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pterjan's diary


2009-01-29

  GNOME One last post about the pulseaudio story

My first post was not about pulseaudio itself, but about pulseaudio becoming mandatory in next GNOME version (the situation about this improved, the old mixer applet is back in svn).

I did not want to reply to Lennart's reply to my second post, as I don't want losing one week talking about it, that won't solve anything. I resisted yesterday but there are two parts I feel I have to answer so I'll try to make it short.

The first is the sentence then folks will complain: "Oh my god, it doesn't work with my software/drivers, you suck!" -- like you just did (though in more polite words).. No I did not. I don't think "you suck!", I complained about it becoming mandatory now while it still fails for a quite important number of users. It's not about my machine, I know how to deal with it even if I will lose some time because of that. It's about having tens of thousand of users of next GNOME version who, when they will manage to get sound working fine by disabling pulseaudio, will find that they no longer have mixer applet and their keyboard's volume keys no longer work.

The second point is The list of cards that are currently known to be problematic are listed in our Wiki.. I went to that page and was shocked. "snd-intel-hda on Realtek chips", doesn't this mean most (maybe all) dell laptops sold over the last few years ? And "snd-intel8x0", almost all laptops sold before that (including my Thinkpad) ? I think this list matches about 30% or 40% of people, while I was thinking that less than 10% of people have issues with pulseaudio. So, you are actually telling me that pulseaudio should actually not be used by default now while I was in favor of using it...

  FOSDEM

Oh and I forgot to tell, I'm going to FOSDEM, the Free and Open Source Software Developers' European Meeting so people can hit me with a pulseaudio bat. That's OK, I should have enough beer to drink to not feel the pain :)

Today's TSUKKOMI(Total: 27) [Add a TSUKKOMI]
  Frej Soya (2009-01-29 11:23)

I hate to say this (speculation). But it seems it is a conflicting goal creating a real product every 5th year and keeping the maintenance problems as low as possible afterwards, and those who want every gnome release to be a 'product' (as close as a gnome release is ever going to be a product).<br>No flaming intended! None of the above goals are inherently evil or bad.<br><br>Maybe the ideal solution would be blacklist of driver+version that uses the old volume control. I know it sucks for maintenance, but at least users won't hate us?

  Zeeshan Ali (2009-01-29 11:53)

A very good point indeed. I am hoping Lennart has something to say on this? My blog post on this topic was about Lennart being bashed for problems that are actually in other's code that is proprietry and therefore unfixable for Lennart so I am with you on this one unless Lennart has a good explanation.

  Patryk (Patrys) Zawadzki (2009-01-29 12:01)

My Dell laptop for one does not have a Realtek chip.

  Andrea Cimitan (2009-01-29 12:25)

The snd-hda-intel with realtek chip is a BIG issue... unfortunately.<br>The realtek chips are commonly used with the Atom integrated solutions, that means netbooks.<br>Almost every netbook uses one of those, and google seems to confirm: every eeepc, msi wind, lenovo's ideapad s10 s9, samsung nc 10 (mine), acer aspire one. And I stopped googlin' but the result is clear enough.<br><br>Even if I would prefer to have pulseaudio working flawlessly with those chips, with the current situation forcing a pulseaudio upgrade will FUCK UP thousands of new users, users maybe that came from their windows world that have bought their first netbook with linux inside.<br><br>This is really the opposite of what we should do (we should take care of netbook's users, every vendor does as their represent our present and the near future, we can't ignore the market).

  Pascal (2009-01-29 12:47)

Patryk, yes indeed, some of the Dell use sigmatel

  Remm (2009-01-29 13:05)

So we should be stuck with a crappy solution that makes the Linux desktop look bad until someone manages to fix the Intel driver ? Nice plan.

  Colin Guthrie (2009-01-29 13:11)

Yeah my Dell has a sigmatel and works nicely.<br><br>I agree with the sentiment of what you said to be honest (despite being a very pro-pulseaudio person as you know ;)). To be honest I think Lennart read your post slightly wrongly in terms of what you were saying re Gnome forcing it rather than directing any comments/criticism at pulse itself. Thankfully that is now a moot point as you say.<br><br>The only point I'd like to correct you on is your comment about the working cards. It's important to realise that these cards are not working with the "glitch free" mode of pulseaudio, it's not that they don't work at all. By default, pulse will enable it's glitch free mode, but I need to think a bit about how we will handle this in the upcoming Mandriva release. We may simply default to non-glitch free mode, and let users that want to try it turn it on themselves, or I may hack up a way to detect which cards can and cannot support it in the hal-detect mode and disable it for the known-bad cards.<br><br>Either way, it's not as serious as it sound :)<br><br>Col

  Pascal (2009-01-29 13:42)

Oh nice, blacklisting that cards for this mode should be fine, I feel better :)

  Patryk (Patrys) Zawadzki (2009-01-29 13:57)

An even better approach would be to actually detect the buggy driver (if the problem is something easily reproducible) or the bug at run-time and switching to the compatibility mode (with a huge warning in syslog).

