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Upgrading to Slackware 14.2

Posted on Jan 29, 2017

It has been over a month since I upgraded my Acer Aspire V5 laptop to Slackware version 14.2. I use the 64-bit distribution with multilib support to also run some 32-bit programs.

It was a rough fight. I think I made an error while issuing the basic upgrade commands and I broke the 14.1 installation I was using. I had to reinstall everything. Not pleasant, but life is hard…

Some of the customisation scripts I use had to be fixed, for example for good handling of ACPI events. Fine. Some of the features work better now.

There is a very disturbing problem: Slackware 14.2 started using PulseAudio to handle everything audio–related. Version 14.1 was using ALSA.

Under ALSA everything worked. All the media players were happy. I could run multiple copies of Firefox under different user profiles, all playing sound through the Flash Player and they worked; even when I was already playing music with a program from the terminal. Registering volume settings on the file system and restoring them later worked fine.

Those days are gone.

PulseAudio sucks. It works or not in an unpredictable way (for me). Volume levels are reset randomly. Running multiple sound players under different user accounts just does not work: it seems programs fight for access to the sound capabilities and the one that wins cuts out the others. Sometimes the sound system “locks” and there is no way to make it work again: players just crash with “cannot connect” error messages. Most likely, somewhere a lock file is left behind. I hate this.

I am really angry because sound capabilities are supposed to be a solved problem. Why in 2017 do I have live with this? Damn!

I wish Slackware could revert to using ALSA. Most likely it will not happen…

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