How to Remove PulseAudio & use ALSA in Ubuntu Linux?

PulseAudio is a powerful cross-platform sound server. You can use it to directly access your audio hardware and carry the audio signals to output devices. Or because of the way it’s designed, you can use it as an a front-end for the existing, much older and mature sound servers, such as ALSA (it’s primarily an API for accessing audio drivers), OSS etc as well.

The thing about PulseAudio is that (at least in my experience) it gives you all these awesome features, but for some reason it has never worked that well for me. But ALSA on the other hand has always been an extremely stable one and has worked on all of my audio hardware devices.

Now in Ubuntu Linux, few years ago they decided to use PulseAudio as the default sound server. But since PulseAudio cannot directly communicate with the audio hardware, it still needs tools like ALSA to function. So what happens is that, after mixing the audio (on software level), PulseAudio simply ‘hands it over’ to ALSA, and ALSA takes in from there.

Well, it’s certainly powerful, but I’ve had my fair share of issues with it :/ …

Anyhow, in my case, I suspect that it’s this, the bad communication between ALSA -> PulseAudio, is the reason for most of these issues, because every time I enable “audio amplification” in PulseAudio, my audio output mutes (update: This is no longer true. PulseAudio works really well under my new Dell notebook) .

Now in the past I used to use the PulseAudio Configuration window to disable this audio amplification but in Ubuntu 11.10 Pulse just enables this audio amplification automatically. So most of the time I end up no sound outputs at all.

However, out of these frustrations I just thought , “to hell with it!” (a lot of bad words were filtered :D). “I’m gonna remove PulseAudio and just use ALSA”. I just did it and now all my audio outputs works perfectly fine!.

So if you’re also having the same issue or any other similar issues with PulseAudio in Ubuntu, then perhaps you can do the same and who knows it might save your day ;-). But remember, if you remove PulseAudio, you no longer will get that pretty looking “Volume Indicator applet” anymore. And if PulseAudio is working just fine for you, then I highly recommend that you stick with it.

No more of these pretty audio indicators …

If you’re ready, let’s do it.

1. First let’s remove PulseAudio from your Ubuntu OS. I don’t remember since when Ubuntu used to come installed it by default, but for the recent versions such as: 12.04 Precise Pangolin, 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot, 11.04 Natty Narwhal, 10.10 and 10.04 the below command should remove it.

sudo apt-get autoremove pulseaudio

2. Now do a reboot since PulseAudio daemon (system service) is also running from the background. So it’s better to let the OS update everything.

3. Now the next time you login to your Desktop you won’t see the Volume Icon around the system tray area.

Now ALSA is installed by default in Ubuntu but since we have to have a GUI for configuring audio mixing, let’s install the default tool that used to come in Gnome desktop called: “Gnome-ALSA-Mixer” (a GTK+ front-end).

For that please use the below command.

sudo apt-get install gnome-alsamixer

4.I’m not sure whether this is really necessary but just to make sure, again reboot your PC so the configuration is updated.

5. As said before, for various reasons I have to disable the audio amplification otherwise the audio is muted. So if you too not getting any audio outputs after say running Totem for instance, then simply open your Terminal window and enter the below command.

gnome-alsamixer

Now this should open a new window, similar to the below one. From its window simply remove the “check” mark that says “External Amplifier”, that should solve most of your issues.

Update: If you have an amplifier, then try leaving the “External Amplifier” enabled first. If you don’t get any sounds with it enabled, then you can try disabling it (thanks ‘Chris’ for pointing it out).

Make sure your main output channels are also not muted …

Oh and make sure Master output, PCM etc aren’t muted.

Update: If you’re having issues while using ‘Gnome ALSA Mixer’, then try ‘QasMixer’, which is a new ALSA mixer GUI. It’s also known to fix some of the run-time errors of ‘Gnome ALSA …’ as well.

Well, that’s pretty much it. Now if everything goes according to plan you should hear your speakers screaming!. That’s it and good luck.

144 thoughts on “How to Remove PulseAudio & use ALSA in Ubuntu Linux?

  1. Sam

    Thank you for these instructions. I had gone to the extent of a fresh install (Ubuntu 11.10). Everything worked great – until it picked up its frist round of updates. Afterward, the audio was horrible when playing anything – youtube, mp4, flash, and didn't depend on the player (Banshee, VLC, whatever). I followed your instructions, and the audio is once again smooth. Thanks!

    Sam, Logan IA USA

  2. Leo

    It happened to my system as well with one of the updates a couple of days ago. Although I'm using 11.10 for a few months now and never had problems with sound. I have realtek alc892 integrated sound card and one day it started delaying all sounds the system tries to play, it's like the performance of sound driver isn't enough. And then it ends up producing some high frequency noise together with 2-3 secs delayed sound stream. The strange thing is that if I redirect my sound to the HDMI output device – all this evil is gone. So it happens only if I use analog output of my sound card.

    And of course, if I remove pulseaudio and replace it with alsa-mixer – it works much better even with analog output.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hello Leo,

      My sound card is also a Realtek one. However after using that old & heavy laptop for about 4-5 years, I got a new one (I love that old one, a lot! :D), so pulse audio is working fine with it.

      However, I honestly don't know why PulseAudio makes such a mess sometimes, perhaps as said above, it's having issues while communicating with Alsa.

      But most of the time, although it's a bit overlooked by many, ALSA is still one of the most durable & robust sound servers around that rescues dudes like you and me ;-).

      Anyway, glad it it helped you out!.

  3. Anonomous

    Thank You Very Much, I Also Have A Realtek Sound Driver And PulseAudio Had Been Giving My Problems With Programs Such As Wine.

    Since Following Your Tutorial, I Havent Had Any Problems So Far With My System.

    Thank You Very Much

    Sincerely, Anonomous

  4. Henk

    Hi Gayan,

    Followed all instructions. Sounds are played but not the drums at startup neither the desktop tune.

    Any idea?

    Ubuntu 11.10

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi Henk,

      Well, I cannot be sure but, it could be perhaps because when you remove Pulseaudio, another package called "libcanberra-pulse" is also removed.

