Home > Gentoo, Jake B > Just wanted to share a fail.

Just wanted to share a fail.

September 12th, 2009 Leave a comment Go to comments

I’m back from a brief vacation, where $3 blackjack was the name of the game. Since I didn’t lose all my money I’m in pretty good spirits. That is, up until I booted my Gentoo system and found that I had no sound. This was one thing that worked perfectly on initial installation.

I’ve troubleshooted sound issues with Linux distributions before; usually they came down to hardware that worked fine under Windows, but crackled or stuttered under an open source OS. They also tend to be generally messy, with confusing acronyms and changing buffer timeouts. As such, I was not looking forward to spending time on figuring out something that had already been working.

First of all, what had changed? I powered down my system for four days, so I checked the mixer settings. The PCM volume was down to zero, so I reset it to the picture below; still no audio.

The XFCE mixer, before in-depth troubleshooting

Then I figured I’d check if my speaker system was working. Connecting the stereo minijack plug to my BlackBerry resulted in successfully playing music… so the problem was the computer. Great.

I then noticed a peculiar thing about this screenshot: what are those console buttons all doing turned on? I’ll try turning them off and see what happens – the function of the “link” button is obvious (left channel and right channel volume levels are pulled together), but I’ve never seen a console button in this interface. There’s also no tooltip on the buttons to indicate what they do. I’d thought maybe they’d provide verbose logging of a sound output to the terminal or system log.

Mixer - buttons unchecked

After unchecking them, the “new message” notification sound in Pidgin was a relatively nice reward!

So what happened? Even after changing icon themes within XFCE, the console buttons stay as… consoles. I can only suspect that some KDE packages I installed managed to overwrite the default mute and unmute graphics. Over the next day or so I’m going to reinstall the XFCE icon themes and go from there to see if that takes care of the issue.

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  1. Tyler B
    September 12th, 2009 at 14:24 | #1

    That’s quite the random issue you’re having. Since I updated my kernel to the most recent version, 2.6.30.5-43.fc11.x86_64, my sound has been working great with one exception. If I mute the sound it still tries to play the audio and ends up crackling the speakers a little bit. While I can deal with this, it is rather annoying. Needless to say I don’t think audio is one of Linux’s strong points by any measure…

  2. Jon F
    September 12th, 2009 at 18:45 | #2

    From what I’ve read, it really is a failing.

  3. Phil D
    September 13th, 2009 at 12:00 | #3

    I’ve been having a lot of sound issues too, it’s really quite annoying.

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