Re: Sound Problem

Hello Greg,

You say you are using Debian Sarge with the 2.6.8-2 kernel and since you are posting to gnome-list I assume you are using Gnome. I'm not a Linux expert but I have that configuration too and I have had some sound troubles which I did eventually figure it out - for my computer. I don't have an answer but maybe I can make some suggestions.

If I'm off base on any of this maybe someone more knowledgeable can point out my errors.

First, are your permissions ok? Sounds like you've already checked this, but /dev/dsp should have owner root, group audio (which you verified), with group permissions read/write. Use the "groups" command and make sure that your user id is in group "audio". I'm assuming that you are logged in as an ordinary user, not as root, which is definitely not recommended as you can make a real mess.

Some programs send sound directly to /dev/dsp. xmms can do this, and since xmms works for you, I think your sound card driver must be loaded properly and your problem must be somewhere else.

Gnome uses a program called esd (enlightened sound daemon) to interface to /dev/dsp. In the Applications - Desktop preferences - Sound screen I have selected "Enable sound server at startup" and "Sounds for events" selected. This starts esd when I log on with Gnome. If you do the same, and then do a new log in, and go to System Tools - System Monitor, you should see a process called esd.

If esd is using /dev/dsp, other programs are locked out from /dev/dsp, and vice versa. This can make some programs hang. Take a look at /etc/esound/esd.conf. Mine looks like this:

spawn_options=-terminate -nobeeps -as 5
# default options are used in spawned and non-spawned mode
default_options= -as 5

I added the last line after the standard Debian install. It causes esd to release /dev/dsp after 5 seconds of inactivity. Then anything that goes through Gnome will use esd, but programs that go direct to /dev/dsp can do so as long as Gnome isn't actually playing anything. Note that auto-spawn is not recommended when using Gnome - I don't know why.

If the above settings look ok on your machine, I would check to see if you have other sound systems like alsa or arts installed. My understanding of these is limited, but I have found comments all over the place saying that they do not work well with esd even though they are supposed to be interoperable in some cases. If you go to Applications - System Tools - Synaptic Package Manager you can see what is installed. I do NOT have any of the alsa packages. I do have arts installed but I'm not exactly sure what it does. Maybe someone more knowledgeable than I can add something on this subject.

Hope this is some help.

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