Pulse Audio

Janina Sajka janina at rednote.net
Fri Mar 7 17:45:01 EST 2014

Jason White writes:
> Has anyone worked out a development plan to fix this all up, i.e., to make
> Linux audio work seamlessly with Orca, Speakup, Emacspeak and whatever else is
> desired?

No, because our community is notoriously unable to agree on such things.
We seem to be quite satisfied to "just fork."

Pulse audio was underspecified from the screen reader user's
perspective. Everything that's occured since is some kind of retrofit,
with only marginal improvements, imo.

Furthermore, let's note that it's not just a11y users who don't much
care for pa. The high-end audio community doesn't care for it either.
I've exchanged several emails with the director of the Stanford
University Center for Computer Research in Music and Acoustics who
expressly told me that they don't allow PA on their systems. They use

When I suggested jack during the last Linux Foundation conference to
address this point, which was in Boston in 2008, Red Hat responded that
jack was "not sufficiently lightweight." Well, what can I say. I didn't
know enough about PA at the time to criticise it as I would today.

Last point ... It would be extremely helpful, imo, were we able to
assign certain audio devices to PA, and exclude others. This is
supposedly possible today, but you have to do so with udev rules, not
something I've succeeded at. In any case, udev should not be required of
ordinary users. There should be a simple config-type option to tell
pulse what devices it is authorized to manage, and which it must ignore.
That would go a long way toward resolving problems with pa, imo.


> Other operating systems have long since solved this, as I understand it, and
> it's a real embarrassment to those in the Linux community that it's 2014 and
> we're still having to discuss work-arounds for low-level audio issues.
> Maybe someone should propose a sponsored coding project to fix the largest
> issues.
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Janina Sajka,	Phone:	+1.443.300.2200
			sip:janina at asterisk.rednote.net
		Email:	janina at rednote.net

Linux Foundation Fellow
Executive Chair, Accessibility Workgroup:	http://a11y.org

The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI)
Chair,	Protocols & Formats	http://www.w3.org/wai/pf
	Indie UI			http://www.w3.org/WAI/IndieUI/

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