Aaditya M Nair

Pulse and X for someone else.

1 min read

Both PulseAudio(audio server) and X server(display) have access controls enabled within it that does not allow anyone other than the current logged in user to access its services. That means, by default, if you use a separate user (other than root) to start a program, that program will not be able to create a GUI or make a sound.

This may not be ideal in various cases.

Access control in X

This is pretty straight-forward. The program xhost manages the access controls for the server. To allow a user,

$ xhost +si:localuser:<username>

Or if you want to open X for all local users,

$ xhost +local:

Access control in PulseAudio

For security reasons, PulseAudio runs a separate instance for every user rather than having a single systemwide instance for everyone. There is no simple access controls for PulseAudio. Hence allowing audio for separate user is more of a workaround. What we do is ask PulseAudio to listen to a specific local port and we ask the user to send audio to that port.

For the server configuration, edit /etc/pulse/default.pa to include the following line:

load-module module-native-protocol-tcp auth-ip-acl=

This makes PulseAudio listen on localhost for audio. Now edit ~/.config/pulse/client.conf to have the following line which makes it send audio to localhost

default-server =

And done. Now you can create UI and send audio as a separate user.

Copyright 2022 by Aaditya M Nair. Source here