This blog post describes how to get rid of pulseaudio (the PulseAudio sound server) on a Debian or Ubuntu system. The solution presented here is tested with Debian Etch, Ubuntu Hardy and Ubuntu Intrepid. As a side effect, the GNOME system sounds (the short sound effect played when clicking etc.) won't work.
PulseAudio contains a sound server used for software mixing, multiplexing (audio playback from multiple programs at the same time) and filtering. However, in some cases it is the sound server which actually prevents proper multiplexing, because it locks the sound card, so if a program (e.g. mplayer) is using pulseaudio for playback, and the second program (e.g. Skype) wants to use ALSA, the second program will not be able to start playback because the sound card is locked by pulseaudio. One simple solution is to get rid of pulseaudio, and let applications use ALSA with the default output device. This takes advantage of hardware mixing or Dmix, which does software mixing for simultaneous playbacks.
To get rid of the pulseaudio sound server, run:
$ sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio
$ sudo killall pulseaudio
$ sudo killall pulseaudio
pulseaudio: no process killed
$ (echo Package: pulseaudio; echo Pin: release a=fakerepo; echo Pin-Priority: 1999) |
sudo tee -a /etc/apt/preferences
The last command (the one which appends to /etc/apt/preferences) is a hack to make the pulseaudio package impossible to install (i.e. apt-get install pulseaudio will fail with an unhelpful error message).
On Ubuntu Karmic (as of 2010-03-02), removing PulseAudio prevents the volume control panel applet from working. One workaround is to install some replacement packages from the audiohacks repository (https://launchpad.net/~dtl131/+archive/ppa). The commands are:
$ echo 'deb http://ppa.launchpad.net/dtl131/ppa/ubuntu karmic main' | sudo tee /etc/apt/sources.list.d/audiohacks.list' $ sudo apt-get update $ sudo apt-get install gnome-applets gnome-applets-data gnome-media \ gnome-media-common gnome-session-canberra gnome-settings-daemon \ libcanberra-gtk-module libcanberra-gtk0 libcanberra0 libgnome-media0
On Ubuntu Lucid (as of 2010-06-11), removing PulseAudio also prevents the volume control panel applet from working. One workaround is to install some replacement packages from the audiohacks repository (https://launchpad.net/~dtl131/+archive/ppa). The commands are:
$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:dtl131/ppa $ sudo apt-get update $ sudo apt-get remove pulseaudio gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio $ sudo apt-get install gstreamer0.10-alsa gnome-alsamixer alsa-oss \ python-alsaaudio gnome-applets gnome-media gnome-settings-daemon \ libcanberra0 libcanberra-gtk-module libcanberra-gtk0 libgnome-media0 \ gnome-applets-data libcanberra-gstreamer alsamixergui alsa-tools
On Lucid, run
gstreamer-properties, and change the output to ALSA.
If you are logged in graphically, log out and log in again. (Logging out kills all running interactive applications.) After logging in, right click on an empty area on your GNOME panel, select Add to Panel, select Volume Control, and add it.