[pulseaudio-discuss] Conception of PulseAudio in public through Debian

Martin Steigerwald Martin at lichtvoll.de
Sun Apr 15 04:26:01 PDT 2012

Am Samstag, 14. April 2012 schrieb Sean McNamara:
> On Sat, Apr 14, 2012 at 3:03 PM, Paul Menzel

Hi Sean and Paul, hi everyone,

> <paulepanter at users.sourceforge.net> wrote:
> > Dear PulseAudio and Debian folks,
> > 
> > 
> > I am aware that is not an upstream issues per se, but indirectly it
> > is as written above, so I hope it is alright to post this message
> > here on the list.
> > 
> > Although during the last years PulseAudio is doing its job pretty
> > well, there are still quite some people out there thinking it is a
> > mess. And indeed looking at the Debian bug tracking system [1] a lot
> > of bugs are reported there. There are 145 reports [2] most of them
> > concerning upstream things. Since for a long time, Debian did not
> > package the latest PulseAudio version, I guess a lot of them are
> > fixed already.
> > 
> > Debian’s large user base experienced a lot of these problems and
> > therefore disabled PulseAudio and have not tried newer versions.
> Their loss. There's really nothing wrong with pulseaudio, unless you
> have specific hardware for which the ALSA drivers are still broken. I
> don't think we should try to actively do anything to improve
> pulseaudio's image; we're not a corporation and we don't do marketing.
> The software and its usefulness stands on its own: if people either

As one of these debian users I have a different oppinion - solely on my 
user experience and not any technical considerations. I reported some 
issues but then - as I admit, lost the patience to take the time to follow 
through. I still use Pulseaudio on one machine regularily, but I disabled 
it on my Amarok playback machine at home, cause I feared that just 
following through my initial bug reports by providing information and 
testing that help Pulseaudio developers to fix the issues would take me to 
long time. And for what gain? Currently in my perception it is win for me 
having removed Pulseaudio again on this machine, it would be loss for me 
keeping it.

Situation with Pulseaudio on this machine in brief:

1) USB sound card not detected after resume or on boot sometimes: 
usb_set_interface failed log spams. I usually unplugged and replugged it 
till it worked. I report this as I think issue 828 on the trac bug tracker 
at that time - that I found quite cumbersome to use, glad to read that it 
is freedesktop bug tracker now. Lennart asked me for some more 
information. But it sounded quite complex and I was scared off.

2) Pulseaudio does not initialize volume correctly on that Sonica Theater 
USB soundcard cause it has more channels than Pulseaudio supports. I 
reported it here as: 

usb sound card: PCM has 8 channels, thats too much & cannot submit 
datapipe for urb 0

But admittedly didn´t follow-through.

3) Pulseaudio sound outputs stutters at times. I had audio blackouts for 
times upto 10-20 seconds this machine. While using rtkit as well.

Situation after I removed Pulseaudio from this machine:

Problem 2 is gone. Problem 3 is almost gone. There is some rare knack at 
times, but it is not more than a second or so. Its way better, although 
still not as perfect as I once had it. Problem 1 is also gone.

There is some suspend/resume issue left that I have to switch to a next 
track to hear audio again, the current track is muted for some reason.

All in all the situation is sooo much better for me without Pulseaudio. 
Although I have the impression that the audio output quality might be a 
bit less.

Now I fear that I would to use several hours to report all of these bugs 
in such detail that you can fix it. I would probably have to test fixes. And 
once it is fixed what for updated packages.

If it was *one* issue, I think I would have followed-through. But I have 
three of them.

And I have layer upon layer upon layer:

- Amarok
- Phonon Gstreamer
- Pulseaudio
- Alsa

Actually I do not understand anymore whats going on.

Can you understand that its difficult for me to build up the motivation to 
go through this? I personally have been frustrated with Pulseaudio to an 
extent that almost unbearable. And I have been through several install 
PulseAudio and remove it again cycles before.

I can understand that you can´t fix the bugs then unless someone else 
reports them. And I am fine with not using Pulseaudio on that machine for 
now. But this is not helping to change the situation.

On my work machine - a Thinkpad T520 - that seems to be easily capable of 
stutterfree playback with Pulseaudio I installed Pulseaudio systemwide. 
And then have

martin at merkaba:~> ps aux | grep pulse | grep -v grep
pulse     1073  0.0  0.0 230828  3700 ?        S<l  Apr14   0:00 
/usr/bin/pulseaudio --system --daemonize --high-priority --log-
target=syslog --disallow-module-loading=0
martin    2330  0.0  0.0 235048  5616 ?        Sl   Apr14   0:42 
/usr/bin/pulseaudio --start

everytime I forgot to "exit 0" the start shell scripts on a Pulseaudio 
upgrade. I think I may be able to add a dpkg diversion or something like 
this. But I believe as a user I shouldn´t have to be doing this.

I now reported a bug for that after I didn´t find one in the current bug 

Bug 48728 - starts systemwide and sessionwide Pulseaudio daemons in system 
wide mode

Why do I use system-wide mode although it is not recommended? I have two 
user sessions. One my private, one my work one. The music is on the 
private one. And I like to hear music with ear phones at work at times. 
The pulseaudio on my private session stops playing when I switch to the 
work session.

Are all of these issues related to broken ALSA drivers? Are my use case 
that unusual? Is something wrong with me when all is right with 
Pulseaudio? All I see currently is: That Pulseaudio doesn´t serve my basic 
audio needs very well. And I thinking that I am not doing anything really 
special. I do think that my use cases are pretty *basic*.

Anyway I do think its best to skip thinking in right/wrong categories as 
it will not help to move on. So what can I do about my issues without 
spending too much time in one unit on Sundays like this? Best would be 
when I could work on it units of 30 minutes or at maximum one hour at a 

My current plan is as follows:

Use my Amarok ThinkPad T23 without Pulseaudio for now - to be able to hear 
to music when I want to without discussing anything with the setup at all.

And try to (re-)report and follow-through each of the mentioned bugs one 
by one in the Bugzilla.

I still have an unused ThinkPad T42 that I want to use to replace the good 
old T23 thats currently my Amarok machine. I am somewhat still willing to 
follow-through the reported issues, maybe best one at a time. And maybe 
starting with the too much channels issue, cause that seems to be easiest 
to report and maybe even fix.

Thus I can try out stuff with the T42 while not disturbing my production 
T23 when I just want to hear music.

I have been trying to keep a constructive tone in my post while at the 
same express the frustration I have gone through with Pulseaudio. I hope I 
managed to do it.

I have had some "install/remove/I do not feel like taking time to report 
anything or sometimes I reported something" cycles with Network Manager 
and with systemd. But these two are now running quite nice in my work 
machine. So I hope eventually I will get there with Pulseaudio as well.

Martin 'Helios' Steigerwald - http://www.Lichtvoll.de
GPG: 03B0 0D6C 0040 0710 4AFA  B82F 991B EAAC A599 84C7

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