Kernel and Driver Issues
Configuring and building the kernel is covered elsewhere in this book. We cover here a few points relevant to multimedia . As mentioned earlier, most multimedia cards use the PCI bus and should be automatically detected and configured by the Linux kernel.
The history of sound drivers under Linux deserves some mention here, because it helps explain the current diversity in offerings. Early in the development of Linux (i.e., before the 1.0 kernel release), Hannu Savolainen implemented kernel-level sound drivers for a number of popular sound cards. Other developers also contributed to this code, adding new features and support for more cards. These drivers, part of the standard kernel release, are sometimes called OSS/Free, the free version of the Open Sound System .
Hannu later joined 4Front Technologies , a company that sells commercial sound drivers for Linux as well as a number of other Unix-compatible operating systems. These enhanced drivers are sold commercially as OSS/4Front.
In 1998 the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, or ALSA project, was formed with the goal of writing new Linux sound drivers from scratch, and to address the issue that there was no active maintainer of the OSS sound drivers. With the benefit of hindsight and the requirements for newer sound card technology, the need was felt for a new design.
Some sound card manufacturers have also written Linux sound drivers for their cards, most notably the Creative Labs Sound Blaster ...