Fedora 8 to introduce new PulseAudio audio server

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There can be no hiding it - audio frameworks on Linux are far from perfect. To start with, we have several different sound servers - including OSS and ALSA, which complicates things for application developers, but also, these frameworks aren't nearly as advanced in terms of feature sets as the sound systems in other operating systems like Core Audio in Mac OS X and Windows Vista's sound architecture.

PulseAudio is a project designed to change that. Actually, it's not Linux or even POSIX specific, but it is a much more advanced system which is designed to bring better stability, compatibility and features to Linux audio.

The Fedora Project have an interview up with Lennart Poettering, one of the developers on PulseAudio. The news is that Fedora 8 will be one of the first Linux distributions to ship with the new audio framework (and if it turns out to be successful, many other distros could follow suit).

I won't paste the whole interview here, but I do want to raise some points that I thought were interesting in it and that arose from it:

  • As well as modernising the Linux sound architecture, PulseAudio is designed to be a "Compiz for sound". This is a novel and interesting concept. While all major operating systems now have some form of visual eye candy, whether it's Vista's Aero interface or Compiz in Linux, there hasn't really been any ideas around enhancing the sound experience in a similar way. Poettering terms it 'ear candy' (although for some reason I don't like the sound of that).
  • Lots of backwards compatibility is built into it. That's sort of inevitable, as no new sound system for Linux would ever be adopted if it didn't work with any existing code. It does seem a shame however, that we have to reinvent the wheel to a certain extent and it's quite difficult to drop everything.
  • A negative point - it is yet another framework. Things are complicated enough with having multiple sound systems and some applications that work with one and some that work with another. Again, it's inevitable to a certain extent, but it does make things yet more complicated.

Overall though, I think this does sound like a very neat idea and it's something I will personally be watching keenly when Fedora 8 is released next month and as it develops.

Avatar for peter Peter Upfold - http://peter.upfold.org.uk/

Peter Upfold is a technology enthusiast from the UK. Peter’s interest in Linux stems back to 2003, when curiosity got the better of him and he began using SUSE 9.0. Now he runs Linux Mint 9 on the desktop, runs a CentOS-based web server from home for his personal website and dabbles in all sorts of technology things across the Windows, Mac and open source worlds.

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Discussion: Fedora 8 to introduce new PulseAudio audio server

  1. Leslie Satenstein (guest)

    # Posted on 01 November 2007 at 05:16 PM

    Change seems difficult to accept. But with Pulse Audio, we become one level away from the hardware, and isolated from multiple changes if one bit of hardware is introduced.

    Instead of multiple applications, each trying in their own way to manage audio, or adapt to a hardware change, we will have a common front end.

    That front end will be be to audio as the open/read/write/close is to sequential file processing.

  2. # Posted on 06 January 2008 at 01:01 PM

    [...] PulseAudio already in Fedora and soon to be in Ubuntu 8.04, it is sure to get even more popularity. But what is so special about [...]

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