"Enough's enough," I thought (well, in between the obscenities there was probably a couple of "enough"s, anyway).
I have a sound card that handles mixing in hardware. ALSA supports it quite nicely, so why am I having problems? Why does sound lag in KDE unless I set arts to use ESD (which leads to a slightly shorter lag rather than a full cure)? Why do I keep seeing things like "connection refused" when things try to use sound? Why is artsd suddenly burning up my CPU? Was there a second gunman?
All this trouble started with the new machine and new OS combo. As far as I'm concerned, I should be golden: I have a properly supported sound card (Audigy 2 ZS, SB0350 if you care) and I know from past experience (with SuSE / Fedora Core 6 + SB Live!) that this setup should "just work". For that matter, I have an SB Live! in another box that should also "just work".
So I'm looking squarely at Fedora 8 "Werewolf" as the culprit here... and Fedora 8 installs/uses Pulse Audio by default. Think you're using ALSA? Well, think again: the "default" device is...
Maybe Pulse Audio will eventually be the answer to our prayers and bring Linux sound support bang up to date and even beyond the competition... but right now I just want rid of it so I can go back to my cosy ALSA world.
One quick "yum remove pulseaudio" later, which for some reason also took "kino" with it, but nothing else that wasn't an obvious part of the pulseaudio system, I was feeling a little happier. OK, so my sound was more broken now than before (OSS was fine, but ALSA was in trouble), but at least I'd taken some affirmative action and kicked some package butt.
Looking into the ALSA thing (strange that ALSA's OSS emulation would be fine, but ALSA itself wasn't, eh?) I was seeing "connection refused" errors. "Connection"? Ah... let me guess, it's still trying to use pulseaudio, isn't it? Yep. "Kino" might be so heavily dependent on pulseaudio that it had to be removed at the same time, but alsa-plugins-pulseaudio wasn't. Once more unto the yum: "yum remove alsa-plugins-pulseaudio"
And now I'm happy.
Let's see how long it lasts ;)