Switching to Pulse Audio on MATE Desktop

I’m a rather conservative type and I’ve been using ALSA as my audio back-end for longer then I can remember.

However, since I was having some trouble getting the settings to stick on my MATE desktop and I wasn’t getting any sound when playing videos using mplayer a friend of mine suggested I try Pulse Audio for a change. So I thought I’d see what it would take to make the switch.

I began by updating the current packages. It always a good idea to do this first as it can avoid problems later – obviously to do this you need to be logged in as root.

# sudo apt-get update
# sudo apt-get upgrade


Then I removed all the ALSA packages…

# apt-get purge alsa-base alsa-utils gstreamer0.10-alsa \
> gstreamer0.10-plugins-base
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
Package 'alsa-base' is not installed, so not removed
Package 'alsa-utils' is not installed, so not removed
The following packages were automatically installed and are no longer
required:
  gstreamer0.10-gconf libaa1 libavc1394-0 libcaca0 libdv4 libflac8
  libiec61883-0 libjack-jackd2-0 libraw1394-11 libsamplerate0 libshout3
  libspeex1 libtag1-vanilla libtag1c2a libv4l-0 libv4lconvert0 libwavpack1
  mate-media-common
Use 'apt-get autoremove' to remove them.
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  gstreamer0.10-alsa* gstreamer0.10-plugins-base*
  gstreamer0.10-plugins-good* mate-media-gstreamer*
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 4 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
After this operation, 11.1 MB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]?  
(Reading database ... 58473 files and directories currently installed.)
Removing mate-media-gstreamer ...
  :
  :
  :
# apt-get autoremove --purge
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following packages will be REMOVED:
  gstreamer0.10-gconf* libaa1* libavc1394-0* libcaca0* libcdparanoia0*
  libdv4* libflac8* libiec61883-0* libjack-jackd2-0* libraw1394-11*
  libsamplerate0* libshout3* libspeex1* libtag1-vanilla* libtag1c2a*
  libtheora0* libv4l-0* libv4lconvert0* libvisual-0.4-0* libvorbisenc2*
  libwavpack1* mate-media-common*
0 upgraded, 0 newly installed, 22 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
After this operation, 11.9 MB disk space will be freed.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? 
  :
  :
  :
Removing mate-media-common ...
Processing triggers for gconf2 ...
# 


Before installing the packages needed for Pulse Audio..

# apt-get install pulseaudio gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio \
> mate-media-pulse
Reading package lists... Done
Building dependency tree       
Reading state information... Done
The following extra packages will be installed:
  libasound2-plugins libasyncns0 libavcodec53 libavutil51 libdirac-encoder0
  libfftw3-3 libflac8 libgsm1 libjack-jackd2-0 libjson0 libmp3lame0
  libpulse-mainloop-glib0 libpulse0 libsamplerate0 libschroedinger-1.0-0
  libsndfile1 libspeex1 libspeexdsp1 libsystemd-daemon0 libtheora0
  libva1 libvorbisenc2 libvpx1 libwebrtc-audio-processing-0 libx264-123
  libxvidcore4 mate-media-common
Suggested packages:
  libfftw3-bin libfftw3-dev jackd2 speex pulseaudio-utils pavumeter
  pavucontrol paman paprefs
Recommended packages:
  sound-theme-freedesktop pulseaudio-module-x11 rtkit
The following NEW packages will be installed:
  gstreamer0.10-pulseaudio libasound2-plugins libasyncns0 libavcodec53
  libavutil51 libdirac-encoder0 libfftw3-3 libflac8 libgsm1
  libjack-jackd2-0 libjson0 libmp3lame0 libpulse-mainloop-glib0
  libpulse0 libsamplerate0 libschroedinger-1.0-0 libsndfile1 libspeex1
  libspeexdsp1 libsystemd-daemon0 libtheora0 libva1 libvorbisenc2
  libvpx1 libwebrtc-audio-processing-0 libx264-123 libxvidcore4
  mate-media-common mate-media-pulse pulseaudio
0 upgraded, 30 newly installed, 0 to remove and 0 not upgraded.
Need to get 12.8 MB of archives.
After this operation, 44.5 MB of additional disk space will be used.
Do you want to continue [Y/n]? 
  :
  :
  :
Setting up pulseaudio (2.0-6.1) ...
Adding user pulse to group audio
[warn] PulseAudio configured for per-user sessions ... (warning).
Setting up mate-media-pulse (1.6.0-2) ...
#


That is all there is to it. I need to so some more testing but it basically works, though I do have a couple of outstanding issues to investigate. There is way to get audio out of the mono speaker on my desktop, or seperate the headphone and speaker output on my laptop. However, the audio settings now are now persistant and I’m able to play video using mplayer which is an improvement.

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