlter als 8 Jahre - Elterntiere wurden auf rassetypische Krankheiten untersucht und sind vollkommen gesund - die Welpen werden nicht vor der 8. Woche abgegeben - man kann die Mutterhündin mit ihren Welpen und andere beim Züchter lebende Hunde, sowie das Lebensumfeld der Hunde betrachten (manchmal hat man auch die MÃglichkeit den Vater der Welpen kennen zu lernen, wenn nicht sollte man wenigstens Fotos zu sehen bekommen) - Die Wurfkiste/das Welpenzimmer ist sauber - Die Welpen sind aufgeschlossen und neugierig - Besuche sind erwünscht (meist erst ab der 3. Woche) - Die Welpen werden bestens geprÃgt und sozialisiert (verschiedenstes Spielzeug, kennenlernen verschiedenster GerÃusche, GegenstÃnde, Menschen, Tiere usw.) - Die Welpen und die Zuchttiere sollten einen gesunden Eindruck machen - Die Welpen werden alle geimpft, mehrfach entwurmt und haben ein Gesundheitszeugnis - Welpen sind entweder durch einen Chip oder einer TÃtowierung gekennzeichnet -> Quelle: www.hundeseite.de

Re:The fundamental problem (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397079)

What you describe is more-or-less what the Open Sound System is. Mostly less from what I seen, but like a lot of *nix based things, only a few minor tweaks should modernize it to what you describe.

Sadly, Linux switched over to ALSA, a complex beast that while improving audio on Linux initianlly (from the user's view, well mine as a user), it ended up doing little to improve the user-space situation: audio servers are still common and implement most of ALSA's most importent features (such as mixing for cheap hardware). In the end, ALSA is simply a complex mess thats a pain to configure to make it work better, and a pain to program for, and your programs will still only use ALSA thru a sound server, or at the very least a sound API wrapper library.

It would have been better to simply improve OSS, add the damn software mixing in it (that will fix most problems user's had with it), and leave the rest to userspace tools. Nice, clean, simple.

Re:The fundamental problem (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28397221)

I do not understand how Alsa differs from the in-kernel specification you are proposing. It exposes every possible hardware feature via a well-defined common api.
Moreover, I don’t think many programmers get excited about managing audio buffers and performing sample rate and format conversion, so they would still need a userspace library to do at least those jobs (the kernel can’t even do floating point!). So here comes PulseAudio, which gives the developers a far greater freedom than any kernel-based implementation could ever do. How would you deal in-kernel with features like sound over bluetooth, user-provided codecs, sound over the network, or sound redirection for whatever reason you could ever think of?

Finger on the pulse (1)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396785)

I actually like the concept of PulseAudio. For the first time different applications that use the sound system can have their output levels adjusted individually, and most importantly for anyone new to Linux - easily. So there are no more surprises between a quiet application and a loud one.

As for stability, PulseAudio has been pretty rock solid, it hasn't crashed, but on boot VERY occasionally it decides to re-route all the outputs from the speakers to the USB headset, then you have to spend an age finding all the applications that play audio and set them back to the sound card.

The one major irritation is not a fault of PulseAudio as such, but with Skype. Being 32bit you have to have some 32bit parts of PulseAudio installed to hear the sounds of events like someone calling you. I un-installed the 32bit PulseAudio stuff, and can no longer hear these Skype events. So it's more of a critique on Skype totally ignoring Linux and 64bit (2 years and counting from the last Skype update for Linux).

So really, for me PulseAudio is very good, so long as the applications are compiled to use the 64bit sound system, and not just the 32bit like Skype is. For me, 32bit who cares!

Fud? Er, no... (3, Informative)

mad.frog (525085) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396793)

Both the Adobe article and the "Sorry State Of Sound" article date from May 2007. The new article reinforces that the state *was* sorry then.

Oss 4 in fedora? (1)

TheSunborn (68004) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396851)

So does anyone know how to get oss working in Fedora 11?

I am currently stuck with alsa, and after removing pulse audio, anything is more or less working. And xmms can even do it's own software mixing, but I would like to try oss4 so other applications also could do mixing. Does anyone know if there are ossV4 packages for fedora11 out there?

ps: I hate the name oss, it always make me think of "open source software" not an audio stack.

Re:Oss 4 in fedora? (1)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397047)

I don't know, but I would just say congratulations on getting audio to work at all on fedora. I'm still on Fedora 10, but whilst sound used to work perfectly in Fedora Core 5 it seemed to just stop working sometime around fedora 9 and hasn't worked properly since.

Interestingly the only solutions to my audio problems I read from people online were hacks like "change the sound up and down in alsa and it might start to work...". It's hardly a ringing endorsement of the audio on Linux. The first priority should be to make audio work on all systems that physically have the capacity for it before worrying about the more esoteric configuration options.

kernel is fine, distros have problems (2, Insightful)

bcrowell (177657) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396881)

TFA says that the way sound is implemented in the kernel is basically okay, but there are problems with how the kernel's facilities are used at higher levels by applications, and with the way the whole thing is integrated by distros. I think he's basically correct.

