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ALSA sound drivers should be packaged seperately from kernel

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In all recent mandrake distros (8.x and 9.0), the ALSA sound drivers ( http://www.alsa-project.org ) have been included as part of the kernel rpm with the result that upgrading one ALSA sound driver requires any one of these tedious steps:

 

1. Updrade the kernel rpm, when such an rpm is available. Note that cooker kernels are not stable. Also, kernel upgrade is a pain (even for oldies).

2. Download the latest ALSA source code, compile (must have kernel-source installed) and install it.

 

Obviously, for a newbie both solutions can be very difficult. The good news is that other linux distros are working around this problem very elegantly.

In fact, redhat-8.0 did not include ALSA as part of the kernel rpm, which allows users to install them seperately (and easily) by downloading readymade RPMS from http://psyche.freshrpms.net/rpm.html?id=381 . I wish mandrake does the same thing (put the ALSA drivers in a seperate rpm) from release 9.1 onwards so that they can be readily upgraded from rpms made available by helpful mandrake folks like texstar ( ftp://ftp.ibiblio.org/pub/Linux/distribut...ndrake/9.0/rpms ) and plf ( http://plf.zarb.org/ ). This approach is particularly relevant for mandrake since sound support in mandrake has had too many problems in the recent past and obviously newbies will find it real hard to compile ALSA source or upgrade kernel to some unstable version.

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Well.. it may be elegant for upgraders or experimenters, but not for "Just want to work" kind of folk which Mandrake is a bit geared toward. I mean.. how many people have frustrations of not getting their mp3 fix in RedHat until they realize they need to download the mp3 plugin for xmms (not from RedHat either but from some other place).

 

Besides.. isn't alsa is supposed to be compiled to the kernel? So how do they make the alsa rpms separate from the kernel without doing something ala nvidia driver?

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Guest ndeb
Well.. it may be elegant for upgraders or experimenters, but not for "Just want to work" kind of folk which Mandrake is a bit geared toward. I mean.. how many people have frustrations of not getting their mp3 fix in RedHat until they realize they need to download the mp3 plugin for xmms (not from RedHat either but from some other place).

U missed the point. I did not suggest that mandrake should exclude ALSA. I am only suggesting that mandrake package the ALSA drivers (kernel modules) seperately from the kernel. Lets call this rpm kernel-alsa-drivers. Obviously, the default installation should install this rpm side by side with the kernel rpm. This is simply a packaging trick, nothing more.

 

The problem with mp3 plugin for xmms on redhat-8.0 is very different. Redhat chose to exclude it for copyright issues. And there is absolutely no such problem with ALSA (fully GPL).

 

Besides.. isn't alsa is supposed to be compiled to the kernel? So how do they make the alsa rpms separate from the kernel without doing something ala nvidia driver?

Like I said, this is just a packaging trick. For example, if u want to download the XFree86 source tree, u will download one source tree. But on mandrake-8.0, the binaries are seperated into several rpms:

XFree86-4.2.1-3mdk

XFree86-server-4.2.1-3mdk

XFree86-glide-module-4.2.1-3mdk

XFree86-libs-4.2.1-3mdk

Obviously, it won't hurt if mandrake chose to combine all 4 rpms into one, since these binaries do not work without each other. But, the advantage of keeping the binaries in seperate rpms is that if there is an update to the glide module that does not affect the X server, libraries and other parts of X, the user only needs to upgrade the small XFree86-glide-module instead of 1 mammoth 70MB rpm. From the developer's side the packaging advantages are also clear since one has to deal with less binaries at a time.

 

The advantage of a kernel-alsa-drivers is that now, if the user is not happy with the ALSA drivers, the user has the choice of upgrading it from an alternative source without the need to upgrade/install a new kernel. In the end it gives the user more choice.

 

U r right about this being something similar to the NVIDIA_kernel rpm. But alsa drivers are far more stable compared to the nvidia drivers.

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