Gentoo: PulseAudio + ALSA update

For a long time now, fellow-Gentoo’ers have had to edit /etc/asound.conf or ~/.asoundrc to make programs that talk directly to ALSA go through PulseAudio. Most other distributions ship configuration that automatically probes to see if PulseAudio is running and use that if avaialble, else fall back to the actual hardware. We did that too, but the configuration wasn’t used, and when you did try to use it, broke in mysterious ways.

I finally got around to actually figuring out the problem and fixing it, so if you have custom configuration to do all this, you should now be able to remove it after emerge’ing media-plugins/alsa-plugins-1.0.25-r1 or later with the pulseaudio USE flag. With the next PulseAudio bump, we’ll be depending on this to make the out-of-the-box experience a lot more seamless.

This took much longer to get done than it should have, but we’ve finally caught up. :)

[Props to Mart Raudsepp (leio) for prodding me into doing this.]


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  1. Great, thanks a lot!

  2. Whoop whoop whoop

    Finally – hopefully we’ll have a nice smooth audio experience if we use Pulse or not

  3. Are you talking about those udev rules used in Ubuntu that were recently posted on the PA ML? So now we don’t need to set out default ALSA devices as PA? We can get rid of /etc/asound.conf or ~/.asoundrc?


  4. Great news!

    Have long wanted to move to pulseaudio, but custom configurations are not my favorite :)

    So, I’m glad to read that you are working outside the box now.


  5. Very good that this is going to be seamless, PulseAudio is the de facto standard now in my opinion.

  6. That’s great! Does anyone know if there is a way to set up a keyboard shortcut for “change the volume of the current window” in either KDE or Gnome Shell? That would be really useful.

  7. Though we still need to figure out the story for wine32 too under multilib :)

    • For that by now Arun has tracked down we need alsa-lib-1.0.25 32bit versions. Hopefully we can get the native version stable soon (the directory based conf file finding/reading was added there as Arun found), which is important for the magic to work – presumably the alsa-plugins with the conf hook magic would go stable then as well. From there then it can be packaged in emul-linux packages, so that 32bit things, like 32bit wine, know how to read the hook files too for automatic integration to work.

  8. That’s cool. But my system no longer automatically loads the OSS compatibly kernel modules. Is this related to this recent change?

    • You probably want to goad Arun to look at osspd for OSS compatibility :) This is (IMO) a much better solution than the OSS compatibility ALSA modules, as you don’t get the exclusivity problems.

      I have a few patches to push upstream to osspd now I think about it…

  9. Can I just plug in my USB headphone and PulseAudio will be able to direct all sound output to it? Right now I can only listen to audio streams from Audacious and nothing else :(

  10. Thanks for the heads-up I was just trying to find a simple way to make flash player play audio also when other streams were on

    moved my ~/.asoundrc to ~/.asoundrc_old and everything seems to work fine

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