Comment 5 for bug 586660

I am *not* arguing that zero volume and mute should be the same.

I am arguing that, when the speaker is mute, and the user requests to
*increase* the volume, that that increase should be assumed to mean from
zero volume, because, at that point, there is no sound, and the term
"increase" is relative.

If, instead, the user *unmuted*, then the volume should be the previous
volume before it was muted.

The question here is: The user wants an increase relative to what? To
which we have three possible answers:
1) Relative to the previous sound before unmuting - PA's current approach
2) Relative to the current sound (i.e. zero volume) - My proposal
3) Unrelated because mute is the restrictive binary for the prescriptive
vector volume. - Alsamixer's approach

As a counterargument, if both volume and mute worked independently as
Dana is describing, then I should be able to increase and decrease the
volume without unmuting. That is not currently the case. If I mute
either through keys or by clicking "mute" then the volume control
becomes disabled.

As another example of consistency, alsamixer does allow you to modify
the volume when muted. Mute and volume are therefore independent.

In my humble opinion, both zero volume and alsamixer's approach are
consistent when talking about "increasing". In the case of alsamixer,
the user is able to decrease the volume prior to unmuting because mute
and volume work independently, thereby avoiding the situation where the
user is incapable of reducing the sound *before* unmuting.

Perhaps another way to argue this would be to say that disabling the
volume control when muted is a bad idea because this creates a situation
where the user is unable to avoid creating a loud noise (other than
shutting down or pausing all applications that emit audio, which can be
very difficult). Unnecessary noise, particularly loud noise, can be
extremely inappropriate in some situations.

This is what caused me to raise this bug, and why I am exceptionally
passionate about it. I was placed in an embarrassing enough situation
to avoid using PA altogether and instead use alsamixer...but that's
because I knew it was there and how to use it. I'm more concerned that
small things like this affect new users perspective of the whole
graphical operating environment.