Linux Plumbers Conference

Audio Microconference (Draft, Subject to Change)

First-time Linux users have sometimes been heard to complain that Linux's audio system can be a bit troublesome. Given that these users can be less than understanding when they fail to get sound out of their system, it is good that Linux audio has been getting more attention. Lennart Poettering, who leads the PulseAudio project and who got his start back with the Linux 2.0.30 kernel, has pulled together an excellent microconference on the Linux audio system, past, present, and future.

The first topic is the ghost of Linux audio past, in the form of "Origins and Futures for Linux Audio Infrastructure", by Paul Davis. Paul will discuss how Linux's audio environment got to where it is, and how the limited conception of "audio on a computer" by some of the early projects resulted in the current wide variety of Linux audio systems, including OSS, ALSA, JACK, and PulseAudio. He will also offer up discussion as to whether the underlying problem is technical or political.

Lennart himself will deal with the ghost of Linux audio present with "State of Linux Audio in 2009", and then hand off to the ghost of Linux Audio future, in the form of "Linux Audio for Mobile and Consumer Devices: Challenges and Evolutions" by Pierre-Louis Bossart. Pierre discusses the challenges of enabling hardware accelerators for energy conservation or for DRM-protected content. This is expected to require PulseAudio to control not only native streams in the CPU, but also hardware-mixed streams, while still giving the user full control. This will lead to the need for audio policies, to be set by OEM or distribution maintainers. The final gaze into the crystal ball involves the latencies of audio and video rendering, the discussion of which is hoped to generate ideas on lip-sync and on receiver adaptation.

If Linux ran only on desktops, laptops, notebooks, and servers, this might be the end of the story. But Linux is not to be so constrained, and we therefore have the ghost of audio handheld, in the form of "Practical Experiences from Using PulseAudio in Embedded Handheld Devices" by Jyri Sarha. Jyri will discuss integration of complex audio-enhancement algorithms such as acoustic echo cancellation to PulseAudio, as well as implementation of low-latency audio applications as PulseAudio modules.

With your help, we can further improve the state of Linux Audio!