Sounds like a job for Alsartsman and his sidekick esdMixBOY!

Starting up a new office is a funny ordeal, especially in a country where you don't know the language and maybe even WORSE, you don't even know the trash sorting routines for recycling!

Anyways, one thing I should have an ok knowledge about is setting up my new machine. Having used Debian for a long time I thought it was time to move on to something more fashionable like Kubuntu (Dapper). The basic install went like a breeze, then ofcourse starts some fiddling with getting accelerated graphics drivers and getting X to behave as wanted, but it all went fine. Sound even worked out of the box without a problem too! Kinda...

The first problem was trying to define the default sound device. For me I got sound through my USB headset, while Matthias got sound through his AC97 compatible motherboard soundcard. We tried asoundconf set-default-card and all that crap, but never got it working properly. Solution? We just disabled the motherboard sound chip with a jumper :|

The second problem was getting several applications to access the sound device at the same time. In my ignorance, I believed this problem had been solved at this point and it was just my old crappy Debian system that couldn't play XMMS and Flash at the same time. It might not sound like a serious issue, I mean how often do you really need two apps playing sounds at the same time? All the freakin time! is the answer to that question.

We're going to use some form of voip to communicate between the dev team offices, so we will have either Skype or OpenWengo or whatever works in a comfortable way cross platform, so there will always be an app like this running. And we all like music, so we'll have some app for that too running. Then there is Flash and all the other small apps that sometimes needs to play a happy tune.

So, I installed the latest Skype 1.3 Beta that uses Alsa, and fired it up. The test call didn't work cause it had "Problems with sound device". I killed amaroK (running the Xine engine), and then Skype worked. I then spent the next seven hours playning around with arts, alsa, dmix, reading about jack and esd, trying restarting, rebooting, piping, mixing, enabling, disabling, swapping, switching and then in the end - just crying. The only time I had actually gotten two sounds playing at once was when pressing "Test Sound" in the Sound and Multimedia - System Settings dialog. It was just like trying to set up the Sound Blaster emulation in DOS for a Gravis Ultrasound all over again - only this time it was less fun.

On Windows there is DirectSound or ASIO. One can select the default device for the OS, and one can override this if one feels like it in the running applications. Simply explained, DirectSound is for games and normal applications, while ASIO is for professional audio usage - and most important of all - they work. (There is also MMSystem, but it's old and dead).

I think it's strange this is still an issue on Linux.