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Distribution: Bodhi Linux 2/3 , Puppy, Knoppix, SliTaz, Raspbian, Kali
In case others need to know the answer....
..sadly it is not (for now) that cheerful.
On the nVidia site, there's a detailed page about HDMI sound - here
In Section 5 it states that nouveau and nv do not support the necessary features.
We can hope that this will come to pass in time - all praise to the devs!
I would be continuing to use (and recommend) the nVidia drivers on our cluster of ION boxen, but the current nVidia drivers no longer support overscan correction, so we are struggling with driving cheap TVs with current distros.
I now begin to grasp some of the reasons behind Linus giving nVidia the finger last year.
With corporate strategies like theirs, they have a great future behind them.
The above may go out of date (hope it does) when the magnificent devs have HDMI sound implemented or nVidia get real.
Distribution: OpenSUSE 13.2 64bit-Gnome on ASUS U52F
I have been lucky that if I go into the sounds settings it display the devices I have available to send sound out. HDMI is listed there so I have to select it. But if I plug headphones I have to go to the sounds settings and select headphone jack out.
Note this is in OpenSUSE/Gnome and in Ubuntu/Unity.
The computer I have with slackware 14 doesnt have the HDMI out and I have it skinned with KDE.
But yeah go into the sounds settings and see what is listed there. No harm done.