audio code maintainers, A call to arms

Conrad J. Sabatier conrads at
Mon Jan 17 09:17:54 PST 2005

On Sat, 15 Jan 2005 13:09:42 -0500, Mathew Kanner <mat at>

> On Jan 12, Julian Elischer wrote:
> > Firstly, Who is curently maintaining it?
> > Orion Hodson seems to have become scarce.
> > (If you are reading this Orion and I've just missed you, sorry).
> > I saw cg (Cameron Grant) on the lists the other day, but I
> > am not sure who is currently the contact man for sound.
> > let me know if you know :-)
> > If you want the job, speak up :-)
> > The there is MIDI...
> > 
> > Kazuhito HONDA (kazuhito at
> > has been doing some work on the USB audio code
> > and has agreed to act as contact/maintainer for that as
> > it seems to be currently unloved.
> 	Hi Julian,
> 	First, I guess I owe an apology to the list and to freebsd in
> general for dragging my feet on MIDI.  The stunning silence is
> incredibly demotivating to me.  Over the many months think I've had
> one positive response to my work (it works!) and one negative (does
> not compile for non-i386, printf qualifiers).

The latter would be me.  :-)

I'm really sorry I never followed through any further on trying to
correct the problems on amd64; it's just that my initial review of the
code sort of left me a little bewildered.  :-)

When you told me it was just a problem with some printf() statements, I
thought, "OK, that should be simple enough", but when I looked at it and
saw all these macros and stuff, I was lost.  I didn't want to be a pain
in the butt and ask you to explain everything that was going on there,
but I never did make a really serious, concerted effort to figure it out
on my own, either.  Thus, my ensuing silence on the matter.  :-)

> I never expected to be
> in a vacuum.  Then again, I'm one of those sensitive types.

I can't say as I blame you; it's always nice to feel that one's work is
actually being used and appreciated.

> 	I'm committed to getting this done, it basically works, but I
> need to be kicked around when I start loosing momentum.

I'm very much the same way; I think it's a part of my "Gemini" nature. 
:-)  I tend to approach new projects with a great burst of enthusiasm
initially, then I start to lose interest once it starts to become
"easy".  :-)

> 	But MIDI isn't FreeBSD problem.  We've been stagnant in sound
> infrastructure, both in the human and software sense.  Other projects
> have continued along without us.  We don't have anybody that really
> understands the sound infrastructure, esp given that locking was an
> after thought that makes things infinitely more complex.
> 	(BTW, Orion gave up his commit bit about a year ago, due to an
> increase in demand on his time, a baby)
> 	To me, the worse aspect is that new people are scared off
> either by the perceived complexity issues or general unwillingness of
> the powers that be to accept a new direction.

Indeed!  I would be delighted to help out with the maintenence of the
sound system, but unfortunately, even though I consider myself a fairly
competent C coder, working at the kernel/driver level is something
totally foreign to me so far.  I've just been skeptical as to whether
anyone would want to give me the necessary hand-holding at first until I
could get a decent grasp on things.

> 	To move forward we need to:
> - Get a new sound team.  I don't know how to go about this, maybe a
>   general call to arms, or an appointment from core or maybe a
>   guillotine backed revolution.
> - Set a list of priorities and start working on them.  I see the major
>   TODO items:
>   - Review this list
>   - Figure out which PR are still applicable, close the rest.
>   - Move forward with features, other projects have far surpassed us.
>     To me the most glaring difference is that we are stuck with a
>     simplistic view of "Mixers" and cannot export the sophisticated
>     controls that present days devices contain.  NetBSD, ALSA, that
>     commercial project have all taken this on.  We could embellish or
>     just plain drop our mixer support while keeping what was good from
>     newpcm2
>   - Or, just port the NetBSD sound infrastructure.  Sometimes, when
>     I'm depressed, I look into the feasibility of this.
> 	So there it is.   How wants to be part of freebsd sound?  Many
> open positions, but the pay sucks.
> 	--Mat

Not to mention it's a thankless job as well (for the most part).  :-)

Conrad J. Sabatier <conrads at> -- "In Unix veritas"

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