      "libcanberra" is a special library that uses Pulseaudio (also supports other backends such as gstreamer, alsa etc too) in Ubuntu for event audio playback such as the desktop login sounds etc and it could be the removal of "libcanberra-pulse" is the reason for this issue.

      Anyhow, as a fix, you can try the below steps and hopefully it should do the trick for you.

      1. First, open your Terminal window and enter the below command (don't used "sudo", run it as a normal user).

      gnome-session-properties

      2. This should open a window that lets you configure startup applications.

      If you see an entry called "Gnome Login Sound", then make sure it's enabled (by putting a "check" mark before it). If it's not there (which should be the case here), then click on the "Add" button.

      3. From the next window you get, fill it using the below values.

      Name: Gnome Login Sound

      Command: /usr/bin/canberra-gtk-play –id="desktop-login" –description="GNOME Login"

      Comment: (you can leave this field alone or type a small description if you like, but again, it's optional)

      After filling it, click on the "Save" button and make sure you've put a "check" mark on the newly created startup entry (so it's enabled).

      Now reboot your PC and the login sound should work.

      I have also uploaded a small screenshot of the startup entry as well :) (click on the below link to open it). Hope this helps to fix your issue.

      http://www.hecticgeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2012

      Good luck.

      1. Josh

        Oh man I didn’t even have this installed, I was worried because I had a USB DAC I used, but this worked like a charm. Thank you so much for your helpfulness.

  5. Chris

    Thanks Gayan!

    Was trying to get Skype working (under Ubuntu 11.10) on an 8 yr old PC which will be donated to my parents. The sound was awful under PulseAudio… Tried loads of "fixes" wasted hours of my time.

    Your instructions are spot on! Would just add one thing if I may.. I have an amplifier on my system so left External Amplification ticked… It may be worth pointing out that some users may actually want this in your tutorial.

    I'm sure that one day PulseAudio may be the answer, but not in my case. So thanks again!!

    Chris

  6. ike

    Yep, you can forget about this method now either.

    Removing pulseaudio in ubuntu 12.04 now removes the package ubuntu-desktop so if you try this you're effectively done with ubuntu.

    It must be said the ubuntu devs are very good in enforcing the use of crap packages.

    Same problem with the crap syslogger ubuntu uses. You can' t revert to another one or ubuntu-desktop will be removed.

    Thanks ubuntu devs!

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hello ike,

      Well, you can still get rid of 'pulseaudio' using this method, and removing the 'ubuntu-desktop' won't affect your system.

      However, according to its 'description', Ubuntu recommends that you keep it by saying that …

      It is also used to help ensure proper upgrades, so it is recommended that
      it not be removed.

      I haven't had any issues after doing so and unless you're 'upgrading' (won't affect the 'updates') to a new version of Ubuntu, it's compeletely safe to remove this package as it's a 'meta-package' that makes sure all the default apps that come with Ubuntu are installed and 'upgraded" to the new Ubuntu version.

      I never upgrade my Ubuntu system (don't think most do it as well), I always remove the old version and perform a clean installation, whenever Ubuntu releases a new version every 6 months.

      So, if you're not going to 'upgrade' your system, then it's completely safe to remove this 'ubuntu-desktop' package and again, it won't affect your 'updates' for the current release.

      I think you know this already (I can guess it from your comment :D), I put that description for all the new users to Ubuntu, so they'd have a clear picture (hopefully). Thank you for the comment though, appreciate it.

  7. mids

    Gayan

    just to add you method resolve an issue with vmware 8 running in windows 7 64 bit

    the issue was no audio at all ..removing the pulse audio fix it ..

    thanks a lot.

  8. Neo

    I did this just to check if it made any improvement in my sound quality. Alsa-mixer worked fine, but no significant quality difference (I have to say, pulseaudio works fine in my case). So I decided to roll back to pulseaudio, so I would have the pretty looking “Volume Indicator applet” back.

    So i did

    apt-get autoremove gnome-alsamixer

    apt-get install pulseaudio

    Rebooted, but no pretty looking applets (yes, i know there was a clear warning about it!)

    So after a bit of poking around, I found to restore it:

    apt-get install indicator-sound

    Another reboot, and job done! Pretty looking applet is back.

    Ref:
    http://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1713628

    1. Gayan Post author

      Spot on Neo!. 'indicator-sound' should do the trick (only for those who wanna switch back to 'PulseAudio' that is :)).

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi 'Danny',

      Sorry about the bit 'late' response. First of all, the image URL does not work, so I cannot see the settings etc.

      However, check the following things if, both 'Alsa' and 'PulseAudio' give audio outputs when using the 'Test Sound' button.

      *. Have you installed all the proprietary codecs ? (otherwise, you won't be able to play most audio/video files in Ubuntu).

      *. Make sure your media players aren't muted (if so, you'll see a small cross-mark on the audio icon)?

      If those don't help and since you've installed 'Alsa', then try the below trick (it might or might not work, but hey, you've got nothing to lose :)).

      Step 1: Put the below command in your Terminal.

      gstreamer-properties

      Step 2: Now, from the next window that you get, click on the 'Audio' tab (selected by default) and go to: 'Defaul Output' -> 'Plugin'.

      Then click on the drop down menu for the 'Plugin' option, and choose 'ALSA (Advanced Linux Sound Server)'.

      If you use, 'PulseAudio' then choose 'Pulseaudio Sound Server' option.

      Step 3: Then,

      If you choose 'ALSA …'

      Then under the 'Device' option, try if you can find an option that goes by the name of your soundcard (I have 'CONEXANT Analog'), if you can find it then choose that.

      If you use HDMI output, then choose HDMI, Or, if you cannot find any of those, then simply choose 'Default' (you can also try all of them, one at a time with the below 'Step 4' too).

      If you choose 'PulseAudio …'

      Then try choosing the second option below the 'Default' one.

      Step 4: Then click on the 'Test' button, and it should open a test sound output, if you can hear a beep playing, then close the settings window and try playing a file with one of your media players.

