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beandog
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PostPosted: Mon Aug 17, 2009 7:34 pm    Post subject: What are the most common ALSA problems? Reply with quote

So, I'm thinking about writing up a FAQ / guide *if* we need one re ALSA. For some reason, people have the hardest time figuring it out, and for the life of me .... I can't figure out why. These are all the problems I, personally, have ever run into with ALSA:

    * wrong soundcard driver
    * muted card


Call me lucky, I guess.

Still, I see a lot of issues with ALSA with Gentoo and I keep wondering how the heck people either get confused or make them so complex. I haven't been able to identify any patterns, either, so I could use some help. So, if someone can help fill me in on what some common issues are, I'd be glad to know.

And, oh, this thread is not the place to post your support questions, thanks, I'm just looking for common problems and solutions to.

Specifically, here's what I'm looking for:

    * If the docs are confusing, which part, why, how can they be improved?
    * What are some common ALSA mistakes you've made in the past, and fixed on your own
    * What's your perception on how easy it is to get sound working?
    * What are some of the confusing things in setting up sound?


I realize a lot of these questions are pretty open-ended, but I'm trying to narrow down what I see as a generic problem "people having issue with setting up sound" to narrowing it down to specific issues that occur most frequently, and find the causes. Thanks for your feedback!
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DooBeDooBeDo
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 12:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

For snd-hda-intel there are often problems from incorrect or non-existant
Code:
options snd-hda-intel model="XYZ"
in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa.conf

Instructions on how to set this in a section of a guide would be usefull.
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PaulBredbury
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 1:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I wrote a guide for the wiki, after seeing countless forum threads of screwed-up kernel compilations. Here's an old copy, due to the great wiki "whoops that's what backups are for" disaster.
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RedSquirrel
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 2:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

After adding a regular user to the audio group, it is necessary to logout and login again for the change to take effect. It might be an idea to add that to the ALSA guide or to your FAQ.

I have had no trouble with ALSA at all.
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pappy_mcfae
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 5:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only issue I had with ALSA was addressed in a bug report. I have had no trouble since I did the fix offered in the bug report. As far as setup, I found it easy.

Blessed be!
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

DooBeDooBeDo wrote:
For snd-hda-intel there are often problems from incorrect or non-existant
Code:
options snd-hda-intel model="XYZ"
in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa.conf

Instructions on how to set this in a section of a guide would be usefull.


Why would you even specify the model, shouldn't the module just auto-detect it?
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

PaulBredbury wrote:
I wrote a guide for the wiki, after seeing countless forum threads of screwed-up kernel compilations. Here's an old copy, due to the great wiki "whoops that's what backups are for" disaster.


Nice article, I like. :)
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 6:18 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

pappy_mcfae wrote:
The only issue I had with ALSA was addressed in a bug report. I have had no trouble since I did the fix offered in the bug report. As far as setup, I found it easy.

Blessed be!
Pappy


That feature was incredibly nasty, and I'm glad it got ripped out. Hopefully that'll reduce future confusion.
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DooBeDooBeDo
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 8:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

beandog wrote:
DooBeDooBeDo wrote:
For snd-hda-intel there are often problems from incorrect or non-existant
Code:
options snd-hda-intel model="XYZ"
in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa.conf

Instructions on how to set this in a section of a guide would be usefull.


Why would you even specify the model, shouldn't the module just auto-detect it?
Yes it probably should. But it doesn't always. My sound is terrible unless I do.
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

DooBeDooBeDo wrote:
beandog wrote:
DooBeDooBeDo wrote:
For snd-hda-intel there are often problems from incorrect or non-existant
Code:
options snd-hda-intel model="XYZ"
in /etc/modprobe.d/alsa.conf

Instructions on how to set this in a section of a guide would be usefull.


Why would you even specify the model, shouldn't the module just auto-detect it?
Yes it probably should. But it doesn't always. My sound is terrible unless I do.


Really? Man, the reports of weird issues with intel-hda just never seems to stop. Which one is yours, exactly?

Edit: Also, it honestly seems like almost all of the recent "ALSA issues" have to do with *that* specific card, too! Sheesh. I might need a FAQ just for that one driver.
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DooBeDooBeDo
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 18, 2009 3:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The model I use is "6stack-dig"

Ubuntu have an excellent guide for this driver: http://help.ubuntu.com/community/HdaIntelSoundHowto
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 5:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Regards to your blog post on things we come across that would be helpful if they were documented better.

1. emerge blocks and how to get past them.
1.1 useful utilities available on gentoo and how to use them to get around emerge blocks (reverse dependancy build, equery etc)
2. guide to installing software on Gentoo that doesn't have an ebuild
3. guide to installing network printers specifically in my case a windows network printer that every windows box can use easily but Linux can barely see.
3.1 guide to using scanner on above network printer. If it is even possible.


that's all I can think of off the top of my head.
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iplayfast wrote:
Regards to your blog post on things we come across that would be helpful if they were documented better.


thanks, but I was referring specfically to ALSA, not Gentoo in general. :)
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only problem I ever had with ALSA was several versions ago, no sound when "Aggressive power-saving on HD-audio" was turned on. A bug in Intel HDA driver I'd guess.
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iplayfast
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well Alsa has never actually been much of a problem for me. HOWEVER, trying to get midi rosegarden, jack and all that stuff to work doesn't ever work as advertised. Perhaps if you feel so inclined you can explore those.
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:44 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Jaglover wrote:
The only problem I ever had with ALSA was several versions ago, no sound when "Aggressive power-saving on HD-audio" was turned on. A bug in Intel HDA driver I'd guess.


