Monday 25 January 2010

Skype on Ubuntu Linux, plus pulseaudio problems.

After experiencing a load of hassle in the past with regards to getting Skype working at all on my 64 bit install of Ubuntu (Karmic Koala release), I was pleased to find that Skype now offer a 64 bit version to download.

After a quick one-button install, I was up and running. It seems to run even sweeter on Ubuntu, compared to Windows. Top marks to the developers for supporting this platform!

Prior to this, I'd started to investigate why the sound system in use by default on Ubuntu (pulseaudio) was giving me so many problems. My system would always start with the sound muted which was very annoying, although I fixed that quickly by hacking a script together to run on boot.

What really got my goat with pulseaudio was its inability to remain stable and usable for any length of time. Music played through Winamp was hit and miss, with radio static/crackle sometimes rearing its ugly head. Don't even think about mentioning Spotify since that caused all manner of problems! My solution to the problem was rather violent (in UNIX terms) because all I did to resolve the situation was to perform a killall on pulseaudio:

# killall pulseaudio

This would sometimes sort the problem out, but not always. After a lot of digging around on Ubuntu forums, the general consensus of opinion was that the pulseaudio system is still a 'work in progress'. Not an ideal situation I feel, so I took the executive option of removing the crud and installing a proper sound system, aka esound.

# sudo aptitude purge pulseaudio
# sudo aptitude install esound

All is now well in the world of sound on Ubuntu x64 and I am very happy that this great software seems to have fixed all of my sound problems. All the more exciting is that I can now select my webcam mic as a recording sound source. Perfection!


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