      This might not fix your issue, but it sometimes does help.

      By the way, what is the name of your SoundCard? …

  9. Danny

    also tried reinstalling pulse audio by the comment a few above this one

    this is what comes out

    [/code]danny@danny-linux:~$ apt-get autoremove gnome-alsamixer

    E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (13: Permission denied)

    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?

    danny@danny-linux:~$ apt-get autoremove gnome-alsamixer

    E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (13: Permission denied)

    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?

    danny@danny-linux:~$ apt-get install pulseaudio

    E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (13: Permission denied)

    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?

    danny@danny-linux:~$ apt-get install indication-sound

    E: Could not open lock file /var/lib/dpkg/lock – open (13: Permission denied)

    E: Unable to lock the administration directory (/var/lib/dpkg/), are you root?

    [/code]

    1. Gayan Post author

      Danny, you gotta use those commands with 'administrative' ('sudo') privilages.

      For removing the alsomixer and re-installing pulseaudio, use the below commands.

      Step 1: Enter the below command in your Terminal window to uninstall Alsa mixer.

      sudo apt-get autoremove gnome-alsamixer

      Step 2: Then enter the below ones to re-install pulseaudio.

      sudo apt-get install pulseaudio indicator-sound

      Now reboot your PC and you should have PulseAudio :).

  10. BrycePuddin

    Hi Gayan,

    I like the sound of this procedure of removing pulseaudio you've left for all us, however I would like some possible advice before going through with it myself. My sound issues are limited to what seems to be just wine-loaded programs. Any game I've installed and ran with wine has crackly sound for 10-30 seconds and then the audio cuts out completely. Messing with in-game sound options or winecfg audio settings doesn't help, and I've been through several sound troubleshooting guides but none of them have targetted this specific problem. From what I've read I Think that removing or disabling pulseaudio should help. Would you concur? Running ubuntu 12.04 and sound card is hda intel ALC268. Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi BrycePuddin,

      To be honest, the last time I tried 'Wine' was about 7-8 years ago!. This is mostly because I use both Windows and GNU/Linux at the same time so I can always use Windows to run its programs. As a result, I'm not extremely familiar with 'Wine' and its audio configuration options etc (sorry about that :)).

      Now, you said you've tried playing with the 'winecfg' settings, but just in case (just trying to help you out, lol), have you tried making 'Wine' use 'ALSA', without uninstalling 'PulseAudio' from the OS?

      After using this method, 'PulseAudio' will still be available for other applications but 'Wine' will directly communicate with 'ALSA' (which is the same thing that we're trying to achieve by removing 'PulseAudio' completely).

      If you haven't, then please visit the below link and try it.

      http://wiki.winehq.org/WineAndPulseaudio

      If it doesn't help, you can also try installing 'pavucontrol' utility and play with it as well (it lets you adjust few more settings in 'PulseAudio').

      http://www.hecticgeek.com/2011/12/advanced-pulse-

      If nothing works, then I too agree that you might wanna completely remove 'PulseAudio' and try using 'ALSA'. Good luck mate :).

      1. ScratchPuddin

        Ah, thanks for your advice and helpful links. I wasn't able to set wine to use ALSA within 'winecfg' like I had been trying, however that wiki article has solved my problems. I suppose this means I should polish my googling skills :)

        Thanks Gayan, that was a week-long headache for me haha. Cheers

  11. KMASCII

    My question is relating to bit-perfect output so I haven't really been having trouble with the two file server services. I use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. installed on an intel D510MO motherboard with onboard intel audio. I use it as a music server to feed an external DAC and amplifier with flac encoded audio files. (standard CD 44.1K-16bit) Thus I use an optical toslink between computer and DAC.

    I've tried several Ubuntu based media players before finally settling on one. But, in any event, one thing I had noticed with some media players is that even when I was able to choose the ALSA driver there seemed to be some preprocessing or resampling of the audio taking place.

    I hadn't been able to glean a satisfactory answer other than wading through some back and forth debates about what was happening with the PulseAudio/ALSA combination. But I do swear that the audio became much clearer once I selected the ALSA dirver (and found a media player that allowed me to select ALSA).

    I'll probably try removing Pulseaudio myself to see if it effects my computer experience, but I'm curious about your thoughts regarding anything that might be happening (resampling) going on between Pulseaudio and ALSA?

    As an audiophile, I do hear differences between Pulseaudio and ALSA. There are details in things like the decay and resonance of instuments that just don't come through when I listen with Pulseaudio selected. It makes the recordings sound artificial to me, kind of what one would call colored (like what excessive EQing will do). I don't know what it was but somethings was going on there.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hello there!,

      Well, I'm not entirely sure if this can help, but below is one thing that you can try (if you haven't done it already, lol).

      ALSA uses a software mixer that resamples to 48K by default (PulseAudio uses the 44.1K) and perhaps this mismatch might be the reason that makes you say that ALSA is up to something 'in-between' ;-).

      One way to fix this is to open your Terminal and enter the below command.

      gksudo gedit /usr/share/alsa/alsa.conf

      Then inside the 'alsa.conf' file, search for the following term

      defaults.pcm.dmix.rate 48000

      Be careful while copying the text using the mouse, as sometimes it could add an additional 'space' after '48000' and the editor won't find the setting as a result.

      If it happens, then delete the additional 'space' in the search box (I know you know these, but just in case).

      Anyway, once you've found this setting, simply change the '48000' value to '44100' (obviously) and save your changes and close the editor.

      Then try playing something and perhaps that might be able to fix it (thought not necessary, but if it doesn't work the first time, then try restarting the PC).

      Did it help?

      1. KMASCII

        Unfortunately I can't hear a change. I suspect my problem must be down to what the media players themselves are doing differently. I use a player called Audacious because this seems to be the only player that appears to (sounds like) it's not doing anything goofy with the audio files.

        I was trying to use Clementine specifically because of the better file management. And in general its improved interface. Unfortunately, even though I'm able to choose the ALSA plugin, the playback in Clementine isn't as clean as the Audacious playback. I've tried quite a few different players.