As an example of what's not broke about the kernel, and doesn't need to be fixed, it's a good thing that we still have support for OSS. OSS allows you to do sound I/O in exactly the way you would expect to do sound I/O based on the fundamental design principles of unix. You just do open(), ioctl(), read() or write() on devices like /dev/dsp. If you couldn't do that, it would be a failure to do the obvious, straightforward stuff to handle sound in the Unix Way.

As an example of what is broken at higher levels: I run Ubuntu Jaunty. Sound works fine every time I boot the computer, and I get the bongo sound as the login screen comes up. Then when I log in, master playback is muted, and the volume is down at 1/31. Also, the way the Gnome icon shows me that sound is muted (a tiny red box with a white x in it) is the same as the way the network icon would show me that I'd disconnected my ethernet cable or something; in other words, it makes it look like it's not just muted, but actually broken. Here's [ubuntuforums.org] my best attempt to characterize the bug: Here's [launchpad.net] a bug on launchpad that may or may not be the same thing:

A sure road to success ..... (5, Insightful)

demachina (71715) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396895)

... when application developers or users express concern about a problem in your OS is to attack them, call them liars and FUD rakers, accuse them of being stooges for Microsoft or whatever.

I'm pretty sure the engineer who develops the Flash Linux player is probably on your side, and he was expressing a legitimate concern about a problem with Linux. As best I remember Adobe hired him out of the open source, Linux world. It would probably be more productive to listen to his concerns, and see if maybe, just maybe, there is a problem with audio on Linux. Having tried to write simple audio apps myself using OSS and ALSA I can assure you they have issues, OSS having no mixer at all was a nightmare to make play with more than one audio stream or more than one app at a time, that's why ESD, arts and pulse were created to hide these mixer deficiencies.

ALSA is a ridiculously overdone, convoluted audio API which makes it very painful for audio driver writers and application developers alike. It simply has too many knobs that can be tweaked and turned most of which never get implemented properly by driver writers and can't be trusted.

The simple fact that there must be a dozen different audio API's on Linux many of which exist solely to hide applications and users from the deficiencies in OSS and ALSA tells you something right there.

Rather than attacking this guy maybe you should have the empathy for the guy, he has to deploy an application that is used by probably millions of Linux users, most of whom are ticked off its not open source in the first place and then when it doesn't work perfectly they scream bloody murder. He has to try to make audio work in the face of the fact there are countless barely working or at least buggy ALSA drivers in the world, and there must be about a HUNDRED different ways to configure audio when you count OSS, ALSA, gstreamer, pulse, esd, arts, jack, OpenAL, and a MILLION different configurations when you count all the obscure options you can or in some cases HAVE to set on audio drivers.

As an end user I've suffered through painful, hard to fix audio bugs, in just about every PC I've owned over the last ten years due to audio driver bugs. Sure I could sift through "supported" hardware lists and try to find that rare new PC or laptop where everything is guaranteed to work on Linux, but I would actually prefer to just buy the hardware I want at the price I want. Of course in all fairness to the Linux developer community it is a total bitch to get working drivers on all the PC hardware being put out especially when the vast majority of hardware developers either just don't support Linux, support Linux badly, or actively obstruct Linux support.

You all seriously need to realize that if you want broader acceptance of your wonderful operating system:

A. You need applications and application developers to develop for your system, and not attack them if they point out problems deploying apps on your system. In a perfect world every app would be open source, but there may be some apps which aren't Linux would be better off having as closed source than not having at all.

B. it will have to actually work for ordinary people who aren't going to spend days/weeks/years fiddling with things to try to make it work right.

One of the beauties of the Mac is the hardware is tightly controlled. You may view that as confining and depriving you of your freedom, but it also helps insure the damn thing works out of the box, and most of the applications on it work pretty damn well. After years of fighting nagging bugs on Linux I decided it was in my own best interest to just switch to a Mac for my desktop system and I use my Linux box solely to develop code on. Linux on the desktop is a lot better than it was but unfortunately its just not a very good desktop experience by comparison.

Unless there is a major attitude adjustment in the Linux community that is unlikely to change. Either:

A. Be content that Linux is a niche OS for hardcore fans and stop pretending its ever going to compete with Mac and Windows in the main stream

B. Change.... if you want to compete in the main stream. Step one, is to realize you will in fact have to stop forking everything all over the place, and develop some standards so there is a consistent experience for end users and application developers alike, and things just work. Step two, stop attacking the people you need to achieve mainstream acceptance like this guy at Adobe.

