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PulseAudio emulation for ALSA.

The program provides an alternative partial implementation of the PulseAudio API. It consists of a loader script and a number of shared libraries with the same names as from original PulseAudio, so applications could dynamically load them and think they are talking to PulseAudio. Internally, no separate sound mixing daemon is used. Instead, apulse relies on ALSA's dmix, dsnoop, and plug plugins to handle multiple sound sources and capture streams running at the same time. dmix plugin muxes multiple playback streams; dsnoop plugin allow multiple applications to capture from a single microphone; and plug plugin transparently converts audio between various sample formats, sample rates and channel numbers. For more than a decade now, ALSA comes with these plugins enabled and configured by default.

apulse wasn't designed to be a drop-in replacement of PulseAudio. It's pointless, since that will be just reimplementation of original PulseAudio, with the same client-daemon architecture, required by the complete feature set. Instead, only parts of the API that are crucial to specific applications are implemented. That's why there is a loader script, named apulse. It updates value of LD_LIBRARY_PATH environment variable to point also to the directory where apulse's libraries are installed, making them available to the application.

Name comes from names of both ALSA and PulseAudio. As aoss was a compatibility layer between OSS programs and ALSA, apulse was designed to be compatibility layer between PulseAudio applications and ALSA.


$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make
# make install

If you want 32-bit binaries on 64-bit machine (for example, for Skype), use:

$ mkdir build && cd build
$ make
# make install

There is a way to configure where apulse libraries will be installed, via APULSEPATH cmake variable. For example, if you want to install libraries into default path, /usr/lib, use


If libraries are installed to a regular library path, you don't need run applications through apulse wrapper.


$ apulse <program-name> [program-parameters]

Environment variables APULSE_CAPTURE_DEVICE and APULSE_PLAYBACK_DEVICE can be used to configure capture and playback devices. Try hw:0,0, plughw:0,0 and the like. Refer to the ALSA user guide for a full list of device names.

System directory versus separate directory installations

By default, libraries from apulse are installed into a separate directory, in order to hide them from all applications.

Most applications in the wild, that support both PulseAudio and ALSA, try to autodetect which sound system is used. First, applications try to start with PulseAudio. Original client libraries fail early if no PulseAudio daemon is running or can be started. Then they switch to ALSA. Decision is made once, at the beginning. It works fine with PulseAudio, but doesn't work with apulse. Latter has no daemons, it happily says that everything is fine, and it's capable of playing audio. Applications then try to call more functions, and eventually touch unimplemented parts, often with crashes. So, libraries are hidden, and become visible only when a program is called through apulse wrapper script.

It's possible to install apulse libraries to /usr/lib. Wrapper script won't be required, but then all applications will try to use PulseAudio API, despite they can use ALSA.


Source code is distributed under the terms of the MIT License. See LICENSE.MIT for full text.

Third party code

/3rdparty/pulseaudio-headers contains part of PulseAudio project and is distributed under LGPLv2.1+ terms. See content of the files for details.