        However, I do have to say that of all the other media players Clementine seems the next best sounding to Audacious. Clementine just doesn't sound quite as clean and clear as the Audacious playback. There's graininess in the treble where Audacious is quite smooth and revealing. Or rather Audacious may just be allowing my external DAC and amp do their jobs.

        I'm actually expecting to use my computer as a transport for the audio files. I guess it may not be the Ubuntu configuration itself but just whatever preprocessing media player's themselves might be doing? I don't know. To bad too cause Clementine has a really good interface.

        1. Gayan Post author

          Well, I'm sorry to hear that. You can still disable the 'Enable Replay Gain' under the 'Audio Output Settings' section and also make sure the 'Sample Rate Converter' is disabled under the 'Plugings' section as well.

          And lastly you can try changing the 'Buffer Size' (increasing/decreasing) under the 'Audio Output' section and see if it helps. Other than that, well I'm almost out of ideas mate :).

          However, since even if you use 'ALSA' in 'Audacious', it still uses 'PulseAudio' for the mixing etc, there's an intersting article that you can read from here which talks about manually editing a 'PulseAudio' configuration file so the buffering timing of the audio output is equal to your hardware which helps to overcome some glitchering and delays.

          But the 'PulseAudio' man page says this about this option …

          'Modern drivers that support timer-based scheduling ignore these options'.

          Still, you can try it out, after all you've got nothing to loose :).Also before editing this file, make sure to write down the default values of those two options (just in case).

          I'm not sure if it helps but, I'd first suggest that you play with the 'Buffer Size' in 'Audacious' first. Good luck.

  12. Kartsa

    I had no problems with sound untill I recently bought SB wireless headset. The sound would work like from a minute to about half an hour. After that only reboot helped for getting sound back. So I decided to try this out and for now it has worked pefectly :)

    I googled the net to find a solution but found only people with problems having usb sound devices.

    So thanks :D

  13. Joshua

    I ran across a horrible sound delay when streaming video using Veetle. I uninstalled Pulse and now it works like a charm. The only that sucks now is that my volume and mute button on my Thinkpad no longer work :( Anyway I can get them working again?

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hey 'Joshua',

      That's actually pretty simple to achieve :). If all you want is to set your keyboard keys to up/down and mute/unmute the master volume, then follow the below steps.

      1. Open 'System Settings' window and click on the 'Keyboard' icon under the 'Hardware' sub heading.

      2. Then, click on the 'Shortcuts' tab.

      3. Now, from the left side choose, 'Sound and Media' and you'll see three settings called 'Volume mute', 'Volume down' and 'Volume up' at the top (to your right-side) with few other shortcuts.

      4. Now under 'Volume mute', you'll see its shortcut is listed as 'Audio mute' to the right edge of the window (it might change according to your keyboard type)

      Now simply click on it and it will change into 'New accelerator …', when that happens, click the 'Backspace' button on your keyboard and now it should say 'Disabled'.

      Do the same thing to the other two options so their existing keyboard shortcuts are also disabled.

      5. Now after that, again from the the left bottom side, click on 'Custom Shortcuts'. Then click on the '+' icon to add a new one.

      Setting a mute/unmute shortcut

      After clicking the '+' icon, you should get a new small window and under the 'Name' field, simply type 'Volume mute' (you can use any name you want). But under the 'command' field, copy and paste the below command.

      amixer set Master toggle

      Now click on the 'apply' button. Since we haven't applied a shortcut, it should have a 'disabled' text to under the shortcut. Now simply click on the 'disabled' text and when it changes to 'New accelerator …' press your keyboard combination for the audio mute/unmute. That it!.

      Setting volume up shortcut

      Again use the '+' to add a new shortcut. This time under name choose 'Volume up' and for the command use the below one.

      amixer set Master 10+

      The '10+' represents a 10% increase. So if it's too much for you, then you can change the number but leave the '+' alone ;-).

      Then click on the 'apply' button and again assign a shortcut key to it (as said above), and this time, use the volume up keyboard shortcut combination that you want.

      Setting a volume down shortcut

      Again click on the '+' to add a new shortcut and under the name use 'Volume down' and for the command, use the below one (again, you can change the '10' value but leave the '-' sign alone).

      amixer set Master 10-

      Then click on the 'apply' button and assign a new keyboard shortcut and this time when asked use the preferred volume down keyboard shortcut that you need.

      Well, that's pretty much it :).

          1. Joshua

            I have another question. Is there anyway to disable the low battery warning popups on Ubuntu. It seems like I get them every 2 minutes even if the battery is fully charged. My battery isnt great but it gets the job done.

          2. Gayan Post author

            Joshua,

            Please red the answer below (I had to move my comment there because there's little space remaining in this 'nested' comment area :).

  14. Ananyabrata

    hey im totally new to the world of linux and i started off by installing ubuntu 12.04 on my computer already running windows 7. Everything works fine except when i try to play any song or movies. i get a crackling sound when i try to do these stuff. on the other hand when i open youtube i dont have any problem and on windows also when i play the same stuff i dont face any problem. please help me out of this mess im in cause im at my wits end…..

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hello 'Ananyabrata',

      Well it's a bit difficult for me to guess the issue from this end :).

      Question 1: Anyway, just to make sure, you manually installed the audio/video codecs in Ubuntu 12.04 right?, because other than very few, by default Ubuntu cannot play almost all the popular audio/video formats.

      If you don't know how to do it, then open your Terminal and enter the below commands.

      sudo apt-get install ubuntu-restricted-extras

      The above command will let you play almost all the proprietary codecs, except the playback of encrypted DVDs. For that, enter the below command first ….

      sudo -E wget –output-document=/etc/apt/sources.list.d/medibuntu.list http://www.medibuntu.org/sources.list.d/$(lsb_rel… -cs).list && sudo apt-get –quiet update && sudo apt-get –yes –quiet –allow-unauthenticated install medibuntu-keyring && sudo apt-get –quiet update

      Then the next one.

      sudo apt-get install libdvdcss2

      And the below one.

      cd /usr/share/doc/libdvdread4/

      And lastly the next one.

      sudo ./install-css.sh

      Okay that should do it.

