Howto | Debug Debian Sound

Sound is one of those things in Linux which either works out-of-the-box, or drives you berserk. The following instructions did not solve my problems, but I leave them here for future reference.

The gospel for sound according to Debian:

Step 1: Make sure you have the sound system fully installed

# apt-get install alsa-base alsa-oss alsa-source alsa-utils
# apt-get install alsamixergui alsaplayer alsaplayer-common alsaplayer-gtk alsaplayer-jack
# apt-get install alsaplayer-oss snd-gtk-alsa vlc-plugin-alsa alsaplayer-jack jack jackd

Step 2: Determine your sound card

# lspci -v | grep -A 6 Audio
00:14.2 Audio device: ATI Technologies Inc SB600 Azalia
        Subsystem: Micro-Star International Co., Ltd. Unknown device 7297
        Flags: bus master, slow devsel, latency 64, IRQ 22
        Memory at fe020000 (64-bit, non-prefetchable) [size=16K]
        Capabilities: [50] Power Management version 2

Step 3: Run module-assistant

# apt-get install module-assistant
# module-assistant

If this fails stating cannot find config.h, then:

# cd /usr/src/linux-headers/linux-headers-2.6.21-2-k7/include/linux
# ln -s autoconf.h config.h

Next run:

# alsaconf

The solution to the problem is often as simple as adding a line at the end of /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base along the lines of:

$ options snd-hda-intel model=xyz

To determine sound chip model:

# aplay -l
**** List of PLAYBACK Hardware Devices ****
card 0: SB [HDA ATI SB], device 0: ALC861VD Analog [ALC861VD Analog]
Subdevices: 1/1
Subdevice #0: subdevice #0

# cat /proc/asound/cards
0 [SB             ]: HDA-Intel - HDA ATI SB
                    HDA ATI SB at 0xfe020000 irq 22

Then gunzip /usr/share/doc/alsa-base/driver/ALSA-Configuration.txt.gz. Open with nano and search for your soundcard chip as shown above.

options snd-hda-intel model=3stack works for many motherboard integrated chips with shared surrounds. Sometimes it is also possible to use the more generic options snd-hda-intel model=ref, which the hda driver uses to load manufacturer specfic presets (SigmaTel, Realtek, etc.). The full list is available in ALSA-Configuration.txt in the driver tarball under alsa-kernel/Documentation/.

Restart sound system

# cd /etc/init.d
# then ./alsasound restart

Play Test Sound

# locate *.wav

# aplay /usr/share/sounds/KDE_Beep_RingRing.wav
Playing WAVE '/usr/share/sounds/KDE_Beep_RingRing.wav' : Unsigned 8 bit, Rate 22254 Hz, Mono

External references

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