PipeWire, the audio handling solution to replace PulseAudio, is now in enough mainstream distributions – including Pop!_OS, Fedora, and Ubuntu – to be considered the new standard. It already works incredibly well and offers much better audio performance and configurability than the old defaults. However, PipeWire lacks the desktop controls and smooth integration that come only from being the default for a decade, which is the time it seemed to take for PulseAudio to finally become integrated. It's also why most distributions will plug PipeWire directly into a PulseAudio layer to provide compatibility with those long-established control panels and applications, but this misses many of the advantages you get from using PipeWire directly. PipeWire is similar to JACK in both its low latency and its modularity, but you can't access these features without a third-party console, and that's exactly what qpwgraph is – a PipeWire graph Qt GUI interface with a terrible name.

If you've ever used Catia or QJackCtl to access JACK interconnectivity, you'll already be familiar with the view qpwgraph presents when first launched. Every detected input and output is shown as a node in a graph, with connections to show where audio data flows. If you launch Firefox and use it to play sound, for example, PipeWire and the graph automatically insert new nodes and adapt to show the new audio pathway. You can then drag and drop any connection to change the pathway, which is great if you want to run some effects or analysis, or route the audio both to an output and to a recording application. PipeWire with qpwgraph does all this natively, without any further configuration. If you're a Gnome user, the equally brilliant Helvum presents the same graph view interface within a GtkWindow that integrates perfectly with your desktop. Either way, both applications are a gateway to the wonderful world of PipeWire that don't require any system-wide compromises on the way.

Project Website

The Qt interface is system agnostic, but if you prefer Gnome, Helvum does PipeWire interconnectivity for Gnome users.

Matrix client


We'd be remiss to skip through this set of FOSSPicks without finding a chat client for the fediverse. With all the changes at Twitter HQ, there's been unprecedented demand for Mastodon clients, its instances, and even for running self-hosted servers. But Matrix too has seen a huge influx of new users, and the chat platform has seen a few new open source clients appear to go alongside the tried and tested Element. FluffyChat is one such client, and in its own words, it's "Open. Nonprofit. Cute." FluffyChat's cuteness comes from both its name and the way it's been designed. The "F" in its name is likely because FluffyChat has been written in the toolkit du jour, Flutter, and the client has been built with a clean user interface that's immediately familiar but also modern, fast, and flexible.

Flutter has been developed by Google, and as a result, it's very good at creating dynamic, minimal, and beautifully animated user interfaces that adapt easily across any form factor and desktop size. This is exactly what you get with FluffyChat on the desktop, but this also allows FluffyChat to coexist as a web application, as a cross-platform client, and as an Android application. They all feature the same responsive user interface that shows contacts and grouped chats on the left and the contents of any conversations on the right. You can change the accent color, switch between light and dark themes, and even create a backup of your conversations. All of this is done through Flutter's trademark smooth transitions and beautifully animated sliding panels. It makes Matrix a joy to use and is a great reminder that outside the contentious world of toots and tweets, there are stable and federated chat platforms that are quietly getting on with it.

Project Website

Matrix is another open source federated chat platform that features groups and end-to-end encryption.

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