[pulseaudio-discuss] No volume control for audio from java applet in browser

Alexander E. Patrakov patrakov at gmail.com
Fri Jun 28 04:52:18 PDT 2013

2013/6/28 Andrew Skretvedt <andrew.skretvedt at gmail.com>:
> I launched the WebSDR site in browser (http://radman.no-ip.com:8901/)
> and icedtea (version 1.3.2) fired and audio was soon heard. It's too
> loud by default on my setup, and this site's specific applet revision
> provides no volume control (some newer WebSDR sites have more
> control). So I must resort to dragging the soundcard sliders under the
> output devices tab of pavucontrol down from their usual position at
> "base" (63%/-12dB) to quiet the audio for the reasons already
> mentioned.

Possibly, this is yet another case of flat-volume related surprise
behaviour. Please erase the volume database in .pulse and also try
whether this line in /etc/pulse/daemon.conf helps:

flat-volumes = no

If this line doesn't help or is not needed, we need to debug further,
please ignore the rest of the mail.

Note: because my IcedTea plugin does not use PulseAudio directly
(probably due to some misconfiguration) and instead goes through the
default ALSA device (apparently, with software attenuation), I cannot
reproduce the bug on my Gentoo system on http://radman.no-ip.com:8901/

[ebuild   R    ] dev-java/icedtea-  USE="X alsa cjk cups
jbootstrap nsplugin nss pulseaudio source webstart -debug -doc
-examples -javascript -pax_kernel -systemtap {-test}" 0 kB

If the flat-volumes = no line does help (which we still have to
confirm), the bug can be dissected as follows:

1. Pulseaudio, when running in flat-volume mode, makes two unrelated
changes to volume handling:

 (a) The mixer API starts accepting volumes relative to the hardware
maximum of the card (I call that "absolute" volumes below), not
relative to the volume set by the master mixer control. There is no
other PCM stream attenuation API in the world that does such thing.
 (b) The hardware mixer is set to the maximum of the playing streams'
absolute volumes, the rest of streams are attenuated in software. As
opposed to providing a separate master volume control that directly
controls the hardware mixer.

2. Pulseaudio trusts the clients when they set their volume.

3. Buggy clients set volume to 100% because they assume (e.g. based on
the author's experience with Windows or with Ubuntu, where flat
volumes are disabled) that this is relative to the master control.

So, from a formal viewpoint, there is nothing to fix in pulseaudio
here - it is an IcedTea bug that it does not properly virtualize (i.e.
convert from relative to absolute, when pulseaudio is running in
flat-volume mode) volume changes done by the Java applications.

However, there is a similar gstreamer bug, and similar surprise-volume
Epiphany bugs caused by HTML5 (where in-browser content has no way to
know that it sets absolute, not relative, volume):


and in the past there were many more duplicates. So, maybe this
duplicate will finally cause the developers to reconsider point 1a.
Note: I have nothing against 1b (assuming that overamplified streams
clip at the master volume), this just makes "master" a software-based
control that is mapped to nothing in hardware, and the hardware mixer
is controlled automatically.


Alexander E. Patrakov

More information about the pulseaudio-discuss mailing list