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Re: PulseAudio

On 18-07-13 06:23, John Paul Adrian Glaubitz wrote:
> On 07/18/2013 01:00 AM, Wouter Verhelst wrote:
>> They're both APIs that applications can use to produce audio. What do
>> you mean, it doesn't make sense?
>> Of course they're not the same thing; I get that. That's not what I'm
>> saying. But as far as "producing audio" is concerned, they can both do
>> that.
> PulseAudio is not a stand-alone thing, it doesn't work without an
> actual abstraction layer for the sound hardware like ALSA.
> When you compare PA, you should compare it with artsd, esd, dmix
> or JACK, but not the low-level layer below.

No, you compare it against "the alternative", whatever that is. To me,
"the alternative" is bare alsa. And in my opinion, PulseAudio is not an

>>>> PulseAudio piles another layer of possible failures on top of a kernel
>>>> driver, and hides most of the audio mixer for no particularly good
>>>> reason other than "it might confuse the poor user". It just doesn't
>>>> make
>>>> any sense to me.
>>> Some sound cards expose two dozens or more level adjustments which most
>>> people don't even understand.
>> I've never seen a setup where there wasn't a "master" mixer.
> Which often doesn't help if some other adjustment has been turned off
> or set to a very low level.

If that is the case, usually it's fairly easy to spot.

>>> I don't think it's a bad idea in general
>>> to clean that up and make the whole interface more consistent and
>>> easier to understand.
>> Not contesting that. It's just that every time pulseaudio got pulled
>> onto my system, my audio stopped doing what it was supposed to. That's
>> not what I would expect from something that's supposed to make things
>> "easier to understand".
> Could you please stop coming up with anecdotes and actually describe
> some real situations where PulseAudio messed up due to a bug?

That would require me to investigate something I don't like, when a
working solution is simply "apt-get remove pulseaudio"

For clarity, since I have a feeling you may be misunderstanding me: I'm
not saying we should ditch PulseAudio, and I'm not saying we should
change our defaults. However, I personally think PulseAudio is an
annoying piece of software that does more harm than it does good, and
I'd hate it if we were to end up with a system where removing PulseAudio
is no longer possible.

>>> However, if you have more than one sound device, PulseAudio is a
>>> blessing. For example, my video card has an HDMI output. When
>>> I hook up my PC to my television via HDMI, I want the sound from
>>> VLC to go through HDMI rather than through my sound card. It's
>>> a matter of opening a preferences pane, change the output device
>>> to HDMI and I am done.
>> That's something you can do with plain alsa, too.
> I have no doubt that you can do it in ALSA as well. The question is,
> however, whether it involves a 20-hour heart surgery as opposed to
> just opening a panel with PA and changing the default output for
> a specific application.

Oh come on, don't be ridiculous. It's really not that hard.

>>> How do I do that with just plain Alsa without using a text editor?
>> In VLC:
>> ctrl-p, go to the audio tab, and select the correct device in the
>> "output" frame.
>> That's not VLC-specific, FWIW; most applications that can do alsa output
>> have a way to select the output device. There are exceptions, of course,
>> but those applications are either immature or buggy.
> Which means there is no canonical way to do it, and, like you said not
> every application supports such an option.

I also called those exceptions "either immature or buggy". They're far
and few between.

> Do I really elaborate why a central control panel to configure that is
> the superior solution instead of having to figure out for each and
> every application how to do it?

Again, there's no reason why such a control panel can't be a simple
frontend to an asoundrc file.

>> Even so, there's no reason why there can't be a tool to edit an asoundrc
>> file... but you don't really need that, in my experience, since most
>> applications allow you to choose the correct output device.
> Again, *most* is not all and no, I don't want my mother to open up
> a text editor and having to write some obscure text lines in order
> for her to get the audio on her television after she connected it
> to her television.

She doesn't have to.

> Do you know how hard that is to explain something
> on the phone to someone who is not a computer aficionado?

I used to work on an ISP helpdesk when I was in my last year of college...

>>> What do I do when I want my Skype input going through the USB
>>> webcam's microphone and the audio of Skype through my bluetooth
>>> headset instead of my primary sound card?
>> You select the correct input and output devices in skype...
> Ha! I am pretty sure you haven't used Skype and ALSA extensively
> in the past.

One of my customers used skype pretty extensively for communication with
their other site across the ocean, so, actually, I have.

> You just don't select the proper output and input devices in
> Skype. You actually have to go to ALSA mixer and tell ALSA
> that you actually want to *record* from the microphone
> connected to the front panel or the back panel. Otherwise the
> signal is just passed through the sound card meaning you can hear
> your voice but Skype does not record it.

"buggy or immature"

Anyway, EOT for me.

This end should point toward the ground if you want to go to space.

If it starts pointing toward space you are having a bad problem and you
will not go to space today.

  -- http://xkcd.com/1133/

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