      If this haven't resolved your issue, then there's another thing that you can try before removing 'PulseAudio', but it might be a bit difficult. Anyway, just let me know what happened.

  15. Barto

    This also seems to help make jack more stable. I've removed pulseaudio in previoous versions of Ubuntu Studio for this very reason (now running 12.04)

  16. Barto

    figured out what was going on with qjackctrl – wrong sound card specified in setup (even though I disabled the onboard audio in bios it was still being detected).

  17. Dave

    My ubuntu 12.04 server/desktop wouldn't run my asus xonar dx card until I followed your simple steps. I tried reinstalling alsa, reinstalling pulse audio, and about everything else–even reinserted the card. Pulse audio is troublesome. Thank you.

  18. Gayan Post author

    @Joshua,

    Well, there’s this one thing that you can try.

    1. First enter the below command in your Terminal (we’re installing a utility).

    sudo apt-get install dconf-tools

    2. Then, search for ‘dconf editor’ in Unity’s Dash and open the utility.

    3. Now from you left, navigate to: ‘org’ -> ‘gnome’ -> ‘settings-deamon’ -> ‘plugins’ -> ‘power’

    4. This should open up few options for ‘power’ related features to your right-side and from there, scroll down to the bottom and find a setting called ‘use-time-for-policy’. Then simply remove the ‘check-mark’ in front of it to disable this.

    What this does is simple. When enabled, it uses the remaining time of your battery for giving you warnings but sometimes due to hardware software incompatibilities, the OS might not be able to evaluate its 'remaining time' accurately (though most of the time it reads the capacity correctly) thus giving your improper warnings.

    So when disabled, it’ll only give warnings based on the capacity of the battery rather than the remaining time. Hope this helped.

    Original credit goes to: this Ubuntu Forum thread.

  19. azzanis

    Since last week my ubuntu 12.04 had problem with sound output. I had to fresh install it back, but the problem still exist. The sound driver in proprietary is there but nothing except dummy in the output. Had try several thing on the net. Please help.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi 'azzanis',

      It's pretty difficult to guess the issue from this end for me. But have you installed any programs recently that might be locking 'PulseAudio'? …

      Anyhow, just open your Terminal and enter the below command.

      killall pulseaudio

      Then enter the below one to restart it …

      pulseaudio

      Then try opening an application and play something to see whether it has work or note.

      This is also sometimes caused by 'Skype' while trying to access the audio levels (if I remember correctly). If you suspect that to be the case, then read these instructions by the Skype support page.

      I don't wanna give users the impression that the only answer for all the sound issues in Ubuntu is to remove 'PulseAudio' however, if all fail, have you tried removing it and only using 'ALSA' as shown in this article?

      1. azzanis

        Hi Gayan,

        No. I remember that I do not install any other program. I had pretty much problem with sound when I did regulary update and upgrade past wednesday.

        Yes I had tried "killall pulseaudio" and also "pulseaudio" cmd. I also tried what shown in your articles, but seem I had no luck. Is there something in recent update might be the problem.

        As it now, it's my second time that I reinstall back ubuntu 12.04.1 (the latest one LTS that I got from ubuntu sites). I also tried to upgrade my kernel to 3.5 but no luck, owh I also had uninstall all old unused kernel and package (right now I'm trying to update to latest alsa 2.6). All the proprietary is there but not been used on output sound. Also on my Alsa info everything look normal to me.

        Anyway, Thank a lot for the reply. Also if there thing that I can try that you can think of?

        Thank you.

        1. Gayan Post author

          Hi 'azzanis',

          Updates (errr :D) were my guess too. Anyhow, then I think it's out of my reach.

          The commands need to have a double-dash but for some reason the comment doesn't show it (only show it as a single dash). so I've put the instructions into a text file. Please download it from the below link and follow the steps.

          Click here to get it (it's compressed, so extract the content first).

  20. josh

    heyyy! i am having problems.

    i originally came to this post while trying to figure out why certain video editing applications, particularly kdenlive, had no audio playback. i followed your instructions and here is what alsa-mixer shows:

    http://s16.postimage.org/9mr783myd/Screenshot_frohttp://s11.postimage.org/josdldzhf/Screenshot_frohttp://s14.postimage.org/b5vs4oqb5/Screenshot_fro

    i also followed your advice to danny as i am still getting no sound playback, and went into gstreamer-properties and set it to alsa and device "usb". i was able to play a test sound from this successfully, but still no sound from any other applications.

    i am using a logitech usb headset that worked fine previously with pulseaudio. the sound card on the computer has never worked, which is why i am using a usb headset.

    also now when i attempt to play a song through rhythmbox, in addition to no sound at all, it the cursor indicating the song is playing moves at a "fast forward" kind of speed.

    i hope you can help! i am really not great at linux but am willing to learn more. this is a bit frustrating though ;)

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hello 'Josh',

      Mate I don't know if the below steps would help you but since you have nothing to lose ;-), you can try them out and I'll try to be as brief as possible. I also assume that you've already installed the proprietary audio & video codecs (if not you can find the proper commands in the answer I gave to 'Ananyabrata', above).

      1. Open your Terminal window and enter the below command.

      gksudo gedit /etc/modprobe.d/alsa-base.conf

      This should open up a configuration file related to 'ALSA'. Then scroll-down to the end of this file and you should find the line that say …

      options snd-usb-audio index=-2

      2. Now simply add '#' before that option or you can just delete only that line and replace it with the below one (only delete that line!).

      #options snd-usb-audio index=-2

      Then simply click on the 'Save' button of the text editor and close its window.

      3. The next command might not be necessary but just in case, enter the that one as well.

      rm ~/.asoundrc

      If it gives you an error saying 'cannot remove `/home/…/.asoundrc': No such file or directory' or doesn't give any output at all, it's all good :).

      Now reboot your computer (make sure the USB headset is plugged in before rebooting) and try playing something and see if you can hear sounds through your USB Headset.

