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This question was asked before, but I was unable to decipher the technical stuff to figure out how to fix it (sorry). My problem is, no matter what driver I use (ALSA or OSS) only one thing can play at a time (I play a song, and if I pause it I get a million IM noises from gaim, they can't both play at once).
How do I use the dmix plugin, or esound, or whatever it is i need to use to make this stop happening ?
Well that depends. I've never been able to get OSS apps to play nice with dmix. ALSA apps work the bomb, though. What app are you using to play music? Also, could you check gaim's config to see how it handles sound? If it uses ALSA then we're in business. If not then look for a sound server output (esound, arts, jack). If it's just OSS (/dev/dsp) then I can't guarantee you'll be able to fix it. You might (some people report having done so) but I haven't.
Are you using GNOME or KDE as your desktop environment? If KDE, then you need to use aRTs (the KDE sound server), and you should set it to run at startup (the default behaviour) by going to the KDE Control Center=>Sound and Multimedia=>General (I think that's what the first tab is called). "Enable Sound Server Startup" should be checked.
If GNOME, you need to use ESD (eSound, the GNOME sound server); go to the Foot Menu=>(Applications or GNOME Control Center, people tend to fiddle with the GNOME menu system)=>Desktop Preferences=>Sound=>General (again, the first tab in the preferences dialog). Check "Enable Sound Server Startup".
You can log out and back in, or type 'esd' (for "eSound daemon") in a terminal to start it; you can likely type 'artsd' (for "aRTs daemon") in a terminal as well, but I'm not a big KDE user, so I don't know for sure. Logging out of the DE and back in will definitely start the daemon in question, since they are set to run at startup of the DE.
It should be in there already. Right-click on the XMMS window, go to Options=>Preferences. On the very first tab is the Output Plugin selection (under the Input Plugin list). Use the drop-down box to change it from whatever it is to "eSound Output Plugin".