Now, it’s a few months that I’ve added PulseAudio to Gentoo, and the result is quite good, as it’s now stable on quite a few arches, also thanks to the dependency put on by alsa-plugins.
I’ve been using PulseAudio locally, first for a few bits, now basically for everything.. after a lot of fights for instance with VLC to get it to play on ALSA (fights I mostly lost, VLC does not allow you to choose the ALSA device with its name, just allows you to choose between the physical cards on your box), I ended up just building it with esd support, and use PulseAudio to pick the esound place, the result is good, now VLC is usable again.
One thing that still gave me trouble, though, was SDL.. I’ve seen a similar behaviour before, but never ended up investigating it enough, it was just FooBillard freezing, so I dropped SDL support for it and be done with it. But when ffplay also stuck, after a week or two trying to get Frozen Bubble 2 not to freeze my machine every time I tried it, I’ve started to wonder if it could have been the pulse output plugin on ALSA to create this. I didn’t diagnose the problem well enough, but I ended up using again the esd output plugin to play on PulseAudio, and it worked as a charm.
So if you’re having trouble with SDL games freezing your box when using PulseAudio, consider using the esd output routed on PulseAudio instead, should solve your problems 🙂