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ALSA in a 2.6 world

I'll describe first the situation, and the actual question is at the
very end.

I'm speaking from the perspective of electronic musicians and sound
geeks - i'm using Linux to run sequencers and other MIDI software, JACK,
DAW applications, external synths and effect boxes interfaced via MIDI
and analog audio, etc.
And i'm running all that on Fedora.

For this kind of usage, up-to-date sound drivers are essential. ALSA has
been fixing bugs and adding new useful features at a steady and rapid
So far, on distributions based on kernel-2.4 (Red Hat 9, Fedora Core 1),
i was content to download the ALSA rpms from http://freshrpms.net/ ,
rebuild the src.rpm, install the binaries and i was good to go. Because
ALSA and the kernel were essentially decoupled, nothing prevented me
from keeping up with the newest ALSA (short of small occasional
incompatibilities between ALSA and the Red Hat modifications to the
This helped me a lot with my work. It allowed me to get new improved
mixers when they were ready, it allowed me to squish bugs out of the
system, etc.

But i wonder about Fedora Core 2. That one will be using kernel-2.6,
which includes ALSA. Typically, a Red Hat / Fedora release does not
increment the kernel version during the release cycle. That means that
FC2 and beyond will get stuck with whatever ALSA version was available
at release time.
For anyone using Linux for sound / music work, that is not ok. If you
buy a piece of hardware (e.g. an expensive professional sound card such
as an RME Multiface) and an essential feature is only supported by ALSA
versions newer than what your distribution provides, then... well, it's
not the end of the world, but it's definitely not good.
Sure, one could compile a newer kernel, but that way the Red Hat changes
to the kernel (which are often good for demanding apps such as digital
recorders) will be lost.

Long story made short, is there any mechanism provided by Fedora Core 2
to allow users to painlessly upgrade to newer ALSA versions without
having to ditch the kernel bundled with the distribution?

Florin Andrei


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