In Ubuntu even selecting alsa first path is pulseaudio ?


Aug 12, 2020
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Thanks for reading my topic.
I only want select the sound backend path using better and less cpu processing.
I see some replies in internet about if selecting in application the alsa sound goes that path

Program > alsa wrapper > pulseaudio > alsa

it's true ? Always selecting ALSA goes directly to pulseaudio using an wrapper ? Really in Ubuntu has an ALSA wrapper ?

what is the default sound system in Ubuntu ? pulseaudio ? How use directly alsa in any application ?

Have an nice week.

ALSA is in the kernel and provides the basics that provide sound such as the drivers for sound cards and the libraries to support the sound system.

Pulseaudio is a sound server that sits on top of ALSA, meaning that it makes calls on ALSA in a form that is convenient for users to manage sound.

It's entirely possible to run sound without pulseaudio or any other sound server since ALSA provides numerous programs that use and control sound directly. The output of the following command will show many of them:
apt-file list alsa-utils
For example, aplay will play a sound file, rec will record, alsamixer will control volumes and default output devices etc.There are controls for midi.

Pulseaudio, as a sound server, provides programs in command line and GUI forms that access ALSA's interface with the sound hardware.

Ubuntu uses pulseaudio according to the wiki here:
Debian, and a number of other distros now use pipewire which looks like it will eventually supplant pulseaudio because it's focus is broader as a multimedia server, inclusive of sound, rather than just sound.

I guess the mapping of sound in linux could be conceived as follows: the program that wants sound (like play, mpv, etc.) makes a system call to ALSA which passes sound control to the sound server such as pulseaudio or pipewire if they are configured on the system. Whatever that configured sound server controls (e.g. volume, input and output devices to use etc.), it's passed back to ALSA, which controls the hardware, in order to produce the sound for the user to hear. I hope that all makes sense.

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