Sound system

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General information

Arch sound system contains of several levels:

  • Kernel drivers and interface – hardvare support, providing general capabilities (software mixing etc)
  • Usermode API (libraries) – for application access
  • (optional) Usermode sound servers – more advanced capabilities
  • (optional) Sound frameworks – crossplatform and easy access for applications (pulled-in during application installation)

Default Arch installation already includes kernel sound system, namely ALSA, and lots of utilities for it, to be installed from Official repositories. Ones who want additional features can switch to another one (namely OSS) or install one of several sound servers.


  • irqbalance
  • linux-rt
  • schedtool/nice (with sound server)

Drivers || present int stock kernel
  • The Open Sound System (OSS) — alternative sound architecture for Unix-like and POSIX-compatible systems. OSS version 3 was the original sound system for Linux and is in the kernel but was superceded by ALSA in 2002 when OSS version 4 became proprietary software. OSSv4 became free software again in 2007 when 4Front Technologies released its source code and provided it under the GPL license || oss

Sound servers

  • The Jack-Audio-Connection-Kit — sound server for advanced use, and is generally used by professionals looking to record. Regardless it does support mixing, although to get non JACK aware applications to work, a plugin has to be provided. The alsa-plugins package will pull this in. || jack
  • JACK2 — also called JACK-mp, it is the next version of JACK, with support for multi-processors and for network audio || jack2
  • PulseAudio — popular sound server, provided by many distributives || pulseaudio

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