Some may recall that last week I finally had my limit with trying to figure out the audio problems on my Ubuntu Linux and posted a blog about it (see Linux Missing the Point). Specifically in the blog my complaint was not so much that it was not working, but rather that the typical user that various Linux distributions would love to have will not put up with such sloppy problems that are introduced and seemingly without concern once done for the end users experience. I am happy to report that from the comments received, I believe here on the blog itself, someone suggested the problem was in PulseAudio. After getting the chance to follow-up, by removing PulseAudio I am now able to get an audio stream of any sort to play on my Ubuntu install once again. A few comments about the experience are in order however…
First and again important, my many thanks to the person who made that suggestion to me. Indeed, after having that suggestion made, I did some searching on the net and indeed, the problem with PulseAudio was at least as common if not more so then the issues I was looking at with the various pin configurations for the ALSA stuff. I do admit to a good deal of frustration that my search attempts did not have anything show up originally that specifically mentioned PulseAudio. Given that I had heard of ALSA before, when I saw that in my searching and noted it was listed as being the problem on occasion for audio problems, I probably did focus in that direction. However, I am still dismayed that my searching, on some occasions looking five and six pages deep for things such as ‘sound problems ubuntu Linux 10.04′ did not turn up anything about PulseAudio.
Of even more concern, it appears that the kind of problem I was having is a known issue with PulseAudio, but the Ubuntu teams have still went in this direction instead of using other solutions that at least from where I am listening do not have such problems? Can some explain why they would do that? I mean, if something is known to have major bugs, why include it? Even more aggravating is that PulseAudio gets re-included with any updates to Ubuntu. I am curious, but suspect this only when the package itself has changes made to it, which I can say from past experience seems to be often enough. Which means I will have to remove, redirect, and so forth every time. Again, no simple task and not the kind of thing you can expect from a casual user if you want to obtain a wider adoption rate.
Lastly, let me just say that while several Linux users and groups were very supportive and clearly understanding of the issue, others were not. I am not expecting the Linux world to get into a fixing mode on this immediately or even for very many to care at all. On the other hand, the Linux users (who were more than a few) who posted replies in various locations that read something like… “his sound doesn’t work and so now he thinks that Linux is not acceptable to use…” really fell into just the group of missing the point that my original post was about. It is not that I felt that Linux was unusable, but outside of the diehards, who will put up with such issues in an operating system given the general ease of use systems that are available out there today? That kind of elitist attitude just furthers the believe that Linux is not only hard to use, but also firmly puts it into the category of O/S that only the uber-geeks will continue to use. Reminds me of another operating system called OS/2 that I used to have some dealings with back in the day – and we know where that system is today.
** – Image from WikiMedia.org (Creative Commons Licensing)