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PipeWire is the future for Linux audio and I am sold on it

By - | Views: 52,526

Linux and audio have never entirely gotten along well together, when PulseAudio came along it actually solved a lot of problems but it's PipeWire that's the real future.

Truthfully, I was hesitent to switch my own PC over from PulseAudio to PipeWire for fear of breakage, especially with the Steam Deck — I needed things to continue working smoothly. However, I also sometimes tend to just "YOLO" for the fun of it and so I did. I'm now running PipeWire and I have to tell you how happy I am with it.

PipeWire is a project that aims to greatly improve handling of audio and video under Linux. It provides a low-latency, graph based processing engine on top of audio and video devices that can be used to support the use cases currently handled by both pulseaudio and JACK. PipeWire was designed with a powerful security model that makes interacting with audio and video devices from containerized applications easy, with supporting Flatpak applications being the primary goal. Alongside Wayland and Flatpak we expect PipeWire to provide a core building block for the future of Linux application development.

Not only is it powerful, it's also surprisingly easy to use and assorted applications have sprung up around it to support it. Software like Helvum and qpwgraph have absolutely blown my mind on how ridiculously simple they make messing with audio inputs and outputs.

Something I've wanted to do for a long time, but Pulse didn't really help and I didn't like the complexity of JACK was to get different inputs and outputs going for OBS Studio for my livestreams. Things like only having very specific audio go to certain places. Now, it's ridiculously easy.

With the aforementioned applications, you just drag wires between things and…done. That's it. How is Linux audio now this easy?!

For example, grabbing the audio from my shiny Capture Card that's attached between the Steam Deck and my PC, with a drag of a wire I can now have it going to OBS Studio and also have it so only that goes to my Wireless headset. How about music playing that only I can hear? It's a small thing but PipeWire makes everything like that simple. Duplicating and moving audio streams with the drag of a wire. I like simplicity, it makes me happy. There's a huge amount this enables without diving into confusing configuration files, and there's no terminal needed - it's all in the UI. Lovely.

Linux audio is really going places with this. If you also haven't tried PipeWire yet, you're missing out.

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About the author -
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I am the owner of GamingOnLinux. After discovering Linux back in the days of Mandrake in 2003, I constantly came back to check on the progress of Linux until Ubuntu appeared on the scene and it helped me to really love it. You can reach me easily by emailing GamingOnLinux directly.
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thanks for qpwgraph, didn't know that
elmapul 28 Feb
unfa works with audio professionally, heres he opinion...

it was tested a few months ago, so maybe things have changed.
Rob-Retro 1 Mar
Manjaro enabled it a while back, and i had to remove/disable it, for some reason it does not work with old native Games like UT2004, Quake 4, ET Quakewars, Prey, Etc, i think it might be that pipewire on Manjaro has no 32bit support, so back to alsa/pulse for me.
Honestly, I am not a fan of when people say something is "the future". Especially in the Linux space, where choice is key.

Personally, I will keep using Xorg and Pulseaudio.
I've had zero audio problems since switching. 10/10, would recommend
Liam Dawe 1 Mar
Quoting: AussieEeveeHonestly, I am not a fan of when people say something is "the future". Especially in the Linux space, where choice is key.

Personally, I will keep using Xorg and Pulseaudio.
No one is taking choice away, I really don't get why you would even remotely think that. Use whatever you want.
Lanz 1 Mar
I recently made the switch as well. For whatever reason, 0 AD's audio stopped working for me on Arch. I hopped over to PipeWire and it worked without issue.
m2mg2 1 Mar
Quoting: LeopardUsing Pipewire like two months now. Not only that it is just works, switching from Pulse was also seamless.

I don't have a complicated audio setup nor i use any extra features that Pipewire might bring to table but even with just switching change was noticable.

I was in need of using `PULSE_LATENCY_MSEC=60` on Pulse for some games, lately on God Of War ( lip sync issue(. With Pipewire it is not needed anymore, works out of the box without issues.

Worked fine on my laptop. Had no sound after upgrade on desktop. Had to revert the desktop back to pulse.
ST34MF0X 1 Mar
Been using Pipewire for almost 9 months. Best decision I've made.
14 1 Mar
If PipeWire allows me to easily have my Mumble voice chat only go to my headset, while game audio is the only thing going to OBS, then it will become basically essential immediately.
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