Ubuntu 22.10 is dropping PulseAudio
Ubuntu 22.10 is making a big change in the future of the Ubuntu Linux distribution pipeline, by changing the audio server configuration from PulseAudio to PipeWire.
The news was officially confirmed by Canonical employee and Ubuntu Desktop developer Heather Ellsworth in the Ubuntu Discourse thread on the subject,
“That’s right, as of today the Kinetic iso (pending, not current yet as changes have just been made) has been updated to run only pipewire and not pulseaudio. So @copong can expect this for kinetic.
For Jammy, you may notice that you have both pipewire and pulseaudio running. This is because pulseaudio is still used for audio, but pipewire is used for video. (Pipewire is required for streaming and screen sharing on Wayland.)
I hope this clarifies our plans regarding pipewire/pulseaudio, but let us know if you have any more questions.”
Ubuntu currently for 22.04LTS uses PipeWire for screen streaming, but still uses PulseAudio for audio.
Image courtesy of Pipewire.org
Other popular distributions that use PipeWire are Fedora, EndeavourOS, and Slackware.
The PipeWire home page says,
“PipeWire is a project that aims to greatly improve audio and video handling on Linux. It provides a low-latency graphics-based rendering engine in addition to the audio and video devices that can be used to support use cases that currently handle both pulseaudio and JACK. PipeWire was designed with a powerful security model that makes it easy to interact with audio and video devices from containerized applications, with compatibility with Flatpak applications as the primary goal. Along with Wayland and Flatpak, we expect PipeWire to provide a core component for the future of Linux application development.”
There are instructions for installing PipeWire directly on the front page of the site, which is always good to see as it makes it very simple for users. Also, the PipeWire documentation seemed pretty comprehensive as I skimmed through it, so if you want to dig deeper beyond the installation instructions, there’s plenty of information available on their docs page.
I can say that I have no notable personal experience with PipeWire. I’ve used and love EndeavorOS, but I’m not sure if and to what extent the last time I used it, it used PipeWire. Therefore, I cannot give a personal review at this time; however, I can say that after digging a little deeper and doing more research on this topic for this article, I think PipeWire sounds like the way to go, compared to PulseAudio. PulseAudio works… sort of… until it stops working… And it’s served us well for years, but I don’t think I know many Linux users who would balk at switching to a different audio system if it meant more stability, less latency, and a lot of customization and power under the hood. I for one am looking forward to the next Ubuntu release, and will be sure to test and comment on the audio when I do a review in the fall of 2022!
What do you think about switching audio systems from PulseAudio to PipeWire? Do you have experience using it for audio in your own setup? Tell us in the comments!