In a slightly unscientific poll I attempted find out what users prefer, Hardware Sound Mixing or Software Sound Mixing.
Here is a GNOME user enjoying Hardware Sound Mixing, he looks happy and carefree.
Here is a GNOME user enjoying Software Sound Mixing, he also looks happy and carefree.
Thus the toss up, users seem to prefer each type just as much. One could say a lot of users (people who listen to music) don’t care where the sound gets mixed, in hardware or software, just that it does. Andrew got to the point that if you saw the pulse audio demo at the GNOME Summit you’d have been impressed, it allows us to be really reactive and dynamic with sound where we haven’t at all before; a huge step forward that’s available now.
I think Lennart’s mail while long and possibly abrasive to some people was pretty refreshing and right on at the same time. Right now we seem to be at a situation where audio sucks for most of our users all of the time because there is no mixing happing and no integration at the GNOME level. Things suck almost as much for people with hardware mixing because they have to go search the web for a solution to use their hardware mixer at the ALSA level. PA seems like it will at least bring GNOME forward for the majority of users who are likely having issues with sound, working to make hardware mixing work just as well seems like an parallel process, not a conflicting one.
And there’s no reason we couldn’t do much better than the vista sound mixer, we try. I’ve already gotten started and will need to post more mockups as I have them.