I'm another who doesn't want to have to run a userspace daemon just to get sound. my experience with such daemons (arts, esd) has been that they add no value to me and introduce headaches like A/V sync problems.
All I want out of the sound system on my Linux box is to be able to reliably play sound with a minimum of overhead and fuss, without delays, skips, or sync problems. i don't want one or more competing userspace daemons making my life unnecessarily complicated. If some web page starts playing crud while I'm listening to music, I'll mute, pause or close it.