[LAU] PulseAudio and Alsa

Stephen Doonan stephen.doonan at gmail.com
Sun Aug 31 15:57:31 EDT 2008

Andrea Del Signore wrote:
> Hi Stephen,
> as others have said PulseAudio and Jack are somewhat the same thing
> and they complements one to each other.
> They are all "sound server" like ESD and aRTS but with some 
> difference in the target audience:
> * PulseAudio is a desktop sound server with implements stream mixing,
>  network transparency, sample caching, and more
> * Jack is a pro audio sound server that can connect different 
> applications together with an emphasis on latency and sample 
> syncro...

I see. Thank you for the explanation. That might explain Lennart 
Poettering's remark at:

"...Gustavo brought up the issue that PA "hogs" the sound device. Sure 
we do. The idea is having everything go through PA, so that we can treat
everything the same. However, since there are some APIs that are
notoriously hard to virtualize (e.g. OSS with mmap) and some areas
where you don't want the extra context-switching PA adds (pro audio,
for now)..."

> The response from Lennart Poettering main PulseAudio developer (in
> this post he explains better than me the scope of PA): 
> http://0pointer.de/blog/projects/jeffrey-stedfast.html

Thank you for that link. It is very interesting reading and good 
information from the lead developer of PulseAudio.

To me, after reading some of this and other material, it seems that 
PulseAudio is a noble effort to bring a lot of good things to dealing 
with audio within a typical desktop computer. However, for those 
interested specifically in audio applications and associated programs 
such as jack, Ardour, etc., it may be better--for the present, 
anyway--to disable or circumvent PulseAudio and rely on the 
already-working-well combination of jack and alsa. Perhaps with further 
development PulseAudio will work well with, and not cause any or many 
issues with, the audio and audio/MIDI applications that we as 
linux-audio-users spend some considerable time with. :-)


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