Multiple users sharing the sound card?

Hi everyone,

I'm a longtime GNOME user and fan.  My wife and I share a desktop PC at
home.  We run sessions in parallel, switching back and forth via the
user switcher applet.

Everything works great, except for sound.  Ideally, the sound card would
simply be accessible to anyone currently logged into the machine (which,
after all, sits behind a firewall).  That's certainly not the case --
we can't use the sound card from both sessions at the same time.  But
it's worse than that -- we can't seem to reliably switch back and forth
either.  If a process on my wife's session decides to play a sound, it
might take over the sound card, causing my rhythmbox to refuse to play
next time I start it.  I feel like it has to do with esound, but I'm
finding it hard to know for sure.

Perhaps there ought to be some sort of fancy policy system for deciding
which users can access the sound card when.  But I'd be perfectly happy
to have a promiscuous policy where all users can play sounds at the same
time.  I've looked around, but I can't find good documentation on this
subject.  Do I need to adjust ALSA?  Esound?  Gnome?  Can it be done?

For the record, I'm running Ubuntu 6.10 on a machine with an M-Audio
Audiophile 2496 (the ice1712 driver under ALSA).

Thanks for any help lessening my domestic strife!

Craig S. Kaplan                         If civilization is to survive,
University of Waterloo                   it must live on the interest,
Cheriton School of Computer Science        not the capital, of nature.                     -- Ronald Wright

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