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Why I use WirePlumber

Perspective from a user with zero understanding of why it's not part of PipeWire


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linux

Note: PipeWire still changes. This seems to be true as of PipeWire 0.3.40 and WirePlumber 0.4.5. Commands are most likely not going to be relevant after a while.

There are two “session managers” that can be used with PipeWire, pipewire-media-session and WirePlumber. The two are not supposed to have noticeable differences, but WirePlumber seems to work better for me.

Context

I use PipeWire 0.3.40 exclusively on my Arch Linux system, replacing both PulseAudio and JACK. These packages are installed:

  • pipewire & lib32-pipewire

  • libpipewire02 (I'm not sure this is needed)

  • pipewire-alsa

  • pipewire-jack & lib32-pipewire-jack

  • pipewire-pulse

  • gst-plugin-pipewire

  • pipewire-jack-dropin (from AUR, for zero-config replacement of JACK)

These issues went away when I switched to WirePlumber

  • UTAU would sometimes not be able to play audio if Ardour (as a JACK client) is open. If I restart PipeWire (with systemctl restart --user pipewire pipewire-pulse), currently open instances can start playing audio, but if I close it and open a new instance I have to go through the same dance again.

    UTAU is probably just an ordinary Windows app trying to play audio through Wine. My Wine config for UTAU uses the PulseAudio backend, so it's connecting to PipeWire as a PulseAudio client.

    This doesn't happen when I use WirePlumber.

  • When I remove my headphone and plug another one in, it doesn't detect the new device until I manually restart PipeWire (again, with systemctl restart --user pipewire pipewire-pulse).

    With WirePlumber, it seems to continue to output to the device even when my headphone is removed. This results in a better experience where I can plug another headphone in and have it just work.

How I switched from pipewire-media-session to WirePlumber

sudo pacman -S wireplumber

Accept the prompt from Pacman to replace pipewire-media-session.

Then restart PipeWire:

systemctl --user daemon-reload
systemctl --user restart pipewire

I don't think you actually have to restart both pipewire.service and pipewire-pulse.service as I did in the previous section.