Fedora-7 rant #3: Sound

Timothy Murphy tim at birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
Sat Jun 16 16:08:07 UTC 2007

Andy Green wrote:

>> When I try the CLI command "alsamixer" instead
>> I get 19 (yes, 19) controls,
>> none of them properly labelled.
>> Is there a simple introduction to Fedora sound somewhere?
> You're ranting about Alsa, not Fedora.  All the other modern distros use
> Alsa too.

That's no excuse.
I'm sure ALSA is technically far better than OSS,
but the user interface is unbelievably bad.
How can people put up with this?

> The core trick to recording stuff is to understand that the default pane
> of controls in Alsamixer and kmix is only to do with playback.  If in
> that pane you unmute Mic and turn it up, it will loop back the mic data
> from the mic channel to the output without recording anything.  The
> usual result of that is howling feedback.
> What you want is in the second pane of alsamixer, which you get to with
> a Tab key, this deals with the input sources.  You need to select a
> recording source by using the left/right arrow keys to navigate to it a
> space to enable it as an input source.  In kMix its the same deal with a
> second tab pane having these controls and a circle above each source you
> click on to select.
> Sometimes what the driver reports about the mixer controls doesn't
> reflect reality.  In these cases the wrong buttons and sliders do the
> wrong job.  Most of the time though it does work after some meddling on
> your part.

You fill me with hope,
but not with respect for ALSA.

If Fedora, or any other distribution, choose to use ALSA
(without any alternative, as far as I can see)
then Fedora or whoever is responsible for the ensuing mess.

Why should sound under Fedora be a hundred times more difficult
than setting up a DVD player, or a mobile phone?

If Fedora is to have the slightest chance of success in the real world
then it must ensure that simple things like sound and printing
just work "out of the box".

Timothy Murphy  
e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

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