Advanced Linux Sound Architecture

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This document tells how to get Alsa working with both the 2.4 and 2.6 kernels

Based on the Alsa Setup howto by Arjan Timmerman: with additional information: If you have a Dell computer equipped with a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! card, you will need to compile ALSA manually.


  • Required for both 2.4 and 2.6 kernels:
 # pacman -Sy alsa-lib alsa-utils

  • Required for 2.4 kernels:
 # pacman -S alsa-driver
 # depmod -a

  • Recommended but not required:
 # pacman -S alsa-oss

Note that the 'alsa-driver' package includes the necessary modules based on the Arch stock kernel! If you compiled your own 2.4 kernel, these will most likely not work, and you should compile a new 'alsa-driver' package with ABS while running your custom kernel, and install the resulting package instead.


Note: If hotplug detects your soundcard correctly, you don't need to load the modules manually. If that's the case you only need to do step 3 (and 4). If you are unsure if your soundcard is detected, as root type "lsmod". You should see several modules loaded that starts with "snd-".

  • Load modules:
 # modprobe snd-NAME-OF-MODULE
 # modprobe snd-pcm-oss

  • Unmute Soundcard
 # amixer set Master 75 unmute
 # amixer set PCM 75 unmute

Or you can do this graphically using 'alsamixer'
NOTE When using 'alsamixer', be sure to unmute (push M) as well as bring volumes up.

  • Test on a wave file on your system:
 # aplay mywav.wav

  • Add snd-pcm-oss and 'snd-NAME-OF-MODULE' to the list of MODULES in '/etc/rc.conf'

Still Getting No Sound?

Even though your drivers are installed correctly, and your volume is right, and nothing is muted, you might not hear anything! Adding the following line to /etc/modprobe.conf fixes this problem (with the via82xx driver, at least).

options snd-NAME-OF-MODULE ac97_quirk=0

Setup Permissions

  • Add your user to the audio group:
 # gpasswd -a USERNAME audio

  • Log your user out and back in to ensure the audio group is loaded.

Restore Alsa Mixer settings at Startup

  • Run 'alsactl' once to create '/etc/asound.state'
 alsactl store

  • Edit '/etc/rc.conf' and add 'alsa' to the list of daemons to start on bootup

KDE settings

  • Start up KDE:
 # startx

  • Setup the volumes as you want them for this user (each user has their own settings):
 # alsamixer

  • KDE 3.3 Go to the K Menu > Multimedia > KMix
    • Choose Settings > Configure KMix...
    • Un-check the option "Restore volumes on logon"
    • Press OK, and you should be all set. Now your volumes will be the same from the command line or within KDE.