Raspberry Pi OS now comes with PulseAudio and a graphical printer manager

The Raspberry Pi Foundation regularly adds new features to the official operating system, Raspberry Pi OS. The December 2020 update added the PulseAudio sound server and a print manager.

In practice, Raspberry Pi OS fulfills many of the functions supplied by other operating systems and the popular Linux distributions; however, a few deficiencies exist. In particular, the configuration of printers and sound devices has never been trivial – until now. In the latest update [1], Raspberry Pi OS was extended to include PulseAudio and a better print manager. Bluetooth speakers can now be integrated more easily, and sounds from multiple sources can be output simultaneously.

Linux is a historically evolved system that changes continuously. New versions fix bugs or add features but do not bring about fundamental change. However, every few years, more profound innovations occur, such as the replacement of the X.Org display manager by Wayland, and before that the switch from the SysVinit to systemd, and before that the integration of the PulseAudio sound server.

PulseAudio

The advanced Linux sound architecture (ALSA) provides drivers in the kernel to integrate sound cards and takes care of configuration. However, ALSA reaches its limits on modern systems; for example, only one application can output sound at any given time. For example, while a YouTube video plays in the browser, a messenger program cannot play a notification sound. Also, Bluetooth devices can only be connected in a roundabout way.

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