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Old 16th December 2008, 05:20 PM
callejero Offline
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Join Date: Nov 2007
Age: 41
Posts: 22
PulseAudio vs ALSA

What is the difference between PulseAudio and ALSA? It seems to me that PulseAudio is meant to be used as a type of file sharing server where many people can access a music file and be able to play it simultaneously, is that a true statement? If so, would it be better to use ALSA on a laptop that is meant for personal use?

The question came about because I am having problems getting sound to work on my laptop with F10 installed. After doing some research, I am wondering if PulseAudio is what I should install since my laptop is just meant for personal use.


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Old 16th December 2008, 10:51 PM
LBCoder Offline
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Join Date: Oct 2008
Posts: 221
No, thats not what pulseaudio is.

A server doesn't necessarily mean many users on different computers accessing the same data on one server, a server is a program that handles many things at once. In this case, you may have many programs running at the same time, all of which interact at some level with the sound system -- ALSA.

Think of ALSA as the I/O handler that sits in front of the actual sound hardware. You have several applications sending and receiving their audio data to and from the sound server (pulseaudio). Pulseaudio then does advanced functions, like mixing multiple audio streams, adjusting levels, etc. before it sends the final stream to ALSA. Without this, it would only be possible for one program to be accessing your sound hardware at a time.

You definitely want pulseaudio to be installed on your laptop. In searching for the problem however, it may help to temporarily deactivate pulseaudio and set an audio program to communicate directly with alsa.
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alsa, pulseaudio

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