      If this doesn't work there are few other things that you can do (if you haven't done them already) … so let me know. Good luck.

      1. josh

        OK!! YAY!!! i found another article you wrote about installing qasmixer…. and after installing it, the audio works!!!!

        thank you for everything!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

        1. Gayan Post author

          I was going to tell you a command call 'aplay' that we can use to identify the sound card ID and then use that information to manually create a configuration file so 'ALSA' will use your USB headset and hopefully fix it. But it isn't going to be needing anymore!.

          I'm glad you finally found an answer 'Josh'. I know how it is when your sound card is not working ;-).

  21. Johan

    Hi Gayan,

    I've got a real odd one for you, Pulse is muting my sound, then switches it on again at a fast rate, the effect is very choppy sound. I am running Ubuntu Studio Quantal (12.10). What I would like to know is, if by removing Pulse, I will not cause problems with the other setups in regards to Jack (and his brothers) on my system? I have reported the bug, but it could take some time before they can resolve it, as I am sure they are quite busy with bugs, that troubles more people than only me. Your Expert advise would be surely appreciated in this regard.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi Johan,

      I'm not sure what removing PulsaAudio would do in Ubuntu Studio mate. However, sometimes these choppy sound output errors are due to PulseAudio using audio output settings that are not compatible with your sound card (buffer size, frequency etc). And you can try manually fixing it. There is an excellent 'LinuxMint' forum thread that I have liked to already but here it is again.

      I'm not sure if it's going to fix yours but it is well worth trying.
      http://forums.linuxmint.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=

  22. Johan

    Hi Gayan,

    Thanks a ton mate, I followed the instructions at the link you gave, fiddled around a bit more with the values there, and I must say, it sounds a lot better, although not 100% yet. I'll forward that to the experts, and see if they can't come up with the complete solution. Thanks again for taking the time, to point me in the right direction, much obliged.

    1. Gayan Post author

      You are welcome 'Johan' :).

      Anyhow, if you have a recent Ubuntu version that is working perfectly with your audio hardware (say the stable 12.04 LTS), then try booting into its Live desksop session for example, and try entering the first three commands listed in that 'LinuxMint' page to get those hardware settings that work for the sound card. Then copy those values, say to a new text file.

      After that, again, as showed in the forum thread, have a look at the 'PulseAudio daemon' configuration file by using the 'gksudo gedit /etc/pulse/daemon.conf' command.

      Then scroll down, and if they exist, then copy the values under 'default-fragments' and 'default-fragment-size-msec', to that text file as well.

      Then use all those values (there should be like 5 values at least) to fill out the configuration files in Ubuntu Studio 12.10 as described in that thread.

      Once you're done, enter the 'rm ~/.pulse/client.conf' command and reboot your PC, before checking. That might help.

      *. If that doesn't work, then try copying 'daemon.conf’ file and replace it with the one you have in the Ubuntu Studio 12.10 beta.

      BTW, I almost forgot, as commented by 'Barto' above, I think you should be able to remove 'PulseAudio' and use 'ALSA' instead without it affecting the other software in Ubuntu Studio. Neveretheless, if after removing 'PulseAudio', you run into more troubles, then you can always re-install it by using the below commands.

      sudo apt-get install pulseaudio indicator-sound

      Hope this helps, sorry about the long rambling ;-).

  23. Johan

    Hi Gayan,

    Funny on some songs I have improvements, on others none. What I will do, is to remove Pulse first and if I encounter other problems I will go the other route you have suggested. I've had it now with this story, only hope by removing Pulse, it will resolve problem. Will let you know. Thanks again for your help.

  24. Michael

    Hi Gayan,

    Thank you for the detailed instructions on how to remove Pulse Audio. I have only one inconvenient side- effect: system sounds are playing at full volume. I set up master volume at close to Max in alsa-mixer and adjust volume level using UI of a respective player. This works fine for music but system sounds are not affected by player’s level and still sound at level set in alsa-mixer. I suspect this is normal but I would still appreciate if you can suggest how to decrease volume of those sounds or even mute them altogether. The most annoying one is when I click backspace in terminal window and there’s no chars left to delete.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi Michael,

      One dirty fix would be to try removing the default alert-sound package in Ubuntu. For that, simply enter the below command.

      sudo apt-get autoremove ubuntu-sounds

      Then reboot your PC. That might do the trick … did it work ?

      1. Michael

        Well, it worked to some extent – the sound changed and while it’s less loud it is still quite annoying, Ubuntu-sounds package was successfully removed and I rebooted machine as well.

        1. Gayan Post author

          Hey Micheal,

          Sorry to hear that. There is another one that you can try. For that, again, open your Terminal, and enter the below command.

          gsettings set org.gnome.desktop.sound event-sounds false

          This should do the trick (?)

  25. vlad2005

    I also removed pulseaudio because, we susupec for some problems with skype. Also, pulseaudio work ok for me.
    I recommend to install xfce4-mixer if u run Xubuntu. Is lightweight and give option to add an volume indicator to panel.

  26. Chris

    Hey nice tips and tricks here… Just wondering though, do you know any way to get good old esound(ESD) working.? I replaced pulse with it back in 10.04 and it actualy gave me quit a boost in performance for wine games.

  27. Larry

    Awesome. I have been away from Linux audio for a while. Audio in general. Very surprised that Pulse Audio is default in Ubuntu Studio. Thanks. This got my system to what I remembered it to be.

  28. Johanna

    Gosh Gayan!
    Thank you so much for your easy instructions. As a bloody linuxgreenhorn it took me a while to figure out my actual soundproblem… and then I just found instructions I did’nt understand (but obviously all the other users which made me feel pretty dumb) so just.
    THANKS
    got my music back

  29. Amy

    Hi Gayan, I followed these instructions to the letter and now I have no sound at all.

    Running Ubuntu 12.04. I have onboard Realtek sound as well as a USB sound card.

    When I open gnome-alsamixer, I get an empty window. If I try to edit sound card properties I get a segmentation fault.

