I started a thread on the Gentoo Forums the other week, trying to get users to post what are common issues that they run into collectively. I’m hoping to see if I can find some patterns and either update the documentation or write a FAQ. If you have anything to share, please do.
And for the record, here is my first line of defense that I will tell anyone when they have no sound / wrong driver issues:
- Use latest ALSA (and kernel) in the tree. In this case, it’s 1.0.20, and we’ve cleaned up a lot of crap that was causing issues.
- Compile everything sound-related in the kernel as a module. Yes, everything. No, not just the stuff that you *think* you can statically compile in — *ev-e-ry-thing.* Once you’ve done that, run alsaconf. If your card doesn’t show up, it’s either completely unsupported (unlikely) or you didn’t pick the right drivers. Go back in and flip on more stuff. As modules.
- If the correct drivers are loaded (aplay -L works), and you have no sound, then your mixer levels are probably wrong.
Apologies for coming across so heavy-handed, but that’s the approach that has always worked for me, and works for most everyone when I tell them to do that: latest kernel, latest ALSA, everything as modules, alsaconf, then mixer.
Edit: Just as a postscript, the reason for the bluntness is that I recently started taking a more active role in the ALSA herd. Normally, I would just do version bumps and leave it at that. But, I’m trying to get practical issues resolved, and the one common thread I see over and over and over again on the forums and IRC is people just going off on their own little path and stabbing in the dark to see if they can get their sound to work, and then acting surprised that some random configuration didn’t work.
I want to very much find both the source of this disinformation and correct it, and make sure that setting up sound is a really simple process. The *problem* though, is that it’s always been pretty extremely easy for me, and so I am having a really difficult time understanding *why* people are hitting these issues — hence, the reason for the forum post asking people why they are running into problems, and what thoughts and conclusions lead to that direction. Once I figure that out, then I can go back and tweak the docs to clarify situations and attack the common confusion.
I keep getting the idea that we could use a really simplified version of the ALSA doc, one that is a quick basic howto get setup for people with one soundcard, and then include examples using the most popular hardware out there right now (intel-hda). Then, have a separate doc for more advanced issues, for people who need help and information on alsa plugins, or have multiple sound cards and things like that. I think that lumping them together into one, as it is now, makes it hard for people who just want to get up and running.
So, apologies if it feels like I’m browbeating here, but the reality is that I’m really motivated to streamline the process of getting sound in Linux. Nothing but love, yo.