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Pulse audio never works properly.. Alsa is so much better.. Always a pain to remove and debian based distros keeps pushing it through updates.
How many years in a row can something not work?
Still doesn't play nice when apps need to share the hardware. Skype, for example, is impossible to get working with pulseaudio. Back to using ALSA and loving it. In fact, I've removed pulseaudio from all my Linux PCs. ALSA all the way.
Just a few comments flowing around about pulse
From a user standpoint, we had better sound in 1998 than we do now in 2012. How did we get into the mess we are in now? pulseaudio, gstreamer, etc, etc. At the rate we are going the sound system we be as complex as the OSI networking model at the user level. Things like sound should be transparent to the user.
I can understand that you need to vent if you have ongoing problems with software that is so essential.
Unfortunately, ranting will not help you to solve your problems.
Basically you have three options:
1. Switch to a distro that doesn't use the software you have problems with. This is of course the least convenient solution and will not help to fix bugs in the software.
2. Open a thread regarding that problem here and we will try to help you to solve the problem.
3. File a bug report and see if your distro's developers can help you.
I actually agree. From my own point of view PulseAudio is rather slipshod at working correctly on any distribution and while it aims to replace ESounD, it also aims to attempt to replace dmix as well as other system audio functions which makes no sense.
DMix (ALSA's default mixer) works very well in managing the audio with applications. ESounD is used primarily for Networked audio.
From a user's point of view PulseAudio makes no sense. It's latencies are higher than DMix, audio quality is just terrible, and the aspect of having a user account setup just for PulseAudio is ridiculous. ClamAV I can understand having it's own userspace account, but an audio daemon? No. Most developers wanting the lowest latency audio often go with JACK or OSS.
The problem is, PulseAudio was adopted as a primary audio manager, not a secondary audio manager to dmix. If you look at the distributions that do not include it, dmix works perfectly, and PulseAudio is more or less an after-though add-in only if desired. Even Arch's Wiki says it's nothing special and only hijacks your audio and re-routes it through another audio API layer adding only to the complexity and more instances of foul-ups.
If you want a distro without Pulse... Gentoo, Slackware, and ArchLinux all don't use it by default and only have it available if it's needed, and under the right circumstances, it's never needed at all.
I have heard that Skype presents issues to PA user, but then I don't use Skype.
PA work just fine for me as everything I use goes through PA. I find its network capability very useful. You are right about sharing hardware, the one time I had problems was with the older Audacity that did not support PA (But it does now).