    Going off to check if alsa-utils is installed, but I see from Google there are a lot of people with unsolved problems that manifest first as an empty gnome-alsamixer window.

    Eventually I’m probably going to move to another distro. On my old distro, there was never a problem with alsa that I couldn’t figure out how to solve.

    Any ideas? thanks.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi ‘Amy’,

      Well, have you tried installing ‘QasMixer’ (a graphical front-end for ALSA, just like ‘gnome-alsamixer’ but it is new and someone also has said to me that after installing, it has fixed a similar issue as well).

      1. So if you have not tried that, then please follow the below link and install it.

      http://www.hecticgeek.com/2012/09/qasmixer-adds-a-system-tray-icon-and-a-mixer-for-alsa-ubuntu/

      2. Once you have installed it, open the program (by searching for ‘qasmixer’ in Dash).

      Then once you have its main window opened, press ‘F6′ key and it should open qamixer’s configuration window that lets one to select the default sound card.

      3. Then from this window, under the subheading ‘Mixer device‘ (located on the right-top of that window), click on the option called ‘hw:card’.

      4. Now, as soon as you do that, if ‘QasMixer’ has been able to detect your sound-cards, then it should list them directly below the other subheading called ‘Card‘.

      5. Then under the ‘Card’ section, simply select the sound-card that your speakers (or the output device that you use) are attached to (also make sure the ‘Master’, ‘PCM’ … outputs are not mute) and try play something.

      Click the below link for a screenshot …

      http://www.hecticgeek.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/12/Selecting-default-soundcard-in-QasMixer.jpg

      Has it helped you out?

  30. Dave

    I’m useing Linux Mint 14 and my audio was fine until I lost my task bar and reloded the system, now I don’t have audio through my HDMI. All the rest works fine. Nvidia GT 320 card.
    Any suggestions?
    Dave

    1. Gayan Post author

      Dave,

      Mate, first of all, I have never used a HDMI connector before (still a ‘stereo’ geek :/ ) so …

      Anyhow, have you tried changing the audio output from the ‘Volume’ icon/applet on the taskbar?

      If you haven’t,

      *. Then first click on the small speaker icon on the taskbar and from the menu choose ‘Output device …’, if the HDMI is listed, then choose that. Then try playing something and hopefully the sound now might work.

      If that does not work, then you can try the below method as well.

      1. Open your Terminal window and enter the below command.

      gstreamer-properties

      Then, under the ‘Audio’ tab, and under the ‘Default Output’ sub-heading, you will see another option called ‘Plugin’.

      2. Then click on this option and from the menu choose ‘ALSA – Advanced Linux Sound Architecture’.

      3. Then under the ‘Device’ option (below the ‘Plugin’ option), click on the drop-down menu and, if available, choose ‘HDMI …’. Once done that, make sure to click on the ‘Test’ button and if you hear a ‘beep’ sound, then all should be good and close the window and try playing a multimedia file.

      Has it helped ?

  31. JayVee

    Dear Gayan
    I have a different kind of Pulse problem. Pulse will fail when I boot in Ubuntu 12.10. If I thereafter remove both the .pulse directory and the .pulse-cookie file from /Home, and reboot, Pulse will sometimes (? :-) ?) work. Ubuntu may, or maynot. re-ask my password. If it works, Pulse works well. “Sometimes” is an inconsistent real pain! Boot-repair has not helped. Any suggestions?

    My other option is to use your directions to go to Alsa. However, I would prefer to keep my Ubuntu standard update capability.

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi JayVee,

      I’m not sure if this will help at all, and if you haven’t done it already, then open your terminal window and enter the below command.

      gstreamer-properties

      From the next window you get, in the ‘Audio’ tab, under the ‘Default Output’ option, click and from the drop-down menu choose ‘ALSA – Advanced Linux Sound …’. Then close the window and reboot the PC. Then try playing something. Again, not sure if it would really help though.

  32. clem

    Hi Gayan,

    I did not even remeber when I installed pulse on my debian system. Sound was a pain, working, not working, need to restart chromium after choosing sound card in alsamixer, vlc not playing anymore, etc. just a pain. I wondered for a little while if it was a good idea to remove pulse completly and then I read your post and voilà :)
    Thanks from France.
    Clément.

    P.S. you do a pretty impressive “support” on your post.

  33. Michael

    I have mint 14 and pulseaudio. I have two issues. Skype volume from computer speakers is lousy and can’t get any volume at all with teamspeak 2. I use teamspeak 2 for group discussions and works great with windows (I hate microsoft). Should I remove pulseaudio and install alsa? I tried to do this from instructions from someone else and alsa installed but could not get the mixer to show up. Frustrated!!

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi ‘Michael’,

      Mate, I’ve never used ‘teamspeak’ so I cannot give you an opinion on that.

      That said, if the problem that you’re having is not being able to configure ‘ALSA’ without a GUI, then, once you’ve followed the details on this page for removing ‘PulseAudio’ & installing ‘ALSA’, then try installing ‘QasMxer’.

      It’s a new ‘ALSA’ mixer GUI. Read this post for installing and configuring it on Ubuntu.

      Now I don’t know if ‘QasMixer’ supports running on the system tray area under ‘Linux Mint’ (though you can try adding it to the ‘startup application’ list), but it should be able to run in ‘Linux Mint’ as a normal application nevertheless.

  34. Nash

    Hi Gayan,

    Thanks for your post. But i have an issue.

    When i try to launch the gnome-alsamixer, i get this error.

    code:

    gnome-alsamixer

    ** (gnome-alsamixer:2880): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Mic Jack Mode”!

    ** (gnome-alsamixer:2880): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Mute-LED Mode”!
    Segmentation fault (core dumped)

    1. Gayan Post author

      Hi Nash,

      I’m not sure what the cause is. However, have you tried using ‘QasMixer’ ? it’s a new GUI mixer for ALSA & using that might solve your problem (hopefully).

      For instructions on how to install it on Ubuntu, please refer to this page.

      1. Amit

        Thanks for this. It worked :)

        I had these errors, in case anyone is interested.

