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ALSA vs OSS Digital sound cards

I would like to know what your guys takes on this is ALSA Drives is on all of the big players distros like Ubuntu & Open Suse and the dont come with a OSS driver at all and i think this is bad as OSS has better support for Digital sound cards than ALSA dose at the moment. Just post back what you think ALSA vs OSS when it comes to digital sound

Comments

  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    OSS is the older Linux sound system, and is on a usage decline at the moment.
    ALSA is the current standard, and seems to work pretty much universally. I have the same nvidia high def mcp51 setup as you do in the other thread, and remember having to wait until drivers arrived in order to get sound on a MSI AMD64 mobo I have at home. And by the way it runs alsa fine. Maybe your laptop has special needs.
    PULSEAUDIO seems to be the future, when the bugs are finally ironed out. From what I read, many are still having problems with pulseaudio and are reverting to alsa to get their sound working.
    I really don't use audio to a great extent on my computer. I am older and still have record players, 8-tracks, etc. for that. Maybe someday I'll set up a media center, but right now it's to easy to insert a cd into a player next to the computer, than inserting a cd into the computer.
  • woboylewoboyle Posts: 501
    I'm an older coot as well (60+) and I do like to use my computer to play audio. I rip all my CD's to 192kbps mp3 files and store them on my NAS array so I can play them on my desktop, laptop, or wherever. Also, I can stream our local NPR and Jazz radio stations during the workday without needing to futz with a radio.

    8-track tapes? Don't they (and the player) belong in a museum somewhere? :-)
  • Goineasy9Goineasy9 Posts: 1,116
    LOL Rubberman, yes the 8-tracks do belong in a museum, but as long as my old Panasonic CD-4 (circa-early 70's) system keeps on chuggin' along I'll keep using it. System has four separate channels and four speakers, the only album I've ever found to make use of those 4 channels is a 'Best of the Doors' album, but it has each member of the group on a separate speaker, quite unique. That album isn't an 8-track, but a Frank Zappa/Capt. Beefheart live album on 8-track is worth keeping this museum piece on my shelf. (Yes, Poofter's Phroth Wyoming plans ahead). I bought a usb turntable to try to move my album collection over to the computer, but haven't found the right settings for the Audacious mixer yet. One of these days.....
  • woboylewoboyle Posts: 501
    Ah! Another Beefheart/Zappa fan! Lick my decals off, baby! Ain't the postman groovy? :-)
  • bofhorgbofhorg Posts: 11
    Alsa vs OSS... that's not easy to compare.
    First there was OSS. 4Front-Tech did the development and had its own closed-source commercial driver plus a gpl'ed crippled version in the vanilla kernel source.
    Support was flaky, and for new hardware often not available.
    So, enter Alsa. After a bit of a bumpy start, things were starting to look better and better. more and more hardware was supported.
    Alsa seems to have become the de facto standard these days.
    Still, the closed source version of the OSS driver is superior to alsa in quality.
    Now the good news. 4Front-Tech has decided to release the whole OSS driver under the GPL. (http://developer.opensound.com/)
    This is very good news because the OSS driver has matured for quite some time and performs in a lot of cases better than the alsa equivalent.
    So the battle for the sound-driver has just started :)
  • woboylewoboyle Posts: 501
    FWIW, professional audio people (composers, engineers, et al) use ALSA + JACK for audio processing on LInux. Here is a good article from a professional composer/performer who switched from Apple OSX to Linux (Ubuntu 9.04) for his professional work: http://createdigitalmusic.com/2009/08/04/linux-music-workflow-switching-from-mac-os-x-to-ubuntu-with-kim-cascone/
  • Goineasy9 wrote:
    OSS is the older Linux sound system, and is on a usage decline at the moment.

    Mind that there are currently two branches. Oss 3.x is the in-kernel Oss stuff, which is effectively being deprecated. Oss 4.x is being developed outside the kernel tree and it has actually some good things about it, though it isn't admittedly as broadly used as ALSA is nowadays.
    ALSA is the current standard, and seems to work pretty much universally. I have the same nvidia high def mcp51 setup as you do in the other thread, and remember having to wait until drivers arrived in order to get sound on a MSI AMD64 mobo I have at home. And by the way it runs alsa fine. Maybe your laptop has special needs.

    ALSA is -by no means- the panacea. It works for most people, but it does some nasty things. As an example, if you have an audigy you will suffer from the fact that dmix doesn't work with surround, which means that you can't hear anything else if you are playing something through the surround filter. So you are limited either to stereo or a single sound at a time. It also lacks a true master channel which means you have to go sliding three controsl each time you need to regulate your volume. I work around this with a bit of shell scripting to set all of them to the same value with a keybinding, but it's quite annoying.

    However this seems to affect only some models, not all the audigy's, but a number of people have reported this same problem. I don't know if it happens for other cards.

    The sound is not the cleanest either.

    I hadn't any of these problems with Oss4, but it didn't had any -functional- support for midi, and most proffesional audio apps just don't work with oss4. Gkrellm and most wm* dockapps do not work -at least not correctly- either with oss4, which is a pity.
    PULSEAUDIO seems to be the future, when the bugs are finally ironed out. From what I read, many are still having problems with pulseaudio and are reverting to alsa to get their sound working.

    Pulseaudio is just an high-level sound server, you still need either ALSA or OSS to get sound. Pulseaudio is not a driver, you still need either of these to get pulseaudio working, which just adds another level of complexitly and another source for bugs, problems and annoyances. I am not saying that pulsaudio is useless but most users really don't need yet another layer to do what alsa and oss4 can do natively (or should do natively if they weren't as buggy as they are).


    So, to sum up and answer the topic at hand. I usually would live much better with oss 4.x (not 3.x), but only if you don't need midi, if the apps you need to run can run with oss4, and if your card is supported. If one of these conditions fail, you have no option but to use ALSA.
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