OSS4 (2)

dburkland (1526971) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396915)

needs to be integrated into the Linux core and ALSA/PulseAudio need to die kthx

Developer FAIL (5, Insightful)

coaxial (28297) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396989)

Wait. Claiming audio sucks on Linux is FUD because there's not one, not two, but three mutually incompatible and redundant APIs? How the hell is this not a clusterfuck?

Oh I'm sure there's some reason why someone prefers one to the other, but seriously. You're sending bits to a soundcard. That's it. Just make one API and be done with it. Got a beef with the API? Enhance it, don't just throw it away?

My god, audio was one of the reasons why I ditched Linux for a mac four years ago after running it as my primary OS for ten years prior. Frankly I got tired of having sound work in some applications, but not others. I got tired of guessing which mixer would adjust the sound, which mixer wouldn't. I got tired of seeing "No ALSA cards detected" in my startup, but someone how having `alsamixer` be the one mixer that worked most consistently.

This is a mess made by the developer community and developer community has so far failed to show that it is capable of solving it. If only there were a Benevolent Dictator or something...

Basic audio fine, multi-channel out?... (1)

Cerberus7 (66071) | more than 5 years ago | (#28396991)

I've never had trouble getting stereo output on a Linux box. At least, not in the last few years. 5.1 through a digital out, however... that's been a nightmare for me. I haven't tried the latest distributions, but Ubuntu just plain wouldn't do it through the digital out jack. Fedora will, but only outputs 2 channel. EVERYTHING I've tried hasn't worked, and no config file changes have changed my results. I'm going to try the latest Fedora and Ubuntu soon, so we'll see if it's gotten any better.

Isn't he saying it's still in a sorry state? (1)

Timmmm (636430) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397039)

From reading the (very interesting) article, it sounds like he's still saying it is in a sorry state. Summary for those lazy people.

OSS3 was a bit crap and removed from the kernel in favour of ALSA
ALSA is also a bit crap because it does mixing in a stupid place, and sometimes not at all. Also it has an unnecessarily complicated API.
OSS4 was written, which is much better than ALSA - simpler API, lower latency, better mixing - but isn't included in the mainline kernel.
PulseAudio is a horrible horrible ugly evil stupid idiotic hack. Did they never use Arts?!?

So as it stands we have ALSA which is sub-par, being driven by PulseAudio which seems to do its best to cock things up.

PulseAudio (4, Insightful)

harry666t (1062422) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397135)

The main reason why PulseAudio isn't a good idea:

It is just the best possible counterexample of "Just Works(tm)". In other terms: each time I try it, it just "Doesn't Work(tm)". Without it, sound works more often than not; I don't care why or how as long as it does work. Simple observation: "apt-get install pulseaudio" breaks audio, "dpkg --purge pulseaudio" repairs audio.

Hm. Maybe that's how Linux audio is supposed to be brought to a (relatively) sane state: by breaking it so terribly that rolling everything back to the previous state would almost look like a step forward.

Alsa to OSS (2, Interesting)

AaronW (33736) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397159)

Over the years I had a lot of prolbems with ALSA, the biggest being the lack of sound mixing with the sound card on my motherboard. To get around it, I went out and bought a different sound card that supported hardware mixing. I still had problems where ALSA would just break periodically and require restarting it. Then at one point it just plain broke and nothing would fix it.

I had enough and installed OSS. What a difference. Latency is better and it just works. There is no excuse to not providing consistent audio mixing. I should have switched to OSS in the beginning rather than buy an expensive sound card because ALSA couldn't do software mixing.

A sound API should provide sufficient abstraction so that basic operations do not depend on the underlying hardware. Mixing, sample rate conversion (when needed) and per-application volume settings fall under basic operation as far as I'm concerned.

multiple sound cards and braindead applications (2, Interesting)

caitriona81 (1032126) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397167)

My chief complaint, both on Windows and Linux is that probably 99% of applications have no concept of anything other than the default sound card, making multiple cards useless for all but a few niche applications. Apps that use sound need to provide a way to specify which device is used in case the user wants to use other than the default, period. None of the solutions for audio so far have really done anything to make this better (or they make it worse in the process) - granted, it's mostly an application issue, but control of device selection in the mixer as well would help.

Graphs (1)

mindstormpt (728974) | more than 5 years ago | (#28397217)

I'm definitely not an authority on either Linux or Windows audio, but I see something wrong with this statement:

Graphs like these are very misleading. OpenAL, SDL, libao, GStreamer, NAS, Allegro, and more all exist on Windows too. I don't see anyone complaining there.

http://blogs.adobe.com/penguin.swf/linuxaudio.png [adobe.com]
http://4.bp.blogspot.com/_vLES3KKBdaM/Sjsptq1kkCI/AAAAAAAAAGU/yITp1qKuHOU/s1600-h/windowsaudio.png [blogspot.com]

Looking at both graphs, there's a striking difference: I don't see any loops in the Windows one (though, not being complete, there could be some). I don't see any major problems with library diversity, but the fact that there is no apparent hierarchy does confuse me.

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