[ Table Of Contents ][ Answer Guy Current Index ] greetings   Meet the Gang   1   2   3   4 [ Index of Past Answers ]

(?) The Answer Gang (!)

By Jim Dennis, Ben Okopnik, Dan Wilder, Breen, Chris, and... (meet the Gang) ... the Editors of Linux Gazette... and You!
Send questions (or interesting answers) to The Answer Gang for possible publication (but read the guidelines first)

(?) Sound

From Michael Labhard

Answered By Pradeep Padala, Robos, Ben Okopnik, Heather Stern

Answer Gang:
Just would like to have sound. Installed Mandrake 8.1 on an MSI MS-6390 motherboard with onboard Direct Sound AC97 Audio. No sound comes out. HardDrake does not recognize card. sndconfig finds card but says it is unsupported. Exhausted all other options after extensive web search and many trials.
(!) [pradeep] Did you look at "The Linux Sound HOWTO" at http://tldp.org/HOWTO/Sound-HOWTO/index.html.
Some drivers like ESS Maestro3/Allegro are marked as experimental, so they might not have been built in your stock kernel. If you know your card name, you can try the experimental drivers. I used maestro3 driver and works fine.
If your sound card is "sound blaster compatible", you can try the generic driver for "sound blaster compatible" cards.
I can't tell you more without knowing the sound card type.
(!) [Robos] It depends a lot on what you want from the sound card. Maybe you should be a little bit more specific, up to now I got all my soundcards working with linux, 7 in all and 3 onboard.
(!) [Ben] My own 60-second web search ('linux msi 6390' on Google) has turned up over 50 references, along with the following recommendation:


"The sound part works under Linux after you install the latest ALSA drivers. Just compile ALSA by picking the 8233A option. You may also want to load its AC97 part as a module too."


(?) I'll buy any sound card and do whatever is necessary to get it running but unable to find any clear explanation of how to install sound on Linux with respect to any particular sound card. Only generalities and a large number of options meant to cover all possible sound cards and situations. Let's pick a card and explain the steps involved in getting that card to work. Thanks.

(!) [Ben] Sure: I just got a computer with a CMedia on-board sound chip. I looked it up on the Web, typed "modprobe cmpci" and it worked.
Why do you think that this would make any sense for anyone except a person who has that specific card? If you understand and follow the instructions in the Sound-HOWTO, and you have a sound chip/system for which a driver exists, you will have working sound. Yes, it does take a bit of thinking and a little work. Expecting anything else is unreasonable.
(!) [pradeep] Generally, sndconfig does good job of recognizing the card. If the card is supported, it would have already been configured by harddrake or a similar utility.
If not, first try to find out as much information as possible about the sound card. I hate to say this, but system information in windows can help.

lspci -vvv

"experimental driver" linux "my sound card name"
If you don't see smoke coming out of motherboard, mail me with your findings. :-)
(!) [Heather] Okay, since you ask it this way, I'll give specific advice first, and general advice second, backwards of my usual.
I have a Creative Ensoniq AudioPCI - according to its box. The box also states that it has a CT5880 music synthesis engine.
This jibes well with lspci announcing that it is an Ensoniq 5880 AudioPCI.
The autodetectors in SuSE 7.3 had no particular problem detecting it but once I rolled my own kernel (as I like to do) they weren't quite as helpful to me. Nonetheless I learned from reading their control files that it's compatible with the ES1371 chipset drivers.
Possibly confusing, these exist under at least two of three major (and I'll add, very different) means of firing up sound, but are named slightly differently.
Under kernel based noisemaking, my modutils file contains these notes to help the drivers deal with things:
options snd snd_major=116 snd_cards_limit=1 snd_device_mode=0666
snd_device_gid=17 snd_device_uid=0
alias char-major-116 snd
alias char-major-14      snd

# I have an Ensoniq 5880
# this ones for ALSA and came with SuSE, ignore it right now

# bSAa.ouepqRQGtOE:5880 AudioPCI
#alias snd-card-0 snd-card-ens1371

# this one's for the kernel space driver
alias snd-card-0 snd-ens1371

alias sound-slot-0 snd-card-0
alias sound-service-0-0 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-1 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-3 snd-pcm-oss
alias sound-service-0-8 snd-seq-oss
alias sound-service-0-11 snd-mixer-oss
alias sound-service-0-12 snd-pcm-oss

It may well be that on my new kernel these mean nothing. I was afraid to chop them out completely.
Since I only use my sound to play beeps and twiddles when I feel like allowing my computer to be noisy, I don't know how well this alleged OSS compatibility works. I only know that since my sound is built-in now, I won't see its parts listed by lsmod.
Now for the general hints.
If that's not enough for you then I'm sorry, perhaps you should buy a more boring card, that doesn't have as many interesting features. You might try asking the major distro websites if they suggest any specific cards, since their autodetect routines should work. sndconfig is one such autodetector. YaST has a module with one.
Alternatively you can look for notes where people have had to fight with their card and win their way through - such that they wrote up a bit of a HOWTO specific to their hardware themselves. This is especially true of laptop users, and it's worth noting that some desktop motherboards' onboard sound may be the same, and therefore use the same instructions. To find these, surf the stores, note down some chipsets mentioned on boxes, and mention them to a search engine along with the keywords "linux" and "sound" and either "configure" or "setup".
I favor avoiding products who won't mention their chipsets until you've torn them open.
I favor buying products who actively support Linux on their website.
ALSA has grown popular and there are rumors it may become the sound in the 2.5 series. So you can go to the ALSA site and keep an eye on the cards which have been sorted. Dig through the changelogs a little and get something that has been well supported for a while. Then you should be able to easily find it supported in the major distros which use ALSA, which I know SuSE is one, and I think Mandrake is. It's been a while since I used Red Hat so I couldn't say for that one.
And, sound cards under Linux default to having the mixer settings all muted or off so you don't get a splitting earful by accident. So, you'll need to use a mixer program to set the volumes.

This page edited and maintained by the Editors of Linux Gazette Copyright © 2002
Published in issue 81 of Linux Gazette August 2002
HTML script maintained by Heather Stern of Starshine Technical Services, http://www.starshine.org/

[ Table Of Contents ][ Answer Guy Current Index ] greetings   Meet the Gang   1   2   3   4 [ Index of Past Answers ]