        ** (gnome-alsamixer:4645): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Mic Jack Mode”!

        ** (gnome-alsamixer:4645): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Mono Mux”!

        ** (gnome-alsamixer:4645): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Input Source”!

        ** (gnome-alsamixer:4645): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Input Source”!

        ** (gnome-alsamixer:4645): WARNING **: gam_toggle_get_state (). No idea what to do for mixer element “Mute-LED Mode”!
        Segmentation fault (core dumped)

  35. Phil

    Hi.

    Sorry, I am new to linux.

    I am trying to use my Arcam rPAC with a PC running linux (ubuntu 12.04). At first, the PC could ‘see’ the DAC but I couldn’t get any sound output and got the following error message on trying to play a track (using Foobar running in Wine):

    Unrecoverable playback error: Unknown error code (0x8889000F)

    I couldn’t make the external DAC my preferred sound device.
    I did then uninstall pulse audio as you suggested.

    The PC could now communicate with the DAc and hey presto – sound.

    Then my PC downloaded some updates (3.2.0.48 linux kernel and other associated files) and now we’re back to how we started, no sound, Foobar gives the error message and will not play tracks unless I revert to the internal sound card.

    Pulse audio is no longer installed – I’ve checked – so do you have any idea what might now be causing the problem?

    Thanks

    1. Gayan Post author

      Sorry to hear that ‘Phill’ and I’m not sure what the problem is either. Have you tried the below command (just in case).

      sudo apt-get purge pulseaudio

      Then also try the following

      rm -r .pulse

      OR

      rm -r .pulseaudio

      Then try rebooting the PC.

      If that doesn’t work, then try re-installing ‘PulseAudio’ by using the below command.

      sudo apt-get install pulseaudio

      Reboot the PC and then re-remove it using the below command.

      sudo apt-get autoremove pulseaudio

      Then reboot the PC & see if it fixes the issue. Again, these are just suggestion and might not help you out though. Sorry about that.

  36. Jacob Wall

    Another good alternative is volti.

    First remove pulseaudio as in this post (thanks for that by the way!)
    Then install volti in Synaptic, Ubuntu Software Center or the command line – sudo apt-get install volti.

    I found the direct alsa controls given in this post (volbar & alsavol) worked sporadically, and sometimes the keyboard shortcuts stopped working randomly. I could always start them up again (a BIG plus over pulseaudio), but volti works flawlessly so far without stopping, and it has a nicer icon-tray and notification.

    1. Jacob Wall

      Oops – I got this mixed up with another similar post! This one isn’t about volbar or alsavol, but volti is still a good option!

  37. Devneet

    Great Advice… Really worked well.. Thanks a lot.. I’ve trying to do this since 1 week.. Now skype finally working without annoying pulseaudio.. (y).. :)

  38. Radamanf

    Great it simply works, before I got a problem with Voice recorder as well :) now it’s fixed, but probably because I’ve reconfigured all sound devices becasu after uninstall sound dissappeard fully, and I went into KDE Setting -> System Settings -> Multimedia There are a lot of differenciations and on first place was USB .. something which prevent all sound to work, I’ve moved it down and test that nest is working, all is fine now!
    I got Toshiba Tecra R850, and my microphone problem is now fixed too !!

  39. Arturo Vallone

    Thank you very much!! Who could think that PulseAudio was the real problem? I uninstalled and now everything’s alright.

  40. avs88130

    Thank you so much! Have been working for days to try and figure this out. You are the only person that even suggested issues with pulse audio. Worked GREAT! Thanks again

  41. ben

    Hi,

    So I had this issue first with my laptop working on 13.04 in which I’d plug my headphones, but the sound would play from both the headphones and the laptop’s speakers. So, I tried this fix but in the end, Alsa won’t open. I tried installing qasmixer as suggested but now, all my audio is muted and the actual hardware doesn’t appear in the sound options anymore.. What did I miss?

  42. comkeen

    had a problem with flash video playing way too fast. removing pulseaudio fixed it. in vlc i got no audio at all. it was somehow configured for using hdmi device. changing that to internal audio fixed the sound in vlc.

  43. abdi

    hi there i followed your instructions one by one but now i have anoher problem nd i dont seem to know why please help.

    i hav a meenee mnw737 and i recently upgraded the system to ubuntu 12.04.
    ok to the problem:
    for soem odd reason my laptop doesnt recognize that my headphones are plugged in and not the sound only comes from the laptop speakers. furthermore there is no headphone option on the alsamixer either.

    would really appreaciate any advice guys thanks

  44. Jesse

    When I was using PulseAudio on my Toshiba L655D laptop, I’d press FN+3 or 4 to control the volume. However after updating the OS, my audio stopped working. I thought it was VLC at first but soon found out it was PulseAudio. Thank you for this alternative solution. Now my volume control works perfectly! Again I thank you. I honestly dought there paying you enough for doing this. :P

  45. Mario Mey

    I remove pulseaudio in Ubuntu 14.04, but, by doing this, it remove more packets than the ones of pulseaudio, as ubuntu-desktop. I can’t remove pulseaudio without ubuntu-desktop and, without ubuntu-desktop, there’re a lot of things that the system needs to work properly…

    Any suggestion?

    1. Mario Mey

      These packets:
      indicator-sound libcanberra-pulse pulseaudio pulseaudio-module-bluetooth pulseaudio-module-x11 ubuntu-desktop unity-control-center unity-control-center-signon webaccounts-extension-common xul-ext-webaccounts

  46. Nobilis

    Thank you so much for this article. I was trying to set up PulseAudio and it caused me nothing but headache. So glad to have ALSA back and now with the GUI front-end especially.

  47. reni

    Hey guys thanks for this guide. I haven’t yet tried it because I thought my external Schiit magni&modi were working but I was wrong. When I play flac files 92 Khz the sound feels kinda digital. Now I only play music through vlc but I’m gonna try this and hope it works. One question please.using gnome alas mixer the audio doesn’t get resampled like in pulseaudio is that correct? As soon as my new headphones arrive I’m going to try and If I have problems I’m gonna ask for help. Cheers

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