The Story of OpenAL

Open Source and Open Standards: Chapters One through Three. A voyage through one of Loki's free software projects.

Was it worth it? We did get more on our hands than we bargained for, but if the work we have done so far helps in establishing another portable API, the answer is a definite yes. Linux has only just started to face the issues of standardization and certification, and personally, my respect for the IETF has multiplied several times. The Linux Standard Base (LSB) definitely has their work cut out for them and will need all support it can get. Beyond the LSB, the Linux Desktop will need a Multimedia API supplement and Special Interest Group to give ISVs and IHVs alike some ground to stand on—not to mention all those free software and spare time projects struggling to be portable. It might well be that Linux hackers and users alike underestimate the importance that the DirectX set of services had for Windows at large and games on Windows in particular. It is also possible that many Linux developers still underestimate the importance of the desktop. However, Linux is only one of many platforms that need a comprehensive set of portable multimedia APIs. If OpenAL succeeds in defining another building block for such an OS agnostic “OpenX”, we will have accomplished much more than we initially expected.


Bernd Kreimeier is a game developer, writer and physicist. As one of the coders at Loki Software he has worked on the Linux versions of Heretic 2, Quake 3 and other titles. He is acting maintainer of the OpenAL specification draft.