As Ubuntu 21.04 includes pipewire for video streams and screen sharing by default, I am wondering whether or not it is possible to replace pulseaudio completely with pipewire.


4 Answers 4


Yes indeed, this is possible and fairly simple, just follow the steps described in the Debian docs:

First install the pipewire-audio-client-libraries package.

sudo apt install pipewire-audio-client-libraries

Create this empty file:

touch /etc/pipewire/media-session.d/with-pulseaudio

Create a pipewire-pulse service by copying the example files:

cp /usr/share/doc/pipewire/examples/systemd/user/pipewire-pulse.* /etc/systemd/user/

Run these three commands as your regular user (not as root):

// Check for new service files with:
systemctl --user daemon-reload
// Disable and stop the PulseAudio service with:
systemctl --user --now disable pulseaudio.service pulseaudio.socket
// Enable and start the new pipewire-pulse service with:
systemctl --user --now enable pipewire pipewire-pulse

You can check which server is in use by, as your regular user, running:

pactl info | grep '^Server Name'

If it's using PipeWire, the server name will be "PulseAudio (On PipeWire 0.3.19)"

To makeit work I had to "mask" the PulseAudio service by running:

systemctl --user mask pulseaudio

And then restarting the PipeWire services:

systemctl --user restart pipewire pipewire-pulse

This will block the PulseAudio service from being activated outright. If you wish to restore previous functionality, you'll need to run the same command again with the "unmask" action.

  • Arch has a package which does essentially this. It's surprising Debian haven't done it a in a similar fashion.
    – muru
    Apr 23, 2021 at 15:45
  • Do not forget to install libspa-0.2-bluetooth or your bluetooth devices will fail to connect with "Protocol not available"
    – heeen
    Nov 11, 2021 at 11:11
  • Note that on Ubuntu 21.10 I had to apt install pipewire-pulse to get this going.
    – logidelic
    Feb 11, 2022 at 14:52

Arch User Here. But love PipeWire. Under all debian/Ubuntu {18..21}.{04,10} Version of PW is too old. That's why I am maintaining a PPA which will provide latest build of PipeWire(15-16 days of release cycle). You can track latest change on github for this PPA.

On arch linux this process is obtained by {pre,post}_{install,upgrade,remove} function under package's *.install file.

And under Ubuntu/Debian It will be achieved by some simple {pre,post}{inst,rm} scripts. I will be updated these in next release definitely. This Already had been done.

EDIT 1 -
For a detailed Installation instructions Please follow github wiki.

With PipeWire I am also packaging blueman-git (git version of blueman). It has some serious needed feature to work with PipeWire. Don't worry it also will not break anything but increase your productivity upto a level higher.

EDIT 2 -
The Launchpad PPA will work under All debian/ubuntu based distros. Don't worry! install it, test it and file bugs to upstream to help it's developers to make PipeWire even more better.

EDIT 3 -
Now PipeWire 0.3.27 and on wards will support under debian/ubuntu 18.04 also.

  • Thank you, nice work. For some reason I dont have the example file systemd/user/pipewire-pulse.* after installing this, any idea? May 1, 2021 at 1:36
  • 2
    OK dont worry, I got it working after following the instructions on your github rather than whats posted above here. May 1, 2021 at 1:43
  • This is the correct answer. Follow GitHub instructions and voila. May 7, 2021 at 11:59
  • This is a positive development! Does this work with Linux Mint 20.1?
    – mcarans
    May 14, 2021 at 3:43
  • 1
    Too old for what? Is it buggy, or missing features, or outright doesn't work? (What does one get in exchange for adding a third party PPA instead of using the Ubuntu-sanctioned package?)
    – unhammer
    Sep 13, 2021 at 7:49

On Ubuntu 21.10

First install the missing PipeWire packages:

sudo apt install pipewire-pulse pipewire-audio-client-libraries

If you want bluetooth audio to work you also need to install:

sudo apt install libspa-0.2-bluetooth

After that feel free to disable pulseaudio and enable PipeWire running theses commands (without root):

// Disable and stop the PulseAudio service with:
systemctl --user --now disable pulseaudio.service pulseaudio.socket
// Enable and start the new pipewire-pulse service with:
systemctl --user --now enable pipewire pipewire-pulse

And that's it! You can confirm everything worked by running:

pactl info | grep '^Server Name'

The output should be similar to this:

Server Name: PulseAudio (on PipeWire 0.3.32)

Restart Pipewire services

systemctl --user restart pipewire pipewire-pulse

  • Great, thanks for that!
    – raphink
    Mar 3, 2022 at 13:35
  • Necessary comment for 21.10 users, the accepted comment doesn't work on 21.10. Apr 2, 2022 at 22:10

You need to edit: /etc/pipewire/media-session.d/media-session.conf

And un-comment at least alsa-monitor under session.modules.

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