Pulseaudio and Alsa relationship in Fedora 30+

Hello Everyone,

I was having difficulty understanding why Fedora seems to have 2 audio subsystems, Pulseaudio and ALSA.

Could someone explain how these 2 interact, why they’re both installed, etc? I would also really appreciate it if someone could tell me which one I should be using/configuring.

Thank you!

There’s a really good explanation of the Linux audio stack here. If you want a TLDR (it’s admittedly a long read but completely worth it IMO):

  • ALSA is the kernel interface for talking to audio devices. For a long time, it only allowed a single channel, and pretty much all the complexity was shuffled into a userspace library (alsalib) which isn’t very fun to use.
  • Pulseaudio mixes together audio from your different apps, applies global configuration to it, and then sends it off to the appropriate kernel interfaces.

Thank you, concise and understandable tl;dr.

I’ll also read the linked article, but you answered my question perfectly.

Have a great weekend! :slight_smile:

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I believe that pipewire has recently been added to the audio stack.