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

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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.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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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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54 comments
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sgtnasty369 17 May
Steam - Pillars of Eternity
Nothing I change will play sound from PoE to my HDMI TV
PoE always plays sound out of my laptop speaker

Pipewire never switches audio to my TV via HDMI
I have to do it for every app

Yeah pipewire works great
doctorx 22 May
You are not forced to use it? Ubuntu 22.10 will have pw installed by default instead of pa. Others will follow. I am not sold. I will admit my bias, but after working with red hat since late 90s... I would rather not have any more "improvements" from red hat. (Gnome,systemd,ifconfig removal,etc.) I haven't had a problem with pa in years now. They are just m$ of linux. And before you say it, i talked to rh almost daily for several years on various things.


Last edited by doctorx on 22 May 2022 at 12:37 am UTC
sgtnasty369 22 May
Quoting: doctorxYou are not forced to use it? Ubuntu 22.10 will have pw installed by default instead of pa. Others will follow. I am not sold. I will admit my bias, but after working with red hat since late 90s... I would rather not have any more "improvements" from red hat. (Gnome,systemd,ifconfig removal,etc.) I haven't had a problem with pa in years now. They are just m$ of linux. And before you say it, i talked to rh almost daily for several years on various things.

I suppose one can remove pw and use pa? Either way, nothing is perfect, I get other issues with macOS and Windows 10.
I went into the Pipewire rabbit hole recently (why my answer is so delayed relative to the article's age) and my god, it's so nice to have something just work and still have so much functionality. After messing around a bit with Helvum and qpwgraph, I found Carla through a youtube video which does basically the same thing as those tools, but allows you to also add VST-Plugins etc. to any audio stream which honestly blew my mind. It even works super well with EasyEffects as the effects are just another "node" in Carla which you can rearrange, (dis)connect however you please. Super impressed. Maybe worth checking out as well if one has interest in using VST/LV2 Plugins in audio streams. It even has a bridge for windows vst plugins, though I haven't messed with that yet as it seemed to be a bit more involved to get working.


Last edited by FurbyOnSteroid on 7 June 2022 at 1:07 pm UTC
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