Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 8th Oct 2009 19:09 UTC, submitted by MadMAtt
Linux Lennart Poettering, creator of open source sound server PulseAudio, was recently interviewed at this year's Linux Plumbers Conference. In this Q&A he details the latest PulseAudio developments and addresses some of PA's critics. Thanks to PulseAudio, the Linux audio experience is becoming more context-aware. For example, if a video is running in one application the system should now automatically reduce the volume of everything else and increase it when the video is finished.
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When JACK is running, non-JACK applications can't play sound at all unless you use the jack alsa-plugin and that has the same (or worse) kind of backwards compatibility problems that has given PulseAudio its bad reputation. Even dmix has these problems, with the difference that it transparently falls back to direct hardware access so you don't realize it until you try to make another application play sound.

You can get pretty low latency with PA with proper configuration and a properly configured kernel. It will however use much more CPU time and drain your laptop's battery faster. That's the price to pay for superlow latency. It happens with JACK also. PA tries hard not to drain your battery.

Ubuntu shouldn't ship with PA as its sound system without adjusting the system, applications and PA itself to work properly with it.

No, PA is not perfect. There are plenty of optimizations left to do, lots of features left to implement (particularly in the auto-configuration department) and many bugs to fix. Nobody is denying that.

I somewhat get the feeling that the same persons who are loud opponents against PulseAudio also were (or still are) against things like XGL/Compiz ("Playing videos worked much better with plain xvideo!", "Compositing sucks! It makes my Doom III drop frames!", "Window shadows don't make my Firefox render any faster! Useless!"). Now, a few years later, about all of the early issues have been fixed and the Linux desktop has become a LOT more modern (and nicer to use) because of it. I defended Compiz back then and I defend PulseAudio now, but I DO recognize that it has caused problems in certain areas and that it's partly unfinished.

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