Getting Ready for PipeWire

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© Photo by Nathan Mcgregor on Unsplash

© Photo by Nathan Mcgregor on Unsplash

Article from Issue 256/2022
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In the coming year, PipeWire will replace PulseAudio, resulting in better audio on Linux. If you can't wait, here's what you need to know to get started with PipeWire.

Unless you use a version of Fedora released in 2021, you may not have heard of PipeWire [1]. However, by this time next year, PipeWire will likely be installed on your computer. Already, many distributions are starting to carry PipeWire (marked as experimental) in their repositories. Still unfinished and its installation varying, depending on distribution, PipeWire is about to replace PulseAudio as Linux's main audio server. If you are unwilling to wait until PipeWire becomes a standard part of a Linux installation, here is what you should know.

PipeWire was created by Wim Taymans of Red Hat in 2015. Based on an earlier project called PulseVideo, PipeWire was originally intended as a server for capture and playback of audio and video. The video side of the project is still in development, but the audio side is mature enough that in the spring of 2021 Fedora 34 become the first Linux distribution to install it by default. In Fedora 34, PipeWire is used to manage PulseAudio, JACK, ALSA, and GStreamer-based applications.

Given that Red Hat developed PulseAudio earlier as an audio manager, the reasoning behind rushing PipeWire into general use is being silently passed over. However, the rush is almost certainly due to numerous complaints about PulseAudio. Despite being the most common audio server on Linux, PulseAudio has become infamous for its awkward interface and, especially in its early days, for the project's slowness to respond to numerous bug reports. A recent Google search on "problems with Pulse Audio" [2] returned 289,000 results. At the top of these results is a list of common issues:

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