Sound and Music

Linux historically had a reputation of lacking good support for sound and multimedia applications in general. However, great strides have been made in recent years to correct this, and support is now a lot better than it used to be. (It might make you smile that Microsoft no longer supports the Microsoft Sound Card, but Linux users still enjoy support for it, no doubt just to annoy the folks in Redmond.) UNIX, however, has always had good multimedia support as David Taylor, UNIX author and guru, points out:

"The original graphics work for computers was done by Evans & Sutherland on Unix systems. The innovations at MIT's Media Lab were done on Unix workstations. In 1985, we at HP Labs were creating sophisticated multimedia immersive work environments on Unix workstations, so maybe Unix is more multimedia than suggested. Limitations in Linux support doesn't mean Unix had the same limitations. I think it was more a matter of logistics, with hundreds of sound cards and thousands of different possible PC configurations."

That last sentence sums it up quite well. UNIX had a limited range of hardware to support; Linux has hundreds of sound cards. Sound card device driver support has been long lacking from manufacturers, and there is still no single standard for the sound subsystem in Linux.

In this section, you learn about sound cards, sound file formats, and the sound applications provided with Ubuntu.

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