Friday, November 27, 2009

Frustrations with Audio

Frustration with Linux Audio System is getting the best of me.

I have been working with Large UNIX Systems for more than 30 years - I have specified, configured, installed and managed many multi-multi-million dollar UNIX systems and nothing is as frustrating as "audio set up and configuration" on a simple Linux system - currently I am using Ubuntu 8.10 with many (maybe conflicting) audio subsystems. I started out looking at  and using Linux for a personal workstation when it was still called Minx.

My problem is there does not appear to be a simple solution to this problem. I do not like MS Windows, but at least the sound system on most Windows systems - just WORKS.

Several years ago, with an older Linux (Red Hat) system - sound was not easy to configure, but it was not difficult either. Now, everything about a Liunx sound system is just plain HARD.

Currently, I would grade the XP Windows Sound System with an "B+", and would grade the Linux Sound System (Ubuntu 8.10) with an "F".

I have OSS, ALSA and PulseAudio all installed which maybe the problem, but nothing suggests that another configuration is more correct.

One minute the Linux sound system appears to work, then the next nothing works, a reboot is necessary to correct the problem, restarting the daemons does not seem to fix the problems. Simple configuration change do not take place when you expect, they may take effect sometime later, when you are not expecting changes. It is difficult to keep up with what is happening to the sound system.

The Linux Sound system is all magic, there is nothing that I have found that diagrams the sound system and attempts to provide help when things do not work.  The forums describe the Linux sound system as delta's on previous information - it is hard to collect enough information to configure the sound system - when it does not work as published.

I would like a simple app that diagrams the sound system from input jacks, to kernel, to application and onto output jacks, with diagnostics showing where sound is coming from and going to.

I am sure for new Linux users, this is as frustrating as anything.  It will cause users to return to MS Window. From what I have seen, the Linux Sound System is the most effective externally generated advertisement for Microsoft that exists to date.

Sorry for the Rant, .  .  .  .  maybe I will figure it out someday.


1 comment:

  1. I have been tinkering with Linux since more than 10 years ago and in those days sound was something that rarely worked. In truth my troubles probably had a lot to do with the fact that the particular sound board in my computer didn't like Linux very much.

    The time before last that I tried Linux in the shack it worked with Fldigi and not with gMFSK and in my attempts to get it to work with both I irretrievably screwed it up.

    These days with the common on-board sound chips it usually just works. But for something as basic as this, "usually" isn't really good enough.