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Audio under Linux

I had Ubuntu 6.04 and there were many errors about Audio drivers and devices not working. I turned it off and that was it at the time.

Now that I have upgraded to Ubuntu 8.04 (avoiding the bug in October Debug in regard to a huge error in generating an SSL key and all of that!), I thought I'd try again.

I use VLC so I tried to run with that. I could see the audio equalizer so I thought that it should be working and we should hear the audio... but nothing at all. And VLC would spit out an error about the pulse audio deamon not working properly:

VLC media player 0.8.6e Janus
[00000354] pulse audio output error: Failed to connect to server: Access denied
[00000354] pulse audio output error: Pulse initialization failed
[00000283] main playlist: stopping playback

So my first idea was to look into pulse audio and try to understand why it was failing. Well... I did not have it installed! 8-)

Installed it, and still, it was failing. Hmmm... Looking around some more and did not really find anything that would explain how to install pulse audio (hey! maybe they have a website with docs, but I did not find it--did not look to hard either.)

Alright, then I found about the local socket named: /var/run/pulseaudio/native. It has permissions for everyone to connect, but I guess the deamon has some other file setup somewhere that prevents it from working. (A file that checks whether you as the user you have the right to connect to the server.)

Anyway... since it was still not working and I could not easily find info about pulse audio, I decided to run VLC with the -vvv command line option.

prompt$ vlc -vvv

That gives you between 3 tons and 1 tera-ton of debug messages. I found the pulse error, but then noticed that there was another test for ALSA sound and that one worked just fine! So it is trying to use ALSA. Good.

Searching for the audio device that I have this time, which I found about using aplay like this:

prompt$ aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: I82801DBICH4 [Intel 82801DB-ICH4], device 0: Intel ICH [Intel 82801DB-ICH4]
  Subdevices: 0/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
card 0: I82801DBICH4 [Intel 82801DB-ICH4], device 4: Intel ICH - IEC958 [Intel 82801DB-ICH4 - IEC958]
  Subdevices: 1/1
  Subdevice #0: subdevice #0
prompt$

I have an Intel ICH with number 82801DB-ICH4 as you can see here. Good... So I search for that on the net (actually the complete sentence was: "audio device" under ubuntu Intel 82801DB) and I found this web page that was saying you had to select ALSA in your sound preferences. (Well, that page is deadly out of date... it is in regard to Dapper Drake and Breezy, but with some interpretation, I got it...)

So if you go under System -> Preferences -> Sound you get a window which by default tells you that everything will be perfectly selected automatically. Not really... What you have to do is force the selection to ALSA. Then it works just like by magic! You can click on the Test buttons to hear the sound. Voilà.

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