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Pipewire uses a build tool called Meson as a basis for its build process. It's a tool with some resemblance to Autotools and CMake. Meson again generates build files for a lower level build tool called Ninja, working in about the same level of abstraction as more familiar GNU Make does.

Meson uses a user-specified build directory and all files produced by Meson are in that build directory. This build directory will be called builddir in this document.

Generate the build files for Ninja:

$ meson setup builddir

Once this is done, the next step is to review the build options:

$ meson configure builddir

Define the installation prefix:

$ meson configure builddir -Dprefix=/usr # Default: /usr/local

Pipewire specific build options are listed in the "Project options" section. They are defined in meson_options.txt.

Finally, invoke the build:

$ ninja -C builddir

Just to avoid any confusion: is a script invoked by Jhbuild, which orchestrates multi-component builds.


If you want to run PipeWire without installing it on your system, there is a script that you can run. This puts you in an environment in which PipeWire can be run from the build directory, and ALSA, PulseAudio and JACK applications will use the PipeWire emulation libraries automatically in this environment. You can get into this environment with:

$ ./ -b builddir

In most cases you would want to run the default pipewire daemon. Look below for how to make this daemon start automatically using systemd. If you want to run pipewire from the build directory, you can do this by doing:

cd builddir/
make run

This will use the default config file to configure and start the daemon. The default config will also start pipewire-media-session, a default example media session and pipewire-pulse, a PulseAudio compatible server.

You can also enable more debugging with the PIPEWIRE_DEBUG environment variable like so:

cd builddir/

You might have to stop the pipewire service/socket that might have been started already, with:

systemctl --user stop pipewire.service \
                      pipewire.socket \
                      pipewire-media-session.service \
                      pipewire-pulse.service \


PipeWire comes with quite a bit of libraries and tools, run inside builddir:

sudo meson install

to install everything onto the system into the specified prefix. Some additional steps will have to be performed to integrate with the distribution as shown below.

PipeWire daemon

A correctly installed PipeWire system should have a pipewire process and a pipewire-media-session (or alternative) process running. PipeWire is usually started as a systemd unit using socket activation or as a service.

Configuration of the PipeWire daemon can be found in /etc/pipewire/pipewire.conf. Please refer to the comments in the config file for more information about the configuration options.

The daemon is started with:

systemctl --user start pipewire.service pipewire.socket

If you did not start the media-session in pipewire.conf, you will also need to start it like this:

systemctl --user start pipewire-media-session.service

To make it start on system startup:

systemctl --user enable pipewire-media-session.service

you can write enable --now to start service immediately.

ALSA plugin

The ALSA plugin is usually installed in:

On Fedora:


On Ubuntu:


There is also a config file installed in:


The plugin will be picked up by alsa when the following files are in /etc/alsa/conf.d/

/etc/alsa/conf.d/50-pipewire.conf -> /usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf.d/50-pipewire.conf

With this setup, aplay -l should list a pipewire: device that can be used as a regular alsa device for playback and record.

JACK emulation

PipeWire reimplements the 3 libraries that JACK applications use to make them run on top of PipeWire.

These libraries are found here:

/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->
/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->
/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->
/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->
/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->
/usr/lib64/pipewire-0.3/jack/ ->

The provided pw-jack script uses LD_LIBRARY_PATH to set the library search path to these replacement libraries. This allows you to run jack apps on both the real JACK server or on PipeWire with the script.

It is also possible to completely replace the JACK libraries by adding a file pipewire-jack-x86_64.conf to /etc/ with contents like:


Note that when JACK is replaced by PipeWire, the SPA JACK plugin (installed in /usr/lib64/spa-0.2/jack/ is not useful anymore and distributions should make them conflict.

PulseAudio replacement

PipeWire reimplements the PulseAudio server protocol as a small service that runs on top of PipeWire.

The binary is normally placed here:


The server can be started with provided systemd activation files or from PipeWire itself. (See /etc/pipewire/pipewire.conf)

systemctl --user start pipewire-pulse.service pipewire-pulse.socket

You can also start additional PulseAudio servers listening on other sockets with the -a option. See pipewire-pulse -h for more info.