Many Firefox users on Linux were left without the ability to play sound in their browser after updating to Firefox 52, released last week.
The issue at the heart of this problem is that Mozilla dropped support for ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Architecture) and is now requiring Linux users to have installed the PulseAudio library to support audio playback inside Firefox.
ALSA is a software framework included in the Linux kernel that provides an API for sound card drivers. On the other hand, PulseAudio is a more modern sound server that’s already supported on most Linux distros, but also on FreeBSD, OpenBSD, and even macOS.
Most modern Linux distros come with PulseAudio installed by default, but some minimalistic distros still rely on the built-in ALSA framework.
Users on these distros were left with no sound in Firefox 52, which now requires AudioPulse as a minimum requirement. Users on mainstream distros, but which use older OS versions, are also affected.
While Mozilla engineers talked about imposing AudioPulse as a minimum requirement for Firefox, this conversation took place on an obscure Google Groups topic back in July 2016.
Firefox 52 Linux users weren’t told about this change and had no forewarning. The Firefox 52 release notes didn’t mention anything about ALSA or PulseAudio.
Submitted by: Arnfried Walbrecht