Oh yah? what did it do? *curious*. LOL, awesome sig btw.
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beandog
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 8:45 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

iplayfast wrote:
Well Alsa has never actually been much of a problem for me. HOWEVER, trying to get midi rosegarden, jack and all that stuff to work doesn't ever work as advertised. Perhaps if you feel so inclined you can explore those.


Oh gosh, all the things I steer clear of, too... heh. Sorry. :) Ask the proaudio herd to come up with something.
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 9:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

beandog wrote:
Jaglover wrote:
The only problem I ever had with ALSA was several versions ago, no sound when "Aggressive power-saving on HD-audio" was turned on. A bug in Intel HDA driver I'd guess.


Oh yah? what did it do? *curious*. LOL, awesome sig btw.

Well, to be precise, my history with ALSA:
0. As a RH user I didn't have any ALSA troubles, I'd think this was mainly because ALSA wasn't founded yet. :wink:
1. As a Debian user I experienced a few problems, minor ones, cannot recall details.
2. With Gentoo, enabling that powersaving feature in kernel conf for my Realtek chip resulted in muted soundcard with 100% certainty.

Re: sig
This was humiliating, but my first vi experience actually ended with reboot ... 11+ years ago ... still remember it ... :P
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PostPosted: Tue Aug 25, 2009 11:35 pm    Post subject: dmix not "just working" Reply with quote

getting dmix to work. I keep hearing that it should be on by default now, but on my card (see below) i still need to set up dmix to get more than one thing to make sound. For my chipset this is very very poorly documented (I probably should add that to gentoo-wiki). The headphone switch is still not working automatically, the sound card has a headphone switch, it would be "nice" if there was an option to use or not use it, or even better as a second audio out interface. So that maybe i could have some audio go out the speakers, and some out the headphones at the same time.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 1:28 am    Post subject: OSS / ALSA integration Reply with quote

For the longest time I had a card that only worked with OSS drivers. Then they started working in ALSA. Now with ALSA I read sound servers won't be needed anymore unless you are serving your audio over the network. So basic fundamentals of explaining things are needed I would think, like:

What is OSS. What is ALSA. What is a soundserver. Do you really need a soundserver, etc.

I am running only ALSA with no soundserver with my current soundcard and it works fine.

Also why Gentoo ships it's own /etc/init.d/alsasound instead of the one shipped by ALSA would be a good hint.
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BT
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 2:44 am    Post subject: Re: What are the most common ALSA problems? Reply with quote

I've had no trouble configuring ALSA over the years, although I did notice some inconsistency when recommending whether to compile ALSA statically or as modules. The ALSA documentation recommends that users should compile as modules, however the elog from the alsa-utils ebuild appears to recommend the opposite. :?
alsa-utils wrote:
"The script will load ALSA modules, if you choose to use a modular"
"configuration. The Gentoo ALSA developers recommend you to build"
"your audio drivers into the kernel unless the device is hotpluggable"
"or you need to supply specific options (such as model= to HD Audio)
"
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beandog
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:29 am    Post subject: Re: OSS / ALSA integration Reply with quote

stuNNed2 wrote:
So basic fundamentals of explaining things are needed I would think, like:

What is OSS. What is ALSA. What is a soundserver. Do you really need a soundserver, etc.


Agreed


stuNNed2 wrote:
Also why Gentoo ships it's own /etc/init.d/alsasound instead of the one shipped by ALSA would be a good hint.


I didn't even know they had one.
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beandog
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 3:29 am    Post subject: Re: What are the most common ALSA problems? Reply with quote

BT wrote:
I've had no trouble configuring ALSA over the years, although I did notice some inconsistency when recommending whether to compile ALSA statically or as modules. The ALSA documentation recommends that users should compile as modules, however the elog from the alsa-utils ebuild appears to recommend the opposite. :?
alsa-utils wrote:
"The script will load ALSA modules, if you choose to use a modular"
"configuration. The Gentoo ALSA developers recommend you to build"
"your audio drivers into the kernel unless the device is hotpluggable"
"or you need to supply specific options (such as model= to HD Audio)
"


Oh, yah, that is annoying ... and odd that it'd have *driver* installation instructions on alsa-utils of all places.
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 4:00 am    Post subject: Re: OSS / ALSA integration Reply with quote

stuNNed2 wrote:
Also why Gentoo ships it's own /etc/init.d/alsasound instead of the one shipped by ALSA would be a good hint.


Gentoo uses a different init script system than just about everyone else, and most upstreams do not ship compatible scripts (easy check: if it begins with anything other than "#!/sbin/runscript", it's not compatible; otherwise it probably is).
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2009 10:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only issue I've had recently (that wasn't pulseaudio related) was switching on the new audio jack feature which seemed to kill sound on both machines that had it enabled. I think this was around 2.6.31-rc1 time so I'm not sure if this has been fixed since then

I've never had my card auto detected correctly by the driver however the fallback it uses seems to work fine on both cards

I wish there was an easier way to figure out which is the correct option to use and a way to feed this information back to the ALSA devs to get it added to the driver for auto selection in the next version

Grumble grumble

Oh and I've never gotten HDMI audio working either but I think that's an xf86-video-intel/radeon issue
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