[LAD] ALSA doumentation

Fred Gleason fredg at paravelsystems.com
Fri Nov 14 01:08:51 UTC 2008

On Thursday 13 November 2008 07:08:19 pm Fons Adriaensen wrote:
> Is there, after X years of ALSA, any documentation that
> explains the basic concepts and tells me how to do this ?
> If such a thing exists I can't find it.
> The Doxygen info on the ALSA site is completely useless
> for the purpose of learning to understand and use the
> control interface.

I feel your pain, Fons.  I myself have been looking for such a thing for 6+ 
years, wholly unsuccessfully.  I think that this single issue is the major 
reason for the continued survival and, indeed, thriving of the old OSS API.  
For all it's shortcomings, it does provide a reliable, relatively compact 
and, above all, well-documented path to getting sound into and out of a Linux 
box.  ALSA OTOH seems to me to be designed to be *anti*-compact, and when 
added to the dearth of usable documentation makes for an all-but-unusable 

> What these things actually mean, how they fit together
> and what is the big picture is AFAIK nowhere and never
> explained.

Yes, it has always struck me as odd how the ALSA Project trumpets 
it's 'Advanced' nature in the title, while providing no coherent explanation 
anywhere as to how or why it merits that title.  Even a page or two of 
*philosophy* -- the design goals, the guiding principles of the design -- 
would be worth more than the totality of all the useless recitations of the 
obvious in the Doxygen docs.


| Frederick F. Gleason, Jr. |               Chief Developer               |
|                           |               Paravel Systems               |
| ... But if we laugh with derision, we will never understand.  Human     |
| intellectual capacity has not altered for thousands of years so far as  |
| we can tell.  If intelligent people invested intense energy in issues   |
| that now seem foolish to us, then the failure lies in our understanding |
| of their world, not in their distorted perceptions.  Even the standard  |
| example of ancient nonsense -- the debate about angels on pinheads --   |
| makes sense once you realize that theologians were not discussing       |
| whether five or eighteen would fit, but whether a pin could house a     |
| finite or an infinite number.                                           |
|                      -- S. J. Gould, "Wide Hats and Narrow Minds"       |

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