These instructions should work in Fedora 11 to 24, the latest Ubuntu versions, and earlier versions of Ubuntu as well.
You will probably lose the ability to pair up Bluetooth audio gear, and lose autotunneling capabilities to networked audio devices through Zeroconf, but hey, you get what you pay for ;-)
The documentation warns that there are security considerations stemming from the fact that users allowed access to PulseAudio may break something in it, but for home use it is probably going to be just fine. Consult the manual pages that ship with PulseAudio for more information.
Starting up PulseAudio on boot
For modern systems using systemd
Put this text in the file
Description=PulseAudio system server
Type=notify Exec=pulseaudio --daemonize=no --system --realtime --log-target=journal
This unit file is a straightforward method that starts PulseAudio and makes sure it is running.
Now enable and start this unit file by running the following commands:
systemctl --system enable pulseaudio.service
systemctl --system start pulseaudio.service
It should be running now. You can check the status of the service with the command:
systemctl --system status pulseaudio.service
For legacy systems using Upstart
Put this text in the file
start on runlevel  stop on runlevel  exec pulseaudio --system --realtime --log-target=syslog respawn description "PulseAudio system server" pre-start script for a in `seq 60` ; do sleep 1 killall -0 hald && killall -0 dbus-daemon && break done end script post-start script ( sleep 1 ; paplay /usr/share/sounds/login.wav ) & end script
The text in italics is optional -- either don't include it, or replace it with something that will play a sound file confirming that PulseAudio has started.
As you can see, this is a straightforward script that waits until hald and D-Bus are active before starting PulseAudio (both are needed to get the hardware list), and then starts it up.
Setting up default client settings
Add these lines in the file
default-server = /var/run/pulse/native autospawn = no
Now it's time to kill your existing PulseAudio instances that run as your user. Find the
pulseaudio process running as your own user name (not as the user
pulse) and kill it. Combined with the configuration change you just enacted, this will prevent PulseAudio from starting up again as your regular user.
Finally, kill the PulseAudio instance running as the user
pulse. This will cause the system-wide PulseAudio server to restart and discover the sound hardware devices that might have been hogged by the PulseAudio server running as your own user.
Allowing users access to the audio service
Add every user that is allowed to use the audio device to the group
pulse-access. You usually accomplish this by listing those users as secondary group members in the file
/etc/group. Usually it is enough to add the user to the group in question and you can immediately begin using the server.
Testing that PulseAudio is in fact working
If you don't have the program
paman installed, then install it now.
paman (which appears in your menu as the PulseAudio Manager). If your settings have been configured properly, then
paman should show you right there that the User Name is pulse. You can check the Devices tab to confirm that PulseAudio is in fact seeing your sound hardware devices.
At this point, newly-started applications will know to use the system-wide PulseAudio server. The only program I have not been able to make work with this configuration is the program
pacmd ignores the
Allowing PulseAudio access to Bluetooth
In order to pair up with Bluetooth devices, you need to add the following text to the file
<!DOCTYPE busconfig PUBLIC "-//freedesktop//DTD D-BUS Bus Configuration 1.0//EN" "http://www.freedesktop.org/standards/dbus/1.0/busconfig.dtd"> <busconfig> <policy user="root"> <allow own="org.pulseaudio.Server"/> <allow send_destination="org.bluez"/> <allow send_interface="org.bluez.Manager"/> </policy> <policy user="pulse"> <allow own="org.pulseaudio.Server"/> <allow send_destination="org.bluez"/> <allow send_interface="org.bluez.Manager"/> </policy> <policy context="default"> <deny own="org.pulseaudio.Server"/> <deny send_destination="org.bluez"/> <deny send_interface="org.bluez.Manager"/> </policy> </busconfig>
Preventing PulseAudio from starting on graphical logon
In older distributions, a pesky program tries to start PulseAudio every time you log on, which may cause conflicts. Prevent this by running the following command as root:
chmod -x /usr/bin/start-pulseaudio-x11
You may need to run this command whenever you upgrade your system and, in the course of the upgrade, PulseAudio itself is upgraded.
Close your session and reboot your machine. PulseAudio should start on boot now, and all applications will be able to play sound, whether they are console or graphical applications, and without the need to actually log on beforehand. In addition, if PulseAudio dies, it will be automatically restarted.