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11.1.2. Drivers and Architecture

There are generally two types of sound architecture: the older Open Sound System or OSS, which works with every UNIX-like system, and the newer Advanced Linux Sound Architecture or ALSA, that has better support for Linux, as the name indicates. ALSA also has more features and allows for faster driver development. We will focus here on the ALSA system.

Today, almost all mainstream audio chipsets are supported. Only some high-end professional solutions and some cards developed by manufacturers refusing to document their chipset specifications are unsupported. An overview of supported devices can be found on the ALSA site at

Configuring systems installed with ALSA is done using the alsaconf tool. Additionally, distributions usually provide their own tools for configuring the sound card; these tools might even integrate the old and the new way of handling sound devices.

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