I ended up doing a full reinstall of my Fedora 8 install yesterday. It finally gave me a chance to play with PulseAudio. I guess I have for a long time belonged to the group of people skeptical about the value of a soundserver in a local setting. But working with people like Wim and having them tell me my skepticism is misplaced and that PulseAudio seems to be doing it right I haven’t voiced my skepticism to loudly.
And while there still is some work needed on the UI side (something I saw Lennart point out himself in a wiki post) I have to say the functionality provided by Pulse is nice. Those who have followed the latest iterations of GNOME would have noticed that the audio support has been evolving at a steady pace for quite a few releases. These things have focused on playing with the GStreamer gconf elements which allows your sound output to be configured through various GConf keys. This does work, but it do not lend itself to a high degree of granularity and we still have some way before it provided the user experience we wanted in terms of devices that come and go like USB and Bluetooth headsets. PulseAudio seems a more natural fit for these scenarios and I have to say it was a fun experience today switching audio back and forth between my USB headset and the laptop speakers using the PulseAudio mixer.
As said some UI improvements is still needed before this is perfect, for instance it took me a little time to figure out how to do it before eventually discovered that right clicking was my friend :). But I have to say the feeling I got is that this is the way forward and that the foundation is very solid.
And of course thanks to the PulseAudio GStreamer plugin Lennart wrote all my GStreamer apps work wonderfully in this new PulseAudio world :).
GStreamer on MacOS X and Windows
Speaking of GStreamer, Julien commited two plugins recently to gst-plugins-bad I think are quite exciting. The two plugins in questions are a Quicktime codec loader for MacOSX and a DirectShow codec loader for Windows. The Quicktime loader, which I believe is the first working one available in any open source project, gives GStreamer access to native codecs when running on MacOSX. This means that when you run a GStreamer application under MacOSX you don’t need to install GStreamer specific codecs for codecs provided by MacOSX by default.
The DirectShow codec loader is very similar to what people have been using under linux for a long time to load Windows codec .dll files using Wine, but once again its goal is to enable access to native codecs when running GStreamer under Windows.
The MacOS X plugin was written by Edward Hervey, while we were still at Fluendo, and the Windows plugin was written by Sebastian Moutte, Juliens brother. The two plugins where done as the result of an agreement with Songbird so a big thanks goes to them. In fact the Songbird team just recently released their 0.3 release of the Songbird player so if you haven’t already you should give it a try.
So anyone reading this who runs and/or develops with GStreamer on either Windows or MacOSX platforms please test the plugins and help ensure they can be moved over to gst-plugins-good in the not to distant future.
Life in England
Beginning to feel settled in here in Cambridge now with most practical stuff taken care of. Sharing and office with Rob and Daf here at Collabora has been a very nice experience so far. Cambridge is also a really interesting town with a lot of things happening. For instance on Wednesday I attended the founding meeting of Games Eden, a business networking organization for people in the East England area involved with various aspects of computer game industry. The meeting was attended by for instance the guys from Ninja Theory who are behind the PS3 game Heavenly Sword, David Braben the man behind the legendary game Elite and who runs his own game development studio here in Cambridge was there, Andy Serkis was there, who was the person giving life to the characters of Golem in Lord of the Rings and King Kong in the movie by the same name. Andy was partly there due to his involvement in the creation of Heavenly Sword, but he also had some very interesting business ideas which would ensure his future involvement in the game industry going forward.
Things going very well business wise at Collabora, seems there is not a week going by without a new company popping onto the scene using GStreamer, often in conjunction with Telepathy. And more often than not they are also interested in our help with getting their products and projects moving forward. Ended up with a lot of onsite assignments recently which has had especially Edward probably spending more time away than at home. :). I also have to say that I am quite impressed with how Robert and Philippe manages to keep so well coordinated across time zones and continents. It think it would have been very easy to end up with two very separate units with the team almost spread 50/50 between Europe and Canada, but they somehow manage to make it seem easy to keep the two parts of the company humming like one integrated machine. Part of it is of course applying open source social mechanics to organization of the company, but even with that as a background it is a big challenge and Rob and Philippe without a doubt got a natural affinity for the challenge.