The Linux Sound HOWTO

Jeff Tranter

v1.21, 11 May 2001

Revision History
Revision 1.212001-05-11Revised by: jjt

This document describes sound support for Linux. It lists the supported sound hardware, describes how to configure the kernel drivers, and answers frequently asked questions. The intent is to bring new users up to speed more quickly and reduce the amount of traffic in the Usenet news groups and mailing lists.

Table of Contents
1. Introduction
1.1. Acknowledgments
1.2. New versions of this document
1.3. Feedback
1.4. Distribution Policy
2. Sound Card Technology
3. Supported Hardware
3.1. Platform Notes
3.2. Sound Card Types
3.3. Sound Cards
3.4. Alternate Sound Drivers
3.4.1. OSS/4Front
3.4.2. ALSA
3.4.3. Turtle Beach
3.4.4. Roland MPU-401
3.4.5. SoundBlaster Live!
3.4.6. Packet Radio
3.4.7. PC Speaker
3.4.8. Parallel Port
4. Installation
4.1. Installing the Sound Card
4.2. Configuring ISA Plug and Play
4.3. Configuring the Kernel
4.4. Creating the Device Files
4.5. Booting Linux and Testing the Installation
4.6. Troubleshooting
4.6.1. Step 1: Make sure you are really running the kernel you compiled.
4.6.2. Step 2: Make sure the kernel sound drivers are compiled in.
4.6.3. Step 3: Did the kernel detect your sound card during booting?
4.6.4. Step 4: Can you read data from the dsp device?
4.6.5. When All Else Fails
5. Applications Supporting Sound
6. Answers To Frequently Asked Questions
6.1. What are the various sound device files?
6.2. How can I play a sound sample?
6.3. How can I record a sample?
6.4. Can I have more than one sound card?
6.5. Error: No such file or directory for sound devices
6.6. Error: No such device for sound devices
6.7. Error: No space left on device for sound devices
6.8. Error: Device busy for sound devices
6.9. I still get device busy errors!
6.10. Partial playback of digitized sound file
6.11. There are pauses when playing MOD files
6.12. Compile errors when compiling sound applications
6.13. SEGV when running sound binaries that worked previously
6.14. What known bugs or limitations are there in the sound driver?
6.15. Where are the sound driver ioctls() etc. documented?
6.16. What CPU resources are needed to play or record without pauses?
6.17. Problems with a PAS16 and an Adaptec 1542 SCSI host adaptor
6.18. Is it possible to read and write samples simultaneously?
6.19. My SB16 is set to IRQ 2, but configure does not allow this value.
6.20. If I run Linux, then boot DOS, I get errors and/or sound applications do not work properly.
6.21. Problems running DOOM under Linux
6.22. How can I reduce noise picked up by my sound card?
6.23. I can play sounds, but not record.
6.24. My "compatible" sound card only works if I first initialize under MS-DOS.
6.25. My 16-bit SoundBlaster "compatible" sound card only works in 8-bit mode under Linux.
6.26. Where can I find sound applications for Linux?
6.27. Can the sound drivers be compiled as a loadable module?
6.28. Can I use a sound card to replace the system console beep?
6.29. What is VoxWare?
6.30. Sox/Play/Vplay reports "invalid block size 1024"
6.31. The mixer settings are reset whenever I load the sound driver module
6.32. Only user root can record sound
6.33. Is the sound hardware on the IBM ThinkPad supported?
6.34. Applications fail because my sound card has no mixer
6.35. Problems with a SB16 CT4170
6.36. How to connect a MIDI keyboard to a soundcard
6.37. Problems with IRQ 15 and Ensoniq PCI 128
6.38. Where can I get freely available MIDI patches to run SoftOSS?
7. References