Thursday, November 19, 2009

How not to configure default settings for sound applications

You're absolutely right, Martin: recordmydesktop did the wrong thing and screwed your sound experience in Ubuntu. Fortunately, it's really straightforward to fix:

--- recordmydesktop-
+++ recordmydesktop-
@@ -39,7 +39,7 @@

- #define DEFAULT_AUDIO_DEVICE "hw:0,0"
+ #define DEFAULT_AUDIO_DEVICE "default"

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Flailing against the light, or why bad things happen to good users

Seriously, Craig, I'm a bit disappointed that you didn't stop to ask members of this perceived conspiracy how to disable PulseAudio before flaming away, but as you say, it is most definitely your "right" to flame away. And, as Jordan mentioned in your blog post's comments, it was (and is) hardly MOTU's decision to tie PulseAudio more tightly into the GNOME desktop. That decision was upstream GNOME's. Not Ubuntu's. Not Fedora's. Not openSUSE's. Not Gentoo's. Not Debian's. Not Mandriva's.

In other words, it would take a non-trivial amount of work to remove the PulseAudio dependency from GNOME, and then Ubuntu would get to carry the delta *and* respond to defect reports.

Let's put this in perspective: there are two people working on audio in Ubuntu. One of them is employed by Canonical, and he isn't 100% time on audio. The other one cares enough to trawl through vitriol and drivel to respond to requests, demands, rants, and apathy -- on his lunch breaks and spare time -- to unbreak a resounding mess. If it's insufficiently clear, you're preaching to the choir, and your ultimatum is pathetically misdirected.

Now let's be constructive:

Firstly, PulseAudio *can* be made to go away in Karmic. I've written about it before, but I guess the naysayers are too busy flailing about how much PA sucks. Some caveats with the approach given: you'll need to use one of alsamixer, amixer (both command line tools shipped by default in the alsa-utils package), alsamixer-gui, aumix, and so on. You'll lose live per-application (per-stream) migration. You'll lose per-application volumes. And you'll lose other things, but they're hardly consequential enough to list here.

Secondly, the loss of system sounds is not a PulseAudio issue. It's a window manager issue. There's even a defect report about it.

Thirdly, PulseAudio *has* to use ALSA. PulseAudio is not a replacement for ALSA and never will be, because one of ALSA's primary functions is enable hardware. It's a sound driver. PulseAudio is not a sound driver; it's a program that uses sound drivers. If you're expecting PulseAudio to replace ALSA, go ahead and throw that idea out the window.

Fourthly, where are your defect reports for PulseAudio and ALSA in Karmic?

Lastly, no one is forcing you to upgrade to the latest Ubuntu hotness. Some people still use Dapper; others, Hardy. A great many people don't use Ubuntu at all. If you don't enjoy Ubuntu's direction, why not attend the Lucid developer summit and work with people there to resolve some issues?