"Of the challenges that GNU/Linux users face when choosing
hardware components for any system is the sound card compatibility.
The two most popular Linux audio APIs are ALSA and OSS. ALSA, or
officially known as Advanced Linux Sound Architecture, provides
much of the audio and MIDI functionality to Linux users and is
largely replacing OSS (Open Sound System). Some of ALSA's key
features include fully modularized sound drivers, SMP and
thread-safe design, user space library, and provides binary
compatibility for most OSS programs--in other words, backward
compatibility. In addition to the free OSS API, 4Front Technologies
also offer a commercial variant with some additional features and
support for particular sound cards that are only accessible with
the manufacturer specifications through Non-Disclosure Agreements.
In this article, we are examining Linux audio performance in the
gaming environment with a slew of sound cards. The contenders
include Creative Labs Sound Blaster Audigy 2 Z3, Sound Blaster
Audigy 2, Chaintech AV-710, Aureal Vortex (AU8820), and AC'97
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