"One of the questions I am most frequently asked is, 'What's the
easiest way to get into the world of Linux sound software?'. In the
latter half of the 90s, there was no simple answer to that query.
Typically, you had to install your distribution of choice and then
customize it for audio work yourself. This usually meant such
activities as patching the kernel sources for improved performance,
replacing the older OSS/free kernel sound modules with the ALSA
system, recompiling and reinstalling the kernel, optimizing disk
performance, installing all the needed applications and various
pieces of support software and so forth. Although not terribly
difficult, the process was time-consuming, prone to annoying errors
and incompatibilities and thus was rather intimidating even to a
relatively experienced user.
"In true Linux fashion, a number of projects have appeared since
then whose primary aim is the alleviation of the aches and pains
resulting from installing and configuring an advanced Linux sound
system and applications base. These projects provide the software
resources for audio capabilities suitable for simple desktop
listening pleasure or for professional-quality, multitrack,
multichannel audio and MIDI production. Appropriate hardware is
required, of course, but the ALSA system currently supports a broad
range of soundcards and digital audio boards, from the popular
SoundBlaster Live and Audigy cards to high-end boards, such as the
RME Hammerfall and M-Audio's Delta series..."