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Thu, 20 Apr 2006

Polypaudio 0.8 Released

The reports of Polypaudio's death are greatly exaggerated.

We are proud to announce the release of Polypaudio 0.8, our networked sound daemon for Linux, other Unix-like operating systems, and Microsoft Windows. Since the last official release, 0.7, more than a year has passed. In the meantime Polypaudio experienced major improvements. Major contributions have been made by both Pierre Ossman and me. Pierre is being payed by Cendio AB to work on Polypaudio. Cendio distributes Polypaudio along with their ThinLinc Terminal Server.

Some of the major changes:

Sounds good, doesn't it? But that's not all!

We're really excited about this new Polypaudio release. However, there are more very exciting, good news in the Polypaudio world. Pierre implemented a Polypaudio plugin for alsa-libs. This means you may now use any ALSA-aware application to access a Polypaudio sound server! The patch has already merged upstream, and will probably appear in the next official release of alsa-plugins.

Due to the massive internal changes we had to make a lot of modifications to the public API. Hence applications which currently make use of the Polypaudio 0.7 API need to be updated. The patches or packages I maintain will be updated in the next weeks one-by-one. (That is: xmms-polyp, the MPlayer patch, the libao patch, the GStreamer patch and the PortAudio patch)

A side note: I wonder what this new release means for Polypaudio in Debian. I've never been informed by the Debian maintainers of Polypaudio that it has been uploaded to Debian, and never of the removal either. In fact I never exchanged a single line with those who were the Debian maintainers of Polypaudio. Is this the intended way how the Debian project wants its developers to communicate with upstream? I doubt that!

How does Polypaudio compare to ESOUND?

Polypaudio does everything what ESOUND does, and much more. It is a fully compatible drop-in replacement. With a small script you can make it command line compatible (including autospawning). ESOUND clients may connect to our daemon just like they did to the original ESOUND daemon, since we implemented a compatibility module for the ESOUND protocol.

Support for other well known networked audio protocols (such as NAS) should be easy to add - if there is a need.

For a full list of the features that Polypaudio has over ESOUND, see Polypaudio's homepage.

How does Polypaudio compare to ALSA's dmix?

Some people might ask whether there still is a need for a sound server in times where ALSA's dmix plugin is available. The answer is: yes!

Firstly, Polypaudio is networked, which dmix is not. However, there are many reasons why Polypaudio is useful on non-networked systems as well. Polypaudio is portable, it is available not just for Linux but for FreeBSD, Solaris and even Microsoft Windows. Polypaudio is extensible, there is broad range of additional modules available which allow the user to use Polypaudio in many exciting ways ALSA doesn't offer. In Polypaudio streams, devices and other server internals can be monitored and introspected freely. The volume of the multiple streams may be manipulated independently of each other, which allows new exciting applications like a work-alike of the new per-application mixer tool featured in upcoming Windows Vista. In multi-user systems, Polypaudio offers a secure and safe way to allow multiple users to access the sound device simultaneously. Polypaudio may be accessed through the ESOUND and the ALSA APIs. In addition, ALSA dmix is still not supported properly by many ALSA clients, and is difficult to setup.

A side node: dmix forks off its own simple sound daemon anyway, hence there is no big difference to using Polypaudio with the ALSA plugin in auto-spawning mode. (Though admittedly, those ALSA clients that don't work properly with dmix, won't do so with our ALSA plugin as well since they actually use the ALSA API incorrectly.)

How does Polypaudio compare to JACK?

Everytime people discuss sound servers on Unix/Linux and which way is the right to go for desktops, JACK gets mentioned and suggested by some as a replacement for ESOUND for the desktop. However, this is not practical. JACK is not intended to be a desktop sound server, instead it is designed for professional audio in mind. Its semantics are different from other sound servers: e.g. it uses exclusively floating point samples, doesn't deal directly with interleaved channels and maintains a server global time-line which may be stopped and seeked around. All that translates badly to desktop usages. JACK is really nice software, but just not designed for the normal desktop user, who's not working on professional audio production.

Since we think that JACK is really a nice piece of work, we added two new modules to Polypaudio which can be used to hook it up to a JACK server.

Get Polypaudio 0.8, while it is hot!

BTW: We're looking for a logo for Polypaudio. Feel free to send us your suggestions!

Update: The Debian rant is unjust to Jeff Waugh. In fact, he had informed me that he prepared Debian packages of Polypaudio. I just never realized that he had actually uploaded them to Debian. What still stands, however, is that I've not been informed or asked about the removal.

posted at: 01:37 | path: /projects | permanent link to this entry | comments


It should be obvious but in case it isn't: the opinions reflected here are my own. They are not the views of my employer, or Ronald McDonald, or anyone else.

Please note that I take the liberty to delete any comments posted here that I deem inappropriate, off-topic, or insulting. And I excercise this liberty quite agressively. So yes, if you comment here, I might censor you. If you don't want to be censored you are welcome to comment on your own blog instead.


Lennart Poettering <mzoybt (at) 0pointer (dot) net>
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