pulseaudio == disaster ??

David A. De Graaf dad at datix.us
Tue Nov 13 19:56:25 UTC 2007

Is the new sound system in F8 - pulseaudio - as big a disaster as it
seems to me?

1 - Apparently pulseaudio is a daemon that must be running all the
time, just to produce the simplest sound.

2 - Sounds work only while running gnome, because only gnome
knows how to start the daemon.  I don't use gnome; I use XFCE4.
Why would starting this sound daemon be assigned to a window manager,
of all things?
What perverted software architect makes using the sound system
dependent on a window manager - any window manager?

3 - There are no man pages.  There are 15 packages named "*pulse*" -
and not a single man page.

4 - I have a simple notion of what I need the sound system to do:
At system startup, before login, I want to run
	/usr/bin/aplay -q /usr/share/sounds/startup3.wav
If I cannot do something this basic, what do I care about all the
vaunted "ear candy"?

5 - The http://www.pulseaudio.org/ web page is a paean to the wonders of
this new system, but has precious little instruction on how to
actually make it work.  The topic "Command Line Interface" seems to
address this issue, listing many commands that can be used in
configuration scripts.  At the end is an example:

Example Configuration Script

Mark the following script as executable (chmod +x) and run it for a
sensible PulseAudio configuration.

    #!/usr/bin/pulseaudio -nF

    # Create autoload entries for the device drivers
    add-autoload-sink output module-alsa-sink device=plughw:0,0 rate=48000 sink_name=output
    add-autoload-sink output2 module-oss device=/dev/dsp1 record=0 sink_name=output2
    add-autoload-sink combined module-combine master=output slaves=output2 sink_name=combined

	< remaining commands snipped >

Clearly, this instruction is not to be taken literally;  the script
contains commands that do not exist in Linux.

Rather, I assume the script is meant to replace /etc/pulse/default.pa,
which is purportedly used to configure a starting pulseaudio daemon,
so I tried that, and ran
    pulseaudio --system --log-target=syslog
expecting to have the daemon initialized and to hear 'startup3.wav'.

Instead, /var/log/messages receives a list of error messages, eg

  Nov 13 13:32:18 datbird pulseaudio[2693]: module-alsa-sink.c: Error
    opening PCM device plughw:0,0: No such device
  Nov 13 13:32:18 datbird pulseaudio[2693]: module.c: Failed to load
    module "module-alsa-sink" (argument: "device=plughw:0,0 rate=48000
    sink_name=output"): initialization failed.
  Nov 13 13:32:18 datbird pulseaudio[2693]: module-combine.c: Invalid
    master sink 'output'
  Nov 13 13:32:18 datbird pulseaudio[2693]: module.c: Failed to load
    module "module-combine" (argument: "master=output slaves=output2
    sink_name=combined"): initialization failed.

Clearly. I'm missing some important info.
What is a "PCM device plughw:0,0", and why don't I have one???
How is one supposed to figure this thing out?
Does anyone know how to enable the sound system outside of a window

Sorry, but I think pulseaudio isn't ready for prime time, yet.

	David A. De Graaf    DATIX, Inc.    Hendersonville, NC
	dad at datix.us         www.datix.us

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