  Lennart (2009-01-29 15:34)

Dude, you are misestimating things a bit. The vast majority of cards is HDA these days -- non Realtek-HDA. We unfortunately don't have reliable data how much the different chips are really used. The only thing that gives us a bit of a hint is Fedora's SMOLT database. But unfortunately that database is mostly bogus in both the dataset and the presentation (i.e. they sort HDA chips under 'other' instead of 'audio' causeing ens1371 (!) to be the most popular chip in their stats). But nonetheless I think I have a better idea about the percentage of chips used then almost everyone else and non-Realtek is the vast majority. Believe me. Realtek HDA and intel-8x0 compatible chips are available in a non-trivial amount though -- I am not trying to hide that.<br><br>But scandalizing something you don't have any reliable data of (nor do I) is a bit questionnable, isn't it?

  Andrea Cimitan (2009-01-29 15:52)

@lennart:<br>netbooks represent a minority of the HDA cards? I don't think so, at least if they are not today, they could be tomorrow. The number of netbook owners is growing day by day and, from what google suggests me, they are all using realtek HDA cards.<br><br>Of course we should move to pulseaudio as soon as possible, we are all interested, but maybe we are doing something similar to what KDE 4.0 did: forcing a release before it worth.<br><br>That's my honest opinion.

  Tomasz (2009-01-29 15:59)

TSUKKOMI.<br>Those netbooks with realtek come with Linux? So you know who should fix the issue. The hardware makers! They have all the docs for this chip, ability to change hardware, money to hire one driver developer and even ability to switch to different, working chip. Part of Linux customisation for netbook is writing/fixing drivers for stuff they've used or selecting better chips.

  Pascal (2009-01-29 16:03)

Well don't count on them...<br>See the Dell Mini 9 shipped with Ubuntu. One line patch is needed in the kernel to have sound working automatically (adding the ids in patch_realtek.c at the right place), but even this was not sent to alsa people...

  Pascal (2009-01-29 16:24)

Lennart: Unfortunatly we don't have the chipset info in Mandriva HCL : http://fasmz.org/~pterjan/tmp/5998.txt<br>But still, I see many new machines every month and see a lot of realtek ones...

  Patryk (Patrys) Zawadzki (2009-01-29 16:53)

Lennart:<br><br>Maybe this could become useful? http://hardware4linux.info/module/HDA_Intel/

  Patryk (Patrys) Zawadzki (2009-01-29 16:56)

Sorry for doulbe posting but I also have access and can help with debugging/testing of Dell Mini 9:<br><br>http://hardware4linux.info/component/38097/

  Lennart (2009-01-29 18:00)

Oh, and what I forgot t mention: if smething's listed on my little list, it doesn't mean all hardware of this type really doesn't work with pa g-f. I just add to my list the hw where errors have been reported with. You shouldn't necessarily take pars-pro-toto here though.

  Lennart (2009-01-29 18:01)

Oh, and I'll make sure to bring my extra large bat to FOSDEM.

  explains a lot (2009-01-29 18:33)

I think you're underestimating the 40%. I just checked all 16 different models of computers at my work, 100% of them have a chipset on this list. Seems like its quite a bit higher.

  Lennart (2009-01-29 19:34)

explains a lot: Oh, and check all the five machines I have here. 0% have a chipset on the list. Seems like it's quite a bit lower.

  Peteris Krisjanis (2009-01-29 19:47)

Lennart, I'm worried that you are excellent hacker - and you really are - but your communication skills and understanding what is GNOME users now is somehow limited. And it is not a offense, because we geeks tend to be sometimes a little bit arrogant. But we should take it into account and somehow balance it.<br><br>You try to play down numbers - but who cares? Poison of words is out there and it's spreads. And it doesn't matter how much statistically is broken setups. If there is more than 1% of GNOME market, then it is a MAJOR problem and should be treated like one. <br><br>Yes, PA would need a helping hand here. Yes, community, not only you, should help. But please don't play it like it would be some childish game. If we need to be taken seriously, we should act at least with respect to each other.<br><br>PA works for me and it have proven itself to be worthy on my laptop. And I agree that making PA a hard depency NOW is rather big mistake. And maybe even ever.

  jon (2009-01-30 05:13)

I read this and found it kind of funny, since my friend and I were just trouble shooting an issue on our eeepc's where PA was giving us problems. And it seems to not work well with flash..So un-installed it...and now we're trying KDE4.

  schmichael (2009-01-30 07:06)

What I can't figure out is what the hell the people who hate PulseAudio use... I'm still on ALSA+ESD because I had trouble with Debian's PulseAudio supoprt, and ESD *sucks*. It crashes a lot, is stuck in 2001 feature-wise, and is basically unmaintained.<br><br>So if you hate PulseAudio, please for the love of god come up with a sensible alternative. Choice is a beautiful thing, but ESD is quickly becoming a thing of the past.<br><br>(And futzing with ALSA config files is *not* an option. Linux needs a solution that works out of the box for the largest possible set of users)

  ZĂ©zinho (2009-01-30 09:53)

Well, as linux user since 1998, I stopped having sound problems when Mandriva came with an auto-configured dmix in alsa. Some problems came back when pulseaudio was defaulted, but they had the good idea of allowing to disable it in their control center ;-)

  Stoffe (2009-01-30 10:33)

Nay sayers will always find something new to say nay to.

  Stormking (2009-01-30 10:42)

@schmichael:<br><br>So saying "as long as it doesn't work for (almost) everyone, it shouldn't be mandatory" is "hate"?

  keez video fisting (2011-09-16 04:05)

This is the best article I have read, thank you, I have learned a lot of knowledge in this area.


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