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The hell that is ALSA

Once again I find myself struggling with this magnificently hellish beast that is the Advanced Linux Sound Architecture. For those of you who don’t know already, ALSA is supposed to be the new wonderful solution to sound in Linux; the old OSS has become stagnant and, well, old… ALSA is a modern architecture, capable of all sorts of neat new stuff.

Except, apprarently, FUCKING WORKING. This GOD DAMNED thing has been my enemy for years. It works just fine on most people’s computers – in fact, it works just fine on several of mine. Only my main comp really has any problems… It seems that my Soundblaster Live 5.1, the oldie but goldie that it is, just won’t play nice with ALSA. I know the card itself works just fine (in fact, I’m using it to explore the finer points of Ace Frehley’s solo career as I type this). In Windows, it works as well as ever. In Ubuntu, I can use the old OSS drivers to listen to music, play games etc. It’s just ALSA that won’t play nice.

And I’ve got this nagging feeling that I’ve done all this bevore. When I first upgraded my Hardy to Intrepid, and PulseAudio/ALSA became the default for everything. And now, well, I recently tried the Jaunty beta and it didn’t agree with me at all (way, WAY too slow) and I decided it was time to reinstall the whole shebang.

And, of course, I don’t seem to have noted down ANYWHERE how I solved this fucking bitch of a problem. So now I guess I’ll spend my leisure time for the next 4-5 days or so trying to fix this motherfucker. On friday, my spanking new soundcard should arrive, together with a 1TB S-ATA harddrive for my aging server.

Promise to self: Should I solve the ALSA problem, I will note down the solution here. Perhaps someone else has problems with hissing, crackling and popping ALSA.

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